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Embracing Death

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Thanatos is more than well aware that Zagreus talks a lot. 

It’s in his nature to have things to say, to ask questions, to make comebacks and quips. The ever-lovable and caring man who has won the hearts of so many, even his own, with words and blind trust. It’s in the way Zagreus has about words somehow meld together and make him almost...endearing. Magnetic, even.

He honestly doesn’t know how it works. Thanatos himself isn’t a quiet kind of man but he restrains himself to save on time and, well, he’s learned that not many who welcome his conversations. He’s spent many centuries reading body languages and knowing where he stands as a god to learn when people don’t want to be around him. Though, there are a few exceptions to that welcome his presence.

Ares enjoys seeing him each and every time but Thanatos does not share the same excitement. They are friendly and respectful, forced into a relationship where Thanatos must deal with Ares’ arrogance and pride while picking up souls. Their conversations do not stay long as, obviously, Thanatos is a busy man with too many souls to pick up after. That’s what he says, anyway.

He doesn’t hate Ares but sometimes there are too many words that come out of Ares’ mouth that Thanatos does not care for.

There is Hermes but he speaks a thousand words per second then rushes off. He is also busy, also on the move, also constantly delivering things, and even more restless than Zagreus. Thanatos barely gets a word in with him though he doesn’t mind. It is a good thing, to only have to wave at each other in passing.

Athena, the ever-wise goddess, does not speak to him. She stays at a respectful distance, conversation only happens when necessary. She does not fear him but he thinks he unsettles her. For whatever reason Thanatos can only speculate but it does not matter. She has to see him either way and she is much more tolerable than her male counterpart. As long as she does the work and keeps the routine they have had for years he will not care.

Obviously, Thanatos talks to his siblings. Hypnos’ ever sleepy yet bright conversations, Charon’s words through decayed vocal cords, Moros right before he pushes someone to their untimely death, Nemesis as she fulfills her constant drive for revenge, his sisters Keres when they meet in gruesome scenes and feast like it will be the last meal they’ll have for centuries, and Geras when he passes someone of old age over to Thanatos. 

His other siblings he does not speak to if at all. He rarely even sees them. Some of the others are odd and he would rather avoid conversation or any exchange of words for that matter. He wonders if his Mother bothers to visit any of them. The Moirai may be busy dealing fates out to the world but they must need a mother’s soothing touch once in a while, right? Not that Thanatos really needs that, either.

Yet here he is, laying in a comfortable seat commissioned by Zagreus as they both stare contently into the Styx. Thanatos could look forever at the flowing red waters. But he knows this moment is rare for Zagreus. The ever-moving, ever speaking, ever-energetic Zagreus. Prince of the Underworld. His first and probably last lover.

He finds himself thriving in this physical comfort. Having Zagreus on top of him and relaxed completely. From the warmth emitting from Zagreus to his soft and soothing breathing. Thanatos will never admit it out loud that this physical affection is something he yearns for at times. One that only Zagreus can fulfill.

This is the man who will talk Thanatos’ ear off and act like the death problem was never a big deal.

Both are laying there, still and peaceful. They are not disturbed by any shades that catch a glimpse of them. None wanting to invoke the wrath of Death himself but also understanding that there is, for once, peace and quiet in the Underworld. Any whispering or looks quickly vanish in hopes of keeping that solace a little longer and in fear of retribution from Thanatos if he were to be disturbed.

It is in these moments that Zagreus does not speak. An event that surprisingly happens quite often and one of many somethings that Thanatos has caught onto. Most would never notice how Zagreus does not speak when his focus has a point that it stubbornly sticks to. Where he can sit for hours, days, nights, even years if it means doing something he so desperately wants to do. Thanatos remembers seeing him disappear for two surface weeks of time to learn a complicated song on the lyre and perfecting it. Thanatos knew better than to disturb him but he did, at least, enjoy seeing Zagreus practically pluck the strings of the lyre with such emphasis that if he was not a god his fingers would probably have been cut raw. 

There may be quips here and there. A single “here” or “that’s it” coming out under his breath but he is still, quiet, completely enthralled into whatever he is doing.

