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The Macedonian Tau-Lambda was hideous.

Asterius had never seen another chariot prior to this one, but he found it difficult to believe that this was the best Daedalus had ever created. It looked like a caricature more than an elaborated design. Something made in mockery to exaggerate what a self-important royalty might ride around their land in a gross display of wealth. The sight of it alone was revolting, but the custom mini guns that stuck out like a sore thumb made matters worse. The bronze coating was blinding, unnecessary, and did he mention ugly? It was ugly. 

Theseus loved it.

"Oh, Asterius, would you look at this! Isn't this the most beautiful thing you have ever laid your eyes on?!" Asterius suddenly felt sorry for Theseus' late wives. "A bronze Macedonian Tau-Lambda. The most durable chariot to date.. and custom modified by Daedalus himself! For yours truly! I am so overcome with joy I could just cry.."

He did. Theseus started weeping tears of joy unabashedly as he circled around the chariot, singing it praises between sobs. Asterius took the opportunity to look at the scroll that came with it. The delivery shade said it was a pact of some sort. Asterius couldn't hear them over the sound of Theseus' high pitched screeching. He attempted to read the fine print, but couldn't make sense out of it. The handwriting on the scroll looked like intelligible chicken scratches to an illiterate bull. However, he did recognize the sigil. Asterius saw that skull somewhere before. It reminded him of the short one. Perhaps this was his father's doing? An extra measure of security, considering that Theseus and him was the last obstacle between Elysium and The Temple of Styx.

He would ask Theseus, but the king was distracted.. and had already come up with an explanation of his own.

"I told you! They love us out there, Asterius! This mysterious benefactor must be one of our supportive shades! A token of admiration.. and a handsome reward for our great battles!"

Asterius bit his tongue. He did not have it in heart to rain on Theseus' newly-acquired chariot. It was great to see him smile; he had been in a grim mood lately because of their consecutive losses. As repulsive as the Macedonian Tau-Lambda was, Theseus fell in love with it. If he knew of its origin, Theseus would hate it.. or more accurately, pretend to hate it. He would deprive himself of something that made him happy because for him, everything that the short one had were all ill-gotten gains. To use the chariot then would be dishonorable, and the prideful king would rather suffer. He was that stubborn. Asterius couldn't convince him to see the short one in the same light as he did, it'd be easier to feign ignorance. So he did just that.

"Congratulations, king. It is a chariot befitting for a champion," Asterius said. The lie was easy, but trying not to grimace was quite difficult.

"It came with a matching mask!" Theseus gasped. "I shall put it on.. One must adorn themselves appropriately to honor their chariot, you see. It is customary… Ah-hah! There we go! Oh, it fits like a dream . How do I look, Asterius?"

"Grotesque," Asterius blurted out in horror.

"Hm?"

"Gorgeous," he quickly corrected himself. "The mask is gorgeous, king."

Either Daedalus had a highly questionable taste, or this mask was not made in earnest. Asterius suspected the latter. What if this was a mask that jesters nowadays wore on the surface? What if it was cursed? It was cursed, wasn't it? It was definitely cursed. Theseus liked it, though.

"Oh Asterius, you flirty Bull, you ," Theseus said, smiling from ear to ear. "You are making me blush! Though I suppose you couldn't tell under this magnificent mask, hm?"

"No, king." With the mask covering half his face, Asterius could only see Theseus' smug grin. Something that he had grown to tolerate and even find attractive. Sometimes. He doubted everyone else would be as open-minded, though. Instead, people were going to immediately get the urge to strike him in the face.. more so than usual. That was not the mask's curse, it just looked that obnoxious by design.

"You are just going to have to take my words for it then. Mm, you've swept me off my feet and put colors on my cheeks..." Theseus said while standing firmly rooted in one spot, both hands rested on his hips. And most likely not blushing. "Let's see, I think I saw something else as well. Quite the big package they had for us today, hm? I never thought living in eternal paradise could get any better but it most certainly did!"

He wasn't even looking at Asterius at this point, which he was grateful for. Alas, his relief was short-lived.

"Asterius! This is for you!"

Asterius heart fell in his throat, "It is?"

"It is in your size, my dear companion. I couldn't put it on even if I tried. Behold!"

Theseus raised the thing up high, beaming at Asterius with pride. His eyes sparkled as if to compete with the bronze abomination in his hands. It was a… suit of armor. And it was most definitely custom made for Asterius, no other beast nor man in Elysium could wear an armor this large. If it was on a smaller man, say, Theseus, then perhaps it wouldn't be such an eyesore . He had no doubt of its durability, but the extravagant design of the pauldrons added no practical benefits. And the gleaming coat of bronze was more distracting than anything else. Asterius attracted enough attention as it was, but with this armor, people would be able to see him from Erebus. The helmet had a horn , weren't two enough?

