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Every Other World

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“I am not sick.” Patroclus informed Achilles. It was the loudest that Achilles had ever heard his roommate speak, and it was probably the most words he had ever heard his roommate speak aside from their daily “good morning”, “good night”, and “good luck today” .

“I don't get sick.” Patroclus’ second statement was punctuated by a purposeful yet involuntary sniff.

“Everyone gets sick,” Achilles frowned then pointed to Patroclus’ bed. “Please, please, lay back down and rest. I'll get your work from your classes for you so you don’t miss anything.”

“Thank you, but no.” He declined, his lips pulled tight, and his voice sounding strong in his resolve even despite how obviously congested and stuffed up he was. Achilles made a mental note to not get in Patroclus’ way on anything any time soon, unless, of course, it was for his own good. Like today. 

"I am perfectly-” The brunette's sentence was interrupted by a loud, almost comical, sneeze.

“Bless you,” Achilles rolled his eyes and offered him a the pack of tissue he kept on him at all times.

“Thank you,” Patroclus took it, not making eye contact as he wiped his nose. Achilles watched and wondered how he had never managed to notice was a nice nose Patroclus had. Nice lips too. Has he always had those freckles?

“But I'm not sick. It’s just allergies.” Patroclus said when he finished, sniffing again despite himself.

“What are you even allergic to?” Achilles asked, and moved to stand between Patroclus and their dorm’s door when it looked like his roommate was going to make a move towards it. There was no way Achilles was letting his roommate go to class in this state: the guy looked like he was two seconds from passing out.

“I don't know some kind of pollen or something?” His voice sounded as unassured as the statement made the blonde feel; Achilles even noticed that it had raised ever so slightly at the end of his statement, making it sound like more of a question.

“It's autumn!” tanned, toned arms waved about dramatically. Achilles secretly wondered if his roommate was always this bullheaded, or if this side of him just came out when he was forced to go against someone as stubborn as Achilles.

Brown eyes squinted in frustration, the freckles around them creasing ever so slightly as they did. Achilles almost wanted to groan in his own frustration -- he was finding Patroclus to be more and more endearing by the moment.

“Why do you even care, Achilles?”

“Because you're my roommate.” And I think I might like you. He wanted to add, but thought better of it. Instead he just focused on keeping his voice as even as possible.

Patroclus just rolled his eyes at the explanation.  

“Well, look, thanks for your concern but-” Patroclus had made another move towards the door, even despite Achilles’ obvious attempt at blocking it, but just as he started moving he stopped. His hand was quickly pressed against his mouth, and his owl-like eyes widened in shock.

Achilles instantly understood what was happening, and fought to keep down a sympathy gag.  

“Shit wait hold on!” He practically yelled, already on the other side of the room thanks his signature quick speed. With Achilles now distracted and on the other side of the room, Patroclus grabbed his backpack and darted for the door.

“Found it!” Achilles announced, producing a waste bin that had been all but buried under a pile of garbage, dirty laundry, and various textbooks. He turned around just in time to see his roommate halfway out the door. Achilles, once again, instantly understood what had just happened. “You ass!”

“Thanks and sorry, but I can't miss today. See you after dinner!” Patroclus called over his shoulder as he left, pressing the tissue Achilles had given him to his nose as he did.

Achilles couldn’t help but smile as he watched Patroclus disappear out the door and down the adjacent hallway. Had it been anyone other than Patroclus that had done what he had just done, Achilles would have been unbelievably pissed off that someone would refuse his offer and even go as far as to take advantage of his kindness. But instead of anger, all he felt was intrigue mixed with fondness.

“Alright, Patty-cakes. If that's the game you want to play,” he said to no one and opened the top drawer on his nightstand. Still smiling, he pulled another pack of tissues, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a bottle of vitamin C tablets. “You're on.”

Chapter Text

It was rare that Thetis should ever request to talk to Patroclus. Even rarer that she should request to speak with Patroclus alone. Achilles had not questioned his mother, instead he sent simply his lover on with a nervous smile and a half convincing shrug. Patroclus, never being one to say no to Achilles, and being more terrified than he would have liked to admit of the goddess, agreed to her request.

And so he walked down to the beach, shaking limbs carrying him to the spot where Achilles said she would be waiting. It was place where grass and sand mixed along the shore of where the ocean was fed by a mountain river. A sound, Chiron had called it. He arrived at the spot just as dawn began to break-- pink like the color of a freshly bloomed rose spilled out over the horizon and brackish water lapping at his heels. He looked around in wonder, making a mental note to describe the scene to Achilles when he returned ( if I return he thought, then scolded himself for harboring such fear). He was so distracted by the sun rise that he did not notice Thetis materializing from the surf.

