"Gods shouldn't fall in love."
"It's not love," Apollo muses as he spins an arrow in his hand. The top of his thumb smoothes over the tip and he can feel the sharpness of it. "It is just–," his eyes trail to the ceiling or the temple, plush lips pursing. "Enjoyment? Pleasure? Anything to deal with my boredom."
The frame of the man in the doorway of the white marble temple shifts and he watches as his son drapes his coat over his shoulders, conceals his face. "Humans shouldn't be messed with," come his words and Apollo pauses, turns to smirk at him.
"Is this because of all the stories they spread about you?"
"Lucas," Zeus' voice comes and for a moment Apollo pauses. His father hardly ever calls him that. It's a remnant. The only memory they hold after they ascend. A reminder that they too were human.... once. "Do not toy with their hearts." For a moment the old God's eyes flicker as if he remembers something. Lucas could ask, knows no one could lie to him, not even his father Zeus, but somehow… something tells him that wasn't his father. It was...
Zeus looks up again, brown eyes hardening and erasing any trace of that humanity he still so desperately clings to. Lucas wonders what his life must have been like before this, wonders who John was before he ascended to be the God of Gods.
"They don't have supernatural powers or the lifespan of eternity, but they hold so much more."
"Truth," Lucas says confidently. "It's fascinating is it not?"
Johnny stares a moment in silence. "You still have so much to learn," he says instead of confirming. He turns then, makes to leave. "Don't cause a scene."
Lucas had been staring curiously before his father said that, wanted to know John's answer to his own question, but he shrugged it off, smiled once more. "What is a sun God without any light!?"
He doesn't see his father’s reaction as he leaps from his veranda into the clouds, descends with the bright beams of the sun.
Actia is one of Lucas' favorite festivals.
It was said that the God would enjoy the wrestling, the brutal combat between men, the horse racing, the sea battles that left the waters murky with dirt, Poseidon so despised, but in truth Lucas' favorite part or the festival was the singing. The octave of voices that would join together to praise him, to pray for him. That is what he loved.
His feet swung as he sat on the wooden pillar above the stage, out of sight from prying eyes, not that he minded the attention. This was just the best seat. He smiled as he listened to the smooth voice of the man on stage, he was good. Lucas was impressed, wondered what this human did for labor. It must be tasking giving his physique. All hard muscle and pale skin.
Maybe he should consider adding him to his list of lovers? His face was not unkind. The dimples in his cheeks deepening as the crowd applaud him.
"Jaehyun, huh?" He smiled as his face rest in his palm. His eyes trailed after the man as he walked under Lucas and he was about to jump down to speak to him when Jaehyun bumped into someone.
"Oh! I am so sorry!" The voice comes as the smaller man scrambles to apologize. His face is obscured by his brown hood, but the voice is so different, catches Lucas' attention and he peers down curiously.
"It's fine," Jaehyun smiles and wishes the man luck. He's the next performer Lucas realizes, eyes the small wooden lute in the man's hand as he shuffles forward.
There is no introduction as he lowers himself on the wooden stage riddled with dust and sand that has blown in because of the wind and the crowd pays him no mind until he starts playing, the pleasant tune of his guitar pulling the crowd’s attention one by one.
Lucas' hand drops from his chin and he leans forward, eyes focused on the man. When he finally starts singing it's surprisingly soft, so different from his speaking voice and although it is not as smooth as Jaehyun's, it's warm..., welcoming and flows into the strums of his lute so easily.
The crowd is silent and when the man looks up he can hear the smile in his song before he shifts lightly, continues to sing and the small children in the crowd laugh and jump at the old nursery rhyme he's chosen. Lucas knows it well. Of course he does. It's one of his. One mothers use to sing their children to sleep.
"And don't be afraid of the dark my dear, because his light will protect you even at night."
There is a soft laugh and the crowd doesn't howl, but the smiles on their faces are apparent as the man bows.
"Mark Lee!" The host announces and the name engraved itself in his skin as he watched the man walk back to where he came from, pulled the hood tighter around his face.
Children crowded him at the edge of the stage and jumped around him. The next performer was announced. The last one and Lucas knew after that, they'd announce the winner, but he was rising to his feet and walking along the wooden beam, the structure creaking a bit as he maneuvered over the ropes holding up the curtains.
He watches in silence as the man ran along with the kids, left the stage behind, lute in his hands yet again, the kids cheering because he had most likely decided to play the song again.
He knew one of his lovers was waiting for him and if he were to speak to Jaehyun it would have to be now, but instead of mingling in the crowd until the festival ended like he usually did every year he descended down the beams swiftly. His agility making them shake and startling the people that were bellow when he finally touched down in the dirt. The eyes lingered on him in awe as they always did. People would always stare even when his face was obscured, his presence demanding. He took great pride in it, but right now he paid it no mind, cape catching in the wind and dust as he trailed after Mark Lee.
Mark giggles a moment, the kids dancing around him when he continued his song.
"Again, again!" They cheered and he laughed out again.
"Now come on. Where is the fun if I sing you all my songs?" he smiled, "Plus! Your mothers must be worried sick! Missing the festival for a simple man like me when Apollo needs your praise. For shame," he shook his head.
Some of the kids gasped. "Oh no!" And Mark suppressed the smile that dared to break out on his face.
"Now run along," he shooed with a light wrist, adding, "and make sure to be kind!" When the small group scurried away. He smiled lightly as he placed his lute on his back again, slowly walked into the bustling market place.
The weather was amazing, bright sun above his head, but he covered his mouth against the rising dust as pedestrians moved about. He truly loves the Actia festival. Even if it calls people from far and wide, disrupts his quiet morning routine to the town.
It's fine. A bit of excitement never killed anyone. He feels the sweat run down the back of his neck as he moves so a cart can role by and waves at the elderly couple where he buys his meat. He'll have to restock next week.
"Tell me good news!" Is how he announces his arrival to Yuta's little tent. The dark-red fabric of the curtains draped up against the sun and protecting all the herbs and vegetables.
"Mark!" The man exclaims from where he was rearranging a bundle that seemed to have gotten tangled up. His smile is wide, as it always is when he sees Mark. "You're back."
"That I am. The kids loved it."
"And you didn't stay for the prize," Yuta says as fact and Mark laughs."The man with the beautiful baritone voice deserves it more than me." He accepts the bag of gold from Yuta easily. It weighs heavy in his hand. "And?"
"Sold out," Yuta smiles, "like every year. Your crops really are blessed by the Gods."
"Or by my hard work," Mark jokes and Yuta grins. He's come to love working with the merchant. They had met a few years back when Yuta had moved here, his husband ill and he had stumbled upon him at the market where he was being scammed for herbs.
Mark had taken to pulling him aside and explaining what he actually needed and Yuta had been so grateful when Mark had helped him find the local doctor. Later, when he finally met Taeyong, a kind, beautiful man. Yuta had invited him over for dinner and ever since their friendship had bloomed.
"I heard some people talking about instruments when I was working," Yuta says then. He watches Mark put away his pouch before he continues, smiles when the man looks up wide eyed. "Maybe you can finally use that hard earned money to buy yourself something new."
"Really?" Mark asks excitedly, he deflates then. "Nah. I doubt they have what I am looking for."
Yuta places a hand on his shoulder. "Never stop hoping Mark. Don't you dare. It's not like you."
Mark smiles at that, gives Yuta a slight shove and they both laugh before he bids his goodbyes, Yuta promises he'll bring him Taeyong's cooking tomorrow and Mark holds him down to it because he'd love some of Taeyong's muffins.
He finds the hut with instruments quite easily and wants to ask the merchant if he has the bouzouki he's been looking for, but it is quite busy so with a sigh Mark just walks about the hut. His eyes scan over the different small harps and drums, sunlight streaming in through cracks of fabric and dust hovering in the air as he walks through a quiet area, glances at the crowd huddled at the merchant.
Well this is what a festival brings. He can't even be mad. A smile curls on his lips as he runs a finger over the smooth wood of a harp on display when a voice startles him.
It's deep and if it wasn't so quiet here Mark wouldn't have heard it. He spins at the sudden presence, eyes going wide as they have to look up into large deep brown eyes. He blinks, the strangers head tilting in silence as he looks down at Mark. His brows are strong, eyes piercing as the rest of his face is covered away from prying eyes.
Mark mouth opens, brows furrowing. "H-hello?"
The eyes shrink just a tad and Mark takes a breath. "I didn't–" his brows furrow more. The man is huge, the top of his head nearly touching the white thin fabric of the tent and Mark can't believe he didn't see him at all.
"Can I help you?" The man stares in silence for a moment and Mark can't seem to look away. Sinks deeper into the eyes as he waits, body growing hotter and he wants to shake his head because that makes no sense at all.
The large man shifts, fluid, so swift as an arm emerges from his light brown cape. He holds out a hand.
Mark looks down at it and for some reason his heart starts racing. Something telling him to walk away, to run, but instead he lifts his own and when the large hand envelops his, he feels even smaller.
He looks back up to the eyes, takes a breath before he speaks. "Mark."
Mark wonders who this Lucas is, from where he emerged. So sudden like, Mark watches the rays of sunlight makes lines over the man's frame, like the light.
"Are you looking for something?"
Mark blinks before his brain brings him back to reality, back to the music tent."A bouzouki."
"You wish to have a new one," It's said as fact and Mark feels like Lucas is leaning in, but the man has not moved at all.
Mark's hand lifts and runs over his forearm slowly. "Yes," he answers slowly.
Lucas' eyes dart to the slow motion, trail up Mark's frame. "I will not harm you."
This makes a look of confusion wash over Mark's face. Why would he say that? Why would anyone– He stops, hand retracting from his forearm. "Is it because if this?" he asks suddenly. "No– no– I– I do this for–" he trails off as Lucas' head tilts again. "Confidence."
Lucas stares a moment longer. "Is there a reason you shouldn't be?"
"There are many reasons." Like your height for instance and your voice.
Lucas' mask shifts and his eyes shrink, smile. "There shouldn't be. You're stunning."
Blush creeps up Mark's neck, but then he shakes his head in confusion again. "You've just met me. You've never seen my face."
"Then let me see your face." It isn't a question. More of a demand and Mark's brows furrow. Lucas said it with such ease, such patience, like Mark would show him his face.
"I'm not obligated to–"
"If you show me yours, I'll show you mine."
The air rings and Mark's mouth opens a bit as he stares at Lucas. The man hasn't said anything special, yet Mark knows he isn't lying.
He's over thinking again. It isn't that big of a deal. It's just his face, but– somehow suddenly he feels self conscious and yet his hands rise.
They push back his hood first, fingers running through his dark brown locks, ruffling them and he watches as Lucas stares at him, eyes focused as Mark pulls down his scarf slowly. Lucas is silent as his eyes scan over Mark and it burns. He clenches his teeth and swallows, "There," he says. "You've seen my face."
Mark wonders what he's thinking. His body doesn't give away anything and neither do his eyes. Mark supposes he's disappointed.
The motion of Lucas’ arms catches him by surprise and then he has a second to register that he's revealing his face like he had said. He pulls both his hood and scarf back at the same time and for a moment Mark doesn't know where to focus.
The thick locks that fall forward as they are freed or the strong nose, followed by plush lips that are pulled in a line. Lucas eyes him quietly and his strong jaw shifts. There are gold loops in his ears and they glimmer in the sunlight.
He doesn't look real and for a long moment Mark just stares.
Lucas says nothing and Mark actually wants to hear him speak so he knows he is the same man as a moment ago. The eyes seem so much stronger now, shaded by the bangs as he stands there. Is he actually real? Mark's mind asks again. There is something inhuman about him, like he doesn't belong here. The air around him vibrates in a way and Mark wants to reach forward, touch him.
Mark's eyes widen. "W-what?" He is real. He's an actual man, stands in front of Mark and tilts his head again before the deep voice comes, lips curling into a smile and eyes twinkling.
"You are stunning."
Mark is painfully aware of the man's pressing presence behind him as he follows him in the market place. Their hoods are up again, have to be since the wind has picked up and blows the dust ramped.
"Why are you following me?" Mark looks over his shoulder and looks away when their eyes lock, the blush in his cheeks ever present. He thanks the Gods his scarf hides it now, had been aware or how the tall man had been staring at them.
Lucas' voice is low, but somehow Mark still hears it clearly over the chatting people and rattling carts. "You're interesting."
Mark scoffs. "I assure you," he dares to look back. "I am the least interesting man on this planet. The Gods have blessed me with a good pair of hands. That is all I am good for."
Mark sighs. It's like he is being followed by a puppy. A six foot puppy, but a puppy nonetheless. "The festival is in full swing. Go have fun."
"Join me then."
"I can't," Mark answers as he stops so the carts can roll by, "I have to tend to my crops. I skipped this morning to sing. Now I must go."
"Then I will join you."
"And if I don't want you to join me?" Mark asks a little irritated, steps forward. A large hand comes around and pulls him backwards into a hard chest. Mark's eyes grow wide and his mouth opens before there is a crash right in front of him, startles him. The horse of a nearby cart going wild and crashing into another. The crates on the cart in front of him crash in the sand before his feet and pears roll by them.
His heart is pounding in his ears as he watches the accident, can't believe how fast it happened. What's more, how fast Lucas reacted.
He hasn't moved and Mark can feel his steady heartbeat against his back. His hand lowers then, slowly and Mark misses the heaviness of his palm immediately.
"I will join you," comes the hushed whisper and Mark nods silently.
He looks up at the man when he backs away and Lucas' eyes are running over the area, like he is looking for something.
When Mark whispers a thank you though, his eyes snap to him and they shrink just a tad, head lowering in reassurance.
Mark stares at him again, watches him inspect the area, but when he turns and walks away Lucas trails behind him again and now the weight of his presence doesn't seem as strong.
No matter how you look at it. It's strange. Lucas follows him all the way home. The two hour journey mostly spent in silence because Lucas hardly says anything and Mark simply doesn't know what to say.
Lucas doesn't pry and when Mark silently brings him something to drink he simply smiles, nods when he's informed that Mark will be working and as his knees are buried in the dirt like every day the man sits and observes him.
He carries bags full of harvested vegetables inside and stores them on Mark's orders, helps him repair his broken fence and even washes the dishes after they share a meal, Mark explaining the current season and the effect the weather may have.
"Why are you still here?" Mark asks suddenly. Water is placed over the fire for his bath. The sun has set, the cool night seeping into everything and Lucas is still here, sits quietly by the fire. His skin glows in it and Mark dares say he glows himself, but that's nonsense.
Lucas looks up slowly, the fire crackles in the stillness of the night. "Because I want to be."
"Will your family not worry? The journey home can be dangerous even for–" he runs his eyes over Lucas. "You."
The man smiles. "Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself, but–" he runs his eyes over Mark. Over his simple clothing, since he had removed his hood, dirty, much like his skin. "If you want me to leave. I will." Mark shifts a bit.
"You could spend the night and leave in the morning," he offers tentatively, ignores Lucas' little smile. "Yuta will be stopping by tomorrow morning to collect my crops. Maybe you can hitch a ride back to town?"
"You're kind," Lucas' voice comes. "I will stay– because you asked me to."
He helps him fill the tub and to Mark's surprise, quietly excuses himself when he starts to strip.
Lucas listens in silence as the water, ripples and sloshes with Mark's movement, counts the stars. Even the ones you can't see with the naked eye and when Mark's voice comes again, hushed in the night Lucas takes him in just as silently. Mark retires to bed quite quickly, explanations of an early morning and Lucas wishes him goodnight before he disappears into his room.
He spends the hours of the night listening to the sounds the small house makes, eyes focused on the ground as he listens to the man's slow breaths as he sleeps. When it is twilight hour he rises and walks into the darkness of the land, makes for the stream he had spotted on his way here and counts the seconds until sunrise. The water is ice cold against his skin as he sits in it, mind wandering to the man that was asleep a mile away.
He returns, can't help it and leans against the house as he hears the shifting. The yawns. In the distance he can hear the rattling of a cart and just as he hears the thin wooden door of Mark's bedroom door open, he vanishes. A flash only present for a moment before the light shoots into the sky.
Mark catches it, the door opening a moment later and he looks around. It's silent and when he looks at the horizon Yuta's cart starts peeking over the hill. He glances back inside, at the empty living space, the blankets he had offered folded neatly and unused.
He can't help the tinge of disappointment he feels in his chest.
"Are you okay?"
Mark blinks and turns to Yuta. The man is looking at him curiously. Mark's brows furrow. "What?"
"You're spacing out. That is unlike you Markie."
"Oh," Mark shakes his head. "No I just–" Flashes of the previous day run through his mind. "Hey– Did you by any chance– See a man walking by the road on your way here?"
Yuta's brows furrow in confusion. "Uhm, no– Why?"
The ripple in Mark's brows becomes more prominent. "I met someone."
"A man. He–" there is a silence, Mark wondering if Lucas had actually been there. "He followed me home...and stayed the night."
Yuta looks at him like he's crazy. "A man. Stayed the night. With you??"
Mark shoves him lightly. "Not like that!" He blushes a bit. Just the idea of laying with Lucas... strong arms, a handsome face, the deep voice moaning his name– He shakes his head before he continues. "Are you sure you didn't see anyone? He's hard to miss?"
Mark asks again, but realizes he did miss Lucas the first time they met. Yuta loads in the last bag of cabbages, "I really didn't see anyone. Maybe he went the other way?" Yuta gives him an unsure look. Mark too is unsure because there is no town for days in the other direction. He lives the furthest from their town and Yuta comes here from the edge of said town specifically to collect his harvest and to bring him his earnings. "I'm more worried about a stranger following you home Mark. You're too kind. What if he was a thief or worse a murderer?"
Mark looks at the horizon. The sky is starting to color, come to life. He remembers the way Lucas pulled him out of harms reach. "He wasn't," he whispers then, so soft Yuta doesn't hear as he's mounting his cart.
"I'll tell you this afternoon if I see someone on my way back. Now I have to go before they claim all the best spots."
Mark blinks up again. "Yeah– sorry– be safe. Thank you for the muffins."
Yuta smiles. "Don't eat them all in one go." With that he sets off and for a long while Mark watches his cart move up the hill before he walks inside.
It seems more silent than usual... Or maybe it's because his thoughts are loud? He frowns then, shakes his head for the third or fourth time, he can't remember. It's so unlike him to think of a man. Of anyone to be honest. He has a pretty straight forward life and as he walks about the living space in his small house to prepare for the day he pushes the thoughts aside....... for now.
The loud thumps echo through the hall. They are continuous, hard and any human would have stopped by now, but Apollo wasn't human. He was a God and the sand in the carefully woven bag was slowly running out of the small rips he had caused with his brutal kicks. He could feel the grains sink into his skin before they fell to the floor, yet his shin lodged itself into the large bag again, and again, and again.
He was not aware of it anymore, mind wandering, flashing sounds and memories over his vision. His shin connects one last time, the bag bursting and sand rushing out, it spills in front of him and as he straightens up a single word falls from his lips. "Uncle."
"I was wondering if I should've asked you to stop," the calm voice comes, "but I doubt you would have listened."
Lucas doesn't turn, simply walks over to his bow and pulls a gold arrow from the quiver that is so neatly placed amongst the swords, spears and daggers. He is still silent when it darts through the air, whistles before it pierces the bags at the other end of the room.
"How was Actia?" No reply. Another arrow pierces the bag but a millimeter next to the previous. "You always boast about your worshippers, tell me of your new toys. Are you so distressed that you will ignore me completely?"
Lucas stills mid form, ancient bow stretched to the max. His eyes finally dart to Poseidon. "I am not distressed."
The man smiles amused from where he is leaning against the wall. His hair is pushed out of his face and the brown eyes that hold the sea judge him.
Lucas despises that look. Kun is good. Kun is kind, but much like the sea, Poseidon holds many secrets. Secrets he does not like to share.
"Do tell," he muses. "You returned at sunrise instead of sunset. You spent the night in the human realm."
"And what of it?" Lucas lowers his bow, turns to his uncle. "I may do as I see fit, uncle."
Kun calmly raises a hand. "No need for hostility Lucas. I just came to check on you since I didn't catch you last night."
Lucas' eyes trail down the room. "You're right. I apologize," he replies and Kun nods silently, eyes falling shut.
They open slowly then and he stares at a point on the ground. He hums and when he looks up at Lucas he smiles again. "Earthquake."
It is silent for a few more moments before Lucas says. "I wandered away from my usual path." Kun looks at him curiously. "I don't know if I should have."
Kun's eyes fix on the man, narrow. "A human."
Lucas doesn't reply.
"A peculiar human," he says it slow and Lucas' ears ring with Mark's breaths, the soft beating of his heart. "Oh, dear Apollo. This does not bode well."
Lucas' lips fix in a line and his brows twitch in anger. He knows Poseidon means the same as Zeus. "Look after yourself," Kun says instead of lecturing him like he expected. He pushes himself off the wall, robes shifting a bit before he moves to the door. "And remember Apollo," he looks over his shoulder. "Care for the human. They are such fragile beings after all."
Lucas' face fully scrunched in anger now. Do they think so little of him? Kun implying that he knows Lucas can't hold back. It isn't in his nature to do so when he is passionate about something. He knows this, but it being thrown in his face like this is infuriating.
His skin simmers, eyes lighting aflame and he feels the bow and arrow melt in his hands before he hurls the ancient weapon aside, throws the arrow with so much force it pierces the nearest statue in the heart, shatters the marble stone as he groans in frustration.
Mark stares up in silent surprise, the breath catches in his throat and he blinks a few times to make sure the man is real, to make sure Lucas is real.
"It's you," he lets out and he sounds like he himself doesn't believe it. He doesn't. The tall man tilts his head and Mark stares in awe.
Nearly three months have passed. Yuta saw no one and neither did Mark. Mark was starting to forget him. A lingering memory he pondered over. He was starting to realize that maybe Lucas was in fact a figment of his imagination, but here he stood again. Eyes just as piercing as he remembers.
He shouldn't be here. He should not. Lucas has spent his time trying to distract himself from the man. Fighting, hunting, sex, anything to keep his mind from Mark Lee, but here he stood.
"What are you doing here?" Mark asks. His mouth is slightly agape, pink lips quivering just a tad. What indeed? Lucas thinks.
"I–" he starts and he could have said anything. A simple lie that would do the trick, but instead his mouth supplies, "I couldn't stop thinking of you."
The truth and Mark looks confused as the blush rises in his cheeks. Lucas loves it and a part of him fears that if Mark were to ask him anything he wouldn't lie. He knows this. Knows he should leave, but Mark stares at him with those beautiful eyes and he's hopeless.
He only appeared once, then vanished like he was never there to begin with. He could be a thief or worse, a murderer. The words ring. He should send him off, close the door, carry on with his day and yet. He isn't.
Mark's hand lifts slowly and he sees Lucas face light up in what seems like uncertainty, hope. His hand hesitates in the space between them. There are many things Mark could choose right now. Many options that are certain and yet his hand moves forward and wraps around Lucas' forearm, gently pulls the man inside his small house.
Lucas goes willingly.
Mark steps back after he's closed the door and he looks up at Lucas again. "H-hello," he breathes and the same breath catches in his throat when Lucas replies with a soft.
Mark gives a small winded smile and shuffles away, Lucas' eyes trailing after him. "I'm– I'm making dinner," Mark announces, spins, brows furrowing unsure. "You're just in time?"
A smile starts curling up Lucas' face and Mark turns to walk out the back door before it fully sets in, hugs himself because that overwhelming presence the man has is back.
Mark wants to ask where he disappeared to that day, but feels like it isn't his business. He wants to ask why he is here again, because he doesn't believe it, but instead he asks. "Was your trip tiring?"
Lucas looks up from his food slowly and Mark watches how his long fingers play with an olive. "No," comes his voice and he smiles, looks at his food again and Mark watches those long fingers push the small fruit between lips.
Not much changes from the last time and Mark is lightly blowing out candles with a soft breath, Lucas' eyes following him. He leaves the last one and quietly sinks on the wooden chair besides Lucas. It's a bit close and Mark hands him blankets.
"Will you be okay here? I didn't ask last time, but it does seem a bit cramped for you."
"I'll be fine. I told you not to worry about me."
Mark smiles. "I was just thinking that maybe that's why you left," he jokes but Lucas doesn't laugh, eyes slowly running over Mark's face before he says.
"That is not why I left."
Mark takes a breath and fiddles a bit before he gets up. "Okay," he bows his head and Lucas' eyes widen a tad. "I'll be going to bed. Goodnight Lucas."