Theseus was still looking at him, eyes filled to the brim with hope. 

Asterius huffed, "Is this necessary?"

" Necessary? No, not at all. You are more than capable to fight without an armor, as you have been doing up until this very moment. An armor does not make a warrior after all. Should you choose to refuse this gift, I have no doubt you would continue to fight with astonishing strength and durability! However…"

He took a step towards Asterius, until their bodies pressed against each other. Theseus was much shorter than him, yet he made Asterius felt crowded by his sheer presence. Cornered and enveloped by a pair of strong arms that reached up and wrapped around his neck. (He had to stand on the tips of his toes to do so, which should've looked foolish, but somehow it didn't.) Theseus smelled like nectar, and his smoldering gaze burned into his skull. Asterius felt light-headed.

"You are going to look absolutely dashing in your armor. When we stand side by side, oh, what a sight we will be!" He raised one hand up to hold Asterius' face in his palm, stroking his sleek fur softly. "You are a true warrior, Asterius. It's time you finally dress like one. You put this on, and you could be my handsome knight in shining armor. Doesn't that sound swell, hm? Wouldn't you like that?"

"King," Asterius whimpered.

"And once we bask in the afterglow of victory, when we got ourselves well and intoxicated with the finest wines, we shall strip down your armor and get your colossal cock-"

"Stop! I was already going to wear it. You do not have to convince me," Asterius interjected, horrified and embarrassed beyond belief.

Theseus chuckled, blunt fingernails started scratching behind Asterius' ear. "Obedient little bull. Did you know you are my favorite? You are."

"Do not-" Asterius choked, "talk down to m- oh ."

Humiliating. 

 


 

They won the first time, though it was due to the element of surprise rather than the power of their new equipment. The short one blurted out that the sight of King Theseus riding his Macedonian Tau-Lambda must have been some kind of a bad dream, and Asterius silently agreed with him. It confounded him so bad that he kept getting distracted during their battle. As Theseus cackled menacingly while gunning him down, the short one slipped, and Asterius managed to land the killing blow. Theseus was overjoyed. The second time was a close fight; one of the most remarkable things about the short one was how fast he learned. He already adapted to their new strategy, now that he knew what to expect. He successfully dispatched Asterius from the stadium, but fell prey to the hail of bullets Theseus brought upon him.

On his third attempt, the short one not only won, but destroyed the Macedonian Tau-Lambda. 

Thank gods. 

The relief Asterius felt was immense, though since the king was grieving, it would be best to not voice that out loud. His armor remained in good condition though, much to his dismay. It proved to be efficient in battle; it could withstand heavy damage and barely suffered any scratch. (The short one defeated Asterius by attacking his weak spots - His accuracy was remarkable.) The short one complimented that Asterius looked dashing, and genuinely struggled for the first time since his consecutive wins. There was no flaw in the armor  whatsoever, except that Asterius despised it. It was uncomfortable, heavy and constrictive. He couldn't move freely while wearing it. He just flailed around in the arena like a blind bull, which worked surprisingly well. When you were as large as him, using an even larger weapon, 'spinning aimlessly in circles' was still lethal. So he couldn't say that its weight worsened is performance either. He couldn't come up with a reason to not wear it at all. Unless 'It made me feel like a clown' and 'It reminds me of being in the labyrinth' were to be considered valid.

He would have to endure it.

"My poor chariot.. my beautiful chariot.." Theseus sobbed.

He was kneeling beside the wreckage that was the Macedonian Tau-Lambda. Though you wouldn't be able to tell upon first look - it was battered and bent out of shape in all directions. Parts of it were missing, broken apart, fell off, blew into pieces, and burnt to ashes. Theseus was resting his face against the side that used to have an elegantly curved patterns, but now looked like a lump of something foul. Asterius walked towards him, and put one hand on his shoulder, squeezing it gently.

"The shades will have it repaired in no time, king," Asterius attempted to comfort him. "If they couldn't, Daedalus will create you a new chariot."

"I know. Thank you, Asterius," Theseus sniffled, and squeezed his hand back. "You always make me feel better."

"I am only returning the favor. You would do the same for me, and you have on many occasions."

"Heh, right.. Welp! No need to weep over a destroyed chariot!" He sprang up from the ground, standing proud once again. His mood sure recovered fast. "We shall avenge my chariot next time we face that insignificant hellspawn! The Macedonian Tau-Lambda will rise again!"