“Do you intend to ignore me for much longer?” The goddess hissed. Her words, as cold as the sea in winter and sharper than any spear tip. 

He turned, embarrassed by his own absent mindedness, and faced her. He visibly flinched under her impossibly inhuman gaze. He was embarrassed by this too. It had been quite some time since he had last seen her-- I have seen she last said to him that fateful day on the beach-- and much had changed about him since their last encounter. The most pertinent of those changes being the nature of his relationship with Achilles.

“I have seen,” she said again, her voice like a field of flowers being iced over. He flinched at this too. “I know what you are to him now. What I had feared.”

“But Achilles said you could not see us here.” The words fell out of his mouth without his permission, almost as if he had been controlled by another. They were harsh and blunt. He regretted them instantly and almost flinched again. All fear of appearing weak and disrespectful in front of her were now realized, just as her aforementioned fear of him and Achilles’ closeness had been realized. He could only look at his feet in shame and wait for her reply, his heart bottoming out in his stomach.

“That is true. I cannot observe the two of you here, but I have seen the signs in my son. I know him just as I know the depths of the sea; I can see the changes in him just as easily as I see the current.” Thetis said after a brief moment of petrified silence. Her voice lost its sharp edge, and now held a tone that Patroclus had never heard from her.

He looked up at her slowly, still not daring to speak. He and Achilles had grown sloppy during their time on the mountain: they no longer made effort to hide the little marks on their necks, they often held hands or leaned on one another at lesson, and a million other things that Chiron had surely noticed by now. The marks on his neck . He sucked in a breath of air and cursed himself. That must have been how she had known.

“The things I once feared, now made reality.” Thetis said, an echo of her earlier sentiment. The words were spoken so quietly she might as well have been talking to herself. Patroclus wondered, briefly, if she had been talking so herself. He felt like he had intruded on a private moment by listening in, but then again his whole life felt like an intrusion on hers.

“He is happier now.” She said, louder this time, after another silence. The words were heavy and light-- sad and joyful-- all at the same time.

That caught Patroclus off guard. “What- what do you mean, goddess?”

“Achilles. He is happier now...there is a lightness to him that I have never seen before. There is a new air of ease, and he has reached a new level of pride that even I thought impossible.” She explained. As she spoke, her eyes looked over him, and for once her gaze was neither angry nor accusatory. “And it is because of you, Patroclus. What I once feared, I fear no longer.”

His eyebrows shot up in surprise. Clearly he had heard her wrong. Surely, yes. He had become delirious in his own happiness. Or perhaps this was all an elaborate dream. Yes, that made a world more sense.

He realized she was looking at him now. His mind blanked, but he found it within him to speak. “I- thank you, goddess.”

“Yes, you are good to be grateful.” She said. There was a harshness in her voice yet again, but this time it seemed to be lined with something akin to softness. It was a tone that came from a place of protectiveness than blind hatred. “It is not often that I am so willing to change my opinion on mortal men.”

“I am eternally grateful.” He repeated, nodding his head with each word. His worldview shifted around him, and a lightheaded giddiness overtook him. Thetis had approved of him. Thetis approved of him. Not just of him: of his and Achilles’ relationship.

He felt lighter than any breeze. Taller than every mountain. Thetis approved of him.

“Send my son my love and regards, Patroclus.” The goddess’ black hair began to move on its own, as if every fiber in her being was begging her to return to her ocean. But before she vanish back into the depths she left Patroclus with unforgettable parting words. “Tread lightly, Patroclus. Just as I know you will die soon, you may very well die much sooner should you do wrong by him.”

Before he could even process what had just been said-- and, truthfully, all that had just happened-- she vanished. Patroclus stared down at the spot where she had just been. His eyes were wide.

Thetis approves of me.


He turned around and ran from the spot as quickly as his scrawny legs would carry him. The scar on his knee, a result from his fall down the hillside just months earlier, still a bright pink against his dark skin, and creasing and folding with each bend of the knee. He glanced down at it, briefly, as he ran, and thought about how no such scar would ever mark Achilles. His Achilles. The thought of Achilles caused his very heart to flutter and quake. He couldn't run fast enough-- couldn't get back to where Achilles was waiting in the rose Quartz cave fast enough. He couldn't tell Achilles fast enough. He could have screamed it from the very mountain tops, and had every citizen of Peleus’ kingdom below hear the news. Thetis approved. Thetis approved. Thetis approved.