It's so silent when he has blown out the last candle he carried into his room and for the longest time he lies awake, listens to the wind that blows past the walls of his house.
His heart is thumping in his chest, mind going a mile a minute at the man in his living room. He frowns when he realizes that he might leave again, turns onto his side and takes a deep breath.
"Lucas, huh?" He whispers to no one and after a few minutes his eyes fall shut.
When he wakes to the same darkness, but the familiarity to the early hours of the day he yawns and a moment later darts up, scrambles out of bed only to freeze in front of his door.
What if he's gone? The tinge of disappointment is back and he frowns, but then he shakes his head. No negativity Mark, he thinks. If he's gone he's gone, he decides, but he still opens the door slowly, silently for if the man is sleeping Mark would not want to wake him.
The house is silent as every morning. It is dark as every morning, and Mark realizes he should have lit the candle, but he takes a slow breath when in the darkness of the room he feels Lucas' eyes on him.
He is still in the doorway, eyes slowly getting used to the darkness, to the silhouette of the large man. Mark doesn't say anything, is actually taken aback.
Not only is Lucas still here. He is up, sits silently in the darkness of his house and Mark can't help his disbelieving smile when the man says.
"I wasn't expecting you to be awake."
"Were you expecting me to be half on the ground?"
Mark snorts at the image, then immediately covers his mouth. He can vaguely make out the man's smile before he says. "That would be quite the sight."
"A sight you'd find endearing." Mark's face falls in silent shock and his hand lowers slowly. That was exactly what he was thinking, but… how could he guess it on the spot?
"Y-yes," he mumbles and he blushes a tad, stumbles back into the safety of his room. "I-I'm– Let me light the candle and I'll prepare breakfast."
He manages to calm his racing heart, worries that he'll have lasting issues at this young age if he doesn't get it under control and moments later he's gathering bread for Lucas and himself.
"I'm sorry. This is all I have. I use most of my money on tools," he smiles wryly and Lucas takes the bread gratefully before his eyes flick to a point on the wall.
"What is it?" Mark asks curiously and his eyes trail to the same spot. "Is something wrong?"
Mark blinks confused, but then he hears the galloping of hoofs and the cart attached to the horse. Yuta. Mark looks back at Lucas a moment, then walks to the window to see Yuta hop off.
"I'll be back," he says then, places his bread on the table and rushes to the back door. Yuta is already walking around the small house. Habit. Lucas hears Mark greet him and he slowly rises to his feet, places down his bread and walks to the door.
The cold morning air seeps around his bare feet as he looks outside, watches and listens as Mark makes casual conversation with the man.
Lucas remembers him from the market place, his long hair reaching his shoulders and curling at the ends. There is something off about him and Lucas' eyes narrow.
Mark laughs lightly as he opens the small shed behind his house so Yuta can start carrying the bags of vegetables to his cart.
"And what did Taeyong have to say about this new discovery?"
Yuta smiles. "He–" Yuta stops mid sentence, smile falling and head turning towards Mark's house. Mark blinks a moment and then he looks too, eyes falling on the tall man in the doorway looking at them– No– Looking at Yuta."Who is that?" Yuta asks low, hushed as he stares at the man. He seems alert suddenly, unsettled.
"Uh," Mark starts, "That's–"
"The man you told me about," Yuta finishes. His head turns to Mark's then. "Mark I told you," he grits, "Don't let stran–"
Both Yuta and Mark's heads snap toward Lucas who is now standing right beside Yuta. Mark blinks a few times, looks at the door and then back again.
Yuta takes a step back and Lucas inspects him. Mark can't decipher his face and is worried the two men may not like each other, but then Lucas sticks out his hand. "Lucas," he simply says, but his face doesn't change. He doesn't smile, doesn't move and Yuta's eyes dart to Mark.
Mark panics, walks to Yuta's side and places a hand on his back. "Lucas returned yesterday," he says to inform Yuta and the man looks at Mark outraged. Mark takes it's because that means that Lucas spent the night. Lucas shifts a bit then and he looks at Mark, eyes wavering.
"Yuta," Yuta finally says then, hesitates as he looks at Lucas' hand, but takes it nonetheless. Lucas eyes look down at their locked hands and that makes Yuta pull back and Mark notices how uncomfortable he is.
"I apologize," Lucas begins finally. "I felt it would be rude of me not to introduce myself."
"Understandable," Yuta says and with that Lucas turns and walks away. Yuta looks at Mark and he can already tell the man is worried. "Why did you let him in??" He whispers. "Everything about him screams hostility."
Mark's brows furrow. "Hostility?"
"It felt like he was staring daggers into my soul."
Mark's eyes trail to where Lucas disappears into his house again. Lucas... hostile? Now that Mark thinks about it. He does have the physique to easily take down anyone. Mark wouldn't stand a chance, but he's been nothing but kind... or is Mark imagining it because he's infatuated?
"I don't believe he'll harm me," he says finally and Yuta sighs.
"Of course you don't think that. He's already in your house Mark."
Mark laughs. "You have a point."
"Are you sure about this?" Yuta asks then and he holds onto Mark's forearm, grips. "You'll be okay?"
Mark looks over at the house again, a small smile creeping at his lips. The sun is starting to rise, colors the sky.
"Yeah. I'll be fine."
And he is.
Lucas leaves when the sun is high in the sky and he's helped Mark with the heavy lifting. Mark leans against his shovel and quietly watches the man walk up the horizon of the hill. He smiles to himself then, looks down and the moment he does there is a flash. When Mark looks up Lucas is gone and he can't help cast his eyes up at the clear blue sky.
He comes by more often. Appears throughout random days and one day Mark woke to him dragging in firewood.
"Were you out at night??" Mark asks worried, eyes still riddled with sleep. His feet are cold in the dirt as Lucas effortlessly stacks the chopped wood off the small cart Mark usually uses to get them. His worry replacing the heat in his flushed cheeks at the bulging muscles on display, Lucas having removed his hood. It was quite a sight the first time around, Mark nearly toppling over his fresh cabbages.
"You needed firewood," Lucas states easily and looks down at Mark with a smile.
"Lucas," he worries. "The land is not safe at night. You could have run into beasts and you didn't wear your hood either. It must have been freezing!" He makes to take off his own, want to drape it over the man and guide him inside, but he stills when Lucas' hands lock over his, gently grip them until they release the fabric. They're so warm Mark observes. Unusually so, even Mark's are already a bit cold and he hasn't been out long.
"Don't worry about me," Lucas' voice comes. It's silent and the large hands stroke lightly before they release and Lucas lifts the axe he had brought along, Mark jumping when he plants it in the wood with one swift movement.
"What do you do?"
"I do many things," Lucas had explained. "I oversee events most of the time, but more often than not I hunt."
The words ring through Mark's ears as Lucas' frame slowly walks out of the woods at the end of his land. Mark had put up a fence years ago to keep the animals off. This isn't the first time Lucas has emerges from them and Mark's brows furrow, widen when the man tosses a lifeless deer over the wooden construction and hops over it.
When he pulls the rope connected to the animal's back feet over his shoulder again he looks up and smiles at Mark. He can see it even from this distance and when he reaches the house Mark looks at him in disbelieve.
"I have no idea how to conserve meat," he looks at the deer. "And this is so much more than I am used to storing away."
Lucas laughs heartily and it still makes Mark hold his breath. It's loud and melodic, shows off the man's wide grin and Mark now had the habit of staring at his two front teeth whenever he laughs.
"I'll take care of it," he smiles and Mark's grip tightens around the rake he is holding, eyes casting down. That's when he notices the single wound in the skin of the deer. Mark looks up at Lucas who has turned to look at the sky and eyes the bow and quiver on his back.
"I hunt." The words come again. Mark has seen the items before. He's had them all this time, but they never ever truly caught his eyes.
"How long have you known how to hunt? Who taught you?"
Lucas' head turns downward, eyes locking on Mark. "I've known how to all my life. It comes naturally."
"How lucky," Mark smiles, but I think you mean the skill came naturally to you, right?"
"No," Lucas says then and his head shakes just a tad. "It comes naturally."
Mark is confused now. "Archery comes naturally?"
Mark laughs a bit. "Funny," it makes him smile how Lucas seems so serious about the manner. "What else comes naturally then?" He jokes. Lucas' mouth opens a tad and he looks at Mark a moment before he asks.
"Would you like to see?"
Mark still smiles, brows furrowing. "Sure," he says in good fun but he gasps when Lucas' hand waves up into the air, sparks blinking before his eyes out of nowhere. He shuffles back, rake falling in the dirt as he stares at the small spheres.
They hover down slowly, spread in Lucas' palm and when the man looks at him they shine like fire in his eyes. The same fire Mark had believed to had seen during their meeting many months ago.
"W-what is that?" He stammers frightened. A tinge of guilt festers in his heart when Lucas' bright eyes visibly sadden. He looks at them a moment and then speaks when his eyes go back to Mark.
"Light?" Mark peeps and he swallows hard, heart in his throat. Lucas inches forward and Mark shrinks.
The sad gleam returns and Lucas' voice is a whisper when he asks. "Please don't be frightened?"
He comes forward again and Mark doesn't move, watches his actions and when Lucas' other hand comes forward and gently grabs his Mark's breathing calms a bit.
Lucas smiles lightly, thumb slowly parting the clenched fist and when the hand with the spheres inches forward Mark takes a sharp breath.
"Shhh," Lucas' voice comes and Mark watches as his palm slowly slips under his, cups it.
The spheres slowly lower and Mark's eyes widen, Lucas' warm hand and long fingers grazing against his own, blanketing it, seems to protect it. Mark watches the spheres orbit each other slowly, sparkles of gold dust descending and disappearing before they touched his palm. It's warm and it glows and for a moment he just stares.
When his eyes cast up Lucas is watching him, has been watching him since they met. "Who are you?" Mark whispers and the light bounces off Lucas' face, gleams in his gold earrings.
The sun will rise soon. A new day will start as any other. Only this isn't like any other because there is light twirling over his palm and Mark pales when Lucas utters.
"You feel unsafe. That saddens me."
Mark's heart is thumping in his throat and the spheres waver, shake. "I– I want to say you're lying, but the sun God can not lie."
"I can," Lucas replies. Mark sees him take a breath. "I can't– A pause. "I cannot when I care for someone."
"What?" Mark asks in disbelieve, eyes widening as he looks at Lucas. The grip on his hand grows a bit warmer and Mark sucks in a breath, "You're not lying–" his breath picks up, "You're the sun God."
The spheres shake more, wither. Lucas' grip tightens a tad, "Breathe."
Breathe?? Breathe?? He's– He's– Apollo. The spheres wither faster, grow smaller as the seconds pass, as the sun rises. The sun. Mark looks up, shakes.
"Mark," Lucas' voice comes and it sounds like a plea, "Breathe."
The spheres disappear into nothing and Mark makes to dart back, stumbles, but Lucas comes forward as fast as the wind, hands cupping Mark's face.
He slows then, forehead resting to Mark's and the smaller man blinks rapidly, breath spiraling out of control as Lucas' eyes close.
"What–? What are you doi–?"Mark's voice falters when an overwhelming calmness washes over him, body sagging down and Lucas' hands come around him, hold him close. The Gods eyes open and fire sparks within them.
Mark's breathing calms and he blinks slowly as Lucas' voice rings through his being. “Be still,” the deep voice echoes and Mark's hands slowly come up, rest on Lucas' chest. He can feel the beating of his heart and looks up like he's about to pass out. "Gods live as us?"
Lucas' gaze saddens and he shakes his head, "We don't."
"Why?" come Mark's next words and Lucas knows he isn't asking why they don't live as them. Mark is asking why he is here. Lucas bites his lip, runs his eyes over the small human before he speaks, "I–"
Lucas' head darts around and they land on Yuta. He had been too preoccupied to notice him arriving. "What happened!??" the man all but shouts and he's coming forward, steps rushed as he clears the space between them.
"Yuta?" Mark murmurs, but no words come from Lucas and he stands in silence, holds Mark to his frame until Yuta makes to take him.
"Markie are you okay?" the long haired man asks and Lucas hears the worry in his voice, wants to reassure that Mark is fine, but he wavers, steps back.
"What did you do!??" Yuta demands. He's furious and Lucas' eyes dart from his to Mark's who blinks at him slowly from his place in Yuta's arms.
His own breath increases now, anger simmering up in flares. The sun is rising, peeks over the clouds and the birds start singing.
His skin seethes, sadness–
His brows furrow and he takes another step back, eyes the dirt before they lock back on Mark.
"What did you do!?" Lucas' face contorts in fury and his teeth grit–
Yuta's eyes grow in shock as his eyes come to life, light up as day, the surrounding cold air dispersing with the sudden wave of heat that rolls of Lucas' body.
Lucas snaps his face to the side, a strong light blinding both the humans... and then he's gone.
Yuta looks at the falling dust horrified, stumbles back a bit before he looks at Mark and is surprised to find his friend gazing at the sky.
Never once has Lucas resented being a God. Never once–
Until this day.
"Go to him~ You know you want to."
Lucas sits in the clear, pure waters of the temple, vision focused on the rose petals that stream about, but nothing at the same time. His naked frame leant against a stone pillar.
"There is no use in hiding it."
"I am not hiding it."
"Yet you sit here in silence. Day in and day out. How many have past Apollo?"
Lucas' eyes dart up, the water shifting as the tips of fingers run over the surface. The moonlight shimmers in, ripples over the clear liquid.
Eros smiles, wings spreading and flapping once. The water dances, Lucas' strands ruffle up with the gush of wind. He has indeed been sitting here for long, his bare shoulders dry.
"It is such a lovely night is it not?"
"What is it you want Kunhang?"
The man grins, "Your happiness~" Lucas scoffs, head tilting away. It is silent once more, say for the streaming of the bath's fountains. It is calming to Lucas' disoriented mind. "What is his name?" Kunhang's voice comes again and Lucas looks up once more.
"I would have thought the God of love and sex would know such a thing, especially since you follow me around so much."
Kunhang's eyes narrow and he sticks out his tongue, "Blame me for being curious...and worried."
It rings through the area and Lucas' jaw pulls, brows furrowing. The water starts sparkling around him."Not here," Kunhang pleads, "It is such a nice night."
The water cools against his skin, rests, stills.
"Go see him."
"He fears me."
"As do all humans who meet a God, Lucas."
Lucas thinks of the look in Mark's eyes, the fear–
"You are thinking of him too much... It has been incredible hot the past months. The water holes are drying up, the crops are dying."
It is silent again.
"I would say take your mind off of it. Go meet with one of your lovers–... but are there any left?"
The water shifts once more, but this time it is because Lucas' frame rises from it, droplets falling of his tan skin and plopping in the bath.
He leaves wordlessly and Kunhang frowns before he looks up at the small piece of sky through the window, hums as a man thinks, wonders.
"Fool," he mutters then.
Even when Lucas finally picks up his tasks as he should, it continues and for another month he is silent and unmoving.
He hears the words of the fellow Gods, his brothers, sisters, but he sits in silence as the sun rises and sets each passing day. As a face graces his memories. It is for the best... It has to be. He doesn't know if Zeus is happy. He doesn't care.
"Oh poor child–" the voice comes, "You long for someone. Desire them, though you should not."
Lucas doesn't turn, the strong wind howling, robes whirring and hair being tousled. The clouds have a beautiful pink hue today he notes. Just like–
"Will you sit here forever? Switch from place to place? It will never stop, Apollo."
"Gods shouldn't fall in love," the wind seems to howl louder, sunset is near.
"And yet– They do."
Lucas' head finally turns, the sun still kisses the top of the temple, the statues lit in beauty. He's also been here too much. He used to only jump off the edge of the temple.
Aphrodite eyes him curiously. Leant against the edge of the balcony where Lucas is seated. "You worry my son," Ten starts.
"I have told him not to."
"Do you honestly believe he will listen?"
Lucas doesn't reply, makes to turn again. Ten sighs, eyes casting to the stars that twinkle lightly above. "I am not in love," Lucas says then, hopes.
"You are."He feels many things. The flames in him rage. Have been raging... and yet he is unmoving. "Kunhang could have given you your answer," Ten smiles and Lucas frowns.
"I have nothing to offer."
"A God saying he has nothing to offer. I have heard it all," Ten laughs now. It is silent again and then Aphrodite speaks. "Love is not something you can control. It is strong, unpredictable and beautiful. I for one feel like everyone should experience it... Even with the pain it seems to cause."
"Even Gods?" Lucas whisper asks. Ten pushes himself off the railing, white robes catching in the wind. His hand runs over Lucas' shoulder as he passes slowly, whispers, "Even Gods."
Lucas watches him leave over his shoulder, thinks of Mark yet again as his eyes cast over the darkening clouds. It's sunset. "Oh great God," the wind brings and Lucas' heart twists at the sound, the familiarity.
Eyes casting up as the prayer forms.
His vision shifts as he looks at the clouds dispersing and the small house forms, image hardening as his heart starts racing.
"I give my thanks for the gracious weather. I give my thanks for the light of day. I give my thanks to our God, Apollo."
His prayers are all he has, prayers that have never stopped, have always come. His voice at sunset is all Lucas has. He watches his small frame, bent by his small bed, head down in prayer and Lucas' heart aches once more.
Lucas waits for the image to dissipate, to vanish for him to count until the next sunset, but he takes a breath when it stays, eyes widening a tad. "Apollo," Mark's voice echoes again and his head lifts towards the sky, "Forgive me–," Lucas' frame comes up slowly as he watches with intent. "Forgive me. If I have hurt you. If I wasn't grateful enough. If I wasn't– good enough."
"Oh great Apollo," Mark whispers, "Forgive me? And if I asked–? If I asked for your return? Would you come?"
He blinks once and then a startled gasp rids him of all the air in his lungs, eyes widening at the God's sudden presence. His mouth falls open and he inches away, just for Lucas' large frame to come forward, close the gap in a breath. Mark can feel the warm air from his nose against his own with the proximity. The last rays of sunlight disappear and the room starts falling to darkness.
A hand cups his face, warm fingers running over his skin. Mark doesn't believe he's here, doesn't believe he's real, but then his voice comes, a hushed whisper in his small bedroom.
"You need only ask and I shall deliver," Lucas' head comes to rests against Mark's, eyes closing, "You need only ask– and I will be there."
Lucas' eyes open slowly, fingers running down the side of Mark's face and his lips quiver, heart starting to race.
"Forgive me–" he breathes out. Lucas' head tilts and his gaze sears. It's heavy, eyes seeming to be alight as they rest on Mark. Only on Mark. "Forgive me," Mark repeats and he squeezes his eyes shut, bows his head as his heart hammers in his chest, "I acted rash and unruly in your holy presence. I–"
He ceases to speak when a hand cups his face again, guides it up. Lucas' other hand comes up too, holds Mark's face and for some long moments Mark just stares as the God's eyes run over his face, thumbs lightly brushing over the skin of his cheekbones.
"Do not ever bow to me," Lucas' voice comes and Mark's brows furrow in confusion.
"But it is my duty as your follower, as a mere human I–" Again Mark ceases to speak when the man leans in, hovers, warm breath running over his skin slowly.
Mark swallows when he pulls away, Lucas' frame lowering onto his folded knees as he watches Mark. The room is slowly falling to darkness and again it seems as if the man glows. He does, Mark thinks. It was never a figment of his imagination. Lucas' skin slightly shimmers even in darkness and his eyes, warm as day are always alight.
"You came," Mark whispers, "It was a wish, a prayer. Do they mean anything?"
"They do," Lucas' deep voice is low, "We hear all of them. Every day. It never stops."
"We..." There are more Gods... Mark takes a breath. "Why–? why did you come?"
"Because you asked me."
Mark shakes his head. "Do you usually come and answer human's their prayers? Why did you come?"
It is silent for a moment and then Lucas repeats himself. "Because you asked me."
Mark blinks, mouth opening in silent shock as he realizes. "You–" He came because Mark requested it. "You can't lie to me?" Lucas is unmoving, the light is slowly fading. The Sun God can not lie to him. He could ask anything... And yet... Mark feels, overwhelmed, frightened at what that means, sad even as he looks at the large man. He can't imagine what it would feel like to not speak a lie. Darkness falls. "Wouldn't it have been better if you simply... let me be?"
"Simple..." Mark breath is steady as he looks at the man. "It is not simple. If it were... I would not be here."
"But you haven't– You had not come back."
"Because I had chosen to let you be."
"Because It's not simple."
"I don't understand why, Lucas–" Mark breathes, shoulders sagging, "I don't understand why it isn't simple to just leave me."
Mark takes a breath, eyes widening as the man closes the gap again. Lucas hovers over him once more. He seems hesitant and that baffles Mark. He is a God. He can take whatever he wants, when he wants, but yet he hesitates and it makes Mark stare in awe before the large hands wrap around his smaller frame, run up his back as he's gently pulled to Lucas' chest.
"Do you really not understand?" The blush rises in Mark's cheeks and he shakes lightly, but somehow the touch calms him, fills him with warmth, the look in Lucas' eyes so affectionate and caring.
"I–" he looks away, "I should light the candles it's getting dar–" he gasps when one of Lucas' hands drops off his back and waves through the air swiftly, a gush of wind blowing through his small house and then there is light. All the candles bursting aflame, flickering before they simmer down calmly.
Mark stares at the display in shock, then back at Lucas whose eyes are still on him, hand returned to its place on Mark's back. Mark is at a loss. Not sure what he should do anymore, should say anymore. There is a God in his small house, minutes after sunset. A God with powers Mark can't even begin to describe.
This God could be anywhere right now, but he is holding Mark, staring at him with smoldering eyes and Mark's lips quiver before he asks in a whisper, "What is it you want, oh mighty Apollo?"
Lucas takes a deep breath and then he finally closes the gap. His lips are soft and warm, Mark thinks as his eyes flutter shut, head tilting back more as that overwhelming calmness washes over him again.
It's a soft kiss, just the press of lips to lips, but Lucas seems to sink into it, the God's hands tightening around Mark, deepening it and Mark grips at his robes.
It seems like an eternity has passes when Lucas pulls away just a tad. Mark's lips tingle, burn as his eyes open and Lucas runs his nose over the skin beside Mark's. His breath is hot, as it fans over his lips with a whisper of, "You."
Mark can hear his heart in his ears, his chest thumping rapidly as Lucas leans in over him, breathes heavily against his face as he runs his nose there.
Mark can feel the God's lips quiver and with a start he realizes the heavy thumping is not only his, but Lucas' heart as well. They are synced and Mark's breath stutters, for a God can feel as him? A God can be so fragile?
"Stop me," Lucas' voice comes in a whisper, "Please."
"Stop you?" Mark breathes as he tilts back more. Lucas' lips run over his cheek and Mark hears him hiss lowly. "Stop me. Tell me to go," his grip tightens, "Say it and I will leave. Please," he begs.
"Don't beg," Mark whispers, "You're a God." Lucas pulls away more and his eyes run over Mark's face in disbelieve. "And I don't want you to go."
A shock is sent through Mark's whole body when Lucas crashes their lips together, a breath falling from his lips as the man's entire frame comes to blanket him, arms tightening so hard Mark lets out a soft whine.
He is lifted and gasps when he feels the softness of his worn bed beneath him, legs trying to shut when Lucas grinds against him, the large hardness prominent against Mark's own growing arousal.
"Wait–" he whispers and Lucas' frame immediately halts, shakes as he waits. Mark bites his lip as he shakes as well, frightened. "I've never done this before."
Lucas comes up and his eyes stare at Mark in disbelieve once more. "You're–?" Mark looks away, cheeks burning with his blush as he shakes his head in embarrassment. Lucas lets out a breath, hand coming up to run his knuckles over Mark's cheek, then down over his body, "Oh sweet flower."
It's nothing like Mark ever imagined. His moans fill the space of the house and passed the walls into the night, Lucas groaning every time a sound falls from his lips.
Soft lips are pressed on every inch of his body, leave bruises of red and blue in their wake. A tongue laps at it, runs over the sweat and sucks it like it’s the only water available in the desert. Hands grip so hard they sear into fine skin, bruise and knead.
Mark moans out as long strong fingers, rub inside him, press somewhere that makes him see stars over, and over, and over again. It all becomes a giant blur of ecstasy, somehow merged together but still so vivid as he looks into the Sun God's eyes before they waver.
He moans and turns his face away only for lips to press to the mole on his cheek, trail down his jaw, suck and trail over skin until they reach the other mole on his neck.
