Narrow rays of light rested on Paul’s face, waking him from a deep sleep. He sat up and faced the window trying to get a read on the time of day, and then turned to the hotel’s alarm clock. Someone had unplugged it. Paul failed to repress his smile.
Paul felt a hand grasp his arm and try to pull him back to facing the bed. Under the covers rested a slightly chubby man with alabaster skin who was still trying to pull him down although Paul had turned away.
Theon spoke. “Go back to bed. It’s much too early.”
Paul retorted, “How could you possibly know? The clock has been mysteriously disconnected from the wall. Do you have any idea of who would do such a thing?” Playfulness danced across his words as he stared into Theon’s bright green eyes.
“The clock was still plugged in when I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.”
“It was, was it? Was it still plugged in when you got back in?” Paul’s smile turned into a smug smirk as he cornered Theon in his not-quite-lies.
Theon stared at Paul’s deep brown eyes and then his dark curly hair, basking in his light like a serpent might bask in the sun. And after a moment he spoke, “You should stay in bed longer. There are things I still want to try.”
Paul’s smile faltered as he turned away from Theon. “You know I have to go. And honestly, you should be getting ready too. We… we both need to get moving.”
Theon’s tone shifted downward. “Why? So we can say goodbye? So we can both don our armor, go into the world, and lash out at each other in righteous anger?” His voice sweetened again as he pleaded, “No, just a few more minutes in bed. No one in the world will even miss us.”
Paul swung his legs over the bed, ignoring the Theon’s pleas behind him. He stood up and began wandering around the room looking for his bag and a fresh pair of underwear.
Theon was distracted from his arguments as he stared at the thighs of his favorite ochre god, watching the muscles shift his body weight as Paul began to retrace the steps from last night, after the four glasses deep in Ambrosia wine. Paul finally found his suitcase and bent over to root through his things.
Paul turned back around and Theon continued to stare for a few seconds until Paul cleared his throat. He looked up and matched Paul’s judging gaze. Paul cut the silence.“You know we can’t. We have work to do.”
Theon responded quickly. “But, Apollo, let Python tempt you.” He flicked his serpent tongue as if to taste the air to drive home his point.
For a second Paul looked as if he was about to relent, but then he readjusted his weight and stood up straight, taking on a serious air. “I thought you dropped that name, at least a century or so ago.”
Theon rolled over and covered his face with a pillow, “I don’t know. I just… I just thought it might bring something back, okay?” Paul began to put on his underwear as Theon continued, “I thought maybe that if I did something to remind you of the olden days, way back, that you might be enticed, like that first time.” Paul pulled on his pants while Theon pulled the pillow away. His voice was sultry and low, “With your sword to my chin, and mine at your gut, and then we kissed. Maybe Python could bring that back better than Theon.”
Paul sat down on the bed and started to put on his socks, and then his leather loafers, “Well, Apollo has found another soldier. And it pains me to say it, but you should be looking to.”
Theon, still nude, sat up and wrapped his arms around Paul’s bare chest. He whispered in his ear, “But what if…what if I don’t want another. What if this cycle, I don’t look for an army, and instead I just look for you.”
Paul finished putting on his shoes and simply sat still, facing away from Theon. “We have work to do.”
Theon slunk off of Paul and sat silently in the bed. Taking his cue, Paul stood up and pulled an undershirt over his head, then buttoned a dress shirt, and finally looped his sword into his belt.
Theon spoke up, “Do you think about our fights?”
Paul began to roll up his sleeves, looking at the mirror, “What about them?”
“Like why? Why do we have to keep fighting? And what if I don’t want to anymore. What if I want to stop fighting.” Theon looked away from Paul. “What if I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”
Theon stopped as Paul paused on his right cuff, fingers at his button.
Theon, voice shaky, continued, “What if I don’t get back up this time?…What if you don’t?”
Through the reflection, Paul could see Theon crying, and then began to comb his hair back before putting it up into a ponytail. “It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve always done. Now get dressed.”
Theon matched Paul’s eyes in the mirror and asked, with venom, “Why do you even meet up with me?”
“Because you understand.” Paul adjusted his tie and turned around. “No one else has lived the lives we’ve lived, at least for as long. And that means something to me. It really does, I hope you see that.”
Paul opened the door to the hotel room, paused for a second, and spoke, “You’re the only one who understands.” And then he left.
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