For a brief moment, Asterius considered sabotaging the blasted thing himself. He thought better of it.

"We will defeat him yet, king." Two wins weren't so bad, they would eventually regain their winning streak.

Theseus turned to him. "What about you?"

Asterius blinked. "Me?"

"I have been grief-stricken over the loss of my chariot; I have not examined the damage on your armor! And you! How inconsiderate of me. Please forgive my carelessness, Asterius. Now let's… see...uh.."

He trailed off abruptly, mouth opened wide and staring almost bug-eyed at Asterius' armor. To be precise, Theseus was staring at his chest. Asterius had not an inch of idea why. The armor was in pristine condition; There was no damage on his chest area or any area for the matter. No dents, no scratches, nothing, but Theseus still wouldn't take his eyes away. He did not blink even once.

"King?"

"Your armor is very...uh.." He coughed. "Peculiar."

Asterius snorted, "It is ostentatious."

"Uh, yeah, sure, right, yeah. Ostentatious. That is the word."

"I have three horns now, and the gorget - " Asterius frowned. "Are you unwell, king?"

"Huh?"

He started to worry now, "Is everything in order?"

"Oh, yes. Certainly. Your armor is in top condition! We won't need to send it for repair. Lovely. You have gotten yourself the most durable legendary armor there is, Asterius. It's just that.. uh.."

"What is it?"

"No, no, it's nothing. Forget it," Theseus shook his head. "Think nothing of it. Do you need help taking it off?"

Asterius considered for a second. "...No, I can handle it."

"Wonderful. I will leave you to it then."

Theseus practically ran away; he couldn't get out of the room soon enough. What came over him?

 


 

They lost four times in a row after that and Asterius did not know why. Theseus' performance took a turn for the worst and for no apparent reason. There was a noticeable, drastic drop before and after they had that.. strange conversation. At first Asterius assumed he was still shaken up over the loss of his beloved chariot, but even after it got repaired Theseus was still struggling in combat. His heart wasn't in it. He kept losing focus; he was distracted all the time. The strangest part was that Theseus didn't seem to care . He would not acknowledge his mistakes, and he did not get mad at their loss as he usually did. Asterius tried to get through to him, but Theseus would deflect his concern every time. After their fifth loss, Asterius was fed up.

"If you are not going to take it seriously, then we should not compete next time," Asterius said.

"Wha- how could you say that?" That immediately got his attention. Theseus seemed genuinely upset by his remark, and Asterius would feel guilty if he wasn't so annoyed. "Of course I take it seriously! I live and breathe battles! You know that!"

Asterius snorted, "Could have fooled me."

"I have to defend my title, Asterius! I couldn't just not attend the arena! What got into you?"

"That should be my question." Asterius narrowed his eyes. "You are distracted; something is bothering you. What is it that could be more important to you than your champion title?"

"I - "

" Our champion title?"

"Look, Asterius, It's… gods ," Theseus slapped his forehead. "I have offended you."

Asterius crossed his arms and shrugged.

"That was not my intention. You have my sincerest apology, my dear comrade. I am.. sorry. I am. I would never - I never - Ugh. What I am attempting to say and failing, like an ass, is that I never wanted to give off the impression that I do not value our battles. Our partnership is the most important thing to me, I hope you know that."

"I.. I know," Asterius voice softened, anger replaced with gradually increasing concern. It was not like Theseus to stumble over his words like this. "Is something wrong, my king?"

" Oh , split me like a pig and take me to the banquet, you had to pull the 'My king' card, hadn't you."

"What? Theseus, I am worried about you."

"Oh gods, my name too!"

Asterius frowned. "Are you having a stroke?"

"You are right, something have been occupying my mind," Theseus admitted. "But it is foolish. It is the stupidest thing you could imagine. I say we do not talk about it. At All. I swear that I will not make this mistake again, and we will win the next time you have my word - "

Asterius was not having it, "Tell me!"

"Gah! Your armor has nipples!"

Asterius immediately looked down and sure enough, on his breastplate there were two small spirals decorated where his nipples were. Apart from that, they looked nothing like nipples. They just drew attraction to his chest, he supposed, and at specific angles the bronze coat gleamed and make them look.. more pronounced. Pointy.

"This is not what my nipples look like," Asterius mumbled. "They are not spirals."

"I know that! I have seen nipples before! Many of them! I have been married multiple times!" That hit Theseus' nerve for some reasons.

"And yet they distract you so badly you could not focus on the battle. One could mistake you for a fledgling," Asterius snorted and started to take off his Champion belt.

"Hahaha. Very amusing. Go on then, mock me if you must, I suppose I deserve-" Theseus halted. "What are you doing?"

