OUR SOULS ARE UNITED:
“I love the way you speak, ” my eyes automatically flutter shut at his touch. His fingertips ghost over my lips before resting on my cheeks lightly. “As though the world will forever be tethered to your feet, ” his breath smells so strongly of the sweet watermelons he ate for breakfast and I want nothing more than to suck the juice from his bottom lip. “Lapping up your melancholy and nostalgia for things that never came to be.” The most intricate, abstract sentences are always on his tongue. “And singing you softly and sweetly to sleep.” I feel his eyelashes against my cheeks then the sensual brush of his lips against my own. Inhaling quickly, I open my eyes only to see and feel, that he is no longer pressed against me, but leaning against the tree opposite me with a small smile tugging on his red lips.
He is playing at being nonchalant, and I guess I can do that too.
I am Aristos Achaion, I tell myself, Best of The Greeks. Who am I to buckle and surrender to someone other than my father? Who am I to seek protection and approval from someone that is in many senses lesser than me? An exile even. I ask myself these questions as I stare at him staring at me from beneath his eyelashes. My heart wants so desperately to climb out of my chest and nestle in his warmth but I do not feed this want, this need. Instead, I drink long from the cup of water placed beside me and make sure to maintain steady eye contact with him. Patroclus. Pat-ro-clus. Patroclus. I feel his tempting gaze on my throat as I swallow and I do everything I can to bite back the smirk that threatens to break this skilful indifferent facade of mine.
“Achilles.” He breathes out my name as though it is the only name he’ll ever need to know in this sour world. As though my name holds such authority that is greater than the Gods themselves. I like it. Love it even. The way he says my name. Say it again, I want to whisper in his ear, say it again and again and again until I am sick to death of the name. Please, say it again. But I do not whisper to him and he does not say it again.
“Patroclus.” His name on my tongue is automatic. I relish at the thought that I, Achilles, am able to freely utter his name like a song, a beautiful, beautiful song like him.
“What do you desire?” His head lulls innocently to the side a little in order to gauge my reaction at such an intimately simple question. He moves slowly and deliberately to stand in front of me once again, his honeyed eyes are caught in the sun and he looks… he looks completely ethereal, completely out of this world and the next -and the next and the next and the next-.
“What do I desire?” I foolishly echo the question back to him. What do I desire? Would he want to know that it isn’t what I desire but rather who. Would he be so willing for my answer when he finds out that it is him I desire?
He simply nods and traces the complex designs of a piece of fallen bark from an Oak tree that he finds laying beside me. I didn’t realise we had sat down until now.
“You.” The three letter word is pulled out of me within a mere blink of an eye, allowing him my pure and honest thought. It is him I want, always and forever. His head whips to face me so quickly I’m sure he suffered from whiplash. He gapes, his red lips opening and closing like a goldfish. I’ve never seen him look this speechless before.
“Me ?” Disbelief coats his voice which comes out small, in a squeak. He’s stopped pulling apart the bark now and is instead giving me his undivided attention.
“You. ” My hand finds his on the grass and out of instinct, I draw him closer to me. Closer, closer, closer until all I can see are the freckles peppered on his face and the fine hairs on his chin. All I can hear are his quick breaths. All I can feel are his legs wrapped around my waist, the smoothness of his skin and his delicate heartbeat against my chest. And all I can taste ( finally ) is watermelon juice as I suck his bottom lip into my mouth, eliciting a euphoric hum from him. He pulls away with a lazy smile plastered on his face,
“Why?” He whispers against my lips, nudging his cold nose against my own.
“Why ? Because you are Philtatos, most beloved.” I love the smile that splits his angelic face in two. He tests the word on his tongue, his mouth forming around the syllables. I swallow the word as I kiss him.
“Philtatos, philtatos, philtatos. ” He breathes again and again and again between kisses and I can’t help but think yes, you are indeed Philtatos, most beloved and you are mine, mine and mine alone! No one should ever even dare attempt to take you away from me for I will kill them and then pick and pick and pick at the entire gene pool until there is no one left. No one should even dare.
“And you? What do you desire Patroclus?” My hands wander across the plain of his chest and rest lightly on his thighs that are warmed from the ever-shining sun. I do not miss the way he smiles slightly at the mention of his name on my tongue, nor do I miss the way his nose and his lips brush against my throat as he inhales me.