Mark's moans only turn into screams, sobs of desire as his nails dig into skin, hands falling just to be twined together as his toes curl, vision blurs and he hears the heavy pants of a God, feels them against his neck, then his ear. He sees stars again, a burst of white and black that flutter in front of his eyes before it is replaced with Lucas, unruly to the sight, eyes filled with wonder as Mark moans lowly.
"God," he whispers, voice hardly there and Lucas smiles, pants as he thrusts forward still, runs his thumb over the butchered skin of Mark's bottom lip.
"Yes. I am your God."
When Mark wakes, eyes fluttering open slowly, the sun peeks over the horizon and he lets out a content sigh.
There is a heavy weight against his back and as he shifts slightly his hand that isn't under his head is lifted, soft lips pressed to the back of it, then the ball, then his wrist.
"Good morning," comes the all too familiar voice and Mark lets out a breath, turns to see Lucas loom over him, eyes running over his face. "You sleep like the night sky."
Mark blinks, brows furrowing slightly, "How long have you been awake?" There is a pause and Lucas squeezes his hand. "Gods don't sleep."
Mark turns, brows furrowing, "You watched me sleep?" That also means that Lucas has never slept the times he was here before. The tips of Lucas' fingers run over Mark's bare skin, over bruises, marks and the smaller man's cheeks redden at the memories of the past night. Lucas gives him a smile, leans in and runs his nose over Mark's forehead, plants a kiss there before he trails down, makes for his lips.
Mark startles when there is a loud knock on the door followed by a worried, "Mark!?"
He darts up in bed, immediately regretting the action when a pang runs up his spine. Lucas comes up slowly, a hand resting on his lower back, rubs slowly. "Why didn't you wake me?" he breathes, slowly inches off the low bed.
"You were sleeping so peacefully."
There is another loud knock and Mark realizes that he probably woke to Yuta's cart arriving. Lucas undoubtedly heard him arrive. Mark is a bit taken aback by how calm the God is this morning.
"I'm coming!" he shouts, voice still riddled with sleep and he pulls on his robe that lay discarded on the floor.
Lucas slowly rises, watches as Mark whimpers a bit and leaves his room to make for the back door, opens it just before Yuta was about to knock again.
"Yuta!" he pants, "Good morning. I'm sorry I–" He stops when Yuta's eyes immediately dart to his neck, brows furrowing before his eyes come up again. Mark's hands comes up, runs over the skin. "Oh I–"
"Mark?? What–?"Yuta stills and then his eyes peer past him, harden in fury, "You!"
Mark turns to see Lucas' large frame stood in the doorway of his bedroom, chest bare and face calm as he looks at them.
"No– Yuta, wait–" Mark starts, but the man pushes in, gently moves Mark aside before he walks up to Lucas.
"What did you do??" he asks just as last time, but this time instead of backing away, Lucas' brows furrow at the man's proximity and when Yuta's hands come up to push him the God clasps his wrists in his hold, stills them immediately.
"No!" Mark gasps and he shuffles forward, hands coming over Lucas' forearm. "He's not a threat!" Lucas' eyes soften as they trail to Mark and Yuta looks at the man as if he's been betrayed. "Yuta. I can explain– He–"
"You're loved one has fallen ill."
Both Mark and Yuta's eyes dart to Lucas, the God's eyes back on Yuta. "What?" the long haired man asked confused, "How do you–?"
"I can feel it," Lucas continues, thumbs running over Yuta's flesh, "It is on you... within you."
Yuta pulls his hands away and Lucas lets him go, stares silently.
"Is that true?" Mark's voice comes filled with worry, "Is Taeyong sick again?"
Yuta frowns. "He fell ill when I was away. I found him in bed when I returned."
"Then why are you here??" Mark asked incredulously.
"He wanted me at work and I need to. I can't afford his medicine if I do not."
"Take me to him."
The duo look at Lucas again. Mark doesn't know what to say, but Yuta replies with a sharp, "No. I don't know who or what you are, but you are not going anywhere near my husband."
His words are harsh and Mark shrinks a bit at them, but Lucas stays ever silent, even calm before he simply says, "Mark is worried for you and this person. If you do not take me. I will go myself."
Mark looks up in shock and when Yuta's eyes dart to him he stutters a bit.
"I don't– I don't think he means any harm–….Do you?" he asks in a whisper as he looks at Lucas. The man's eyes waver yet again and then he answers with a soft.
Mark gives him a small smile before he turns to Yuta, "Will you take us?"
"How can you believe him so easily??" Yuta asks as if Lucas is not stood right there. Mark blinks, mouth falling open before he looks at the God. A warmth spreads in his chest as he stares into his eyes.
"Because he cannot lie to me."
Mark runs his fingers over his forearm, presses them into the blue skin that is slightly sore. He takes a breath at the memory of the God over him, of Lucas gripping his arm and littering it with kisses.
"He frightens me."
Mark looks up and then his eyes flick to Yuta. The cart jostles a bit as the long haired man pulls at the reigns for his horse. Rapu, an old Clydesdale that he's had ever since they had met. She shakes her head lightly as she marches forward.
Mark pulls his sleeve up to his wrist and grips the fabric. Yuta has not said much since they departed. Mark looks over his shoulder at the dirt road, breath stilling again when the dust rises and Lucas' frame steps through it. His eyes flick from the fields to Mark in a second and Mark turns, shrinks with his hands to his chest. It's overwhelming.
Yuta was still not happy with Lucas seeing Taeyong, but he had turned, the only words he supplied, "You may come, but you will do so on foot." He had meant Lucas. Mark doesn't blame him for not trusting a man that was only ever present when he was not. A man that disappeared and reappeared... like the light.
"Will you be okay?" Mark had asked worried from his place on the cart and Lucas had smiled, run his finger over a bruise Mark has on his jaw and pulled up his scarf until it was over his nose.
"You need not worry for me." The sun has risen some, the cool air of the night nearly gone, replaced by the rays of daylight. A cow moos from the fields a few yards away, Mark wonders how the family that owns this land has been. It has been awhile since he has visited anyone.
"I do not know what to think," Yuta continues when Mark doesn't say anything, looks at the road ahead, "For once you have not heeded my warnings. You have invited a stranger into your home, befriended him. Only for him to vanish into thin air... and then the moment he appears again... you lay with him." Mark understands how absurd it all must look to Yuta. He understands that it does seem absurd. "I am frightened for you," Yuta sighs, "You've always been far too kind."
Mark frowns. He has caused the man unnecessary concern, yet all that forms is, "I'm frightened as well."
They can see the different carts and carriages pouring into the town when they arrive, the air rich with spices, fruits and freshly baked goods as it is every morning. Mark wanted to ask Yuta if Lucas could finally join them but then gasps when the man is suddenly next to him, looks up at him as he walks beside the cart. He smiles through his scarf and Mark does as well, unbeknown to the way Yuta looks at him.
When they reach the edge of town, the roads thinner and empty say for those on their way to their daily tasks, Mark watches the sun, wonders about something, but before he can voice it the familiar small balcony of his friends their house comes into view and his face lights up before he frowns.
Taeyong has fallen ill again, and by the wash that is hung in the wind he can tell it has indeed been recent. Mark wonders again, wonders what Taeyong had been doing before he felt unwell. He always had a bright smile on his face, known for both worrying and doting on his friends.
Yuta especially got the most of it, but the man answered it in full. Mark had never seen a love so strong, so pure.
"He may be asleep," Yuta says as he ties Rapu to the post connected to the house, runs a hand over her muzzle before he gestures the men to the small door of his house.
It is the same as Mark remembers it, small as his, warm, welcoming with the mix of spices in the air. The small herbs and plants that are scattered around make him smile. Taeyong always works hard on them so that Yuta can sell them on the market alongside Mark's vegetables.
In turn for Yuta's services Mark grants the couple some of his harvest for free. They offer him the medicine Taeyong makes and the quality items Yuta sometimes stumbles upon, but Mark cherishes their friendship more.
He notices that there is a mix of herbs left discarded over Taeyong's workspace and he walks over, makes to touch the brown powder that is spilt on the table, but before his index finger can reach, Lucas' large hand wraps around his wrist.
Mark startles a moment, looks over his shoulder and the man's large eyes narrow a tad. "You'll soil the mix."
"Oh–" Mark breathes and he pulls his hand back.
"Taeyong was working on that when he started feeling unwell– You know of medicine and healing?" Yuta asks from his place in the doorway to the hall.
Lucas' finger runs over the wood of the table, pauses. "I feel it here too," he says instead of answering, he flips a page of the herb book Taeyong has put together himself, "He's skilled."
"Is that what made him ill?" Yuta asks and only now does Mark see his worry. Mark can't believe it would be Taeyong's craft that had caused him to fall ill. Anything but that. The man loved it, so he lets out a breath of relieve when Lucas pulls his hand back and shakes his head.
"No," his eyes run over the different herbs and tools on the wooden desk before he looks at Yuta, "Where is he?"
Yuta frowns and looks away before he mutters, "In our room."
Lucas walks past Mark and the smaller man pads after him. The God seems so much larger than he remembers, head lowering as they make it up the old narrow wooden stairs that creak, his eyes running over the interior slowly.
Again Mark wonders... Where does Lucas come from? Where does he go? Olympus?
The breath he takes makes the God turn from his place at the top of the stairs and his hair blows in the wind that comes in from the small, open window.
He's a God, Mark thinks. He's the Sun God, Apollo and he is stood here in front of Mark. What's more they– His cheeks color and he wished they hadn't pulled down their scarves when they entered the house, because now Lucas can see his blush and it worsens when the God smiles, a ray of sunlight shining into his golden earring.
The soft creaking of a door pulls them back to reality and Mark hurries up the last flight of steps to see Yuta opening the bedroom door Taeyong had once dragged him into to help him sort old fabrics.
Mark slips passed Lucas and the God watches quietly as he goes to see his friend.
When Mark steps in Yuta is lowering himself on a stool beside the low bed and Taeyong turns his head towards the man, eyes opening slowly.
"Yuta?" his voice comes and it sounds so weak, so tired. His hand slowly grips Yuta's, the man having grabbed Taeyong's.
"How do you feel?"
"A lot better now that you're here," he smiles weakly and Mark's face saddens as he comes forward.
"Markie?" the man practically beams at the sight of him, but then it falls, brows furrowing. Mark can feel Lucas stepping closer. "Who's this?" Yuta looks up at them and his frame physically tenses when Lucas steps forward. His defensiveness is clear, but Lucas closes the gap slowly, eyes scanning over Taeyong's frame. Taeyong takes a breath, shifts and his grip tightens in Yuta's.
"This is Lucas," Mark starts, "He–"
The air stills for a long– long painful moment. All of them stare in silence, but when Lucas' hand moves towards Taeyong, there is a swift smack, Yuta's face contorting in fury. "Don't you dare touch him!!"
Taeyong's face saddens and he pulls at Yuta's hand, "Yuta," he whispers, voice wavering, "Please."
The long haired man turns, breath shuddering as he bends over Taeyong and places their heads together. "You're fine," his voice breaks, "You'll get better like you always have. I'll take care of you. I promised."
"He won't get better," Lucas' heavy voice comes, still and the air stops again before Yuta screams.
A sob breaks out under it and Lucas turns to Mark. There are tears on his cheeks and his lips quiver as he looks at Taeyong. Then his eyes trail up to Lucas and he shakes his head. Lucas' features sadden and he turns just a tad, but then he stops and turns back at Taeyong before his eyes flick over the room, over the herbs, the flowers, the books and then they still on the small statue by the bed.
"Is that all you came to do?" Yuta starts and he looks up from where he has places his head on Taeyong's stomach, his husbands hands gently carding his long strands. "Leave."
"He is not ill."
Taeyong's brows furrow in confusion. "Wha–"
"Leave!!" Yuta yells as he comes up, but he stills when Taeyong squeezes his hand, his eyes flicking to the man. Taeyong looks at him and Yuta lowers his head before Taeyong speaks again.
"What do you mean?" Taeyong asks and his voice sounds so much worse.
Lucas can hear Mark's rapid breaths, his racing heart as he stands small behind him."You've never been ill. I thought it so, but this runs in your family. Does it not?"
Taeyong blinks. "Yes. I have had it since I was quite young and my father and grandfather– I–"
Lucas comes forward again and Taeyong stops Yuta from reacting as before, holds him back. Lucas' large hand lowers over Taeyong's heart, spreads and the couple watch silently, confused. Lucas stays like that a moment and Mark slowly shuffles closer to look, wipes at his tears that continue to fall. After another moment Lucas' eyes trail up to Taeyong's and he utters the words. "You're cursed."
Again it is still and then Lucas continues, eyes going back to his hand on the man's heart. "Old. Dark. Seeps into the bones faster the weaker you are, until you perish."
"That makes no sense," Yuta interjects, "Taeyong has not done anything fitting of such punishment and that is something only–"
"The Gods can do," Lucas cuts him off and his eyes waver before they trail to Mark, who visibly takes in a breath. "Someone in your family had angered her," his heavy voice riddles, "Many, many years ago."
"Her?" Mark whisper asks and Lucas looks at him again.
"My sister. Artemis."
Taeyong closes his eyes. "I never knew. If I did I would–"
"Have died faster," Lucas cuts him off. "Your family is one of hunters, no? Your mother is the one that taught you the ways of medicine?"
"Y–yes?" Taeyong stutters, "But how do you?"
"She set you on a new path. The path of care, the healer. You are favored. Cursed, but also blessed."
Taeyong takes in a shuddering breath, chest coming up under Lucas' palm, his mouth falls open as he stutters on his breath. Mark's eyes dart from Lucas to Taeyong as the God's skin comes to life, glows.
"Lucas," he breathes, comes forward, just as Yuta shifts up and makes to push him away.
"The Gods favor you."
Mark's breath stills. Yuta pushes, but the God does not move and he stumbles back, crashes down with enough force to knock over the furniture. The room shakes, rumbles. Taeyong is gasping for air now and Mark darts forward, hands coming to Lucas' wrist just before everything stills and the God's hand pulls back at an inhuman speed.
Mark is hurled back, flies. The image is impossible. Taeyong screams and something is ripped from his heart, something dark, twisted.
Mark crashes to the floor and stares wide eyed as its shapeless form coils around Lucas' arm as he holds it.
Taeyong stills on the bed, but all Mark can look at is the God before him. He shines, eyes ablaze as he stares at the form in his hand. The air buzzes, the room continues to shakes. The hand that clasps the being glows brighter and Mark can only look on as the air rings, buzzes and it is as if glass breaks, shatters.
Lucas' fist suddenly clasps shut and it's blinding before its gone.
Mark stares in silence, suddenly the room is still and the God's eyes trail to him. Mark can't move for a moment, watches as the skin returns to normal, as the eyes calm... Lucas looks sad.
"Taeyong!" Yuta's voice rings through the air and he comes up in frenzy, Taeyong's frame still on the bed. Lucas steps back wordlessly as Yuta comes to his husband's side again. "Taeyong?!"
Taeyong's eyes are closed, but Yuta shakes him and the man rouses, eyes fluttering open before he gasps, hands coming up to clasp to Yuta's arms as he thrashes a bit on the bed, eyes large as he looks at Lucas.
The God backs away more and Mark scrambles up, groans.
"Yongie? Are you okay??" Yuta cries and Taeyong nods frantically as Mark comes to his other side.
Lucas' frame silently pushes open the door, Taeyong's voice coming breathy and in stutters as he's surrounded by his loved ones. "I– I– feel– I– I feel so light."
Mark's head whips to the door just in time to see it close and he rises to his in a rush. "Wait!!"
Mark looks at the crying couple on the bed, their hands tangled with whispers and sobs of, "I thought I'd lost you," and "I love you."
He jumps a bit on his feet, breathes and scrambles, runs around the bed towards the door.
His voice bounces of the walls as he pulls open the door, sees Lucas' frame disappear down the stairs. He rushes towards them, wood knocking with his rushed steps. "Wait!"
He stumbles, gasps as he is about to fall down the stairs and he sees the eyes snap up to him before the house shakes at the speed, at the force of Lucas' agility. Steps so hard a flight splinters, grip so strong the railing snaps and then he's before Mark, holds his small frame up with piercing eyes.
Mark's heart is hammering in his chest, the warmth of Lucas' hands seeping through the fabric of his robes. "You–" his hands grab the God's face, caress as he cries. "You saved him," his fingers sink in the soft stands of hair and Lucas' eyes waver. "You saved him," Mark cries and he comes forward, presses his lips to Lucas' in a tender kiss. The God melts into it immediately, lowers Mark to deepen it and lets out a shuddering breath when they part. "Thank you," Mark whispers to his lips and Lucas shakes his head, eyes sad.
"I thought you'd be frightened."
Mark molds their lips together again, eyes closing before he says, "I am frightened."
For a moment the God's grip tightens and the air shifts, but then there are rushed steps and they looks up to see Taeyong and Yuta come out of the room.
There are tear stains on both their faces, but Taeyong stares wide eyed at Lucas as his hands grip his husband close. Yuta's face pressed to the man's shoulder before he looks at him as well. Taeyong's eyes rest on him for what seems like an eternity before he says, "I don't know who you are. Where you've come from, but–" and his voice drips with sincerity, "Thank you."
"Apollo," Taeyong stares in wonder before his frame drops slowly, hand rest on the railing when his knees hit the floor. Yuta follows his gesture and soon the both of them are bowing.
"Thank you. Oh mighty Sun God," Mark whispers with his head pressed to his. Lucas' gaze saddens once more and Mark's brows furrow. He wants to ask what is saddening the God, but then Taeyong speaks.
"Is there anything we can offer?? Anything at all??"
"Please don't push yourself," Yuta whispers, "You had been laying down minutes before."
"I feel amazing," Taeyong breathes and he smiles as he comes up, that bright smile Mark knows and his eyes waver, he looks down, suppresses his tears. "Please. Let me be of service."
"You have done enough."
Taeyong looks at the God in silence. "I–"
"You have, Taeyong–" Lucas' voice comes both harsh, as an order, but sincere, "Rest."
Yuta's hands slip over Taeyong's shoulders and he guides him away slowly. Taeyong looks at Lucas until the door closes with a soft click.
Mark's brows furrow and he looks at Lucas. "Did you do something?" Lucas his eyes are calm as they trail to Mark. "Yes and no."
"Will we go?"
"Is that what you wish?"
"You told Taeyong to rest and I agree. Yuta deserves to be by his side as well. We can go." Lucas nods lightly and he steps back slowly, guides Mark down the stairs. "Were you leaving because you thought I was frightened?" comes the soft voice as they trail through the house.
"Yes." He feels Mark's grip in his tighten.
"How did you know Taeyong was cursed... and blessed?" Mark was more curious about the blessed part. It didn't seem odd, he just wanted to know how. Lucas pulls him along slowly.
"I could feel something on Yuta the moment we met. It was stronger today. He carries Taeyong with him everywhere he goes. In his skin. In his bones. In his soul." They walk through the small living space. "Taeyong has his heart, forever."
Mark glances up at the old floor paneling of the house as they pass Taeyong's desk. So strong... So pure. "And blessed?" he asks as they near the exit. Lucas stops, turns and Mark blinks up at him.
The God raises a finger and Mark's eyes follow it as he points. Amongst the herbs, pots and plants there is a small statue, well kept and decorated.
"Demeter?" he questions. The Goddess of harvest. He knows her well, prays to her just as he does to Apollo.
Lucas nods. "He favors Taeyong," he looks up, eyes trailing over the inside of the house again, "It is etched beneath the scent of spices, within the walls and plants. In his heart."
"He?" Mark asks confused, "Is Demeter not a Goddess?"
Lucas' eyes fall on Mark again. "She is, but her current reincarnation–" he pauses, "Jungwoo, is male."
Lucas opens the door and a slight breeze comes in, makes the plants dance in the wind and for a moment Mark feels something run through him before it's gone.
The couple stills and when they look at the doorway to the hall Yuta is stood there. He walks in slowly and Lucas watches him until he stops in front of them.
"My apologies," Yuta starts and he bows, "If you feel that I need to be put in my place, I understand." Mark's eyes widen and he shakes his head, Lucas can already hear the plea on his tongue. "But thank you," his voice shakes, "I have nothing to offer. Nothing to give a God that has everything. So please make use of me."
It is silent for a moment and when Lucas speaks again it is a bit softer than usual.
"I do not have everything. You however, do," Yuta looks up surprised before Lucas continues, "You are good people. Mark has good friends. I can see why he cares for you. You owe me nothing, but if it is what you want. I accept your forgiveness. Now Yuta... go be with your love."
Yuta just stares for a moment, but then he comes up slowly and his brows furrow. "I–" he starts, "I have a request–"
Lucas' brows furrow now and the God looks taken aback, even Mark is, in all honesty, but then his mouth falls open in surprise when Yuta asks, "Please look over Mark."
"Yuta–" Mark starts, "That's–"
Mark looks up at Lucas wide eyed. "As a God. You have my word. No harm will befall him."
Yuta bows in form of thanks and he smiles at Mark, a sad smile, but Mark feels it's filled with happiness as he rushes away, rushes back to his husband.
"Is it all true?"
The wind blows through Mark's hair, he has chosen to pull down his hood, feel the fresh winds against his face. Lucas walks forward slowly, strong arms hooked securely under Mark's knees.
Mark places his chin atop his shoulder, hands running over the fabric of the God's attire. It takes a moment for Lucas to finally speak. "Most are not," and Mark can hear the smile in his reply.
"Okay," Mark smiles, "Which ones are?"
He swings his legs. Lucas had offered him a ride on his back when Mark seemed uncomfortable and even though he whined in discomfort when getting on, he soon snuggled close and let the God carry him home.
They had been making casual conversation. Mark surprised that he had been telling a God about his crops and the day as if he was a normal human.
Lucas never seemed bored with him though. Not once in the times they had spent together. Even now as they walked down the road they had once before, Lucas listened to Mark and replied in kind.
He had missed it, he realizes, missed the man's company, his silent strength.
"Is Hera as cruel as they say? Ares as cold hearted as the fables?"
Lucas laughs. This too Mark has missed and his arms wrap warmly around the God's neck when he finally replies, "I know not of the reincarnations before these... but Ares is a strange one. The God of War seems so silent and tame when not on the battlefield. I actually consider him a good friend. Hera is kind, just, listens. I respect him."
Mark's eyes widen and his head comes a bit over Lucas' shoulder. "Is her reincarnation also male?? What is his name??"
Lucas smiles. "Doyoung."
"Pretty," Mark wonders...,"Wait–" his brows furrow, "Why do you have names?"
Lucas is silent again and then he tilts a bit, looks at the sky. "Our names are the only thing we remember when we are reincarnated as Gods."
"Reincarnated... You've said that a lot. From what are you reincarnated?"
"The souls of humans."
Mark stills, the wind still blows through his hair. "You were humans once? What? When?? How?"
"We do not know. All I remember is... Lucas."
A sad tinge spreads in Mark's chest and he wants to comfort Lucas, but the man stills and Mark's head raises in surprise. "What is it?" he asks, but Lucas looks ahead and when Mark follows his vision he sees nothing. Confused he is about to ask again, but then in the far distance of the road the speck of a figure appears. "Lucas?"
The man comes into motions slowly, but says nothing. There is a pressing silence as he walks forward and Mark is too frightened to ask more than he already has.
The figure draws nearer with the passing minutes and after awhile Mark can distinguish that it's a man. His orange, red hair is bright in the sunlight and there is a basket under his arm.
Lucas stops when he is a few yards away and the man slowly walks to them. He's beautiful, Mark thinks as he stops in front of them, smiles.
"Good day," the soft voice comes and Mark smiles.
The man's eyes trail from Mark to Lucas.
"It is always so warming to feel welcomed."
"Hello Jungwoo," Lucas' voice comes and Mark stops breathing, eyes widening.
Demeter still smiles, eyes trailing over the field in thought before his eyes look to them once more. "Hello Lucas. Hello Mark."
"You know my–"
"Name. Yes," the God nods slowly, "Such a bright spirit. Your prayers do not go unanswered."
"T– Thank you," Mark stutters and the man continues to smile.
"You are very welcome."
"It is not usual for a God to make themselves known to humans," Lucas starts and his head tilts. "To what do we owe this honor?"
Jungwoo still smiles and then he offers the basket under his arm. "My thanks."
The wind blows his hair up as his head lowers and Mark stares in wonder. "I don't understand," he whispers and Jungwoo looks up slowly.
"I do not possess the power to undo something Artemis has... All I could do was watch from afar, but you... saved him," his head lowers once more, "for that– you both have my thanks."