He does it even when he is moving gracefully past arrows and swords. While Zagreus may add in a jab when the fight is at its peak when his body is going to overdrive to make sure he would survive the encounter. His eyes move everywhere to catch anything in his surroundings but his mind is pinpointed on his target. The concentration all boiled down to a point that keeps him from thinking of a single taunt.

It’s one of those moments where Thanatos thinks Zagreus was made for this. Where he is at the peak of grace and beauty. His body drenched in sweat, arm muscles strained and aching from using his weapon, feet nimble and leaving a burned trail behind, and adrenaline pumping through his veins that give his eyes a hazardous glint and leaves his body thrumming with energy and exhaustion.

It is a sight to behold when he witnesses it.

Thanatos has even caught him in the administrative chambers, toiling away through document after document for a certain contract to aid a shade he had met in his security runs. There Zagreus was hidden for almost a month before he found it. Even Hades began worrying about his son’s silence. Enough to have asked Thanatos if he knew where Zagreus had disappeared to.

Obviously, Thanatos knew but he’s not going to snitch on his boyfriend. And when Thanatos got the chance to ask about it, wondering why he didn’t just ask Nyx on where it exactly was, Zagreus had shrugged and said, “I thought that since I’m now working here officially and that I was going to live for quite some time I might as well get to know my way around the administrative chambers. I think I’ve done more reading than I have my whole life in there but I do know where some things are now.”

Thanatos was almost shocked speechless. He luckily recovered fast enough to tell Zagreus that he had too much time on his hand and if only he had that dedication before deciding to wreak havoc throughout all the levels of the Underworld.

Despite it, though, Zagreus smiles and shrugs his shoulders. A soft gaze always on Thanatos that makes the taller man resist squirming under the gaze. He could never get used to seeing how Zagreus threw everything he had into something, especially when it came to their relationship. No one has ever been so energetic and excited to see him in the way Zagreus does.

Not many people welcome his conversations and if they do it is never as often as Zagreus invites him to. It is weird, almost, to have someone listen to him with their whole being and do so willingly. It is even odder that he likes it.

He also thinks Zagreus never really shuts up the same he does for everyone when Thanatos talks. It is like all that energy that is bottled up in a body of a god would suddenly zone onto him. It all stilling just to hear Thanatos speak. He used to feel like a target, peeled open and bare for Zagreus to see. The sudden calm that comes over Zagreus when his focus is gathered into one subject comes back all for Thanatos. It melds together with his energy combining perfectly just for moments between them.

It is something Thanatos thinks about often. When he is standing in a field painted red next to Ares he thinks about Zagreus. Where is he in the Underworld? Did he die again? Is he in Elysium fighting Theseus? If he was fighting Hades, as Thanatos could usually tell now that the shadow has lifted slowly. How if Thanatos finishes early he could rush down to try and predict where Zagreus will head to next. Kill shades with him, sharing banter, and see Zagreus smile. 

If Thanatos lets Zagreus win sometimes when he is the most injured no one will know. He doesn’t mind offering a centaur’s heart to keep him going that much longer.

He likes it. Likes seeing Zagreus’ demeanor change when Thanatos appears. The shift of his body, his lively energy both brightening and stilling with his presence, and his attention now split between whoever he was talking to and now Thanatos.

It brings Thanatos some petty glee when Hades witnesses them. 

He was never the one to find such trivial things so amusing or even want to get on Lord Hades’ bad side until he had seen the way Hades’ face had once darkened when their hands found their way to each other. Their natural movements of coming together and wanting to always touch in some form of way. Whether it is by interlocking their fingers, thumbs rubbing over calloused skin, or with the brushes of shoulders and hands finding a waist to circle around.

Perhaps Zagreus was rubbing off on him in some way. 

Thanatos can appreciate when Zagreus lets him see and touch him, though. How vulnerable Zagreus is to Thanatos is something he has and will hold dear to his heart. Something he doesn’t ever want to take advantage of or let go.

So currently when Zagreus shifts or when Thanatos remembers that he will need to go back to work eventually that sense of anxiety builds up. Despite having all the time in the world to do this again and again and again he can’t help but slightly mourn the end of this sanctum they currently have.

Zagreus lays on top of him, head tucked where Thanatos can just look down and bury his face in wildly dark, spiky hair. Strong arms wrapped tightly around his torso and legs tangled together. He loves holding him like this, loves having his arm thrown over Zagreus, and knowing he fits so perfectly there. Having him close and feeling content with himself like never before.