He can kill me if he wants. Right here, right now, as we sit together in this bubble of self-made bliss, he can kill me if he wishes. That realisation alone scares me to my core for I find that I wouldn’t even mind, not in the slightest. I find it’d even be one of my greatest achievements to be able to die by Patroclus’ hands. I feel him kiss my neck softly, his lips are gentle and magical, it’s almost as if he’s telling me that he will not hurt me, that I can trust him with everything; with my heart, my soul and with my body. He must surely know that I already do, no?
“Hmm,” he mumbles against my flushed skin, “food I guess.” My hands still against his thighs and my body goes rigid. He must be joking? Surely he is joking. “I mean, food is just-“ what sounds like a mockery of a moan pushes past his lips. “Achilles, food is love and food is life.” He states before falling into a fit of giggles. Is he laughing at me? Something stirs in my stomach as I push him off of me (as gentle as ever) and stand. I’m sure disbelief is painted all over my face and this only makes him wheeze some more. I don’t have time for this.
I walk away from him, my feet move fast yet soundlessly against the grass and I keep going, on and on and on and on until I am tackled to the grass by Patroclus who grins at me, the vivacious white flowers littering the area cushion our fall. I flip us over so I straddle his hips instead. I like this sudden dominance.
“Patroclus.” I regard him, my voice is clipped and I try very hard to ignore the slight falter in his smile.
“Achilles.” He holds his own.
“I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to be playing games with you,” my voice is still clipped and his smile is distinguished by the time I finish speaking. I don’t know what’s brought about this attitude of mine. I don’t know why I am so angry all of a sudden. What am I angry about? At the possibility that Patroclus may not desire me as much as I desire him? Is that a rational thought? No. It is not fair on Patroclus, and I feel overcome with guilt when I see his solemn face. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be-“
“Envious? Doubtful? Possessive ? Pick one Achilles or better yet, all three.” He does not look at me when he speaks, instead, his eyes focus on the trees that skirt the area. I can't help but love his brazen tone- I can’t help but love him. I’ve never said the words before but I think he knows as the way I handle him entirely makes this emotion pretty clear. Every brush of my fingers against his skin, every smile and the unconscious ways in which my body reacts to him, the unconscious ways in which my eyes quickly find his in a room full of people that hold no importance to me in comparison to him. In the light. In the dark. Even in my dreams. I’m sure my affection and love is pretty obvious and I never want to suppress them for they are for him alone, always .
“Forgive me?” Comes my plea, as soft and gentle as ever.
“You’re crushing me.” Is his muffled response. I result to interpreting it two ways, I’m either literally crushing him or metaphorically crushing him. I go for the latter.
“Please, forgive me?”
“Achilles,” Patroclus’ voice holds an authority that I’ve never heard before yet there is a breathy touch to it, almost as if he’s flustered or panicked, “I said,” a breath is breathed out forcefully through his nose, “you’re crushing me.”
Instant realisation strikes me and I hastily roll over to lie beside him. Our fingers carefully brush against one another until Patroclus slips his fingers in between the spaces of mine, interlocking our hands.
I watch this beautiful boy as he watches me. A wave of something surges in my chest, the feeling is warm and sickly sweet but I love it and decide I want to feel this feeling all the time, with him, Patroclus. I want to experience everything with him- if he’d allow me the pleasure of course.
“I have to tell you this before I chicken out.” His voice is breathy and almost nervous, he looks as though he’s abruptly torn himself out of an intense trance-like haze. I’m scared of the words that are going to come out of his mouth next so I act fast and spit out the words that ache and weigh me down the more I abstain from accepting them.
“I love you.” There.
The truth is out and there’s nothing I can do to retract it. I can’t possibly grasp the string of hurried words and push them back into my mouth and it seems I cannot look Patroclus in the eyes either. Unconsciously, I take comfort in staring at the aegean sky instead, feeling all at once naked and exposed. I’ve become all too aware of the rapid wind whistling against our frames, the wind is sudden and sure but does nothing but ruffle my tunic, exposing my bare thigh.
There is silence for what feels like an age. A silence that allows my mind to stray and flutter and filter through every single thought imaginable, some more rational than others.
It pains me to admit how frightened I am. It pains me to admit how very vulnerable I feel and it pains me to acknowledge the quick unmistakable ache in my chest. My heart heaves and heaves, wanting nothing more than to escape from between my ribs which grasp the organ painfully, caging it relentlessly. I want to run but I know I cannot. It seems I am forever bound to this man. This man that now knows the contents of my heart so thoroughly. This man that can practically kill me if he wishes. It seems I am forever bound to Patroclus. My Therapon. My Philtatos.