"Stripping," Asterius said calmly. Piece by piece his armor was discarded to the floor.

Theseus swallowed loudly, "I see."

At last, once he was stripped of his breastplate, Asterius pulled his tunic down from his shoulder, revealing his bare chest. "Observe."

Theseus was blushing furiously. For someone who claimed to have seen many pairs of nipples, he truly behaved like an inexperienced adolescent boy. Perhaps being dead for quite some time and having no chance to.. copulate would do that to you. Asterius never gave his chest much thought. It was a bit on the bigger side, but only because it was proportionally sized to his muscular build. Nothing remarkable. Theseus seemed to like it a great deal, though. So now Asterius was starting to feel embarrassed. About a body part that he never knew would be attractive to someone, let alone Theseus. His eyes were filled with raw, unhidden hunger, and he was licking his lips almost absentmindedly. His hands curled into fists by his side.

"What ample bosoms you have there, my dear companion. I.. wow," Theseus finally said after ogling him for a full minute or so. He sounded out of breath.

"Must you call them that? They are not bosoms, " Asterius corrected. "Have you not seen better?"

"To be perfectly candid with you, no. I have never seen anyone with a bigger.. chest. Your chest is larger than all of my ex-wives' combined! Good lord!" Theseus started whooping and hollering.

Asterius wasn't sure if he should be flattered or not. He couldn't believe he was getting shy. "I am big."

"Oh, you are. All over. It is impressive in many ways. I admire your strength first and foremost. I wish I had your body - You are built like a battering ram. Secondly, Mmm . May I touch?"

"Yes?" Asterius cleared his throat. "Yes. You may."

Theseus did not start off slow or gentle, he just went at it. Kneading the tender flesh with both hands and all of his might. His fingers grasping through Asterius' thick fur to find the softness underneath. Asterius let out a loud moan, startled by Theseus' eagerness and by how good it felt. Nobody has ever touched him there before, and certainly not like this. Theseus was squeezing and - oh - it was embarrassing that Asterius' pecs could jiggle like that. He was letting out so much noise that did not even sound like it was his. High and needy, trembling like he was under Theseus' hands.

"Oh, It is even better than I imagined, and I have been thinking about this for a long time!" Theseus exclaimed.

"You have?" Asterius felt his face heated up.

"Why, yes. I have been pleasuring myself to your - "

"You don't need to describe it."

"Are you feeling shy, my Bull?" Theseus asked with a smirk. "Aw, don't be. You should be proud of your assets. Humility is overrated, trust me. Gods, you are so hairy."

"I am a bull," Asterius whimpered.

"I like it," Theseus said like he just decided. "I have never been with someone this hairy. And I have never been with men at all, you see. Not for a lack of trying. Patroclus said men find me obnoxious? Nonsense, I say they find me threatening."

They absolutely found him obnoxious.

Asterius thought that this would help getting his mind off of the armor, which seemed to be working. But he didn't expect that he would start getting into it, too. It felt nice, and he liked that Theseus was enjoying himself. He was starting to get used to the sensation and relaxing somewhat, but then Theseus started teasing his nipples and Asterius was rendered to a moaning, incoherent mess again. Every time he tugged at his nipples, caressing his chest, Asterius would feel such an intense surge of pleasure he could cry. He had no idea how he was still standing when he felt so weak in the knees.

"May I use my mouth?"

Asterius startled, "For what?"

"Well, you see, I have this fantasy of mine where I just.." He bit his lower lip. "Punish the teats."

"Punish the-" Asterius choked. "Please don't. They are sensitive, king."

Theseus just groaned and buried his face into Asterius' chest. He hugged him and said nothing for a while.

"King?"

"You can't just say that, Asterius. That was so adorable," he groaned.

"I am not.. adorable," Asterius refused. The word sounded strange even to himself.

"Oh, but you are. My adorable bull," he kissed Asterius softly on the chest. "I shall be gentle then. Is that alright?"

Asterius considered for a second, "Yes."

He was surprisingly gentle, in comparison to when he was touching Asterius' chest. He didn't seem to mind having Asterius' fur in his face either. He just kept trailing his kisses down low until he found his nipple, and then gently licked across it. It felt.. different, but in a good way. So he leaned into Theseus' mouth and let the king suckling on it. There was something almost comical about their height difference, and the way Theseus was doing this while standing up, but Asterius was preoccupied with moaning to care. He pulled Theseus close by his hair. The king chuckled, but let him hold onto him as he alternated between suckling and caressing his chest.

At least he wouldn't be distracted during battle again. He hoped.