Tangible Schizophrenia



Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13.
Pairing: Implied Odysseus/Achilles, Odysseus/Patroclus, Achilles/Patroclus
Feedback: Would be nice.
Disclaimer: These versions aren't mine.
Notes: Takes place the morning after the Greeks are beaten away from the walls of Troy.
Summary: The price of glory's favors. For the contrelamontre 'prostitution' challenge; done in 45 minutes.


"Good morning."

Odysseus stopped, rolling his shoulders to ease some of his aches. It hadn't been an easy night, and certainly hadn't been a sleep-filled one for him. Too many of his men to be attended to, thanks to yesterday's foolish charge. "I suppose it would be."

"Suppose? You're a little cold for such warmth." Patroclus eased up alongside Odysseus, guilt-edged eyes belying his cheerful demeanor. When he saw the old dried blood staining Odysseus' entire body, his smile died. "You're-you're not hurt?"

"Is that what concerns my old friend? So much so that he would send out his protégé this early in the day?" It wasn't hard to avoid Patroclus' frankly troubled gaze; Odysseus had only to remember his glimpse of Achilles yesterday, caught over a mass of fleeing Greeks. Tall, proud, a lion of the hill. And as equally indolent, sunning himself while his countrymen died.

No, that was wrong to say. Nevertheless, Odysseus would say it anyway if he had to. His first responsibility was to his own men, and therefore his first view must always be theirs. Kingship wasn't such a light burden to him as the role of overlord seemed to Agamemnon.

Patroclus wasn't speaking. His young, young-far too young, and had Achilles really been the same age when Odysseus had first met him?-face was full of undisguised hurt…and a touch of self-reproach. An opening upon which Odysseus was curiously reluctant to spring.

"He cares for your well-being," the other man finally said. "He has a heart, though it may be changeable and-"

"Subservient to his pride? There have been many women, and many other insults, but he and Agamemnon had still managed to find common ground without other men dying for their quarreling." Odysseus began his walk again, hoping to reach the sea for a bath before many others woke. He needed to find a little peace to see him through another day of pointless wrangling and useless slaughter.

Footsteps hurried after him, and a hand seized his. "It is not just about pride," Patroclus hissed, suddenly fierce. Transformed from callow youth to warrior in an instant, and now it was clear how his blood flowed. "It is about exploitation and injustice."

"Oh, that it is. That it is." Shaking off the hand, Odysseus stripped off his armor and carefully laid it aside. He murmured a quick prayer to all the gods of the sea, then knelt and started scooping water over his arms and neck. Cool seawater, stinging hot where it touched the many myriad of minor cuts about which he'd forgotten, and the taste of salt. Unbidden rose a memory of a field, a plow and a helpless babe.

Too far away, and not even his cleverness could circumvent the solid realities of time and distance. Growling, Odysseus banished the wistful thoughts and concentrated on the present. "Exploitation and injustice. I see nothing wrong with Achilles' dispute, my lord Patroclus, but I disagree with his involvement of his men. And mine, in a way. Every death yesterday had a trace of his hand in it."

"Then speak to him," cried Patroclus, who seemed genuinely distraught. He dropped to his knees beside Odysseus and grabbed for Odysseus' hands, squeezing them so tight that the blood fled away. "Speak. Convince him, convince Agamemnon-"

"What do you think I've been doing?" Odysseus tried to pull his hands away, but for a youth, Patroclus had surprising strength. In the end, Odysseus gave up and let his head bow in despair. Below, on the water, flakes of dark red swirled off his fingers. "Agamemnon is finally listening, but…it would appear that Achilles no longer loves me as he used to."

He looked a meaning at Patroclus, who at first blinked in shock, but then slowly nodded. "I…try. But I don't think he listens to anyone anymore. Or if he does, it's not a voice that we can hear."

"Hearkening to glory, laying out for her brutal caresses in hopes of a few dribbles of remembrance. Yes, I remember what that was like. He's of age for it, I suppose." The sun was nearly above the horizon now, crimson blot. For a moment, Odysseus wondered for which side, and then he realized that it didn't matter for who the omen was. Death came to all.

"I'll try again. And again, as long as I have to." Patroclus' optimism glared brighter than the dawn, and his conspiratorial tone made Odysseus want to wince. He caught Odysseus' face in his hands. "I'll get him to listen."

Premonitions, gods, fate…well, Odysseus was wise enough to know that he shouldn't presume on any of the three. But the chill he felt when Patroclus' bright smile swept over him was something that demanded attention. Action.

He took the other man by the shoulders and tried to silently instill commonsense, a trait young men commonly lacked, inside Patroclus. "Do not risk everything for Achilles' wars, no matter how you…how you love him. You're not his shadow."

"I'll be cautious," Patroclus promised.

Still, once Odysseus was alone with nothing but the burning memory of a young man's hands on his face, and the older, still-scorching one of another golden youth's, he feared. For the first time, he prayed his gambit would not strike its intended target.

He washed twice, once for the blood and once for the men.


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