Patroclus . I love him.
I almost don’t register his touch as he squeezes my hand. I was in a trance-like state but his touch brought me back to the surface, to reality (much against my will). I rotate my head slowly in his direction to find that he is already looking at me with those doe eyes of his. Something in them breaks me. Something in them makes me ache with yearn all over.
“It’s okay. If you do not feel the same Patroclus, it is o-“ I begin only to be interrupted by his sudden movement. His face surges up until we meet, eye to eye, nose to nose, and finally, finally , mouth to mouth. His kiss is like a whispered promise against my lips and I am suddenly very much emotional. Love surges through my chest and it seems I do not know what to do with all of this love. I do not know what to do but I know I must show him just how much affection and adoration courses through my veins.
I don’t hold back the choked sob that had taken refuge in my chest, a tear trickles ever so painfully slow down my cheek. It’s hot and it burns but I do nothing to stop this disgraceful show of loss masculinity. I do not will these tears to stop and neither does he, instead, he very carefully holds my face in the palms of his trembling hands and kisses each tear that blesses my cheeks. Look, look at how much love resides in me, just for you, only for you. Look at this Patroclus, look at what you do to me. LOOK! LOOK! LOOK!
“Achilles, Achilles, Achilles .” He breathes my name like a litany against my skin and goosebumps, as though summoned by his voice alone and not the wind that howls around us now, rise and pepper my skin. “Achilles, listen to how the wind whistles for you,” the sound is overbearing but peaceful still. “Feel the way my heart beats for you,” he presses my hand over his chest, his heart beats erratically at the touch, almost as though it wants to break free and become one with my own which thuds just as enthusiastically in my chest. “Look at how my eyes reflect such admiration for you,” I look into his eyes and almost drown in thick, thick, honey. “And finally, taste my tears that run for you,” his tears are sweet to taste, my body yearns for more.
“Achilles, this feeling has burned in my heart since our very first encounter, it burns bright and strong whenever we are together and even when we are apart it burns brighter still. This feeling… this feeling has surpassed love. It is more than love. I, I don’t know! I don’t know what it is but I know it’s for you. Take it, please, just take it! ” He thrusts himself at me then, his arms tightening around my neck, his left cheek pressing desperately against my right cheek, and his legs circle around my waist, pushing us closer, closer, closer still until there is nothing between us, nothing but the soft material of our tunics stopping us from being skin to skin.
“Gods, Patroclus, you are everything . Without you, I have no purpose . I live for you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
An interval of silence tangles itself around us then, a silence that is shattering in the most purest of ways, a silence that makes me hold my breath.
“Please...don’t hurt me. Promise me Achilles that whatever you do you will never use my love for you against me, please Achilles. Please. I don’t think I’d be able to survive that, you know I wouldn’t be able to survive that.” Patroclus pleads, quiet and disconcerting, almost like a composition, the type of arrangement that leaves you broken from the inside out, the type of arrangement that makes you want to deconstruct your whole body and lay your bones ever so carefully at the composer’s blessed feet. Your bruised heart and failing lungs on top of the pile as a gift- as a thank you- for this oeuvre. For these emotions. For allowing themselves the permission to find within themselves these notes that make up this whole delicate piece that you too have fallen helplessly in love with. It’s almost as though you wish to give the composer your brain, to say ‘Ah, feed me, allow me this blessing of being able to feed from your power. To learn from you and only you as you have generously graced this corrupt earth with a composition so utterly pure. Feed me your knowledge. Give me some of your intelligence and I won’t let you down- I promise, I’ll continue to shed light on your brilliance’.
My heart aches at his request. The fact that he thinks I’d commit such a cruel and inhumane act causes my pulse to quicken and my melancholia to crash and spread like a virus in my bones. I am revolted by the simple thought of hurting Patroclus, absolutely disgusted for he is like a fully bloomed flower. A flower that has endured each and every turning season and waits and waits for Spring to come to bloom him anew once again. I want to be that for him. I want to be his Spring. His Spring. His reason to look forward to each and every season with as much vigour as the last, with as much fiery passion that burns in those earth stained honey doused eyes of his right now as he stares at me. Pleading, begging, submitting himself to me.