Chapter Text

The match ended just as quickly as it had began. So fast, in fact, that even a disinterested Agamemnon griped at the lack of showmanship.

“By the gods, Prince Patroclus,” Ajax The Greater said with a large smile and even larger humility. “I had underestimated you.”

Patroclus watched Ajax hand his sword over to his younger brother then take off his now dented helmet. “I will take that as a compliment,” He gave the older Prince a tight smile, not caring if his bitterness shown through the gesture. They were friends and it was a private conversation- he was confident he would be forgiven.

Ajax knew he had not been who Patroclus wanted to fight, and that the only reason Patroclus had found no qualm in dueling with him was so he could prove himself to the other men. Patroclus, on the other hand, had known that he would be underestimated (either due to his age or due to his mortality), and had therefore been able to count on Ajax going easy on him. Ajax was a good man, one of his closest friends, and had unwittingly lead him on the path to an all too easy victory in the practice ring. This seemingly effortless victory over the Warrior Prince caught the attention of the very man Patroclus wanted to fight- the very man Patroclus had trained his entire life to fight.

Achilles. Patroclus’ blood boiled with envy- his eyes instantly going to find the golden prince and gage his reaction.  

Achilles was not with the other royals- giving idle praise to Patroclus as they awaited their turns to fight one another- but instead he began to make his way towards Patroclus, with far too such self confidence for Patroclus’ liking. Ajax clapped him on the back and left him with the soon to be ignored advice of “play nice” whispered in his ear.

“You handle the sword very well, Patroclus.” Achilles said. He smiled and leaned against the wooden fence that encased the practice field. “Your fingers are fine bred and deft, almost as if they were made for,” Achilles looked him up and down “ handling a sword.

Patroclus instantly took offense. He had heard of Achilles’ fighting skill- he had heard that no man dare challenge him lest they risk assured defeat. He remembered that day long ago- of sitting in the shadows and hiding behind his father. Of pink soles flashing as Achilles ran his way to victory. This is what a son should be his father had said. This is what your son will be he had quietly promised. Years of anguish and pent up (albeit misplaced) hatred collided with his pride and refused to let him swallow this barb.

“I am one the best swordsman from my kingdom.” Patroclus bragged and mimicked Achilles’ assured smirk. His words were not untrue. He had been training hard, harder than anyone, his whole life in hopes of the opportunity to best Achilles and prove himself to his father. “Fine bred or not I could give you a proper demonstration of my ability in the ring tomorrow, Prince Achilles.”

Achilles gave a dark laugh and leaned further against the fencing. “In the ring? My, my, Patroclus I had you pegged all wrong. I had not thought you one for such a public display.”

Patroclus breathed hard out of his nose. Achilles continued to jest- continued to insult him. Patroclus was not a coward and would not shy away from this fight, as Achilles had assumed. He would fight the godlike prince face to face before all.

“Though,” Achilles said, his words languid and his eyes restless over Patroclus’ form. Despite having long since outgrown the blonde, a wave of insecurity washed over him time with Achilles’ gaze. He is sizing me up. I can see it in his eyes- the total satisfaction in them. He think I will be an easy win, surly. “I must say that I would much prefer the art of wrestling to swordplay. Do you agree, Prince Patroclus?”

“Swordplay is my area of expertise, Prince Achilles.” Patroclus said and leaned against the fence, using his slightly taller form to crowd Achilles. He made sure to mimic the strange way Achilles had said his title. He would not be intimidated. “But you already know that. Perhaps you fear defeat?”

Achilles looked up at him, the dark smile that had stretched across his perfect tanned face broadening. He gave another, gentle, laugh at Patroclus’ words. This only infuriated Patroclus more. “I simply meant that a man who knows how to handle his sword should be well versed in the art of pinning another man down.” He said. His words were soft and the two were close enough that the breath from each tickled Patroclus’ lip.

“Why don't we do both tomorrow, Patroclus,” his voice still soft, but not so soft that Patroclus missed the way Achilles had purposefully left off his title. “You show me your skill with the sword and I shall pin you down until you beg me for mercy.”

Something inside of him stirred, but he ignored it. Instead he breathed out again and gave a bitter smile. “Very well, Achilles, but you will find that I do not break so easily. You might be on top of me for hours before I yield.”

