when achilles first sees patroclus in the afterlife, he doesn't recognize him at first.
he's younger than he was the last time he saw him - more like the man he was before the war. the scars on his knuckles are gone, and so are the shadows of lines on his face achilles remembers from the funeral.
of course, it's in a grove of figs - the one that reminds him of the ones outside phthia, the ones they used to play in when they were young, the ones they stole kisses in and the ones were achilles learned how to get on his knees. patroclus is strumming a lute, singing softly under his breath as the sun sets over the fields of elysium. i could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; i would know him blind, by the way, his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. i would know him in death, at the end of the world. and when achilles realizes who he's seeing he can't breathe or speak or move - even as much as he's prepared for this moment ever since he saw patroclus' eyes dim and breathing cease. for his hair comes down in soft, black curls and around his eyes, there is a softness that achilles has not seen since before the war since they were children. and how he has missed his voice, soft and rough at the same time and aching with a feeling that they have both known since they were boys.
all the words he was not able to say before he died are pooling in his chest, and he remembers suddenly what patroclus had said before the battle that day when they had forgone kissing to prepare instead. we need not kiss now, achilles. for there will be time for that tomorrow, and the day after, and many days after that.
and then patroclus turns around and sees him, and the moment their eyes meet achilles falls into a memory.
his skin is soft and almost mahogany in the occasional flashes of lightning, and poseidon roars his fury outside the window. there's a storm tonight, a bad one - the people must have angered the gods somehow. but achilles and patroclus are on the hill, in the whitewashed town nestled among the fig trees and cliffs. and here, in the highest room of the boys' quarters, they are untouchable in their warmth. sometimes, achilles catches patroclus watching him from the other side of the bed where he sits, absent-mindedly turning a fig in his hands. his eyes will drift back to the sea whenever achilles notices, but the feeling of his eyes is still there.
"are you going to eat it?" he gestures towards the older boy's fig.
"just a bit - can tell you're hungry." patroclus takes a bite out of it, tosses it to the other. achilles catches it in a half-open hand, eyes drifting over the ocean, the storm, the bed, the boy.
"could have just handed it to me."
"you're too far away, you βλάκας."
achilles punches him playfully. "fine, then. want to be closer?" he grabs patroclus' arms, laughing, and pulls him over to the pillows where he lies. here, the lightning illuminates the boys' faces, and achilles is more than aware suddenly that there's a dimple on the older boy's cheek, just a few inches from his face.
the lightning ceases, and there is darkness for a moment, the rain pouring out burning anger.
patroclus' breath is hot against achilles' cheek. "a bit slutty to pull me over like that, huh? think yourself to be an army boy, do you?"
achilles is uncomfortable, not because of the words, but because of the heat pooling in his stomach - and other places. when patroclus says the word ''slutty", he is undone, and there is only one foreseeable way to make this boy shut up.
so achilles kisses him, whether to make him shut up or because he needs to not clear. what does he know is the warmth that floods his body and the faint taste of figs on his tongue, and the way that patroclus' hand curls around his arm. he would now this boy's lips in eternity, in the mountains of the gods and in the halls of sparta.
the story of achilles and patroclus is a happier, more hopeful counterpart to call my by your name - and it hurts me whenever i think about it.