Lucas silently accepts the basket of gifts and the man steps back, looks up and smiles once more. It is warm. His smile has been nothing but warm. "May your crops flourish under the light of Apollo's sun and bloom with my blessing to your earth and hands."
Mark blinks and he's gone, a harsh gush of wind whirring over the fields and picking up the dust of the road. He covers his face and looks over the field, watches a trail of leaves twirl and dance into the distance.
Lucas continues his pace now and only after a few minutes does Mark speak again. "He is quite beautiful."
The God hums, "Not as beautiful as you."
Mark shoves at his back and Lucas laughs out.
When they finally reach his home Mark is excited to drag the man inside, but Lucas places down the basket and turns to him.
"What is it?" Mark asks almost immediately and Lucas runs a hand over his head, cups his face.
"There is something I must do."
Mark frowns sadly and the Sun God closes the gap, presses their foreheads together. "I will return. I promise you this."
Mark's lips pout slightly. "You have not left my side in the past twelve hours and yet I still crave more."
Lucas kisses him full on the lips, breathes him in and Mark melts, wraps his hands around the God's wrists. "Please do not go?" he begs and Lucas frowns.
Mark kisses him once more and this time Lucas pulls him close, flushes his small frame up against him. "I will be waiting."
"I forever count the seconds," Lucas whispers. Another press of lips, a sigh and then he's gone. Mark's face saddens and his eyes trail over the inside of his house that suddenly seems so empty.
Count the seconds indeed, he thinks as he makes for the backdoor. His crops need tending and it will help with the time. He sighs once more, runs the tips of his fingers over his lips as he steps out into the sun.
Inside a flower blooms within the basket of Demeter, small, dark and welcoming between the prized greens and fruits.
Now she is welcome.
The loud crunch of a pillar crumbling echoes through the halls of the temple, small pieces of rubble falling to the white floor. There is a crash when now a statue shatters.
"Make me stop!!"
Lucas weaves out of the way when a pair of arrows flies towards him. He easily dodges them, brows furrowing in fury as he stares at his twin sister. "I just want to talk!"
Artemis pauses, eyes piercing as her hands hold her bow and arrow at the ready. The silver weapon gleams, much like the intricate pieces in her hair. Her voice is cold when it flows into the space of the temple, rings. "Only the God that has lain down a curse is allowed to lift it," her eyes narrow, "And you eradicated it brother."
Lucas' frame tenses again from where he is positioned a few feet away, long limbs shaped to battle stance. He has not drawn his weapon, bow and quiver untouched on his back.
When he returned Artemis was not present and he had taken the opportunity to speak to his brother Hephaestus, put in the request that had been lingering on his mind even before Mark asked him to return.
Sicheng had stared at him silently from his place behind his smiting table. The walls of the area were decorated with his fine work.
"If that is what you wish Apollo," the God had said. A smile. "It is not very often that the Sun God asks something of me. Let alone something that isn't for him."
Lucas darts to the side before the silver arrow can harm him and it pierced the floor in an instant, stills as the stone cracks.
"I had no choice!"
"You did! You are a God! No human has the power to request anything of you! His family deserved that curse for what they did to me!"
"But he did not!" The hall shakes as a hail of arrows crumbles and shatters stone. It is loud, the wind howling.
"What can this useless human offer you!? Does he not have a heartlight? You gain nothing! They are a means to an end!!"
Lucas growls in fury and when a new silver arrow pierces the air he swiftly pulls out one of his own, arm weaving through the air for the silver and gold to collide.
Artemis' arrow ricocheted into the wall and Apollo's snaps with the force before he tosses the remaining gold piece towards her. She weaves, turns and fires another when her brother closes the distance between them within seconds.
Lucas pulls the bow from his back swiftly. Only a second passes, Atemis' arrow whistling passed his ear as he evades it, other hand waving around his head to grab hold of his gold bow as well, smashes it against her side.
Artemis flies into the far wall with a loud crash, stone rumbling around her. The temple shakes as she screams in fury.
The repeated echoes of shattering stone and marble following as the siblings fight. Shocks echo through the air with the speed of moon and sunlight, ring with their blows as they clash.
"Fool!" Yuqi yells and she hurls her brother to the floor. The Sun God crashes over the tiles, grits his teeth when she continues with, "They are not worth dying for!"
Not worth dying for...
When she charges at him again, Lucas turns at the speed of light and plants his shin in her stomach, there is a moment where he can feel her ribs crack before she flies into the stone stairs at the end of the hall.
He is on her in a moment, holds an arrow to her neck and she gasps, eyes wide as she looks at him. Only then does he waver, still a moment as he stares at his sister.
"He's worth dying for."
The hall is in shambles and now only the wind blows through it, guides the dust up into the air. "I would die for him. I will give this mere human... everything... Including my life as a God."
Yuqi stares at him in disbelief. "You love him?"
"I'm sorry for intervening, but that man truly did not deserve your curse."
"You're not answering my question brother."
"I eradicated it, because I know it would bring him happiness."
"Lucas–" Yuqi croaks and he regrets fighting with her, hand coming down slowly, glowing as he places it over her, heals her. "Lucas," her voice comes again, "Gods shouldn't fall in love."
"I know," he whispers and he pulls away when all injury has vanished, rises to his feet.
"You know why. You know why we shouldn't. They are human. They are weak, feeble and at any moment in time they will–"
His voice pierces through the air much harsher than he intended and he looks away before he repeats it again, "I know..... I've tried to stay away from him, but he is– he is..."
"This is not the human that was cursed," Yuqi says, brows furrowing, "Who is this human, Lucas?"
"Mark," he whispers, breathes and then he stills, eyes widening. His face whips to entrance, the wind coming in at that moment, hair rising as he watches the dark clouds.
Night? How long were they fighting?
"Brother?" Yuqi questions, "Is something wro–?"
She doesn't get to finish her sentence, Apollo's frame coming into motion yet again, but this time he sprints towards the exit as his heart rate picks up, as Mark's frightened thoughts wash over him.
Something is wrong.
Someone is there.
The candle light flickers as Mark sits in the small living space of his house. Night has fallen.
He stares at the small flowers he's put up in a vase. They had been amongst the fruits and vegetables of Demeter's gift.
Beautiful, he thinks, as if they belong in the darkness. He looks down again, runs his fingers over the skin of his arm, traces the bruises and marks. They have darkened a bit and again he is reminded of the previous night, the kisses– the moans.
Slowly his hand comes up, grabs the simple fabric of his robes and pulls it gently. The yellow light of the candles dance over his skin and he takes a shuddering breath. This morning he had not had the time to inspect himself, but now, here, in his home as he pulls the robes down over his shoulder, he can see.
It makes his heart race, fingertips running over more and more touched skin. His hand comes up again, small breaths coming into his slightly parted lips as he presses the tips of his fingers in the bruises littering his neck. He can't see them, but he knows where they are. They tingle slightly and he'd be a fool if he said he wasn't aware of the ache in his back, in his abdomen. A fool if he lied to himself and said it wasn't amazing, breathtaking, out of this world.
Memories flash of a God running his lips over his skin, skin he now traces. Every bruise has a memory, every mark a whisper. His chest soars, but constricts at the same time as his heart thumps, each beat echoing Lucas moaning his name. God.
Mark freezes with his hands to his chest. It is as if his heart stops, but he doesn't jump as his eyes widen.
Suddenly there is a chill, the warmth his home provides gone. The candles flicker as he sits up slowly, turns with care to look at the corner of the room.
He takes a sharp breath when their eyes lock and for a moment he can only stare, the presence pressing. "I would believe it to be so for a mere human that lives off the land."
Mark's mouth is dry. The man smiles charmingly. It feels like it comes with a dash of mischief.
His hair is a deep red, black robes wrapped carefully around him and held in place with gold that shimmers in the candle light. It isn't blinding, but Mark feels like the reflection of the flames belongs there.
He runs his eyes over the small space, the fine handcrafted jewelry around his neck gleaming with what Mark believes are black and white diamonds. Those he had only ever seen at the market on very rare occasions.
"I can see why my mother favors you," the man muses and Mark pales. Mother...
"Oh please," Persephone smiles, comes up elegantly, "You look as though you've seen a ghost," he walks forward slowly and Mark doesn't dare move as a hand slips over his shoulder, tracks a bruise before it pulls away and the man is stood before him, "I am quite real."
Mark looks up in silence, eyes wide and frightened as the man ponders, purses his lips. "You are cute. In a way."
There is a God in his home. A God that is not Apollo.
He is stunning, moles littering fair tan skin with eyes hooded and amused. There is an air about him Mark can't pinpoint. He demands attention, but emits such grace. He frightens Mark and yet the human feels as if he will not be harmed.
"Why are you here?" Mark peeps and the God smiles, slowly strolls around him.
"Because I was curious as to who the mighty Sun God has fallen for." Mark's brows furrow in confusion. "I have always found our love to be different than that of humans. What do you think?"
Mark blinks. "What?"
Persephone sighs, picks up one of the flowers, a small smile gracing his lips. The flowers... Mark takes a breath when the God looks at him again.
"How does the Sun God's love affect you? I did not have much of a choice, though I do love Hades. I was just wondering... Does it feel forced?"
"Affect me?" Mark whispers, his head shakes lightly, "Lucas loves me?"
The God seems confused. As if Mark should know this. He realizes that he should... Why else would a God...
His mouth falls open slowly as he realizes and he looks at Persephone.
"It does not affect you..." the man whispers and Mark stares in silence as the flashes of memories he has with the God whir through his mind.
The way the God held him... Spoke to him... Loved him. "He loves me?" The question sounds confused as he looks at the God. "Why?" Persephone blinks slowly, as if he is thinking, but when he opens his mouth to speak he stops and his head snaps to the side.
Mark's eyes widen as the door of his house crashes open in an instant. There is a harsh gust that whirs violently and all the flames of light diminish, cast the room in an inky darkness.
He shouldn't be able to see and yet he does as Apollo looms over Persephone. His skin burns that strange light Mark always feels when he is near and it slowly illuminates the room.
Lucas seems upset? Furious? But he does not move and neither does Persephone, just stares up at the Sun God in silence.
"It's been quite some time."
"Why are you here?" Lucas' voice is cold and the tone makes Mark shrink.
"Please, brother. Don't worry. I was welcomed. That is why I am here."
"But if you are here. That means–"
"My apologies," Persephone smiles.
"Donghyuck," Lucas' voice demands and the man sighs again.
"I will tell Taeil to erase the path I took. Does that suffice?"
Apollo doesn't answer, but his gaze does turn to Mark when the man calls him with a soft, "Lucas?"
Donghyuck's eyes trail between them and he takes a breath before he speaks again. "I shall take my leave. It was a pleasure to meet you... Mark."
Mark stares in silence, eyes flicking to Lucas who steps towards him. The cold air of the night is seeping in fully now, makes him shiver.
Persephone watches for a moment longer, smiles once more. "May you be blessed."
Mark gasps when Donghyuck's form rises of the floor and a darkness starts to coil around his feet, inch up until the man looks like a specter. The house rattles a bit when it darts over their heads, flows through the air and into the dark of night.
Mark stares into the pitch black for a moment until warm hands slips over his.
"Are you okay?" Lucas presses his head to Mark's pulls him close.
"I'm fine," he replies in a whisper.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have left you alone."
Mark smiles softly. "That is sweet, but I am sure that what you had to do was important. You also kept your promise," he runs a hand over Lucas' cheek, "You returned."
Mark's heart aches when the God leans into the touch, kisses his palm. He can see it now.
"We need to leave," Lucas says suddenly, clasps Mark's hand. "I need to keep you safe."
Mark's brows furrow in confusion. "Keep me safe? From what?"
"I will explain later," his face turns to the door and his eyes narrow before he looks back at Mark, "Please come with me?" Mark feels a chill run up his spine when he stares into the darkness again and he nods.
Lucas smiles at him when he has helped him to his feet, presses their lips together, holds Mark close.
"No harm will befall your land," he whispers to his lips and Mark's brows furrow again.
"Why would any harm–"
He's cut off by a loud screech, startles as he stares outside. Lucas' grip tightens.
"What–? What is that??" Mark questions frightened and he looks up at Lucas in horror.
"Gorgons," the God replies, "They were the most near."
"Why–? What do they want??" Mark's heart starts racing again and the God looks down at him. "Lucas??"
"Focus on me."
"What? But there is–" Mark ask again, confused, but he stills when Lucas' grip tightens and he repeats himself, eyes lighting up the darkness even more."Focus... on me."
Mark takes a breath as he calms, fingers gripping into Lucas' upper arms as he stares into the God's eyes.
Lucas smiles lightly when Mark whispers, "Okay."
A flash of light disperses, shuts the door that stood open...
An empty house is left behind.
Mark rouses slowly, sighs as his legs stretch over soft smooth fabric, nuzzles his face into the softness against his cheeks. He hears water streaming, birds chirping and the rustling of trees as the wind blows, a slight breeze touching his skin. It's peaceful. The last thing he remembers is...
He bolts up, eyes darting around before he stills... "Lucas?"
His eyes run over the foreign area in awe. It is a garden? A forest? He'd been laying on soft fabrics and pillows in a small folly of white stone. Vines are growing around the pillars and even cover the statue of Hera that is placed gracefully at the side. Flowers decorate the surrounding area, many shapes, sizes and colors that leave a freshness in the air only the wilderness can provide.
The trees are huge and cascade down, blow in the wind.
Mark hesitates and as he moves he notices the basket with fruits that is placed on the top step of the folly, right where the sheets end. There is also a cup, gold with clear water. He reaches for it slowly and after staring a moment, brings it to his lips, eats one of the red apples left behind as his eyes trail over the area again.
He feels safe, but there is an itch in his body, a jump in his step. He wants to see Lucas and with that in mind he tentatively rises, peers around as his bare feet touch the stone path that leads through the area. It seems as if he is alone, the forest empty, say for the birds that sing, peer down at him just as he peers up.
There is the notice of sloshing and Mark slowly makes his way to the sound of streaming water. It becomes louder the farther he travels, the closer he gets, the canopy of trees breaking open into blue sky. He stares up in wonder. Small specks of water coming down and kissing his face as he looks at the waterfall that breaks through stone an vegetation, plummets into the bedding of clear liquid before it trails away in a rushing stream.
He follows the ripples with his eyes as the wind blows through the trees and flowers, tosses petals over the surface. It truly is so peaceful.
Then he startles, gasps as the water breaks apart and a figure emerges.
The sunlight catches in his earrings, water running down his toned frame as he stares at Mark, smiles.
Mark's cheeks catch fire immediately. "L-Lucas??" he stutters, hands coming to his chest, "You gave me a fright."
The God stares for a moment, Mark gulps down the lump in his throat as he watches drops run over his chest, his stomach, down into the water that laps at his navel.
"How did you sleep?" his deep voice comes, his bangs are sticking to his forehead, slightly curl around his eyes, "You passed out when I brought you here. I'm sorry."
"Uh–" Mark starts, takes a breath, "A-Amazing. There was food and water–"
"So you've eaten?" the God smiles, shifts as he takes a step towards Mark, runs a large hand through his hair, pushes the wet strands back, "I'm glad."
The action is slow and the water slips past him as he walks towards Mark, the poor human's heart starting to race with each step the God takes and as if he knows, Lucas smirks. "Does seeing me make you uneasy?"
Mark's frame shudders as the rest of Lucas' frame comes into sight. He's felt it before... against him, in him, his cheeks burn, but seeing it in the day light is new and by the time the God is stood before him Mark's breath is so fast he's surprised he hasn't taken a lung full.
It does come, when Lucas wraps his arms around him, pulls him close. Mark lets out a pathetic whine akin to a soft gasp and Lucas smiles again. The curl of his lips wavering as he runs his nose beside Mark's, presses their lips together.
It's soft at first, tame, until Lucas deepens it, pushes Mark's head back, lips slowly increasing in motion.
The hands on his back rise, one gently coming up and pulling at his robe. Mark breaks the kiss and watches as long fingers inch it away, reveal more and more skin of his shoulder. He looks at Lucas and the God's eyes are searing, hooded and dark as he stares at the skin, trailing to Mark's then.
When he pulls the rest of his robes down Mark lets him and when they stand before each other with no fabric of clothing, Mark shudders, shakes as Lucas trails down his neck, hands caressing over bare skin, kneading.
"Beautiful," he whispers after he plants a kiss behind Mark's ear and his lips are captured again, Lucas lifting him effortlessly. Mark gasps into the kiss, limbs tangling around the man as the water breaks with his steps, sloshes around.
"Bathe with me?" Lucas whispers to his lips as the water rises around them. Mark takes a breath at his gaze, there is more to that question. Yet he nods and the God smiles.
His moans are drowned out by the rushing water of the falls. It splatters down his back and into Lucas' face, but he hardly flinches as it washes his face, mats the hair to it. His eyes are on Mark, heavy as his hands knead into the flesh of his back, drag him down onto his cock continuously.
Mark is shaking, lips quivering, but not because of the cold. No, if anything it's hot, too hot with Lucas' skin against his, with the God in him.
He moans out in pleasure and the look on Lucas' face makes him moan out even louder, claw his nails up the wet burning skin of his back before they wrap around the God's neck. He full body shudders, whines and his legs tighten as well as Lucas' speed increases.
Mark is losing his mind. He swears he is. This isn't real.
He presses his head to Lucas', the God's eyes not having left him for a single moment. He ever watches Mark with this burning desire and Mark answers it with ecstasy, with moans as he nears again.
"Lucas," he moans, noses kissing and lips but a breath apart. The water rushes over them as he moans continuously, "Lucas!"
The God's grip tightens, kneads and burns into his skin. Mark's mouth falls open in a silent, "Oh," as he cums, eyes rolling back as Lucas' grip sinks into the bones of his ribs.
Then there are gentle strokes, and he sluggishly kisses back when Lucas pecks his lips, continues to thrust into him. Mark whines in over sensitivity, but when the God makes to pull him off he shakes his head, pulls him impossibly closer and the shuddering breath that follows does not go unnoticed by Mark.
"What did they want?"
"You," the God's voice comes from behind him.
His finger is running over Mark's collarbone, over the new bruise that tingles still. It trails down more and Mark watches as it runs over his bare chest, his place between Lucas' legs comfortable. The cool water laps at his stomach slowly and he watches the fish swim about under the flower petals that decorate the surface of the stream, the small plants beautiful.
The water has cleared now that they have not roused it. Many minutes they have been sat there. He doesn't mind. He is comfortable, casts his eyes at the clear blue sky, focuses on Lucas' heartbeat.
"Why did they want me?"
The wind blows through the trees, ripples the stream, caresses Mark's cheek. Lucas is silent for a moment. "Because you've been touched by a God."
"Is that so special?" Mark asks, but if someone were to ask him that he'd say, yes... If it was his God.
"You are peculiar," Lucas hums, fingers trailing over his stomach. "Sometimes I can feel your emotions so easily. Other times it is a mystery."
"Is that how you know what I am about to do or say?"
"It is how I guess what you will do or say. Sometimes so simple... Other times so hard."
"What can you do?"
"I can do many things."
"You know that is not what I mean," Mark smiles and the God's fingers trail back up."
"You need only ask," Lucas whispers.
A few minutes of silence pass again, Mark's feet are slightly flowing beneath the surface of the stream, vines tickling it, Lucas' bracket his and Mark moves his leg so they touch lightly.
"You glow... even in darkness."
"The sun lives within me."
"Do you not need to ride it across the sky at day? Do you not need to answer prayers?"
"It is ridden across the sky with or without my help and I do... every second, of every day."
Mark watches the clouds merge together. "Even now?"
"Even now." It is silent again, then Lucas smiles. "It is the garden of the nymphs."
"I wanted to see if you'd truly hear my prayers if there are so many."
Lucas' hands grips gently over his skin. "Your prayers are loud... Echo through my being and always demand my attention.
"Was it always like that?"
"I heard you sing."
Mark's brows furrow. "You heard me sing?"
"Actia," Lucas whispers, "I followed you to the market place. To Yuta, to the music tent... I–"
"I do not know the answer to that question. I do not think I ever will."
Mark remembers the way Lucas had suddenly appeared, the way his presence had started him, but how he pulled Mark to him without knowing.
How the God had followed him home. It is quiet again. These pauses filled with the soft caressing of skin and the rustling of the wind through the trees.
"I am happy you followed me."
The wind picks up. The water dances, the God's heart rate slowly increases.
"Lucas?" Mark's voice comes as the God shifts, but he himself stares at the water. "Do you love me?"
"I do." The answer is immediate and Mark's heart soars, but constricts as well. It leaves him breathless and he shakes his head lightly before he asks, "Why?"
The God kisses his neck slowly and Mark counts the press of lips to his skin as he trails up.
One– two– three–four–five–
Lucas presses his nose to Mark's ear, forces it to the side a bit. "Why?" he repeats and his hands run down Mark's frame. "Because you are mine." Mark breathes a soft sob as his head moves to the side. "You are everything."
Mark shudders as he feels Lucas harden against his back. He has not done a thing, but the God is ready to love him, figuratively and physically. He shudders again when Lucas' fingers slip around his cock, stroke lightly and his head falls back onto a shoulder.
"I can love you forever... I will love you forever."
The wind bristles the trees. Mark takes a slow breath as he feels Lucas' eyes on him.
"You stare a lot," he whispers into the air, pulls the silk shawl over his shoulders that are littered with kisses, proof of what has been done to him, proof of the Sun God's touch.
"Your beauty puts the stars to shame."
Mark glances over his shoulder, smiles lightly. "You shouldn't speak so lightly of the stars. I could never compare."
"You are the embodiment of stardust."
"Lucas," he whispers, "I am but a mere farmer. I hardly compare to such great things."
"You do to me."
Mark stares at him silently, marvels at the way the man speaks as if he's been unable to... Maybe he has? Mark watches him as he sits on the stones, watches as the water falls behind him and the wind lightly whirs through his hair.
He has made no move to dress himself, sits there with all his glory in the sun's rays. He truly is ethereal.
Their eyes have been locked for moments now and Mark wants to rise to his feet to go to him again, but then Lucas' eyes shift, move from him to a point behind Mark and the smaller man blinks in confusion. "Is somet–?"
"A beauty indeed."
The voice comes so suddenly Mark jumps, turns forward and his eyes widen when he spots the Man in the tree, but two meters away.
His frame hangs from a strong branch with his legs and he eyes Mark as he swings upside down. "A beauty indeed."
Mark blushes profusely, pulls the shawl tight around his frame and shrinks as he stares in shock.
There is the sound of soil and rock shifting behind him before Lucas' large frame steps forward, slowly moves in front of Mark and the small man immediately grasps his wrist, peeps from behind him.
"Apollo," the airy voice comes again and the man smiles, "Your day seems to be blessed."
"I hope yours has been the same Hermes."
"Ah~" the God muses and Mark gasps when one of his legs unhooks from the branch, but instead of falling he turns and lightly floats through the air before he continues, "Nothing amusing has happened," he looks at the couple and grins, "Yet."
"Hermes," Mark whispers from behind Lucas and the God's eyes lower to him, his lips curling a tad.
"Oh yes," Hermes begins again raising a finger as he floats on his axis, "The message has been delivered. One Taeyong and one Yuta send their regards... and their blessings."
"What?" Mark whispers and his eyes widen as he looks up at Lucas, tugs his hand.
"Do not worry, my love... He merely informed them you are away... with me."
"Hephaestus has started your request," Hermes' voice comes again, "In three days time. He shall call for you."
"Thank you Yangyang," Lucas says slowly and the man grins brightly.
"Of course, brother." His eyes trail to Mark then and he takes a breath, but Lucas' hand shifts, comes to wrap around his back and guides him forward.
Mark can't help pressing into his side, the warm skin of Lucas' frame a safe haven and his hands graze over the muscles of his stomach. "Lucas?"
"You are safe," the God's voice comes and he looks down at Mark slowly, the hand he has on Mark's back caressing slowly, "None will harm you here."
Yangyang's head tilts and it pulls Mark's attention as the Messenger God stares at him curiously.
"Hello," Mark says softly, bows his head, gasps when the God is suddenly but a few inches from his face. He instinctively presses closer to Lucas and the hand calms him, keeps him grounded.
"Yangyang," Hermes simply says and he smiles widely, "I like you. I do."
"T-Thank you," Mark stutters, "I hope all your prayers are kind and your travels are safe."