“Is that a promise?” Achilles asked, and he sounded more excited than Patroclus had heard out of the usually disinterested demigod. It might have been endearing had his ever present self confidence not also danced around each word. Patroclus looked down at his eyes- shining green like an emerald in the sun- and the anger that had been searing inside of him quit burning.

Another pair of fighters, King Odysseus of Ithaca and Prince Helenus of Troy, entered the ring. They let the wooden gate loudly bang closed behind them and with that the moment was over. Patroclus pulled back like he had been burned.

“Very well then, Prince Achilles. I will see you here tomorrow at high noon. Don't be late.”

“Oh, darling, I promise I wouldn't miss tomorrow if Father Zeus himself asked me to.” Achilles winked in a rather coquettish manner.

Patroclus clenched his jaw in annoyance and all but stomped off. The anger in him had died with Achilles’ strange gaze, and something else had taken its place. It burned all consuming under his skin, but Patroclus couldn't quite place the feeling. He ignored it and instead focused on thoughts of tomorrow; on thoughts of beating the unbeatable Achilles.

On thoughts of making his father proud.

---

Waiting for the next day was like waiting for the end of harvest season, and it had arrived only after a sleepless night and a fit of great regret- both on Patroclus’ part.

At dinner the night before Achilles had insisted on sitting by Patroclus. He asked him all sorts of obnoxious questions and did more of his coquettish, over confident, winks throughout the night. Patroclus played along as friendly as he could so as not to be seen as unseemly or bitter, but in truth the only thing that helped his make it through the dinner was the thought of their duel.

A two part duel. Patroclus’ skin tingled in anticipation.

He thought of disarming Achilles and pride bubbled in his chest. He then thought of Achilles pinning him down, and something else bubbled there. He continued to ignore the feeling as made his way to the practice area.

Patroclus had already donned his armor and sword before arriving at the ring, which made him sting with anger when he saw an unarmed, unarmored, Achilles waiting for him.

The small group of men Patroclus had brought with him to witness the battle slowed behind him.

Agamemnon spoke first, disdain showing through with each word. “Perhaps he believes himself too good a fighter- that he does not need armor.”

Patroclus scoffed at that and glared at Achilles. He was leaning against the fence just as he had been doing yesterday, his body posture as languid and easy as ever.

Achilles looked over at him then, like he could feel the weight of Patroclus’ eyes on him. He smiled excitedly, then upon noticing his group of friends and his armor frowned.

“It seems there had been a…misunderstanding.” Achilles said. He stood and revealed a bouquet of flowers and bottle of wine that he had been holding. “Either that or you are a man with very complex sexual preferences and incredibly understanding friends.”

Patroclus blanched. His face burned with equal parts anger and embarrassment. “E-excuse me?”

“It would seem,” Achilles smiled and stepped close to him, even closer than they had been yesterday. “That you had thought I meant an actual duel yesterday, and I had thought you meant a metaphorical one.”

Patroclus’ mind spun. This would explain the winks, the questions, and everything else about the Prince’s behavior. He kicked himself for allowing his anger to overtake him so thoroughly and then kicked himself again for allowing himself to be humiliated so publically. When he did not reply Achilles spoke again.

“My apologizes, Prince Patroclus. I had become so utterly enticed by your stamina and beauty that I simply had to have you. I had not considered that you would not want me too.” Achilles said and looked away, embarrassed and remorseful now, and for once Patroclus found himself enraptured by Achilles’ petulance.

He raised his arm to present Patroclus with the bouquet of flowers “Take these all the same. They, like you, are far too beautiful to simply do away with.”

Achilles turned and made to walk away just as something in Patroclus snapped.

“Wait!” He called out, stepping forward to close the gap between them. He no longer cared about the men watching them or about embarrassing himself further. “I- if your original offer still stands then I- I would be moved to accept it. If- if you were still willing to- to have me, of course, Prince Achilles.”

Achilles smiled at him. Something like lightning surging through his eyes. “More than willing, darling.”

He took Patroclus’ hand in his and lead him away from the practice field then. Patroclus tried not to think of the look on Agamemnon's face nor the disappointed look that his father would surely give him upon hearing about this. Instead, he focused on the way the edges of Achilles’ chiton brushed against his perfect thighs and nod of approval Ajax had given him.

“I think I'll leave your armor on for this,” Achilles smiled at him over his shoulder. “To see how it feels to be conquered by such a noble warrior as you.”

“You flatter me.”

“Just wait until you see what else I can do to you.”

Chapter Text

“No.” Peleus said before Patroclus and Achilles had even entered the room.