Sometimes Thanatos thinks that if he was could—if Zagreus would ever permit it, he’d rip open his chest and tuck Zagreus safely inside his ribs just next to his heart. He’d rip out any artery, muscle, tissue, and even his own beating heart to make room for Zagreus to build a home there. Protected by his ribs and forever with him. Whoever would want him will have to get through Thanatos and rip open his chest to find Zagreus.

But he knows the ever talkative and moving god would never sit comfortably in him. If there is a problem Zagreus will face it himself. Like the idiot he is he will die hundreds of times if it means getting it right. Even if he almost destroys himself in the process. 

So Thanatos settles for holding Zagreus. Holding him close and absorbing every second Zagreus finds comfort in him.

“Hey Than.” Zagreus’ muffled voice breaks Thanatos out of his thoughts. His mouth is pressed up against his chest and the vibrations of it almost tickle. “You’re thinking too hard.”

“Any kind of thought is hard for you, Zag.”

“Yeah but you seem to be struggling right now and I can hear it echoing through that hollow skull of yours,” Zagreus shoots back. He lifts his head to look at Thanatos, obviously challenging him to retort back. Thanatos resists rolling his eyes and shifts his body in hopes of getting blood flow to his leg. 

“You’re the one to talk,” Thanatos scoffs. He watches as Zagreus also shifts with him, getting into a new comfortable position. 

Their voices are low, only soft enough for others to not hear. The River of Styx helps block their voices from others who want to eavesdrop. It helps keep the peaceful air around them intact.

“Tell me what you’re thinking about,” Zagreus asks. 

“It’s nothing.”

“If you’re going to say you were thinking about work while watching the Styx intently I’m going to leave to go find something else to do.”

Thanatos frowns, his arms unintentionally tightening around Zagreus, trapping him to the man. With his movements Zagreus only grins back up to him, a slight low laugh reverberating between their bodies.

“Tch.”

“Come on, I’m all ears.”

“I was...thinking about how I enjoy doing this. The laying together, holding you close,” Thanatos says. He can feel the blush coming onto his cheeks.

Zagreus blinks at him, his brain slowly processing the words. “Oh, wow. I wasn’t expecting that. I also enjoy these moments too, Than. It feels nice, having you all to myself for a while.”

“Don’t be embarrassing.”

“Oh, you’re shy,” Zagreus gloats. The laughter louder, now. “Remember you gave me Mort and then disappeared out of embarrassment? That was cute and I have him on me at all times now to remember it.”

“Shut up, Zag.”

“Oh and the one time you held my hand in front of Nyx? My Mom? You’re so easy.”

“Zagreus.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll stop. For now.” 

Even now as Zagreus teases and laughs joyfully at Thanatos he is calm. Still. Like the energy he has before has finally tired out or decided to take a break just so he can lay down with Thanatos. 

Zagreus lays his head back down, this time his hand coming out to draw things on Thanatos’ chest right above his heart. 

“I don’t ever want to move from here,” Zagreus mumbles. “Having you like this to myself is really nice. Is that what you’re also thinking?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I’m happy to know that.”

His voice is filled with something that Thanatos can’t quite describe. But it makes his chest feel full and his body light. If he could somehow engulf Zagreus right then and there he would. Just become one with the other until he is complete and whole. To meld together right here and never have to care about separating once again. 

He could then hear Zagreus every day. All the time. He wouldn’t mind that if it was Zagreus filling the empty spaces of his thoughts and more to speak.

Zagreus talks a lot. A chatterbox of a god and he somehow talks himself into everyone’s good graces. Into Thanatos’ heart. And somehow, each and every time, he finds a way to make him feel so much more than ever thought possible.

Maybe the next time he sees Eros he’ll ask him certain details about these feelings. In private, of course. Aphrodite will never let him go if he asks her but Eros, maybe, will keep it between them. 

“You’re thinking again.”

“I am allowed to think, Zag.”

“If I kiss you will you stop?”

“....Maybe.”

Perhaps he can thank Aphrodite later. No, scratch that. He'll thank all of the Gods associated with love a special gift basket. Give his sisters the Moirai one too. As long as he can keep this all to himself and forever they can have whatever.