"Hmm," the God hums and Mark watches in wonder as he starts tilting to the side, floats– No– flies slowly over Mark's head. He follows the God with his eyes, mouth falling slightly agape and Yangyang laughs. "Ah yes. Flight is always so amazing for humans is it not? Maybe one day I shall gift it to you as Apollo has medicine."
Mark's brows raise a tad in realization.
"Anything else, brother?" Yangyang asked then and his face turned to the Sun God.
"Not at this time."
Yangyang nods curtly, eyes trailing to Mark again. "Do expect me to stop by young one. You do shine with an interest I find intriguing."
He darts over Mark's head then and his eyes fall on his winged saddles, widen in awe. Hermes grabs his staff from where it rest on the branch and turns to them once more. "Good day," he smiles and Mark gasps when his frame twists and flies through the trees effortlessly.
"Wow," Mark whispers and when he looks up at Lucas he sees him smile. "What?"
"You're very easily impressed."
"He can fly, Lucas."
"And I can will light into existence from nothing," he lowers, "Humans are so easily impressed by flight."
"Do something else to impress me then," Mark challenges, a light tilt to the corner of his mouth, "I was not expecting the mighty Sun God to be jealous," he smiles now, "Of all things."
Lucas leans in more, places his head against Mark's. "I am not," he whispers, presses a soft kiss to Mark's lips, "But I do love a challenge."
Marks brows furrow when Lucas pulls away, runs his eyes over the beautiful forest. Mark wants to ask what he's doing, but his eyes widen when Lucas lightly bites into his bottom lip and a low, but sharp sound seeps from his throat.
The forest stills and for a moment Mark can only hear the wind through the trees before there is a burst of sounds. The trees rustle with more force and the sound of hooves in earth comes.
"Horses?" he questions winded as he sees silhouettes in the shadows of the forest, but then his breath stutters and his eyes widen. Lucas smiles and rests his head to his again as Mark's mouth falls open. The canopy breaks, and birds flee as the large animal neighs, flaps its large wings. The wind picks up the flower petals of the garden and blow them up into the air as more of them emerge, large and gracious. The air fills with descending flower petals and it looks like a dream, feels like a dream as Mark's eyes flick to them in silence, they shine with wonder as he breaths a whisper.
Mark shakes his head as Lucas runs his large hand over a Pegasus' muzzle, the creature leans into the touch, ears pulling back slightly.
"I can't," he repeats, hooks his robes over his shoulder, "There is no way." The pegasi had walked along peacefully as they got dressed. Mark had not dared to touch any and he watched silently as Lucas pet one.
The God turns slowly, looks over his shoulder and Mark stares for a moment before he steps forward. A smile curled onto Lucas' lips and he held out his hand.
Mark hesitated again, but after a moment he slipped his into it, let himself be guided forward.
"I am lucky they are quite fond of me," he starts, "had hoped to show them to you. Have you ride one."
Mark shakes his head again. "I can't– The idea alone–," He looks up, "I have no knowledge of riding a normal horse, let alone a–," his eyes flick to the Pegasus, widen when it inches forward.
"Don't be frightened," Lucas whispers when Mark takes a step back and he freezes, "He's familiarizing you."
Mark stares at the creature in silence, watches it eye him and make a low sound, shake his head. Lucas smiles. "What?" Mark asks eyes widening.
Lucas shakes his head, runs his hand over the Pegasus' muzzle again, "He likes you."
"Oh," Mark whispers and he smiles lightly, "Thank you," he bows and Lucas stills, eyes softening.
"Please come with me?" he asks then and Mark looks up, blinks.
"I– I don't want to say no, but– I am frightened," he smiles in apology, "I do not do well with... heights."
Lucas' face lights in realization. "Oh," he lets out lips shaping in a frown. "I did not know of this." He turns his head away, hand lowering down the Pegasus' nose.
Mark regrets his words, speaks then without thinking. "I could– I could still go–," his gaze lowers, "If you wish that of me."
He takes a shaky breath at what that implies and he himself is surprised at it, surprised he changed his mind in a moment simply because Lucas frowned.
He looks up again when the man shifts. Lucas takes a step and mounts the Pegasus so fast Mark's eyes grow wide. He pets it a moment, then his eyes fall to Mark and he holds out his hand once more, smiles lightly. "I will be with you every step of the way."
Mark swallows hard as he stares at him and Lucas' smile widens when he places his hand in his outstretched one. Mark doesn't think that he will ever get used to the display of strength Lucas shows so easily, lifts him as if he is feather light and just as softy places him down on his lap. He presses close and Mark watches as his large hand runs over the skin of his thigh, makes him straddle the Pegasus.
He grabs Mark's hands slowly, laces them with his own, before Mark jolts at a sudden kick.
He flushes back into Lucas' frame when the Pegasus neighs, staggers and Mark can feel the rumble of the Sun God's laugh against his back when the creature sets off into a run.
Mark's heart rises into his throat and he gasps when the Pegasus' strong wings flap once, twice– before it kicks off into sky so easily. Mark lets out a pathetic whimper, squeezes his eyes shut as he feels the ground inch farther and farther, feels the cold wind against his face.
He takes a heavy breath, a shudder running up his spine as panic bubbles, but then there is warmth. Lucas' voice in his mind first then a whisper against his ear as his grip tightens, his frame presses close. "I've got you." Mark's frame shudders a tad more and then he sighs when Lucas runs his nose up the back of his neck. "Would you open your eyes for me?"
Mark shakes his head furiously, sinks back more into the God's frame. There is a soft deep laugh and then Lucas' hand untwines his. Mark gasps as his fingers tangle in the Pegasus' mane.
"Lucas?" he peeps. The wind howls around his ears and the panic makes to return, but not before a hand softly grips his chin, caresses his jaw. It's a light touch, Lucas guiding his face up gently and Mark takes a breath when their lips meet in a slow kiss.
"Would you open your eyes for me?" the God whispers again and Mark's eyes flutter open slowly, meets Lucas'. The light shines in them as he smiles, fingers running down Mark's jaw. "Beautiful."
Mark blinks slowly and then his vision is pulled by the motion of the Pegasus' wing. His eyes widen as they locks to the clouds. Lucas smiles still, face turning to look at the view and Mark's eyes run over the clouds in awe before he marvels at the land beneath, the sparkling river and dancing trees.
"Oh," he breathes, "Great Zeus."
Lucas laughs lowly when the Pegasus shifts and Mark grips to him for dear life, but he stares in awe still, drinks in the sight.
"Are you impressed now?"
"Blown away," Mark whispers and he squints when light falls into his eyes. When he looks up he sees the clouds break, sees the sun's rays seep through. "Apollo," he whispers and Lucas smiles with his lips to his ear.
"Yes," he answers and his hand sways through the rays. Mark gasps again when it slowly opens in front of him, shines in the palm of Lucas' hand.
Mark's eyes light up as he looks into it, the rays not harming his vision even though it’s so close. He feels Lucas smile and it fills him with warmth. His hand untangles slowly, reaches for the light and the God easily blankets it as he had done many months before, holds it steady.
Mark's eyes widen when Lucas' hand drops slowly and the light stays. He looks back over his shoulder and the God gives him a warm small, before he looks at the light in Mark's palm, presses a kiss to his temple.
"This is how you hold me," he whispers, "In the palm of your hand."
Mark's concentration falls at the words, eyes flicking to Lucas and the light disperses, breaks from his hand into nothing.
"Lucas," Mark whispers sadly, but the God grabs his hand, captures his lips in a deep, intimate kiss that has all the breath leave Mark's lungs. The Sun God presses his head to his as the wind howls around them. Mark's face saddens. Lucas runs his fingers over his lips as he whispers.
"You need only ask and I shall deliver. You need only ask and I shall be there," he captures Mark's lips again and it seems painful, sears before he break away, "I am your God and I love you."
Mark takes it upon himself not to worry about the amount of time they have spent here in the forest of the nymphs.
Not that he can pay attention to time with the Sun God with him, hovering over or near him wherever Mark may wander. He doesn't keep Mark in place. If Mark would say for himself, Lucas seems to enjoy him going about his day. Be it on his lands or in this forest. He is always silently watching and it is only now that he realizes Lucas has been doing this since the very beginning.
"Why do you look at me in such a way?"
He whispers it into the stillness of the night. The trees blow in the wind, leaves bristling as they lay together. The forest air is cold, but Mark hardly feels any of it as his naked frame presses into that of Lucas. It still marvels him as he runs his hand over the tan skin in utter darkness. Yet he can see him, see him glow in the shadows of the forest.
The God's slow breaths mingle with the water that streams continuously throughout the day, with the nightly creatures that hunt for prey. Mark slowly casts his eyes up, locks them with Lucas' as they lay side by side, his breath fans over his face, warms his skin.
"You're stunning," the God's voice comes low, a whisper and his hand runs over Mark's bruised skin, over the curves that he deems worthy of a sculpture.
"You've said that before," Mark replies, smiles. He wonders how Lucas sees him. Mark can only see him because he shines in the darkness. To any other human Mark should be invisible to the naked eye.
"I mean every word."
"I believe you."
The hand on his back comes up, cups his face and the large thumb rubs into the skin gently. Mark's eyes slowly close and he sighs, kisses back just as slow when Lucas captures his lips. The silk sheets rustle and Mark shudders at a gush of wind that passes, graces his chest when Lucas rises. "You believe me," he whispers, "but I cannot lie to you."
Mark shudders at another gush, misses Lucas' warmth though he is but a few centimeters away. The wind howls and Mark stares in silence, stares at the age old God that shines even within darkness. The eyes trail to him and his head tilts as the wind blows through his hair.
"Are you still frightened?"
The silence is not short, it is not long, but instead of answering Mark asks. "Do you want me to be?"
"If I could be human," Lucas places his hand against the stone pillar of the folly, "I would– I would to be with you." Mark takes a breath as he sees the God frown and his heart speeds up when the stone cracks into the stillness of the night. "I have never regret being a God. Never once... I had taken so much pride within in, but now–"The stone shatters in his hand and Mark hears the pillar split up to the ceiling.
"Lucas–" Mark is frightened. The God could shatter him, could do unspeakable things to him, yet he loves him and that saddens Mark, because–
"I don't want you to be frightened," it's a whisper and a lump forms itself in Mark's throat as the light filled eyes look at him once again. He could lie... and Lucas would never know, would never know the truth, but he loves him… and Mark doesn't want to lie because–
"You do frighten me," he whispers, forces out of his throat.
"I am but human... You are a God," he comes forward slowly, fingers shaking from the cold, shaking as he comes to cup the face filled with sorrow, "But–" his hands run up Lucas' cheeks, through the thick strands of his hair before he looks into his eyes, "A God that fell in love?"
Now the silence is heavy as Lucas stares at him, unmoving. "I want to spend eternity with you," Lucas whispers, head coming to rest against his, "Forever."
Mark takes a shuddering breath and his eyes fall shut as he feels the hands wrap around him, the warmth engulf him. The lump in his throat breaks into a soft sob and he shakes his head. The words are painful and when he opens his eyes he's crying, soft sobs that fill the night.
He's been thinking of it. He does not want to lie. He should... he should lie, but the words fall like his tears.
"I had imagined a life with you... before I knew." Lucas' eyes sadden, come alight more as he pulls Mark impossibly closer.
"A happy life. Where every morning I'd wake to you beside me... but it was wrong of me. I–"
"Mark," Lucas whispers, shakes his head, pleads for him not to say it, but the words fall between his sobs.
"You will outlive me, Apollo." Lucas takes a loud breath and it shakes on his own sob. "I am but a blink in your lifetime, am I not?"
"Mark," Lucas breathes, kisses him deeply as the human's tears run down his skin. "Do not ever, ever, speak those words again. I do not want to hear them–"
"I love you."
Lucas' lips quiver in his silence, mouth open in shock as he looks into Mark's eyes.
"And as you love me... I cannot bare to imagine what you will go through when–"
Mark is cut off when Lucas crashes their lips together. It's so rough it send a shock up Mark's spine as he's crushes to the God's chest, hands frantically grabbing hold onto the wide shoulders.
"I love you," Lucas says to his lips and it flows over the silence of the forest as he kisses down Mark's neck, plants him in the soft pillows and silk sheets.
"Lucas" Mark chances, but the God shakes his head in denial, crashes their lips together every time Mark makes to speak. Denies him the words until Mark, stares at him in sad silence.
"Eternity," Lucas whispers to his lips and Mark closes his eyes slowly, squeezes them as tears fall from his lashes. He nods slowly, realizes that even though Lucas is the God, he is asking Mark, pleading for this request he, a mere human cannot grant. So he nods slowly and replies. "Eternity."
He lies for Lucas.
That night engraved itself deep into his bones, into his soul as he moaned out Lucas' name, cried in the God's arms.
He shudders at the heat, hisses as he's loved. The forest has fallen to a deadly silence, Mark figures it's because of his moans, long and drawn out as he clings to the God. Lucas clinging to him like he is his reason for living.
It burns and Mark cries. It sears his skin. The kisses pressed into it, the touches gripped into it. Mark whimpers and keens, cums with cries of Joy just to be taken again and his skin burns, his bones ache as he's crushed, but he accepts it all.
Accepts all Lucas has to give.
Mark wakes with a start and immediately regrets it, whimpers as he shifts.
"Lucas," a voice that he doesn't know comes and Mark blinks the sleep out of his eyes. His body aches and his vision runs over Lucas' frame that rises from beside him before they dart to the stranger. "Why are you he–?" the man stops speaking when Mark shifts again, rises slowly. His eyes dart to him, they pierce as his brows lower a tad. "Human."
His words are short, clipped and in the next moment he walks forward, steps heavy on the path. Mark only now realizes there is a small crater on the path, stone cracked as if something landed there.
He gasps as the man nears, whimpers again and a hand gently rests on his back. Lucas looks at him concerned and there is a short hum.
Mark inches away when he notices the man is already stood a meter away, frame looming, dreadful even in his silence. The armor he wears shines and Mark only needs a moment to realize who he is.
Up close the God of War is imposing and Mark makes to pull up the sheets, cover his frame, but he gasps at the action. His eyes grow as he stares at his wrists. The silk sheet slips through his fingers as he looks at the bruises, the lines of the large hands printed on his flesh and his breath stutters when his eyes run down his frame. He shakily reaches for a red bruise and lets out a sound of pain when the tip of his index finger connects with the tainted flesh.
Lucas' hand gently presses into the skin of his back, over his ribs and Mark whimpers, looks up frightened. The God's eyes are filled with regret, worry.
"You could never hold back."
Their eyes dart back to the other God and his eyes are on Mark's frame before they look at Lucas. "Best treat those quickly, brother."
Mark blinks in confusion and then the memories of the previous night finally fully resurface. The weight– The passion– The searing heat– He looks at Ares wide eyed.
"Humans are so fragile," he tilts his head, admires Mark. He wonders what he is thinking, can't bother to asks as his body starts to ache more.
"Don't move too much," Lucas whispers and he gently runs his hand down Mark's frame. "I'm sorry. I have been trying all night, but I–" he pauses.
"You can't?" Ares' voice comes again and Mark looks up confused, eyes round and unknowing. "Interesting."
"Can't?" Mark questions in a hoarse voice.
"Heal you," Lucas whispers and Mark looks up a moment, eyes locked with the Sun God. Heal me? His mouth falls slightly ajar when he realizes. Of course... The Sun God had blessed humanity with medicine... with everything they needed to heal one another, because they could not do it as him, could not take away pain and disease with a single touch.
"You can't heal me?" Mark whisper asks, he's surprised, confused. Why?
"What a painful sight."
Mark blinks at the sudden soft voice and his eyes dart back to Ares. There is something, that wasn't there before. A man... no, not a man... only resembles one.
The eyes are filled with sorrow as his hand peeks over the plated shoulder of the God of War, rests there easily. "Jeno," the soft voice comes again and he looks to the brooding God. "Who is that?"
"I do not know his name, Renjun."
When Renjun steps closer he bends forward a bit and the action makes Mark lean away. There are leaves in his pink hair, shimmering dust spread over his cheeks and arms, dark eyes gleaming as he looks at Mark.
"You're hurt," he simply states, "scorched by Apollo." Mark takes a breath. Lucas' hand rests over his, Mark doesn't like his silence in this moment.
It's going too fast. Too much is happening. He tries to shift, whimpers again and Lucas' eyes dart over him in worry, but before his flesh touches Mark's again he pauses, hesitates. He seems at a loss as Mark lowers himself back into the silk sheets and pillows, cries, shakes.
It hurts. It hurts so much and the pain keeps growing, he doesn't understand why. He can feel the eyes on him, the wind on his skin.
"Bring him," Renjun's soft voice comes again and he peers at Mark a moment before he rises slowly, turns. "I'll treat him."
Mark cries out when Lucas lifts him slowly and he looks at the God in confusion still. "Why?" he finally questions and Lucas shakes his head.
He doesn't know.
Mark squeezes his eyes shut, tears running down his face before he shoves it into the God's peck, shudders and shrinks into himself, remembers the previous night, remembers how he had moaned and shaken as he was taken. He had clutched to the God for dear life as his mind numbed and whispered his love for Lucas until he had fallen to darkness.
Is this his reward? His punishment for loving a God? It's cruel.
The voice comes as a whisper and Mark feels an overwhelming sadness overtake him suddenly. He opens his eyes, blinks slowly as he looks at Lucas.
"I'm sorry," the God repeats and Mark breathes a new sob.
Mark has fallen somewhat limp in Lucas' arms, pain having grown so immense his mind numbs once more. He can hear his voice, soft, deep pleas as he whispers in Mark's hair.
Mark's finger twitches slightly and his mouth opens a bit, but nothing comes out.
It eats at him. The pain, crawls over his limbs, muscles and sinks in like venom, scorches over and under his skin. His bones ache, throb as Lucas trails behind the woodland nymph.
Mark is aware of the sounds of the forest, of the birds, the wind, the animals. He's aware of the water and the heavy steps the man behind his God leaves, but he is also aware of the arms around him as he struggles to stay awake, consciousness hanging by a thread as he listens to the voice in his hair, the whisper in his soul, the heartbeat that thumps erratically. It is such a contrast to the gentle way the voice flows into him, but somehow they both ground him, keep him firmly in place as his tear stained face rests to the Sun God's chest.
"Careless," Jeno's voice comes simply. It's hollow, void of any emotions as he looks down at the human laid over the soft forest grass. Lucas cradles Mark's face in the palm of his hand, holds the smaller man's in his own. There is a part of him that wants to lash out against Ares, but it is overshadowed by the way his love barely reacts.
Renjun does not join the conversation. The small nymph simply glances up at the God of War, blinks as his deft fingers carefully spreads the ointment he has prepared, covers it in soft leaves that now cover the expanse of Mark's skin.
Lucas would mistake Mark's small frame as a nymph as well if it weren't for the worry and guilt that endlessly ate at his heart.
Renjun had taken them to the inner most part of the forest, where the flowers fell off trees in curtains of graceful beauty, where the water was still say for the occasional fish that resided within it. Pure and sparkling with petals and sunlight that seeped through the canopy of the trees above.
There were myths of it, of this place. So few ever have the honor to venture into the den of a nymph. Mark is lucky in the worst of circumstances.
"I had heard you had stopped playing with humans... are you returning to your ways?"
Lucas' face saddens as he stares at Mark's motionless frame, runs his thumb over his cheekbone. He should have known better... What he is... What he can do.
"No," he replies after a moment, "I am not."
"Who is he?"
This is a question Lucas does not expect and he slowly turns to look at the other man. Jeno's eyes stare past him, rest on Mark's face.
"He's–," Lucas replies after another pause, his eyes trail back to the human, "Mark."
He doesn't see Jeno's eyes narrow. Renjun look at the Sun God quietly and then just as silent they tail to Jeno.
Jeno's eyes lock with his and he's unmoving as they dwell, unspoken words, unexplained feelings. Renjun casts his eyes down, rises. "I've finished."
Lucas looks at him then. The nymph hesitates. "Lord–" he looks at Mark and back at the two Gods, "I believe leaving him would be the best choice."
Lucas' face hardens. Jeno's stays unmoving.
"I say this with all my respect Lord," Renjun rushes to say and he bows, "You are not good for him. He– You've–" he seems hesitant to speak yet again.
"Cursed him," Jeno's deep voice comes and Lucas looks back confused. "Trail back into the recesses of your life Apollo. Human's are fragile. They are susceptible to the simplest of things. Including love."
The God of War says it so harsh, with an iron voice that sends chills down anyone's spine. Renjun frowns lightly as he comes up.
Lucas tilts his head, brows furrowing in guilt, "It was never my intention–"
"I believe it was," Jeno cuts again, "You have all the means to leave him. What's stopping you?"
Lucas is silent.
He knows the answer. Jeno knows the answer.
"What a curse it is to be a God," he says it with no mercy or remorse. Years on the battlefield has built an unmoving soul that passes with each reincarnation. Jeno's humanity still shines. Him being here is the proof, but it is so cruel in a sense. Cruel to those around him. "He will have this curse until he passes."
"It's not a curse," Renjun peeps then and the heavy eyes fall on him once more. "It's a gift," he looks at Lucas, "A gift from you. He is blessed by you–"
"And that is why it's a curse," Jeno's voice is hard and there is a cold pause before he continues. "Once a human is blessed by a God, said God has little influence over them.You both blessed and cursed him..... You both blessed and cursed yourselves. Renjun, come."
Renjun's eyes grow as the God of War turns, walks away and the nymph bows to Lucas again before he scurries after Jeno.
Lucas sits in silence as he stares at Mark, lowers himself into the grass besides the man. He trails his eyes over the smaller man's face, pauses and unconsciously reaches to hold his hand again.
He considers it again... leaving, but after a moment he feels his love's hand slightly grip his and all his thoughts halting when a precious face slightly turns his direction.
It's both, yes. A blessing and a curse.
Mark's eyes open slowly and he's met with a beautiful view of branches, leaves and the darkening sky beyond them.
He watches them dance in the wind as his consciousness returns to him like a slowly blooming flower. His lips part and he takes a deep breath.
Only his face and the back of his hands feel the breeze stream by, the rest of his body somewhat floating.
He hears the world through the muted silence of Poseidon's depths, even if it isn't the dark beneath humankind so fears. It's calming. He doesn't know what to make of it. This feeling that has been plaguing him for some time now.
Fear, but also serenity.
His legs shift in the soft dirt beneath him and as he rises the water slips off him with falling drops that seem too loud.
The wind kisses his exposed skin now and he shivers, makes to curl into a ball, hug his knees, but he stops at the sight of his wrists, at the pink imprints on his skin.
"Ares says I've cursed you."
Mark's heart stops a second, before it starts racing. He turns slowly, peers over his shoulder to where the voice had come from.
Lucas' eyes rest on him, face unreadable. "Renjun says it's a blessing."
"And you?" Mark hears himself ask.
The God doesn't reply immediately and Mark's mind is left to wander, studies Lucas’ frame on the river bank. He recollects the numbing pain as he cried, but also the way his body screamed in ecstasy both instances in the God's arms. His hands sink into the soft dirt beneath the low waters as he turns, crawls forward with the question still on his tongue. "And you?"
Lucas is still unmoving, watches in silence as Mark nears, crawls from the water until he's so close he can feeling the God's warmth, feel his breath against his nose. "And You?" he repeats once more in a whisper.
He remembers the lie he's told. The lie he has spoken for the God as he stares into his eyes. Eternity.
"Both," Lucas whispers as a reply and he melts against Mark when the smaller man comes forward to capture his lips.
Mark leads, cups Lucas' cheeks as the God's hands wrap around him, pulls his naked frame to his chest. Mark sighs as he runs his thumbs over the hardness of Lucas' jaw, caresses his strong neck and finally sinks them in the soft thick locks atop his head.
"So strong," he whispers to Lucas' lips as they stare into each other’s eyes. A kiss falls again, a long endless press of their lips before they part once more. They do hold truth Lucas thinks as Mark cradles his head in his arms, pressed their lips together in another kiss.
"They hold so much more." Zeus' words echo through his mind as the human kisses him again. He shakes his head lightly and Mark's brows furrow in confusion, eyes filling with worry. Lucas takes a breath before he shakes his head again.
"It is not I that is strong," he whispers, "It is you."
"How long have I been asleep?"
"A week," Lucas mumbles into the crook of his neck. Mark's eyes widen and he pulls away to look into Lucas'. The God's eyes are somber as they run over Mark's face. "Seven days, eleven hours, thirty two minutes and sixteen, seventeen, eightt–"
Mark silences him with a finger to his lips. "Stop counting," he worries, "I'm here now." Lucas' brows twitch a moment and then he nods. "What happened–?" Mark caresses his cheek, "–to me?"