He tried to sound firm but there was an edge of amusement in his voice. He didn’t need to wonder what they were going to ask-- he could see it. And “it” was a nothing more than a small bundle of fur caked in mud that had found itself nestled in Patroclus’ arms.

Patroclus took the amused tone as a good sign and held the pup higher, a bright and pleading smile on his face.

“Where did you even find that-- don't tell me you took it from its poor mother.” Phoenix said. He appeared beside Peleus, a wary smile on his face.

“We found her sniffing by the shoreline, most likely abandoned.” Patroclus made sure to pout as he answered, just as Achilles had no doubt advised him to do. “She can't be more than a month old.”

“And I'm assuming you want to keep her as your pet?” Peleus asked. The question was directed at Patroclus-- he knew it was his heart that had been stolen by the mangy pile of fur rather than his son’s. The only living thing Achilles had ever expressed any fondness for beyond himself and his immortal mother was his therapon, and he doubted Achilles would ever dare compare that runt to to any of them.

Patroclus looked up at him and opened his mouth to answer then closed it suddenly and looked to Achilles, who straightened suddenly and said: “We do. She's quiet and well behaved, and we promise to watch after her.”

We. Achilles had said despite the fact he had yet to so much as touch the dog.

We. Achilles had said as if Peleus and Phoenix wouldn't see Patroclus attempting to train the dog all on his own within a week’s time.

Phoenix looked down at the therapon in question. His attention seemed to be focused purely on the dog, dark fingers gently stroking through even darker matted fur. He then looked away from the boy to Peleus and saw that he too was watching Patroclus and the puppy. There was a soft smile on his face, one not unlike the smile he wore when watching Achilles compete in athletic competitions.

“You may keep him, Patroclus.” Peleus said after a drawn out moment, during which the pride that had been on his face changed to something almost too close to admiration.

Achilles beamed at his friend and Patroclus held the dog tighter to his form.

“Thank you so much, sir. I promise I will take good care of her.” Patroclus said, his words quiet as always but his eyes lit up with a joy. Neither Peleus nor Phoenix had seen the boy express any emotion so openly, and both took it as something of a small victory. Perhaps there really was more to Patroclus than just being a godling’s doted upon shadow.

“I have no doubt.” Peleus mimicked Patroclus’ softness and gave him a soft pat on the shoulder.

“Now run along, Pheonix and I have much work to attend to.”

The boys both nodded at their dismissal, Achilles stopping only to shoot his father a thankful smile. Peleus watched them go, and Phoenix watched Peleus.

“You’re very sweet on him.” He said after he was sure they were out of earshot.

“Achilles?” Peleus asked, though he knew who Pheonix had meant, and turned to face his advisor. “He is my son and I am a King. I have every right to spoil him.”

“You know that is not who I meant, old friend.”

Peleus smiled to himself then.

“He makes me think,” He said, quiet as though his goddess-wife might be lurking just beyond the wooden doors. “About what might have been.”

“For Patroclus or for yourself?”

Peleus thought for a moment, his eyes going back to the door. Phoenix could not see his expression then, but he could imagine what it looked like. It would have been the same expression Peleus had on his face when he was first told he was to be wed to a goddess and have the greatest of the greeks as his son; the expression of a man whose head was stuck in a dream.

“Both.”

Chapter Text

At the age of eight, Patroclus promised himself that he would never be like his father. He would never drink in excess, he would never belittle another out of the pure joy of it, and he would never kill another man.

At the age of sixteen, Patroclus broke that promise.

He hadn't meant to send Clysonymus tumbling down the hill. He hadn't meant to make him land on a rock and crack his head open. At least, he doesn’t think he did. It had all happened to quickly that Patroclus had barely even had time to register that he had pushed his friend and then--

Patroclus ran from the body then stopped. He looked around in a panic. No one had heard Clysonymus’ screams and if he ran fast enough he might be able to find a place to hide before anyone came looking for them. Patroclus thought about it then felt his resolve die faulter in his chest. He turned back around and ran towards the body. Perhaps his friend was still alive. After all- just moments ago they had been talking arguing lively with one another- how could it be possible that he was dead? Maybe he had just hurt himself and if Patroclus said or did the right thing, then everything would be okay.

Patroclus tried to calm himself with these thoughts but as it was his limbs were shaking and everything seemed far away. He prayed, both internally and externally, as he neared Clysonymus’ body that this was just some kind of cruel trick on his friend’s part.