I pluck a lone white phlox that stands idly beside where we lay joined everywhere. It's almost as though our limbs know no end, it is hard to register where one starts and the other ends and I decide I wouldn’t have it any other way. The flower’s many leaves are soft beneath my pressing fingertips and I feel almost guilty when I disturb the growth of this beautiful flower and thread it through Patroclus’ unruly loose curls. His breath hitches as though by plucking the flower from the earth, I've physically hurt him.
“Achilles! What have I told you about picking flowers.” Patroclus mumbles, clearly displeased. He does not like it when I disrupt the course of nature. I do not bother to inform him that we are basically disrupting the course of nature right now just by laying together. It is not allowed for two men to lay the way we do, not yet anyway. His hand immediately goes to slowly and carefully untangle the flower from his hair.
It is not only men I kill, nature too it seems.
“Phlox.” I simply say, smiling meekly at Patroclus who looks at me with his thick eyebrows furrowed slightly. His movements stutter, no longer picking the white petals from his curls. “In the language of flowers, phlox means o-“
“Our souls are united.” He breathes, understanding registering and rearranging his facial features so his doe eyes soften, going blind with sudden tenderness.
“Our souls are united.” I do not know why I repeat this statement, this truth. Perhaps in order to set it in stone, in testament to the Gods who will ever try to savagely rip us away from one another. Our souls are united. Wherever he goes, I will follow and wherever I go, he will follow. He is half of my soul as the poets say, and I am half of his soul. To have a piece of Patroclus’ lovely soul cannot be compared with any luxury. Nothing is better than having his soul. Nothing is better than having him with me. Nothing.
“So, you’re mine then?” Patroclus’ smirk makes me chuckle against his neck which I abuse with tender kisses. I am his. I always have been his and he knows it.
“I am yours.”
“As am I.” His brows furrow once again as he catches himself and corrects his statement. “Wait, no. I just confused myself. I meant...I meant, I’m also yours. You have me. All of me.”
We smile like fools at one another and it is almost as though I am swiftly catapulted back to our youth. Back to the days we spent together, the grains of sand stubbornly claiming every patch of skin that was bare. There was sand, everywhere . Patroclus was everywhere too. His sweet scent which reminded me of Spring — the very same scent that would cling desperately to me even when we were not together, as a reminder maybe, of our time together — his hands were everywhere too, or maybe that was just a figment of my imagination .
I had often dreamt and spent my days wistfully daydreaming about what it would feel like to just hold him, nothing more. I wondered whether the taut skin on his stomach felt just as smooth and just as soft as the palms of his hands.
I wondered whether the trail of hair that travelled from his navel and continued on, disappearing down, hidden behind his tunic, felt any different to the hair on his head, on his face, on his arms, on his legs.
I wondered what it would be like to latch onto him. To have us joined physically, mentally, intimately .
I craved for this. For this intimacy. I craved for him. But I don’t need to anymore because I have him. He’s here, with me. He’s as beautiful as ever and his lips are clumsily travelling down down down and— oh. Oh .
“Is this okay?” My love’s voice is feather-light, looping around me by Zephyrus. Oh.
His lips trail across my chest and my heart flutters. My stomach is in careful knots, flipping, flipping, flipping as his teeth catch on my skin.
“I love your skin,” he says against my collarbone, “you’re all smooth lines and well put together edges. And you taste like honey and the sea.”
I think it’s an odd thing to confess your love for one’s skin. Skin is skin and I guess I never thought much of how beautiful skin could be until Patroclus. I love his skin. Although he is scarred in some places, places that he refuses to let me touch because the memories attached are too potent, but still. I love his skin. And I love him.
I am so full of it, so so full of it that I’m not sure I can stop myself even if I wanted to, from curling my fingers around the locks of hair that frame his cherub-like face. My eyes flutter over the scar above his eyebrow that he once told me his father gave him and it hits me like a freight train that he’s lived a life before me. It hits me that we haven’t known one another our whole lives and almost like a last kick in the gut for good measure, the thought of his suffering and years of nonexistent love, without me , makes my gut heave and my jaw tense.
“Stop. Stay. Don’t go away,” his bottom lip trembles slightly, “don’t think about it. I’m here, with you, and I’m safe and happy and in love. With you. I’m in love with you Achilles.”
I nod and grin, taking my time to thread more phloxes into his hair.
I’m in love with him and he’s in love with me and this is all that I’ve ever wanted.
Our souls are united, as are our hands and our hips and our lips.
He will always be the one I desire.