The Sun God's eyes lower, run over Mark's neck, his shoulders, chest. He can feel it, feel the heavy gaze before he replies. "I couldn't contain myself," his eyes flick up, lock with Mark's, "I scorched you, burned your skin with my own, seared myself into your bones," his voice lowers, "Your being."
Mark takes a few collected breaths before he speaks again.
"Did you mean to?"
"I never meant to hurt you," Lucas says immediately and he sounds sad again, sorry. "I never meant to cause you any harm, but I'm too desperate, to willing... and I've–" he stops speaking, casts his eyes down again. Mark tilts his head, runs a hand over his soft hair.
"You've?" he encourages, tilts Lucas' face up, "Tell me?"
It is so odd to see Lucas like this. Mark notes how much more silent he has become over the course of their time together, especially after he revealed his Godhood. As if he fears telling Mark, fears telling him, because Mark may... leave him. He tilts his head lightly, wonders at that. It makes him frightened.
"I've–," Lucas finally continues, and his large hand comes up and he presses his index finger to the center of Mark's chest.
"I've planted my power within you."
At this Mark's brows furrow in surprised confusion, he looks down at Lucas' finger and then back up. "What–? How??"
Lucas' eyes blink slow, hood as he looks at Mark's chest. "I don't know." He looks at Mark again, "But I do know that's why all the Gods have been finding you so easily, or know of you... Somewhere along the way," he runs his finger down Mark's chest, watches it rise and fall, "You started harnessing my light... I can't do that myself..."
Mark's eyes grow as the God looks at him. His lips quiver when a softness comes in them. "How long, Mark?" he asks and Mark shakes his head just as confused as before, but he somehow knows when... He knows specifically when it happened...
"I didn't know," he starts and he kind of shrinks, "It was a bit after you'd returned. I, thinking that you wouldn't, but there you were... on my doorstep and... the more you came, the more I didn't want you to leave. I'm sorry," he whispers. "I didn't know– That morning I just–"
Lucas' eyes widen slowly as Mark sees him remember. An early morning, before the sun had risen. Lucas had stepped out of the house as he prepared to leave and there was a soft voice. "Must you go?"
Mark had been stood in the small doorway of his house, voice still riddled with sleep and arms wrapped around him to fight the morning coldness."It's awfully early. You could stay...? Even if it is for simply an hour or two?" He had stood there silently and Lucas remembers the small frown at his pretty lips when he said he had something important to attend. Mark had cast his eyes down, hid a pout by sucking in his lips before he had come forward.
"Won't you be safe?" he had asked, approached Lucas with slow steps. He'd seemed hesitant at first, but after a moment he closed the gap and Lucas' brows had risen in surprise as the small man wrapped his arms around his large frame. It took a moment, but slowly Lucas had hugged him back, sunk against Mark a bit before the man pulled away, eyes casting down before he nodded. "Be safe, Lucas... I'll see you... If you decide to return."
"Wanted me to stay," Lucas finished and he seems surprised. How had he never noticed it before? Noticed the way Mark had slowly grown close to him, before his eyes had filled with fear at the sight of him...
That is why it had hurt so much... Gods. The question changes as his grip on Mark tightens. "How long–?" he repeats before adding the new words, the words he hardly believes to be true. "How long have you loved me, Mark?"
There is a silence and he sees tears form in the corner of Mark's eyes before he looks away. "I did say it was wrong of me...," he whispers, "Imagining a life with you– waking up next to you."
"When, Mark??" Lucas comes up and Mark shrinks in his arms, shakes his head more. "Please don't lie to me," Lucas begs. He begs again and Mark is reminded of the power he holds over the Sun God. Too much power, power he doesn't want.
"I don't know!" he sobs out, hides behind his hands, though he feels so exposed. "I don't know," he cries. "I just did– I just started loving waking up with you there, loving when you'd smile as I pestered you," he cries harder when he realizes this is all his fault. He has the ability to say no, has always had it and he didn't...
Lucas is going to suffer because of him. This is because... he stops as he realizes it... "I started loving seeing you drag in firewood, carry in water for my bath. When you fixed my fences with me, helped me harvest, joined me on my walks into town... I started loving when you spent hours talking to me. When you'd return days later to do the same..." he looks up through his tears as he pinpoints the exact feeling, place, time. His voice falls to a whisper of amazement as he looks at the God.
A pause. Silent, weightless.
"That night... That night we were sat by my shed... I had been staring at the stars... and you asked me my favorite. I had told you, I had never had the privilege of learning their names and you joined me... laid on the heaps of woven sacks that I need to discard. You... laid with me... and named all of them... one by one, smiled when I pointed out that I didn't actually have a favorite and that I would in no way remember all those names.... You smiled again and looked up at the stars before saying. "It doesn't matter if you can't remember them. I'll recite them for you anyway."
They stare at each other in silence before Mark confesses. "That is when I fell in love with you."
Lucas' lips on his are strong, yet soft, hands moving with a hesitant gentleness as he cradles Mark closer.
"I'm never letting you go," the God whispers and it saddens Mark to an extent. He's sad, but he's also... happy?
He doesn't deserve this. He feels this way... Unsure, yet his body flushes closer, his limbs tangle with the God's, fingers gently clawing over the warmth of Lucas' skin as he's kissed.
I do love you, he thinks, but...this...
Lucas stops abruptly and Mark only has a moment before his body is gripped, shifted at an inhuman speed. He gasps as he is pressed into the earth and in the second before Lucas covers his face with his arm his eyes widen as he sees something fly in past the canopy of the trees. There is a loud crash, the earth shaking and branches cracking, snapping as Lucas' frame hardens above him, muscles flexing as the shock flows through the earth. Mark clutches to his robes, fear clamping his throat shut as the wildlife around cries in distress. Birds flee out of their homely nests and creatures large and small scatter before everything falls silent again.
Lucas rises slowly and a frown plays at his lips. He inspects Mark a moment, Mark that looks at him with wide eyes. He caresses his cheek, eyes softening before his hard gaze returns, turns to look over.
Mark's mouth falls slightly agape when his eyes revisit the once beautiful area, now askew and ruined from the force that landed there.
"The Garden has done no ill will," Lucas’ voice comes. It's silent and Mark stares in fearful awe as the man within the crater rises from his knee. His eyes lock to them before he sheathes the gleaming broadsword in his hand, its sharpness whistling through the air as it slips into its scabbard. Some branches snap behind him, fall to the unearthed ones below.
He does leave destruction in his wake, Mark thinks as the God of War's cold gaze rests on Lucas. The eyes then shift to Mark and the human involuntarily shrinks.
"It'll re-grow," are the first words Jeno speaks, eyes still on Mark. "But that one," he continues, "Good call from you, Apollo. The garden would be in a worst state if something had befallen him, no?"
"I have no wish to battle you Ares, save your bloodlust for the fields you've coated in agony."
Mark can't look away as the God stares him down, bores into his soul. His armor is filthy, Mark notes, dirt also pressed into the skin of his face. War... He wonders how far Ares has traveled. There is no war in their land... has not been for some time now...
The eyes waver for a fraction and Mark, takes a quick breath, blinks as his brows furrow, but before he can speak Jeno's eyes snap up and his head turns away.
Renjun stares in silence from over a fallen tree, frame basked in the setting sun that now easily reaches the earth. A small bird lands on his shoulder as his eyes trail over the area. They land on Mark a moment, head tilting before they lock to Jeno.
They stand like that for a few long moments, none of them moving. Mark can't see Jeno's face, but Renjun's face shifts into something akin to happiness and sadness. His frame lowers, feet easily planting within the earth before his hand spreads over the fallen tree.
Mark is overtaken by awe once more, but this time it comes with only wonder as the flora around Renjun blooms. The roots of the fallen tree crack and curl, bury themselves in the deep dark earth. The crushed plants and flowers rise and bloom over the broken branches and Mark's eyes dart over the area in amazement, breath catching in his throat when those underneath him, grow against his skin. Lucas pulls him close, rises and Mark watches as Renjun slowly walks to Jeno, stops before him as everything blooms to life around them once more.
Jeno seems unsurprised and his hands open as he turns to the nymph. Renjun easily slips within his holds and his eyes scold him. Jeno's head shifts, falls to the side and the nymph cradles it back, makes him look at him. "So brutal, Lord Ares," he scolds as the canopy above them closes with rustling leaves and curling branches.
"Don't call me that," is the God of War's reply.
Renjun smiles and Mark can see the spark in his eyes before they share a kiss and the human stills as he watches them.
"Good day, Mark," the nymph says over Jeno's shoulder. The God's head turns just a tad as he looks along. "How do you feel?"
Lucas' hands wrap around him tighter and Mark blinks a few times before he can reply. "I'm...," he looks up at the Sun God before continuing, "Okay."
"Good," Renjun smiles and he gently pulls Jeno along, away from him and Lucas. "I'm glad."
Mark's ears burn with his flush as he sits amongst the flowers. Lucas sits on a rock opposite of him, large frame relaxed as his eyes rest on Mark.
He opens his mouth to speak, but bites his lip when another pleasure filled moan echoes through the forest, cheeks filling with a soft pink. Lucas' head tilts before he speaks. "If it makes you uncomfortable... you need only ask and I'll take you away."
Mark looks up with wide eyes and Lucas stares back in silence. They sit like that for a few beats. Just as they hadn't said a word to one another on their way here from the riverbank.
Mark is afraid to. He doesn't know why. He knows Lucas loves him, but now that he's finally confessed his true feelings for the God he doesn't know what to say... do. Is left in silence as he stares at Apollo.
The reality of it seems so out of place. He is the sun God... and I love him. People sing and cheer his name, worship him and fight in his honor... beg for his mercy... but Mark has fallen in love with him just because he seemed a kind stranger. "Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?"
Mark blinks, back to reality. Lucas is still staring at him. "What?" he manages and the wind picks up, blows over his bare back and through his drying hair.
It flows through Lucas' hair as his eyes rest on Mark. "You're beautiful."
Mark sits in silence again before he smiles lightly. "Thank you," he replies, "But I believe there are fairer."
"Your beauty also comes from within. Your song– I do wish to hear it again."
Mark is a little confused by this, doesn't know what Lucas means until the Sun God explains. "When I first encountered you," he begins, "You apologized."
Mark blinks confused, shakes his head. "I don't follow–"
"Then you sang my song."
Mark is still confused, but as he looks at the God it dawns in him. His eyes widen and he remembers. "The day we met?" he questions, "But I only met you at the Market–"
"I followed you... to the market–" Mark blinks in disbelieve when Lucas continues with, "Because I heard you sing."
"H– How come you've never mentioned this?? It's been months."
Lucas' eyes trail a bit and something in them comes alight before he replies. "Ah– Yes– It has been... months."
Suddenly Mark is reminded again of his Godhood and a soft, "Oh," leaves his lips when he realizes... "That must not be that long ago for... you."
Lucas' eyes fall to him again.
"Relatively," he says after a pause. "Time seems to slow... when I am with you."
"Is that a good or bad thing?" Mark whispers asks.
"Good," Lucas answers slowly... "My time with you... doesn't seem rushed."
That statement saddens Mark, but he pushes the feeling down to ask. "Do you wish to hear me sing?"
The God nods lightly and Mark takes a slow breath before he rises. Lucas easily lets him slip into his lap once more, doesn't even question Mark's actions as he curls his small naked frame against his body, rests his head in the God's neck as arms slowly wrap around him.
The leaves rustle in the wind as he starts, soft within Lucas' arms.
"The tales they come... they tales they go," there is a pause and Mark focuses on the rise and fall of Lucas' chest as he continues, "Some true, some false, for joy or woe. But still he shines... with ever glow. Our knight, our light... to slay all foes. It may be dear or cause true fear, with hands that heal or fire that sears. Yet he protects, gives life and jests. His fire burns as day-night turns." Mark gasps when Lucas voice comes, deep and calm as he sings the start of the next verse.
"Be 't near or far... his light will reach. Apollo so, thus here to teach. To slay the fray, to hear them say." Mark takes a breath when Lucas' hand comes up, grabs his chin gently as he sings. He looks into Mark's eyes as the words fall from his lips. "Oh sun God's might. We sing tonight."
Mark looks into his eyes in wonder, takes another breath at the sound of the God singing the simple folk song passed down over the years.
Lucas waits and Mark's eyes widen as he realizes he's waiting... waiting for him to sing again... so he does...
"You of all," he whispers, "Gives love to all... Thus we repent our sins that've sent."
Lucas falls in with him, their voices flowing together as they look into each other's eyes, as the God presses their heads together.
"So Strong, so bright... the sun God's might. Apollo hear... Our king of light. So none to fear as long he's near. Be kind, be just... and he will trust."
Lucas stops and Mark continues alone as the arms around him tighten. "Our king... our knight our God of light–" The rest of the song dies in his throat as Lucas hovers before him, lips a breath away.
"Helps all at once, will cure your fright," he whispers and Mark nods slowly... waits...
And his eyes flutter shut when the God presses forward, kisses him with a passion and a gentleness that still surprises Mark. He clings to his robes, hands gripping the fabric as Lucas pulls him ever closer.
Lucas... he thinks as he's cradled. Apollo... he thinks as the God sighs when Mark's fingers tangle in his hair... The sun God... His God. His fear washes away, as his frame sags, as his lips starts moving with a new goal... as he holds on and vows to never let go, vows to love eternally.
And don't be 'fraid of the dark my dear, because his light will protect you... even at night.
"You shouldn't have brought me here."
Lucas stills, turns and looks up at Mark who is still sat on the Pegasus. His eyes are concerned as he looks at the large temple. Lucas sees him swallow, shrink. "I shouldn't be here."
"Do you trust me?" Lucas asks and Mark's eyes cast down, come to him as the Pegasus flaps once, pulls in his wings.
"I do," Mark replies, "but–"
"But, you aren't sure what to expect."
Mark nods, but when after a moment Lucas sticks out his hand, he reaches for it, startles when the Pegasus neighs and kicks up, bounces Mark off his back. He lands in Lucas' arms and scrambles, eyes wide as he stares at the creature. The God laughs and Mark looks at him in disbelieve. "I'm never riding one again!"
"Come now," Lucas smiles, "He likes you."
Mark looks at the Pegasus and the creature breathes out at him. "Likes me," Mark repeats sarcastically and Lucas laughs once more.
"I'm not allowed to be here."
Mark says it as fact and Lucas hums. "That would depend on who brings you."
"So, I am not."
"You don't believe I hold such authority?" The God questions, "I am hurt." Mark looks at him unamused and Lucas' face cracks into a smile as he walks into the large temple.
The massive pillars stretch up so far Mark's mouth falls open as his eyes run up them and he hurries to fall back into step with the man that brought him here. The marble tiles are spotless, ancient. Mark now truly wonders how long this mountain has stood. Before his time? Perhaps before even Lucas' time? He may never learn the answer.
"Will we stay long?" Mark asks now. He jogs forward, hand grasping Lucas' robes as he closes the gap between them. He feels as if someone is watching him. He will not be surprised if that is so. The statues seem to live.
"Unsure," Lucas answers and his hand reaches back, grabs the one Mark has tangled in his robes and pulls him even closer, twists his hand in such a manner the human curls against him. "Hermes had stopped by when you were asleep. That is why we are here."
Mark's brows furrow. "That? What is that?"
"Patience." The God guides him down a long hall. Mark does not like how silent it is up here. All he hears are their steps against the tiles. Steps that echo and whisper back to them. A light breeze trails past his calves and he presses closer as his eyes run over the decorated stone walls, the pottery and plants.
He wonders if–
The walls shake, rumble and Mark startles, eyes widening and darting around as Lucas stops in his tracks.
"Come!!" The voice echoes once more, loud and imposing and Mark's throat nearly screws shut. "W–What is that??" he peeps and Lucas' eyes trail before he replies.
"Father??" Mark question. Father... that is–
"Zeus," Lucas pauses and Mark needs to remind himself to breath. The God sighs.
"I had hoped he would allow me this... if even just a second.... Alas."
"Lucas?" Mark whispers as they continue onward. "What now?"
"I'm sorry," he apologizes and his grip tightens around Mark's fingers, large hand blanketing his smaller as he continues, "You'll be meeting my family."
Mark doesn't want to meet the Gods.
He has met a few... Now that he thinks of it, his encounters with the other Gods were...The memories play through his mind…
They had all smiled... say for Ares... Still, none of them seemed to compare to the God he was about to meet.
Zeus. King of the Gods... Ruler of Olympus, of all...
"No harm will befall you."
Lucas' voice comes softly, calmly and Mark looks up at him as they trail down the long hall. "I want to believe you," he says honestly and the God frowns, looks down at him, "Please forgive me."
"There is nothing to forgive. It is understandable..." he looks forward again. "Stay close to me."
Mark nods, takes a shuddering breath and yet when they turn a corner and a tall entryway comes into view his heart rises in his throat and his steps cease, stutter.
Lucas' grip tightens and Mark's breath stutters as he forces himself to step forward. This feeling is different... That which he had felt with Lucas... simply doesn't compare...
He had been frightened, yes. But this...
It's heavy, pressing and in this moment Mark realizes that the day he discovered Lucas' Godhood, Apollo had truly never wanted to frighten him. He understands... because in this moment, this moment when he and the Sun God step into the main hall of the temple, he is truly terrified.
The air rings... as it does when Lucas is near...But somehow it feels different. There is no warmth, no still calmness, no protection, he realizes. There is... something else–
His eyes widen and dart up into the hall. There are thrones. Two large thrones decorated with curtains, plants and gold that shimmers in the light that bounces off the walls and smaller ones beside them arranged to a crescent moon. Two... Oh–
He had forgotten– How dare he–
"You must have realized how futile this effort would be–?" a voice comes and Mark's feet nail to the ground. It continues to echo through the hall as Mark breathes heavily.
Lucas has stopped by his side and Mark slowly peeks up at him, follows his eyes to where they trail and he stops breathing when he spots the owner, spots him.
The large man steps forward slowly, frame coming forth as he closes the gap between them. His robes are as white as the temple's interior and his gold jewels gleams just as bright. Light brown eyes in a solemn face seeming to be carved by the finest sculptor.
"–And yet you still brought the human along."
The voice would seem so warm if Mark didn't know who he was, what he is, what he can do. Zeus' eyes fall to him then and Mark's grip buries into Lucas' flesh.
The God of Gods stops before them, towers as he stares at them. "Breath," he says then and Mark involuntarily takes a loud breath. Lucas' frown deepens. Zeus studies him and when he looks at Mark again he hums. "So this is the human."
"His name is Mark."
Zeus' eyes are unmoving when he simply replies with. "I am aware."
Mark wants to bow, wants to speak, but the words are lodged in his chest as the God studies him. It's so heavy, presses down on him so hard. He truly does not know what to do.
"Why have you brought him here? Human's aren't allowed on Olympus," his eyes fall to Lucas again. "You know this, Apollo."
"I've only brought him because I must retrieve an order," Zeus' eyes narrow a bit, "And I wish to have him by my side until I do so."
Mark's eyes dart to Lucas, blink... He doesn't know what they are talking about.
"Order," Zeus repeats, "Is that why Hermes has been seeing you of late?"
"Yes, father," Lucas answers honestly, "He was tasked to inform me of their progress and completion."
The corner of Zeus' lips twitch as if he wants to smile. Maybe it is a smile? Mark thinks. How many eons has he lived? The bright brown of his eyes seems so old. Mark takes a breath when they fall to him once more. Zeus' head turn to him now, allows Mark his full attention. Mark doesn't want it.
"Mark," his voice comes and he stares at him in silence.
"Yes, my lord?" he whispers in return, but the God continues to stare for a few seconds more. Then his hand slowly comes forward and Lucas' eyes fall to it. As do Mark's. "You have learned of me... of us," he says slow, "But humans... are such... marvelous creatures. Don't you think so?"
"Y-Yes, my Lord," Mark stutters and he looks at Lucas a moment, hesitates. Lucas is unmoving, stares at his father's hand in silence. Mark is unsure. Waits another moment, but he doesn't step away... reached for the God's hand.
Mark's breath hitches the moment Zeus' grip wraps around his, eyes widening as something weighs down on him. The room turns dark, cold and the air buzzes as he looks up at him. A shock is sent through him and the brown eyes alight with grey, with that coldness, that something else– That something else is uncharted, unhinged, raw power and Mark sees it paint the temple in darkness before the light returns... No... the light never left... this... it lives within...
The grey eyes narrow as the God's head tilts. His voice echoes through Mark now as well when he speaks. "You know of me... Mark Lee. So maybe I thought it best to introduce myself as one of you."
Mark's mouth falls open at that statement. He can never see this God as one of them... as a human, but the name sticks when Zeus smiles and continues with.
There is a scoff and Mark's eyes dart past Johnny, land on a figure near the thrones. When? He hadn't noticed...
Johnny's lips curl up in a smile and he turns to look over as well. "Don't like me giving my name away so easily?" he asks, "What would you prefer then... my Queen?"
Mark pales even more now. Oh... yes. How could he have forgotten?
The Queen of the Gods, Hera, stares a moment before he takes a step down the marble stairs. His robes are as white as Zeus' and the stones that grace his jewels jingle a bit when he takes another step.
Mark's brain has dug up all the information he's been taught when he was younger, all the stories, and finally that which Lucas had told him. "Hera is kind, just, listens. I respect him."
He remembers the name before the God's mouth opens to speak.
"I prefer the rules, not be broken," his voice comes and Mark takes a breath at the richness of it, the slight softness. Yet he can feel the underlying strength. "What would one think if even the Gods didn't follow their own laws?"
He speaks the words to Zeus, but his eyes rest on Mark.
Mark, swallows slowly, shrinks and presses closer to Lucas. His grip wavers in that of Johnny's, but the God's grip tightens and Mark's eyes dart between the two main Gods helplessly. Lucas' hand wraps around his more, tightens as his heart starts racing.
"Mark." Mark starts shaking as Doyoung speaks his name. "Did Apollo inform you of what happens to humans that enter Olympus?"
Mark's eyes finally trail up to the Sun God and he takes a breath, looks between him and Doyoung as he shakes his head. "No–"
"It is punishable by death."
Mark's heart stops.
"Please don't frighten him," Johnny worries and he turns, "That is only if the human enters on its own... Apollo brought him. He is safe."
"Must you insist on blooming fear in every single human you meet?" Lucas' deep voice finally comes and Doyoung smiles, turns away a moment before he replies.
"I have a reputation to uphold," he looks at something in the air, then turns to Mark again. "Worry not..." his eyes linger. It feels like he is looking right through him. Perhaps he is? "You're safe here... Even if you don't feel it." He does see right through me. Mark takes a breath, nods and the God's eyes narrow before they trail to Lucas. "You are in need of my assistance."
He says it as fact and Apollo, lowers his head in the form of a bow, a form of respect. "When I return from Hephaestus, yes."
"A blessing. What kind?"
"Protection," Lucas looks up at him. "From all." Doyoung's eyes fall to Mark once more, watches the human look up at Apollo confused.
"From all?" Johnny repeats. "Impossible. There will always be dangers. The world is filled with them."
Doyoung nods in agreement. "One is never truly safe. Not even us Gods."
"Protection," Lucas repeats and he pulls Mark closer. "From us."
Johnny's brown eyes light in surprise and he blinks. Doyoung turns to them, brows furrowing as his head tilts. Lucas continues before they can ask. And Mark stares in shock as he speaks. "He is not to be harmed by any living or dead God. Be it the current or future reincarnations. Not followed, or offered. Never neglected or cursed. I ask for your divine blessing in my name, Apollo... Queen of the Gods, Hera."
Mark wants to speak, want to say something. This isn't what he wants. It's too much for a mere human, a mere farmer like him... but Doyoung speaks before he can.
"A blessing in my name. Your love for him must be strong. Even though he is but a blink in time." Mark's breath hitches. Lucas' jaw pulls and his face hardens. "I am only speaking the truth... Lucas. You know I can not lie to you. I am a God," his eyes fall to Mark, "Not a human you have fallen for, fallen for so hard that you've blessed him..." Johnny's eyes are on Mark now too and when the human looks up at Lucas the Sun God looks to him as well. "A blessing he too... has accepted."
Mark's eyes sadden as he looks up at Lucas. There is a sorry within them, the ask of forgiveness. Lucas can feel it... but if anyone should be forgiven. It is him.