What little hope he had was dashed the minute he saw him up close.

He saw the other boy’s head cracked open, his brains exposed. Patroclus vomited at the sight, unable to handle it. He was even more unable to think about what would happen to him now. He, the slight son of a cruel King, had murdered a noble family’s beloved son. Accident or not, Patroclus knew that nothing would be done in his defense-- knew that no one would think to protect him.

Not his father. Not his mother. Not anyone.

He was alone.

Or so he thought.

When the contents of his stomach had finished being retched into a nearby bush, he stood again. His legs were still shaking like those of a newborn calf, and he had to catch himself on a wall to keep from falling over. When he stabilized himself he noticed Achilles, son of Father Zeus and Sea Nymph Thetis, standing over the body. Patroclus nearly jumped out of his skin at the sight, and leaned full against the wall in his shock.

“You’ve really done it this time.” Achilles said passively, calmly, like he was talking about weather. It made Patroclus’ skin crawl.

He thought about saying something-- trying to defend himself or plead to the young god for mercy-- but all he could do was wipe his mouth with the back of his hand.

Achilles turned away from the body and regarded him with an amused smile, almost like he had wanted this to happen. Patroclus shriveled under his divine gaze. Achilles was beautiful: fine featured, tanned skin, perfect physique, and a melodic voice. He had a golden aura about him too. It was as palpable as his confidence. There were even rumors that his hair was spun by his father and laced with real gold; looking at it now Patroclus would have agreed with those rumors.

“Didn't your parents ever tell you that staring was rude, Prince Patroclus?” Achilles teased, the casual tone still evident in his voice. It made Patroclus nearly forget about the body that sat in between them.

“M- my apologies, Lord Achilles.” Patroclus stuttered and averted his eyes. His eyes, on accident, landed on the boy and bile began to rise in his throat once more. How could he have forgotten such a horrid thing?

“They’ll kill you,” Achilles said. The calmness was gone from his voice and anger had taken its place “Either that or make you a slave .”

Patroclus shuddered at his words. He wished he could think of the words to say to help himself, but none came. He had never been permitted to defend himself before, and now found himself woefully unprepared to do so before a God.

“I will not let that happen.” Achilles promised, his voice something like a growl now. Zeus had been in the form of a shark when he made Achilles, but Patroclus could have just as easily imagined him having been a lion. “I will not let them hurt you any longer, Patroclus.”

“Wh- why?” He asked, though it was not his place. His head spun with confusion and adrenaline, and he was becoming more and more convinced that he had simply hallucinated this interaction.

“I confess I have not done the best job at protecting you, but I have done my best with what little interference my parents have allowed me to have.” Achilles continued as if Patroclus had not spoken. Patroclus allowed this, watching the god gracefully step over the boy and to his side. “I had promised my mother I would wait until your seventeenth birthday, but I cannot wait a moment longer. Not now-- not when you have already been hurt so and not when you need me most.”

A million questions ran through his mind, but all of them stopped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Smooth, like the stream that ran by his bedroom window, and cold like ocean in winter. It chilled him to his core.

Behind them, voices called out for Patroclus and Clysonymus. It was most likely the royal guard checking in on them, or the boy’s family collecting him for their departure. Fear seized Patroclus. He turned to Achilles, his adrenaline turning into confidence.

“Help me, then, if it is what you wish to do.”

“You will have to leave behind everything you have known. Do you understand this?” Achilles asked. There was a seriousness there, a darkness in his normally green eyes that, against all odds, reassured Patroclus.

Patroclus imagined himself dead. Then he imagined himself enslaved. He knew that either of those could happen by Achilles’ hand, if the being before him was even Achilles and not some other cruel creature playing a trick, but something within in beckoned him to accept the offer.

“I-” he thought of his mother and his voice quivered. He paused. He then thought of his own body lying before them in place of his friend’s “I understand.”

“If you come with me, you will be my closest companion. You will experience pain that no other mortal ever has, but you will experience great pleasure too. Beyond this, if you serve me well you will be reward justly.”  

Rewarded justly. Patroclus thought of the myth of Eros and Psyche. Then of Hades and Persephone. He wasn't sure why his mind went to those two myths in such a time, but he did not question it. The voices behind them drew closer. Steps then began to echo off of the nearby walls.

“You have but seconds to answer, Patroclus.” He said. His tone was serious and pleading- almost human sounding- and for a moment Patroclus could almost forget about the golden aura around him.

“Yes.”

Achilles smiled at him in answer. Blinding white light engulfed them, then left them again. When Patroclus could see again he saw that he was no longer in his father’s courtyard but on a mountain. Patroclus grabbed at the arm on his shoulder blindingly.

“Don’t worry, Patroclus, I’m not going anywhere.” Achilles offered, smiling down at Patroclus in a smug manner.

“L- Lord Achilles if I may ask-” Patroclus sputtered out before Achilles could interrupt him.

Behind them a dark cloud formed, throwing lightening and thunder from it and onto the far below valley. Patroclus jumped, his voice stopping in his throat.

“It’s not you he’s angry with, don’t worry. ” the young god sighed. “But it would be best that we hold off on introductions until you have proven yourself worthy.”

“W-worthy?” Patroclus asked. In all of his fear he had not thought about the actual consequences of agreeing to this life with Achilles. “How will I do that?”

“Good question,” Achilles looked at the cloud then to Patroclus. “Dionysus made wine. Psyche was put through a series of tests by Aphrodite. There is no way to predict how it will happen, but,” he smiled warmly at Patroclus and Patroclus wondered how Apollo could ever hope to shine brighter than Achilles “I am confident that you will succeed in whatever my father or mother put you through.”



Chapter Text

The sound of muted laughter followed and loud shushing woke Patroclus up. Uncharacteristic that he should be woken up by anything quieter than an earthquake (or so Achilles would tease him when they were younger), and it prompted him to wonder if there had been another, louder, noise that he had missed before returning to full consciousness.

For a brief moment panic set it, something of an old reflex coming back to life after all those years of idol regency, but the lack of warmth next to him had been more than enough to clue him off as to who one of the voices belonged to. Even before he heard the unmistakable way agile feet struck the ground or the way he sucked in air when excited. Two sets of footsteps, both distinct and familiar in a way that made him ach with warmth, approached the pallet. He fought to keep the smile off of his face and his eyes closed, and decided to let them have their fun.

The feeling of a small body jumping onto the bed and landing on his, small hands pressed against his chest and a small nose against his own startled him. He opened his eyes, slowly as if he had just been woken up by the feeling of being pounced on, and saw a mess of red-orange curls and bright green eyes over him.

Patroclus smiled affectionately at the young boy. “Good morning, Pyrrhus.”

“Goodmorning!” Pyrrhus returned. In his excitement he did not bother to sound out his greeting but rather rush it all out as one big word. Patroclus watched as he pulled back so that he was sitting on his chest. Sharp knees dug into his ribs, but he ignored it in favor of letting the child have his fun. “You’re old!”

Achilles laughed from where he stood next to the two. “We’re not that old yet, Pyrrhus,” he said and petted his son’s head affectionately. He turned to looked more fully at his husband and winked before adding “though, Patroclus, is that a tuft of grey hair I see sticking out from behind your ear?”

“Watch it,” Patroclus rolled his eyes and raised himself on his elbows. Pyrrhus rolled off of him and sat down on Achilles’ side of the bed. “I have only just reached the age of thirty today, Achilles. You act as if I have long since surpassed forty. Besides I am only a few months your elder, meaning any time you mock my age you are mocking your own as well.”

“Your back does pop an awful lot when you get up in the morning.” Pyrrhus supplied, bright smile almost over spilling with laughter.

Patroclus rolled his eyes at the boy. Though he was only ten, Pyrrhus had already begun to act and look an amazing amount like his father. Achilles and a few of his advisors had said that the boy had adopted a few of Patroclus’ personality traits and physical tics, but Patroclus thought that they were just humoring him.

“So would your back if you had to try and keep up with you two.” He said and made a point of looking between Pyrrhus and Achilles. If he had somehow grown grey hair overnight he was sure it was the result of being subjected to their antics day in and day out. That alone was enough to age anyone tenfold.

“Now, now, Patroclus is that anyway to behave on your birthday? After Pyrrhus and I took the effort to surprise you and plan a whole day of fun?” Achilles mocked.

Patroclus watched him move, still as graceful as ever even without a war to sharpen his godlike ability, to sit on the edge of their bed. Achilles took Patroclus’ hand in his, turning it over to kiss the palm and the top of his wrist. Patroclus returned the effect by giving a soft smile and an unsaid promise of “later”.

The moment was broken by a petulant “ew!” from Pyrrhus. And then: “Come on, Patroclus! You have to see what we did for you on the beach before it gets ruined!”