"I am aware," he says and he looks at Hera once more. "And still I ask this of you."
It is silent for a moment. A long heavy silence and then Doyoung looks away, hums. "So be it." Lucas' eyes light in gratefulness, Mark's in surprise. He wasn't expecting the God's cooperation. "But–" Doyoung adds then and his eyes open a bit with the gesture before they turn to the couple. "I cannot protect him...," his eyes lock with Apollo, "From you."
"You are his blessing," Johnny finally speaks again. Had seemed content with just listening as his brooding frame towered before them, but now he finishes his queen words. "But also his biggest treat."
The God turns and Mark watches him stride to his queen. Doyoung watches Johnny. Then his eyes fall to Mark and he smiles right as Zeus turns, looks at them over his shoulder.
"You have my blessing, Mark Lee," Hera smiles and Zeus too gives them one before he turns, ends the conversation with the words.
"May the faiths be by your side."
"Where are we going?"
Mark looks up at Lucas as they once again walk down the large marble halls. They had watched Zeus and Hera make their leave and immediately after Mark's frame had sagged. Tension leaving his body with the Gods.
"Why?" Mark asks this time. He hadn't questioned Lucas' actions before, but now that Hera has so openly spoken on what it is he wants done, he is curious. He doubts the God will listen to reason, even if he refuses the blessing. He doesn't want to accept it... but he also doesn't want to refuse it.
"Have the Goddess' words instilled doubt in you?"
"No," Mark replies immediately, eyes on Lucas. "I am just much more curious now."
Lucas' eyes sadden and he slows their pace, stops in front of a large doorway. Mark's head turns in surprise when he hears a loud clunk. His eyes run over the stairs that spiral down into the mountain, the sound of iron colliding riding up them.
"It was supposed to be a surprise," Lucas voice comes and Mark looks up at him.
"Surprise?" The God gives a half hearted smile, releases Mark's hand and takes a step down the stairs. "I'm sorry," Mark blurts now. "I–" he can't finish the sentence. Isn't sure what to say. Lucas shakes his head lightly, smiles to himself before he turns, sticks out his hand once more. Mark wonders at this. They had just been holding each other. He wonders... if Lucas is... questioning something... but Mark places his hand in the God's without hesitation and Mark tilts his head at him. "It's so odd... to know a God is unsure... of my feelings," he decides to say. "As humans... we are always unsure."
Lucas' fingers wrap around Mark's slowly and he gently guides him to take a step down as well before he replies.
"You are the only one that can lie to me." Mark's brows rise in surprise. "And I can lie to everyone... but you." They slowly descend into the mountain. "I am used to always knowing the truth behind people's words," Lucas continues as the air starts to warm around them, the mountain furnaces nearing. "So... not knowing yours...," he stops, turns and looks up at Mark, "Is frightening. "Mark stares in silence, eyes saddening.
"I– I do not wish to lie to you," he says honestly. Lucas smiles.
"I know," he replies then, "I know you do not wish to... but knowing you could, and knowing you don't... makes me love you more."
Mark's heart speeds up and that warmth spreads in his chest once more. "Don't–" he cuts off Lucas when the God tries to tell him why they are visiting Hephaestus. He shakes his head. "Keep it a surprise."
Lucas smiles warmly, pulls him down to kiss his lips softly before guiding him along once more.
Mark allows himself to think, allows his thoughts to trail as the air becomes warmer. He does not recognize this gas filled air. Has never smelt it himself. He so preferred the fresh air of the forest, of the rich, harvest fields, but it is an experience. As is everything that has happened in these past months, everything he's experienced with Lucas. The clunking of iron nears with each descending step and the hissing of gas fills the air now too. It is a volcano, Mark realizes as the heat increases.
It reminds him of that night, that night when Lucas had held him so close, had loved him so passionately. His cheeks dust... and his thoughts trail more. He wonders...
Silently relives memories as they continue to descend.
Their conversations by the fire or in his home. Their hours of labor. Mark patiently showing Lucas how to care for the harvest even though the man hardly touched them, left them for Mark. The image of Lucas pulling in firewood replays forty– fifty– sixty times. His smile is burnt into Mark's memory. Mark's eyes are focused on the back of the God's head as he remembers the days he would disappear within a blink. Has realized it was his light... He remembers the day he had asked Lucas how he knew to hunt so well... How light had danced in his palm... He remembers... being frightened... Frightened for the man he had wanted to see the moment he rose in the morning.
The clunking stops and Mark looks up, snaps out or thought. Lucas' head bows as it had done with Hera and he smiles before he speaks to the man that is stood amongst metal plating.
"Sicheng."Mark stares in silence and so does the God. There is a large smiting hammer in his hand, chest bare and glistering where it isn't covered by coal and dirt. His face, that seems of stone is basked in shifting shadows, the flames of his furnace and the illumination of the armor on his work bench.
"Lucas," Hephaestus' voice comes. A warm deep, Mark notes and his eyes then trail to the human. "Welcome."
"This is Mark," Lucas introduces and the man hums. "Mark..." Lucas looks at him and then back at the smiting God. This is Hephaestus... or Sicheng."
"It's a pleasure," Mark says stepping forward and he takes a breath when he sees the fire of the volcano shimmer in his eyes, even from here.
"Pleasure," the God says. "I was curious to meet the one Lucas had put in the request for," his eyes trail, "I take it you are here to collect it?"
Lucas smiles, nods. "Yes. I had word from Hermes."
Sicheng hums, lowers his hammer and removes the plate of armor from the fire. Mark looks on curiously as the God walks along his workshop. There are so many different weapons and shields... armors of various sizes with intricate patterns and thick, hand woven thread. Brilliant, Mark thinks and the look on his face must give it away, because when Sicheng has retrieved what he was searching for, Mark sees a smile.
"Your work is amazing," he smiles back shyly. "I am not one for armor and battle, but–," his eyes trail to the items on display once more, "–it is amazing to see."
Sicheng doesn't reply, but he still smiles, looks to Lucas then. "I like him." Lucas laughs and Mark blinks, confused. "Thank you," the God finally says, "for appreciating my work. "He turns to Lucas now, hands over that which he is holding and Mark can only make out the white cloth that covers it. "A fine request... and Hera's blessing makes it even greater."
"He already–?" Mark questions and the God looks at him, nods. "When?"
"It is as easy as breathing," Sicheng informs. "Once a God has decided they wish to bless something..." his eyes are heavy on Mark, "Or someone. They need but think it and it will be so."
Mark stares at the God and he smiles warmly as Lucas steps forward. "I had these made for you," he starts. Mark's eyes snap to him and then down to the gift. "I hope you like them." He hands it over to Mark with a smile and it seems so light as he holds it. He looks up at Lucas once more and the God gives him an encouraging nod.
Mark doesn't know what to expect, but his eyes widen in awe as he opens the soft white cloths. He blinks a few times as it shimmers and when he looks up he sees the light of the fire mirror in it, dance on Apollo and Hephaestus their faces.
"My gift to you," Lucas says before Mark can finish his sentence.
"Lucas–" he shakes his head. "This is– There is no way I can accept this." He looks down at his gift once more, looks at the smooth shimmering gold, the hand carved decorations within the metal. There are suns and stars... Ancient Greek writing, "Gold bracers?"
"I wanted to give you something simple," Lucas says softly, "Since you care little for standing out, but I still wanted to give you something of worth."
"They are beautiful," Mark says in a breath and his eyes fall to them again, "But I can't'–"
"For me?" Mark stills."Accept it... for me?"
Mark's eyes sadden and his frame sags a bit. "That is hardly fair, Lucas. You're using my love for you against me."
Lucas steps forward and grabs onto the underside of Mark's forearms, large hands squeezing lightly. "If it means I know you'll be protected..." he stares into Mark's eyes, "Then, yes."
Mark steps closer on instinct. "But why?"
"I don't trust myself... to always be at your side when needed... Like this... I at least know that none of my kin can harm you."
"None of your kin, but you?"
Mark sees Lucas take a breath, head shaking as he nods and Mark blinks slow before closing his eyes, nodding as well. "Okay... for you."
He sighs softly when Lucas bends over and kisses him and then startles when he hears a low laugh. Mark's eyes widen and dart to the other God."Oh–" he worries, "I'm so sorry, my Lord," he blushes, embarrassed, but the smiting God shakes his head.
"Worry not. I am hardly fazed. Do you think the sight of intimacy disrespects us?" he asks with a smile. He answers his own question before Mark can reply."Our souls have lived for eons now. A lot comes and goes as time passes," he looks to the fire of his furnace. The flames dance in his eyes. Mark can see how old he is. "But emotion stays the same. Love..." his eyes trail back to the couple, "Is always welcome with the Gods."
Johnny leans against the wide stone railing of the temple. His eyes are calm, breath steady as he stares at the figures bellow, watches them converse in the temple gardens.
Apollo is sat quietly on a large stone, frame relaxed as he watches Mark. Eros' wings flap once and the human slowly turns as he flies around him, laughs as he studies him. It is an odd sight in the temple, but Zeus isn't focused on that. He isn't focused on Apollo, Mark or Eros as his eyes rest on a specific figure.
The Goddess of love smiles as he watches his son mess around with the human. Johnny sees him grin, beautiful eyes shrinking before he waves with his hands, pulls everyone's attention and speaks. "Oh, come now, Eros. I know he's cute."
"He is!" Eros exclaims excitedly and Mark blushes openly. Johnny's eyes fall to Apollo who is unmoving, to Mark and then back to Aphrodite... back to Ten.
"The offer still stands," the musical voice comes. He hears Doyoung's graceful strides as his Queen comes to join him. Stops beside him and looks down as well. Johnny eyes are still on Ten. "Speak to him?"
"No," Johnny says immediately. "Gods shouldn't fall in love," his eyes waver, "It's better this way. For him."
"But is it for you, my love?"
"Johnny... You had a nickname made for him because you cannot utter his real one," Doyoung's eyes worry as he leans in. Johnny's eyes fall to him and he turns then, looks at the sky instead. The clouds are tinting pink as the sun starts to set. "Chittaphon deserves to know."
"No God knows of their origins. Not even me. I would prefer it stayed like that. It's for the better. Nothing good ever comes from bringing up our past lives. You saw what happened to Ares."
"But this is different!"
"Doyoung it's been eons. Please let it go"–
"No. I will forever continue to disagree with you on this because I do not want to see you suffer!" his voice rings a moment, but when Johnny doesn't reply, doesn't move, Doyoung continues with a sigh. "It is different. I know you tried to bury your feelings when he died. I know you blame yourself... I know you don't want Apollo to love because of what it did to you." Doyoung's hand comes to rest on his shoulder, turns him to stare in his eyes. "I am truly sorry for how my past reincarnation treated you. That you had to find love somewhere else... and that they... did this to you. He died loving you and it must be some sign that the faiths brought him back as the Goddess of love. "It must be!" Doyoung's head shakes with the words. "I have said this time and time again, Johnny. Go to him–Tell him. Who you are... Who he was... Tell him what you had together... Tell him how strong it was... He will understand. Why else did he get reincarnated as the Goddess of love??"
Johnny's hand slings around Doyoung's waist and pulls him close, buries his face in the God his hair and breathes steadily. It is quiet for a moment and he listens to Doyoung's heartbeat. Knows Hera is doing the same. The wind blows past them and Johnny closes his eyes and takes a breath before he whispers. "I can't."
Doyoung's face saddens against Johnny's shoulder. He sees Ten look up at them from the garden, sees him smile at them as Johnny speaks in whispers. "It was my choice to fall in love back then. I pulled him into this not knowing her wrath. She couldn't love me... but she also couldn't see me love another. I made him suffer... He had such a long life ahead of him and my love took it away."
"He still lives Johnny. He is right here... all you'd need to do is reach for him."A kiss is planted in Doyoung's hair.
"It's been eons," he repeats. "Ten is happy. I am happy. He doesn't need to know."
"Are you happy?" Doyoung asks and he pulls away, looks up at Johnny with sorrowful eyes. Zeus gives him a small smile, caresses his cheek.
"Of course I am." He pulls Doyoung forward and molds their lips together, kisses him deeply as the sun fades in the distance. Doyoung flushes close, melts into it as his hands rest softly against hard skin. He wants to protest once more, but he knows Johnny will disagree like he always has. So he lets it go for now, lets his God kiss his breath away. He can't help but smile when Johnny pulls away a bit and rubs his forehead against Doyoung's, eyes opening slowly before he repeats the words.
"Of course I am happy... I have you."
Mark stares at the bracers silently. The wind blows past him and he looks up at the breathtaking view, at the moon that illuminates the temple in its white light, at the sea of clouds that stream past slowly... at the many stars that twinkle endlessly.
He sighs, frame sagging as he lowers against the stone railing with his forearms. He stares down at them again.
"Won't you put them on?"
Mark smiles to himself before he tilts his head, slightly looks over his shoulder at Lucas. The God slowly trails to him and Mark's eyes fall closed when large hands come to rest on his shoulders, slip down his arms gently. They are warm and Mark takes it in with slow breaths. "They seem too valuable to wear with my attire. I'd like to keep them safe."
There is a low laugh and Lucas' frame presses to his back. Mark tilts his head back into the God's neck, sighs in content as Apollo's warmth envelops him, large hands trailing down his arms until they wrap around his wrists, raise them.
"You're allowed to wear them whenever you want," Lucas whispers and Mark shudders at the low sound, at the lips against his ear. Lucas rubs his face close and Mark's eyes open when one of his wrists is released. He watched Lucas lift a brace from the white cloth on the railing before he continues. "They are special...," a kiss on his ear, "Stronger... if you wear them."
"Is that why you want me to?"
"Yes," Lucas' other hand blankets Mark's, thumb rubbing calming circles into the back of it. "But..." his voice comes again. "If you decide to put them on... They will not come off until your last breath."
Mark blinks, turns his head and looks up a bit confused. "That's–"
"I'm sorry. I know how it must seem, but it is nothing like that... You see," he turns the brace in his hand and Mark watches it, blinks surprised when Lucas confesses. "I had one of my best bows melted to make them for you."
"It was close to me... valuable. I trust you with it and I am sure... its soul will trust you too... but because of this... it won't ever let you go. I understand if you don't–"
"No–," Mark breaths. "It's fine. I understand," he looks at the brace. "Why won't its soul let me go?"
"Because its mine."Mark's heart stills a moment before its beating picks up. "And I won't ever let you go."
"Put them on for me," he hears himself say breathlessly and he can feel how Lucas' heart rate spikes, how he takes a breath.
The movement is slow and Mark watches in silence as a large hand slips the brace over his own. It rests on his wrist and after a moment Lucas repeats the action with the other one. Mark smiles as he stares at them, mouth opening to thank the God for his gift, but he startles when they flash on his wrists. The gold shines, lights the large balcony in sunlight, but it isn't blinding, doesn't hurt him and Mark gasps as he watches the bracers shrink, seal onto his wrists snug and secure before the light fades back into them.
His mouth opens in surprise and he lets out a breath of wonder, unbeknown to the light that burst to life in his eyes for but a moment. "Wow."
"As I said," Lucas whispers ever close, "I'll never let you go." Mark's chest fills with warmth as he watches the tips of Lucas' fingers trail over the gold, before they grasp Mark's hands once more. "Never."
Mark eyes trail over the temple walls that are only illuminated by the light of the moon. Watches it bounce from mirror to mirror and bask the statues and art in half shadows.
Lucas pulls him along slowly, grip warm and presence reassuring as they enter the new area. Mark sees plants, herbs and light curtains sway in the wind that flows through the temple. One moves to the side gracefully and his eyes fall on something at the far end of the room. A bow... many bows.
Mark's brows rise and his eyes widen as he looks around, looks more closely. The rugs, the seats, the bed that makes itself knows after another glance.
"This is–" he breathes, as they stop. Lucas pulls him close and arms wrap around him before the deep voice comes.
Mark's eyes flick from the large bed to Lucas, lock with his eyes as he looks up at the God. He feels his cheeks heat up and Lucas runs the back of his fingers over them, thumb trailing Mark's collarbone.
"May I have the honor?" the God asks and Mark stares, breathes a soft laugh before his own fingers slip over the edge of his robe. They slips over his collarbone as he pulls them down and his heart starts racing as the God's eyes follow his movements. Mark chooses not to look away, watches Lucas' eyes darken as he exposes more of his skin. He takes a slow breath, chest heaving and the God's dark eyes dart up, lock with his.
Mark smiles, other hand tightening in Lucas' robes before he whispers. "I love you."
Mark's mouth opens, but all that escapes it is loud breaths as his throat strains. Lucas hums from within his chest and his large hands trail up his body, press and knead before they sling behind Mark's back hold him in a vice. Mark grips at the silk sheets, toes curling against them as his legs spread more. He kicks a pillow away and keens. His voice pierces into the air and bounces back sharply, echoes as he watches the curtains dance in the wind.
His head falls to the side and he shakes when Lucas' lips press onto his neck, tongue licking and teeth biting into the flesh as he speeds up.
Another loud moan falls from Mark's lips as he starts shifting up continuously, as he arches. His hands leave the sheets, clamp onto skin and run over it before clawing at it. His voice breaks as he tries to speak, breaks with only the words, "Oh Gods," before it waters and shudders into keens and moans. His nails sink into skin as the moans are punched from his throat, fingers running through thick strands and gripping at them as lips ghost over his neck, his ears, his jaw.
There is a grunt and Mark is falling apart. Tears spring into his eyes as he nears and his limbs scramble, legs locking around the God's hips and hands cradling his head."Lucas," he moans, brokenly and the God pulls back a bit, scans Mark's face as sweat trickles down his temple. "Lu-cas."
"Fall apart for me, angel," his voice comes low and rough and Mark cries, moans as the God looks at him with dark eyes. "Show me– I want to look at you forever."
Mark's grip tightens as he cries, continues to moan as he's taken. "I– love you," he stutters and he breaks, tenses before falling to pieces in Lucas' arms.
The God praises him endlessly and Mark sniffles as kisses are planted over his face, neck as he's fucked into the soft sheets.
The God's warmth envelops him as an embrace and a smile graces his lips when he looks at the bracers on his wrists, hears the words.
"I love you. I will love you– Forever."
Mark breathes steadily as large hand run down his back, his spine. He listens to the steady heartbeat, snuggles his head into Lucas' chest as water laps around his middle. Water runs down his back and he flushes closer, smiles when he feels the God's jaw shift against his hair.
"I so love your presence," Mark whispers and his hands run down Lucas' sides, sink in the cool waters of the temple bath before resurfacing and leaving drops on the Sun God's tanned skin.
They had lain together, Mark curled against Lucas' frame before they had risen once more. Mark guesses the sun will rise soon, but for now they relax in the early morning of the day.
"Having you near is calming," Lucas' voice comes and a hand slowly washes Mark's back, "Having you here, here in my arms, feels like a dream. I love it. I want you with me, always."
Mark sighs, hands hovering over the God's skin. It does feel like a dream. Soft, warm and peaceful. He loves it, but he slowly opens his eyes, stares at the edge of the bath, at the clear waters that lap at its marble walls.
"I would love that," he confesses, "but–"There is a silence and Mark knows the God is waiting, knows he will disagree. "I should return and care for my farm."
The words come a moment later and Mark smiles before he pushes up. "You can always stay here... with me," Lucas whispers and Mark looks at him with loving eyes.
"I know you want me to, Lucas," his hand comes up and caresses Lucas' cheek. The God leans into it, "but I don't belong here," he smiles, "You know this, do you not? I am not of your world."
"I want you to be," Lucas replies and he grabs Mark's hand, kisses it.
"Be part of my world."
"I would love nothing more... You must know, Apollo." The words seem to hurt Lucas... The name– His name– "I am human... You are a God." Mark looks down sadly. "I still... dream of a life with you, but it is clear... that you have your duties and I cannot simply take you away from them–"
"Then I'll come to you," Lucas offers and Mark smiles warmly.
"Always," he answers with determination before he cradles Mark close, kisses him. "Always," he repeats, "I will be there every possible morning. That way...you wake up to my face."
Mark's face breaks and he rests his head against Lucas' as the God stares at him, stares as tears spring in his eyes. "Thank you," Mark whispers. "That is more than... enough."
"No," Lucas denies and Mark looks at him through his tears. The God cups face, thumbs caressing over Mark's cheekbones before he continues with, "It's not nearly."
Tears are kissed from his lashes and hushed words are mumbled as Mark cries silently. He presses himself close and listens to Lucas' heartbeat. His thoughts trail once more as he's lightly swayed and the question falls as a memory resurfaces.
"Gods do not live as us... but do they... love as us?"
Lucas' grip tightens where he is cradling Mark's head. He turns his own inward as if he is hiding, rests lips against Mark's ear before he replies.
A flash of light basks the entire area in sunlight for a moment and the ground shakes as two figures appear.
Lucas slowly pulls back and looks down, arms ever secure as he stares at the small man against his frame. Mark's eyes flutter open and he smiles lightly before his eyes blink and catch the wide sky behind Lucas. He turns his head a tad, vision trailing over the area and his smile widens in recognition, in familiarity.
"You may still reconsider," Lucas whispers, "You may always."
Mark's eyes waver and he smiles sadly as he stares at his small house that is basked in the light of the setting sun. His eyes trail down to the dirt before his head turns to Lucas, eyes locking to his.
"I know," he whispers in return. The wind picks up and blows past them, kicks up dust that hasn't been roused by Mark for some time now.
Time ticks away. The sun fades behind the horizon. The leaves bristle, dance and sing in the wind. Mark stares up at the Sun God. His hair whirs with the gush, blows up and Mark's does the same. It's cool, but Mark isn't cold... not when Lucas is here. The warmth within him burns and his grip tightens on the God's biceps, his bracers gleam. It doesn't fade when he pulls away.
Lucas lets him go, strong grip slipping off his small frame easily as Mark steps back. His eyes however, are sad and Mark's heart aches when his frame trails to the smaller man just a tad.
This remind him of... a time... the time he thought of Lucas as nothing but a kind stranger.
"My crops haven't withered," he says in surprise, but also... to fill the silence.
The God's eyes fall to the dirt and then his head rises slow, before his gaze trails to the vegetation. It's quiet a moment before he replies. "Demeter and Persephone," his eyes trail back and Mark remembers the orange haired God with a beautiful smile, the crimson haired God that had looked at him amused.
"Oh," he whispers..."Would you... give them my thanks?"
This makes Lucas smile, shake his head lightly. There is a soft chuckle. "Your land is rich and fertile..., because they know, they have your thanks... and your prayers. I do not doubt that they will show their faces here again. They are fond of you."
"I would still like to give them my thanks," Mark replies softly, "As do I wish to with you, my God."
Lucas stills, face falling and Mark smiles warmly before his eyes fall shut, as they have each day he's been awake at this hour.
"Oh great God," Mark starts and Lucas watches his frame relax, watches his head bow and his hands fold as he continues, "Apollo."
It rings and the wind picks up. "I give my thanks for the gracious weather. I give my thanks for the light of day," Lucas remembers this prayer, but he comes into motion when Mark changes it in this moment. "I give thanks... to my God. Apollo..."
Lucas wraps his arms around Mark and his frame flushes close, head tilting back, but his eyes don't open as he continues to whisper, continues to pray.
"May you be strong, just...I pray for your happiness, your love... I will always be here, my God." His eyes open slowly as he whispers, "You shall always have my thanks, my prayers. You will always hear my voice."
Mark's eyes fall shut once more when warm lips are pressed to his and he smiles into it, hands slipping up and gripping into thick hair, holding his love close as the wind blows past them.
He remembers this. This... feeling. The one he had when the sun had set, as it is now, coloring the sky and leaving them in darkness. He remembers this, remembers how a God had appeared before his eyes, had kissed him... how a God had loved him.
His grip tightens and he pulls Lucas closer as night falls, embraces his warmth as the memory washes over him. He remembers everything... every single kiss and he vows to always love... and to never forget.
A smile curls on Lucas' lips when not a moment after he's arrived he hears the rich melody of music, the soft humming that fills the air.
He takes a deep breath before he walks forward slowly, eyes the cart with plants and vegetables as he steps in soft dirt, smiles. The music is calming, sparks joy and the humming fills him with the familiar warmth he misses when he's away.
"It amazes me that after years of use, you've still managed to keep it in perfect condition," are his first words as he steps into the small house.
A smile curls onto Mark's lips from his place on the floor and he blinks up at the God as he hums.
The humming stops and Lucas' eyes waver, face softening as Mark begins to speak.