Whether it be ruined by foster boys, seagulls, or Thetis Patroclus didn’t know, but the sudden reminder of the sea goddess made a coldness bloom within him. He would never forget the way she looked and him and Achilles when Achilles had told her his decision all those years ago.

“I choose him, mother. I choose life.”

What good is life if the one you have lived will be forgotten? What good has my suffering been if you chose to throw it all away for nothing? Achilles, my treasure, think this through.

“It will not have been for nothing.”

It will have been for nothing unless you go to fight at Troy--

“--unless I go to die at Troy. Mother, please understand. This isn’t an easy decision.

No, it is not, but it is one you have made anyway. I wish I had know how little I truly meant to you, Achilles, at least that would have spared me the effort of all these wasted years waiting for you at the shore.

“Mother--”

--No, Achilles. If you chose to die as nothing then that is exactly what you shall be to me. I bore you from my womb and bred you to be the finest and yet you choose to squander it all, and for what? For this mortal?

“He is more than just--”

--he is nothing. Just as you are now. Do not call for me, Achilles, for I shall not be listening any longer.

Patroclus pulled his hand away from Achilles’ grasp and used it to ruffle the boy’s curls. Pyrrhus smacked away his hands and complained that his father had spent nearly an hour on his braid, but his sour words were said with a bright smile and in between laughter. The sound of which banished all thoughts of Thetis from his mind.

“Come on, then,” he pulled himself into a sitting position and then out of bed entirely. “Show me what you and your father have in store.”

 

Chapter Text

“His ego is so visible; I can almost watch it grow.” Achilles said with one of his signature eye rolls.

Patroclus cast a lazy smile over at his prince. He was far too amused by the irony of the situation to even bother with trying to pay attention to what Prince Hector was saying. He did, however, follow Achilles’ gaze to where the Trojan prince in question stood in the middle of the meeting hall so that he could at least pretend that he was paying attention.

“Yes, imagine that: a handsome warrior prince with an over inflated ego.” Patroclus said when there was a lull in his speech, and then, because he was feeling rather cruel, added: “Truly it’s the fault of those around him. His lover is said to be far too kind and soft spoken for her own good-- I’m sure it’s her that whispers far too many praises in his ear when they are alone.”

In a fashion typical to him, the double meaning of Patroclus’ words (and most of what he had said) went directly over Achilles’ head. “Princess Andromache is anything but soft spoken, believe me.” and then just when Patroclus was about to make a quip about Achilles’ inability to listen, he added: “Wait. Did you just call Prince Hector handsome?”

Patroclus cast a glance over at Achilles, and was subsequently forced to suppress a laugh at the all too offended look on Achilles’ face.

“Yes, I did. He’s quite fit. In addition to that he is said to be rather honorable and noble hearted.” Patroclus gave a fake dreamy sigh and cast a longing glance in Hector’s direction. “If only he were about two heads shorter he’d by just my type.”

The corners of Achilles’ mouth quirked up. It would seem he had paid enough attention to finally catch on to the game Patroclus was playing. “You may lust over Prince Hector all you like, my dear friend, but these days I find my gaze wandering over to the ever youthful and seductive Agamemnon.”

His words caught Patroclus by surprise. He let out a short bark of laughter, which he quickly attempted to disguise as a cough. Achilles played along and patted his back sympathetically, telling any on lookers that Patroclus was suffering some a bit of a cough as of late. Only King Odysseus of Ithaca seemed as though he didn’t fully believe the story, and a good natured wink at Patroclus told him that the old King had overheard far more than he would have liked.

When court resumed and no more eyes were on either of them, Patroclus leaned over and whispered “you’re truly horrible.”

“The worst.” Achilles agree, his face alight with another bright smile. He reached his hand under the table to brush against Patroclus’ fingers, and the two quietly intertwined their hands. “And I’ll have you know I’m not nearly as short as you like to paint me to be.”

“My sincerest apologies, Prince Achilles.” Patroclus said, his voice edged with sarcasm.

“He’s only a head and a half taller than me.”

Comfortable silence fell over the two as political talks droned on. After what felt like a small eternity, Hector finished his trade proposal and made to take his seat. A brief pause fell over the court, during which Ajax the greater stood and made his way towards the center of the hall, Achilles leaned over and whispered one final thing in Patroclus’ ear.

“Don’t think I have forgotten about that little crush you had on Ajax the greater upon first meeting him.  

“I was eight!” Patroclus hissed, far louder than he would have liked to admit. His face burned with embarrassment.

On the opposite side of him from Achilles, Odysseus chuckled not-so-subtly behind his hand.