"I cherish it," he says simply, fingers moving over the strings of the bouzouki as if it were second nature. At this point it is. His bracers gleam and the sleek wood of the instrument shines with hand carved art. "You were so kind to ask Sicheng to make me one... Request the finest smith to fancy me a gift."
"You deserve it."
"And thus it shall be used until it is worn... for then it will have my love for it etched in its wood."
Lucas shakes his head lightly and Mark smiles again before he continues. "How does my God fair today?"
"Always perfect when you are in my sight."
Mark purses his lips, "Always the same answer."
"If you so request it, it will be changed."
"No," Mark decided easily, "It's reassuring."
"It's nearly time," Lucas says then and Mark hums, fingers smoothing over cords so the music halts, fades before he rises. Lucas watches him and Mark pauses, face turning to him.
"I'll only be a moment."
"I'll wait," the God whispers and Mark smiles lightly before he carefully stores away the instrument. He slips into Lucas' hold easily when he returns and their lips connect in a soft kiss, heads resting against one another's as they do whenever they see each other again.
"You were gone longer than usual," Mark whispers low, eyes opening slow as he stares at the God. "Is everything okay?"
Lucas hums as an answer, hand coming up to caress Mark's cheek. "Taken care of... I asked Ares to assist me. You know I wouldn't miss Thesmophoria with you..."
"Poor Jeno," Mark whispers as the God thumbs at the lines of his face. "How is he?"
"Calm. I would have thought that the peace that has finally come would displease him, but he seems... content."
"Greet him for me," Mark hums, eyes closing as he lets Lucas caress his face.
"We should go. Taeyong and Yuta are most likely already waiting. The kids must also be so excited to see you."
Mark hums once more and lets himself be guided forward, steps light as the door is pulled shut behind him, locked.
"This year's harvest looks even better than last," Lucas notes as he lifts Mark onto the cart carefully. The human opens his eyes slow, blink and nods before he replies.
"It seems to have been growing better each year," he looks over his land and the wind blows through his hair. "Jungwoo and Donghyuck's doing I take... I'm thankful. They helped me collect everything this year because you were away."
"I'm sorry I couldn't do it with you this year," Lucas apologizes as he makes for the cart, hands wrapping around the wood before he pulls.
The cart comes into motion smoothly as Mark shakes his head. "It's fine," Lucas smiles as he turns, drags the cart along. It spreads when Mark adds, "You're here now."
"Lucas?" Mark's voice comes after a minute or five of trailing down the dirt road and the God braces himself when he hears shuffling, frame stilling when he turns his head ever so slightly and sees Mark come up. His hands let go of the cart for a moment and cup back just in time for Mark's smaller frame to land against his back, arms clamping to his wide shoulders with a soft grunt. Mark silently shifts, wraps his limbs around the God and snuggles against his back before sighing in his neck.
"Better?" Lucas smiles and Mark hums in content, grip tightening before they are off again. They do not say much of anything on their way to town, needn't to. Lucas is simply content with Mark's presence, small and warm as he hums. He can already tell this will be a day to remember.
And it is proven so when hours later he watches Mark smile and laugh with the small children of the town, play with them as they run around him. They've returned the cart of the orphanage and the owner, Dejun, along with his helpers had hoisted the bags of plants and vegetables inside. Lucas had not been surprised when years ago on their first Thesmophoria, Mark had said that he donates his harvest to the orphanage.
"Of course you do," Lucas had smiled and Mark had scrunched his nose, blushed.
"Just help me?" Mark had asked and he had burst out in laughter a moment later when Lucas teasingly kissed all over his face. Protested against his affection to only give in and let himself be kissed.
Lucas blinks back the memory... the memories of the past ten years as he watches the dancing people. The music is loud, the lights shining as their cheers fill the air, fill the early night sky with laughter and joy as they celebrate this year's harvest.
He blinks once more, eyes trailing down until they rest on Mark beside him. Small and cheery as he claps to the beat, watches Taeyong and Yuta dance.
"I'm not much of a dancer." Another memory. "But I am happy to finally see Taeyong dance like he has always wanted."
Lucas blinks slow, jaw shifting behind his scarf before his hand comes up. Mark stills, surprised when it locks around his forearm and he looks up, brows furrowing as Lucas comes into motion, pulls him gently. The smaller man's eyes widen a tad as he realizes what the God is doing, dart between Lucas and the people before he shakes his head, but he doesn't pull his arm away.
Lucas' eyes smile from where his face is obscured and Mark slowly follows him, trusts him... as he's guided into the mass of dancing people.
Mark still seems unsure, frightened as he looks around, as he looks at the people, but then Lucas pulls at his arm again and his eyes fall on the God as his frame comes into motion.
They don't speak. All Mark does is look at him and his small frame copies the action, copies the way Lucas moves and he gasps when he realizes the way they are jumping to the music, syncing with the crowd. He looks down once, looks at their shifting legs, hesitates and almost stumbles, but he gasps again when in the blink of an eye he is flushed close.
Lucas looks down into Mark's eyes as he's pressed to his frame, as they speed up, dance...
They are jumping, trailing between the moving bodies and Mark's eyes widen, sparkle before he closes them, head tilting back. He laughs out. It's music to Lucas' ears, to his soul.
"We're dancing!" Mark exclaims, eyes bright as he laughs and it fills the air around them, pulls the attention of some civilians. They pay them no mind, can't. Not when Mark is lost... Lost in his own world, not when Lucas is lost in him.
Mark's eyes open when the music picks up and Lucas grabs his hands, guides him to it. They spin, faster, faster... and then Mark's eyes widen when he flies. Lucas' grip is soft, strong on his torso as he holds Mark up in the air, spins him. Mark's grip rests on the God's hands and his face softens before it breaks into laughter again and Lucas smiles as he continues to spin him. Mark's frame sags a bit and Lucas lowers him slowly, holds him up against his upper body and Mark cups his face.
The music falls on deaf ears as they stare at each other, as the bodies shift around them. Lucas only has eyes for Mark, stares up at him like he's his entire world.
Mark's eyes soften and his hands shifts, slowly push back his hood and then pull down his scarf. Lucas lets him, lets his face be cupped in public, lets Mark kiss him in a sea of humans in a realm not of his own, he lets all that wish to...see their love.
"For what?" Lucas asks as he trails beside Mark slowly. Night has fallen. It is pitch black say for the bit of moonlight that kisses the land from time to time. The air is cold, but Mark hardly shivers as he presses himself to Lucas' frame.
"For dancing with me... Why did you?" Mark asks after. He looks up at the sky.
"Why?" Lucas questions, "Because I wanted to."
Mark laughs softly. "Okay," he says after and it is silent again. It stretches for some time as they trail in the darkness and then Mark's voice comes again."Do you remember–?" A silence. "Do you remember... our first time?"
Lucas' grip tightens. "As if it were yesterday."
"I was so young back then," Mark whispers. Lucas laughs softly.
"You haven't aged a day."
"You needn't lie. I am aware of my aging... it is you...That hasn't aged a day."
"Women usually love such compliments."
"Well, I am no woman."
"Indeed," Lucas says immediately, "But it was worth a try."
Mark snorts at this, shoves him lightly. It is silent again... before he asks, voice ever soft. "Do you mean that?"
"Of course I do," Lucas replies, he looks down at Mark. "You're just as beautiful as the day I saw you... Stronger... Wiser..." he smiles, "More cunning." Mark brows rise. "But just as beautiful. And I love you now... Just as I did then."
Mark blinks and then his eyes trail to the road ahead before he speaks. "I dare say I love you more than I did back then."
"That brings me great joy."
Mark hums. It is silent again. "Forgive me... for ever being frightened of your strength... of your light... of you."
Lucas replies as he always has."There is nothing to forgive."
"I'm– I–," Mark starts and he stops, feet halting in the dirt. "You–"
Lucas stops as well, looks down at him and Mark takes a breath, shakes his head. "Would you–? Would you believe me if I said... this still seems... so out of place to me? ...After all these years... You're still here... Why?" And another memory flashes through Apollo. A memory of a frightened Mark, a question he's never answered he realizes... "Why–?" Mark repeats... "Why are you here?"
The wind blows and in this moment Lucas realizes, looks up as it blows through his hair. "I was simply curious... as to... who you were... I had never... given humans a second thought... as I have told you... but when I saw you... something changed."
"What–?" Mark asks, "What changed?"
Lucas blinks... and he sees a small frame sat on a dusty stage. "I changed..." he remembers the way Mark had startled, turned, his wide eyes the first thing Lucas had the honor of seeing. "Because of you."
He remembers Mark's hand in his for the first time... the warmth that had run through him. "Lucas?"
He blinks back and looks down at the hand that grips his forearm... the same hand... Lucas looks at it and then he grabs it slowly... "You've always had me..." he turns Mark's hand and the man watches his long fingers grasps the air. Light blinks from nothing and even after all these years, Mark's eyes widen. Lucas guides the light down and Mark stays absolutely still as the forming spheres drift to him. "In the palm of your hand."
Mark's eyes widen and the sunlight shines in them as the spheres shift over his palm. "I don't understand."
Lucas smiles. "Maybe that's the whole point?"
Mark's mouth falls open a tad and then he smiles. "A God falling in love with a human?"
Lucas leans in, hands coming to grasp Mark's. The spheres turn inward, seal themselves within Mark's palm as Lucas covers it with his own.
"The human loving him back?"
Mark's eyes waver, fill with love and he smiles warmly, other hand coming up to caress Lucas' cheek but he startles when the light in his hand burst in his palm. His eyes widen and Lucas' hands fall before Mark's bursts open.
Light flashes over the area and Lucas rises, smiles warmly as he looks on.
Mark eyes are wide once more as he looks around, looks at the light that drifts in the air. "It looks like... fireflies," he breathes in awe and the light twinkles in his eyes. "Did you–?"
"No–" Lucas smiles, looks down at Mark. "You did."
Mark takes a breath, another before he smiles, turns and reaches for a twinkling light that hovers in the air. "Maybe we're not supposed to understand..." He takes another breath. "It's beautiful..."
Lucas watches the light a moment, then his eyes fall to Mark, watch him trail up the road, spin slow as he follows the lights, looks on in wonder.
"Yes," he agrees as his eyes continue to follow the man he loves, "Beautiful."
The lights trail as far as Mark's house, hover about the small structure and basks it in a warm glow of sunlight.
Mark sighs as he looks on and then his hand slips in Lucas' squeezes. The God looks down at him silently, waits and when Mark looks up he repeats the question he had asked minutes before.
"Do you remember our first time?"
Lucas smiles. "As if it were yesterday."
Mark turns his back to his house, pulls the God slowly and he goes... eyes locked with Mark's as the man repeats his words. "As if it were yesterday."
Lucas' back hits the soft bed and he smiles as Mark crawls over him, kisses him soft and passionate. There is no rush in his kisses and as Lucas feels Mark guide him, he lets go... let's the man lead. His skin is kissed and he watches in silence as Mark runs his lips over his skin, draws lines with his fingers.
"My vision is not what it once was," he whispers then and Lucas guides his hand in the dark. Mark smiles lightly at him as he shifts up, lets his robes slip off his shoulders and Lucas can't help come up to kiss the bare skin of one. Press butterfly kisses down the blade.
Mark sighs in content, hand running through Lucas' hair and down his neck before gently pushing him back. "Let me love you," he whispers and the God whines in protest, but falls back again, lets himself... be loved.
He truly loves it, loves it when Mark gets like this. Feels like he needs to offer, please. Lucas has made it clear that it's unnecessary, but Mark still chooses to do it, chooses to please and who is Lucas to deny him?
In front of Mark, Lucas is weak... feeble... in a way... Mark is the God...His God... His everything, but he knows the man wishes not to be seen as such. Still... as he moans under him, hands kneading hips as he's ridden, he believes it so.
Mark is beautiful as he runs his hands up Lucas' chest, tilts his head back and moans into the stillness. He's beautiful as he keens and sighs, kisses him soft and slow. He's beautiful as he whispers, I love you's and has Lucas fall apart underneath him, guides the God's hands over his skin, kisses them. And whispers a plea of, "Stay."
Lucas stays. Kisses Mark the moment his eyes flutter open and the smile it earns him is worth nothing this world could offer.
They lay together, Mark's humming filling the space as Lucas presses soft kisses over his skin, trail the fading burn wound scars he's collected over the years.
"I love you," Mark says suddenly and Lucas pauses, looks up. Mark is staring at the ceiling and then his eyes trail down, lock with Lucas'. "I truly do. I will always love you. Forever..."
Lucas runs his palm over Mark's bare skin. "I love you," he replies, “and you have my word, that I will love you...until the end of time."
Mark's hand comes and slides over his. Lucas grabs and kisses it. The sun rises. The humming starts a new and he smiles, closes his eyes, relaxes.
He's happy... like this... If it can always be like this... He wishes to be happy like this... forever.
But he knows within his heart... that it won't last forever.
He suppresses it, buries it as time ticks away, buries it every day he gets to see Mark smile. Gets to hear him laugh, hum, sing.
He buries it even when Mark starts reaching to find him, sight worsening, even when Mark's beautiful dark brown hair turns ash grey, when the lines on his face become more prominent. He buries it... buries it and holds him close with the words of his love, hoping, begging for it to last forever. Until...
Light basks over the beauty of Mark's land and Lucas stills the moment he touches dirt.
It is eerily quiet, the sun lowering on the horizon and his eyes trail over the tools, over the bountiful harvest still set to be collected.
He turns and his eyes fall on the small house, stone worn with time. He's here to help Mark prepare for Thesmophoria, here a day before to collect before heading into town, here to see his love...
He opens the door slow, is frightened of what he'll find, but then a soft voice comes from the bedroom and he takes a breath.
It so soft, so weak and he pushes the bedroom door open with haste, stills when he finds Mark.
He's is bed, the sheets pulled up to his torso and his head shifts, turns in the God's direction. A hand comes up slow and he repeats the question as he stares at nothing."Lucas? Are you here?"
Lucas rushes forward, clasps the smaller hand in his own and Mark's eyes widen a bit, smile when he replies with, "I'm here."
"How does my God fair today?" he whispers and Lucas' stomach drops. His grip tightens as that which he buried in his heart, swells.
"Always perfect when you are in my sight," he replies and Mark smiles, other hand coming up to caress his cheek, trail over his skin, his nose, his lips. "I'm sorry... I should have come earlier."
"Nonsense," Mark whispers, he looks up into the God's eyes. Lucas wonders what he sees now, how he sees him. "You're right on time. I just felt a bit tired today, so… I stayed in bed," His fingers run over Lucas' jaw, still before he adds. "It bring me joy to know that you still look as you did the last time I could see you." The feeling in his heart swells more and he grabs Mark's hand, kisses it with furrowed brows, closed eyes.
"You're just as stunning as the day I laid my eyes on you."
Mark laughs softly. "Ever the charmer. I'll take it."
They stay like that for the passing minutes, Lucas maneuvering Mark so he can lay between his legs as the God joins him on the bed, holds his head up with his hand.
He stares down at Mark as he sits, plays with the grey strands of hair. Mark hums low, smiles as Lucas presses kisses to his temple, his forehead and when their lips connect he sighs. It's a slow kiss, one of a thousand– two thousand– three–
Lucas is trying his harder to bury it, to shove it down as Mark breathes slow. His bracers catch in the sunlight that seeps in the small room, gleam as the sun continues to set. Lucas is counting the seconds. Is trying to focus on Mark, on Mark alone.
Mark closes his eyes, prays and time continues to tick.
"You know–?" Mark starts after twenty one seconds, "I'm so happy... I decided not to walk away... Thank you... for blessing me with your light."
Lucas doesn't reply.
"Do you remember that night... so many years ago... when we walked home?" There were many nights... too many to count, but the God knows of which Mark speaks. The man lifts an old hand. "Like fireflies," he whispers and Lucas' chest tightens, but he nods.
"Like fireflies," he repeats and his own hand comes up, grasps at the light that seeps into the room, gently lets it fall into Mark's palm before clasping it. "I love you," he whispers and Mark smiles, eyes softening before he replies.
"I love you."
He laughs quietly when his palm bursts, opens it and watches the light spread, rain down and sparkle. Lucas watches it catch in Mark's eyes and the man laughs again as they trail over the room. His hand rises slow and he trails after one. It makes Lucas happy that Mark can still see his light.
Mark watches the small spheres dance and then his eyes trail to Lucas, other hand tightening in the God's hold. "Beautiful..." he sighs, smiles and he closes his eyes.
The last light of the sun fades as it disappears behind the horizon, basks the room in darkness as the spheres fade.
Lucas takes a hitched breath, mouth opening and the air rings. Mark's bracers shine, crack, one falls off his wrist as his hand drops and the cruel reality crashes over him like a tidal wave.
It's still and Lucas stares at the man in his arms... there is nothing... no voice, no sound and as he feels warmth fade... seep into him once more, he can't speak. His chest constricts and his breathing becomes labored as he stares at Mark's calm face.
Open your eyes, please –
That feeling in his heart swells more and he tries to suppress it, but as he cradles Mark close, cradles a limp soulless body, it grows, grows until it burst and it rides up his throat before coming out as a strained sob.
He can't speak as it spreads through his whole being, chokes on his sobs... and all who know the Sun God know of his strength, of his bravery. He has never once... shed a tear, but as the sobs start raking his frame, they roll down his cheeks, fall on Mark's face.
It's too much, overwhelms him as all the memories whir through his mind. Trying to focus on something, but not being able to, not being able to choose as it all washes over him. Mark's smile, his voice, his touch, his laugh, all the memories they have together, everything, his eyes…
He screams and everything around him bursts into flames as they erupt from him. Mark's blanket, his robes catch fire as he's pressed close.
Lucas screams louder when it all turns to ash, slips through his fingers and the air rings as he screams again. Wood crackles, glass bursts as he turns in on himself. Gold melts and seeps into the blackening earth...
Everything burns in his rage... in his pain...
He doesn't know how long he's cried when he is finally still once more. The pain is ever present and his face is blank as he stares at nothing.
He blinks when light washes over him, casts a long shadow and he turns, sees the sun rise...
He turns, eyes trailing over the area. Stone is licked pitch black... and what had been beautiful, fertile land hours before, was now nothing.
Apollo's eyes fall down to his hands and he stares at the ash within them, at the ash beneath them... His heart is shattered and the words ring as he closes his eyes, as he can't bare to look at his own destruction.
Light blinks from nothing and he disappears. This is the last time the air rings in the area, the last thought of the Sun God, but that which was told to him by his father.
"Gods shouldn't fall in love."
🔆 Epilogue 🔆
Apollo trails down the road in silence. His eyes scale up the towering structures uninterested as pedestrians pass him.
Some of them turn and eye him curiously, some in awe, but it is not the same as it once was. Civilization has advanced. One hardly speaks of the old Gods now. Yet he is here once more... by rulers' request.
"I command you to go," Zeus had said, words hard as he's sat atop his throne. Not much has changed on Olympus, say for the newer Gods that come from time to time. He so wishes he'd been replaced.
"No need for commanding," Hera's voice had come. "Lucas... would you go... in our stead?"
"It has been eons, my queen," his heavy voice comes. "Eons since I have requested you not to call me as such."
Doyoung frowns. "My apologies. Old habits... are hard to break. Will you go in our stead... Apollo?"
Apollo's face had remained neutral as he stood in silence for a moment. "As you wish."
Why he is still here, he does not understand. He'll toss it off to curiosity. Still... he feels this world has nothing left to offer him. The roads are cold, loud and filthy. The air is tainted and it looks nothing as the land he once had left behind.
A warm world, a beautiful world... Where the sun kissed dirt and basked vegetation in his light. A world where soft humming filled him with warmth and a smile filled him with love. Memories whir through his mind and for once... for once he doesn't stop them, embraces them, as they flash over his vision. It hurts...
He stops abruptly, eyes snapping up and his brows furrow. He doesn't remember this place...
No he does...
There is an entrance as he looks up flowers grace the hedge and welcome him... as it always has.
His lips pull in a line and his anger flares. He should have known... should have known what coming back to this realm would do to him. He has the mind to turn, leave and force himself to forget...But as the cold wind blows past him... he hesitates and in the next moment he is stepping forward... Legs guiding him further as they had guided him here.
It is... beautiful, he admits, expressionless face trailing over the grass and the flowers. A part of him is happy the earth recovered. Though it should have... it has been... forever.
Mark's land is decorated with flowers and plants of many colors... many shapes and sizes. Again, he is happy it isn't buried under cold concrete and artificial waste.
His legs guide him further... He should go, he tells himself as he walks down the small brick path, but when he finally stops, makes to turn and leave this garden behind, he hears something fill the air.
Apollo stills and his eyes widen as he turns, stares at the greenery. The humming halts, there is a sigh and then it starts once more.
So beautiful, so well known.
Impossible, he tells himself as his frame turns, impossible, he pleads with himself as he trails down the small road with haste.
White walls come into view and he remembers them, remembers the old stones that have truly withered with time... the house still stands and as he steps into it, hand grasping the edge where a door once stood, he stills.
Impossible, he tells himself once more, head shaking as he looks at the figure sat on the edge of a stone flower pot. A small tree rises from it and lanterns decorate its branches. This is... this is where he saw him last... his bed...
The man continues to hum and Lucas knows... knows as he sits there...
A guitar is on his back, hair a soft dark brown as his fingers run over paper, scribble... There is a pause in the humming again and he sighs once more, shifts and he startles.
"Oh my God!" are his first word and his eyes widen, spectacles gleaming in the light of the lanterns. "Uh- H- Hi?"
"I didn't see you there. You scared me half to death," he places a hand to his chest and Apollo follows it. There is a birthmark gracing his wrist. He takes a slow breath. The man smiles. "I like coming here to write lyrics. Should I go? Is it late?? Oh shoot– I'm sorry!"
"It is nearly sunset," Apollo hear himself say and the man takes a breath of relieve.
"I thought you were the guard– Sorry," he apologizes, smiles. "Are you also here to enjoy the garden? I found it last week. Beautiful isn't it?"
"Yes..." Apollo says slow, "Beautiful."
The man's brows furrow and he blinks. "Okay– Uhm– I should go anyway–" he rises, puts away his notebook. "I'm Mark by the way. Mark Lee... but that isn't important I guess– Sorry– Over sharing."
Apollo stares in silence.
"Ow-kay- Good talk. I'm just–" he points at the exit, "Gonna go, okay?"
He comes forward and Apollo stares at him in silence still. Mark laughs awkwardly and slips passed him, exits the room and makes to exit the house. "Well– Good night then–" he says over his shoulder.
Apollo is still in disbelieve as he stares at Mark, as he stares at his reincarnation. The man turns and he can't stop himself, doesn't want to...
His hand comes forward and wraps around Mark's wrist in a moment. Mark halts, turns, confused. "Uhm-?" and his eyes widen when Apollo comes forward.
He knows he shouldn't. He should walk away... but he can't– he can't... not after all this time... not when he is right here. Right before him.
His large frame shudders when their lips connect and Mark stiffens before the air snaps, rings.
"I'm sorry," Apollo breaths against his lips, "I'm sorry– I shouldn't have–" he stops when he finds Mark's eyes shut. And a moment later they flutter open.
The man takes a breath and Apollo's frame shakes as light burst to life in Mark's eyes, shine before he blinks slow. His pupils dart left to right as he looks into the God's eyes. There is something that wasn't there before.
His brows furrow and his mouth falls open a tad before his voice comes.
Apollo breathes a sob and his hands come up, cup Mark's face. "Yes," he says in a shaky voice, "Yes my love. It is I. I am here."
He rubs his forehead to Mark's and the smaller man's hands come up. Lucas bites his lip, suppresses his tears when fingers card through his hair, run down his nape. "I've never seen you cry," Mark voices and he thumbs at a tear.
"I have, only for you. Oh... Oh, how I've missed you."
Mark smiles lightly, sighs as he looks around, as Lucas flushes him close. "Much has changed," he looks at the Sun God once more. "And yet you still love me?"
"Always," Lucas breathes immediately, kisses Mark once more. He feels the warmth leave him, seep from him as it flows into Mark and the man smiles as they pull away, as he looks up at the God, holds him close.
Mark smiles as he always has and then he laughs, shakes his head in disbelieve as a memory from a quiet wish finds its way back. From a lie.
He caresses Lucas' cheek and the God leans into it, kisses his palm. Mark smiles before the words fall from his lips.
- Gods Shouldn't Fall In Love -
🔆 Fin 🔆