Until the End of Time was my first foray into something historical so it seems appropriate for a Flash Back Friday! It's also a story that travels through time as Cyran, bound by a deal with Hades, searches for his lost love Ximen across the centuries. It seems they’re destined never to truly meet again, through Roman adventures and Celtic times, all the way to the present day.
It's part of the excellent arcana series and is the Chariot card entry.
It's part of the excellent arcana series and is the Chariot card entry.
Here's the opening scene -- I think my Classics professor would frown mightily at me, but I have my tongue firmly in my cheek in some sections!
Sea. Heat. Sky. Cyran lifted his head from the thyme-covered hill to watch Ximen strolling after the sheep, effortlessly keeping them away from the cliff edge.
Ximen. So unconcerned with what anyone else thought. Happy to follow sheep to the sound of surf and the scent of thyme. Happy to lie with Cyran. Happy to enter into whatever character or play had gripped him that week regardless of what his family thought of actors. He’d just listen, smile, and go back to being Antigone, or, in a rare bad mood, Medea.
Cyran let his head drop back. The day was too perfect to worry. He was home on Kos. His Ximen had waited for him. He listened to the bees visiting the thyme flowers, the waves against the cliff, and Ximen’s voice declaiming to the baaing sheep. He stretched in the sun under the flawless sky and slept.
The scent of herbs intensified in his dreams and he turned his face from the source. It followed and, he could swear, tickled his nostrils.
A giggle, sweet and pure as thyme-honey.
“Ximen,” he growled. Then he had Ximen’s blond-haired wrists grasped tightly in his own dark hands. Ximen dropped the stalk as Cyran’s grasp tightened. “Think you can do that and escape me, boy?”
“I hoped not…”
More honey-laughter. Cyran squinted up at a sun-haloed silhouette.
“You dare provoke my wrath?”
Ximen flopped forward onto Cyran.
“I want your…wrath. Please. ”
Cyran flipped them so that now he was the looming shadow filling Ximen’s vision. He felt as if he were the predator Ximen kept from the sheep. He could see his blond boy trembling, but smiling now, without having to fight the sun. Clear blue eyes. Sun-bleached hair. Slender arms that had the playwrights begging for him as their female principals. How could his family say he should herd sheep when he recited as if the gods flowed through him? Even masked he’d make you believe he was a proud sister intent on burying her brother.
Cyran blinked. This wasn’t the time to worry! He was home from the wars, with honor and no significant wounds, and his Ximen was lying beneath him, eyes and legs wide, mouth perfectly pouting.
“My wrath…” he repeated. “Where, Ximen? Where do you want my wrath? Here?” He traced the curve of Ximen’s mouth. “Or here?” His hand snuck up Ximen’s thigh, under his chiton, and cupped his cheek.
“Just in me, Cyran. Later I’ll want to touch and stroke you, but now I need you filling me.”
Cyran toyed with Ximen awhile. He tickled Ximen's rosebud hole with one hand and slid a finger in Ximen's mouth. Ximen arched his spine and sucked diligently at his finger. Ass or mouth? Cyran wondered. Both would yield to him before sunset, but how first to make Ximen shudder and sob beneath him?
“You torment me, Ximen. And you’ll pay for it.”
Ximen giggled around the finger he was mock-fellating. “Good.”
Cyran buried his fingers into Ximen’s curls, muscled his way up and over so his knees hugged Ximen’s ribs and his thighs thrust forward. Ximen’s delicious lips received his cock. He let Ximen nurse the pre-come from his slit and felt Ximen’s tongue welcome him in. Cyran groaned and bent forward so his hands rested on the hillside, and his prick slid deeper into Ximen’s willing throat. His sweet boy switched from suckling to taking his shaft deep. Cyran imagined the giggles and speeches that flowed from that golden throat and rammed his own solid, demanding flesh so deep Ximen’s eyes shed tears. His boy grabbed his thighs and pulled him deeper.
“Drink!” commanded Cyran as he shot, and Ximen’s throat worked.
Cyran lay back and let his boy nap, head on Cyran’s belly, one hand cupping Cyran’s spent balls. It was good to be home.
He kept half an eye on the sheep. Ximen had herded them high on the hill before coming to him, and they were a docile flock, content to graze where they were left. What a waste of his talent. A child could do this. His family had no need of Ximen as a shepherd -they had slaves aplenty. It was a deliberate move to keep their son away from town.
Awake, Ximen fed him almonds, figs, goat cheese, and the ever present thyme-honey. He kept up a steady flow of questions, and Cyran smothered a laugh knowing Ximen wanted the answers for so many more reasons than just loving his man. Poor Ximen -trapped on this island -home, yes, beautiful, yes, but an island nonetheless. Sunny-souled Ximen craved experience. His year in Athens had ruined him for home life -Cyran agreed with his family about that even if their other conclusions were so very different.
The attention Ximen gained with his clear speeches and slender figure meant playwrights clamored for him to play their women. Ximen was happy to take those roles. But be Creon or Jason? His eyes widened with disdain. Those arrogant fools? When Antigone and Medea are the heart of the play? Cyran stifled a moan at how vulnerable, and how unaware of his vulnerability, Ximen was.
Ximen offered him some wine and asked: “What was fighting like?”
Cyran sat up and looked out to sea. “It was duty.”
Ximen sat up too, and slid a hand up Cyran’s thigh. “No, really. Tell me.”
“Ximen. I did what was right. For honor.” Cyran put a hand on Ximen’s and moved it back down his thigh. “There was no other reward in fighting. Don’t ask me to talk about it. It’s not like the playwrights say. It has to be done, but there’s an end to it.”
Ximen tugged his hand free, turned to face him, and cupped Cyran’s face in his hands. “So very bad?”
“Bad. But I’m home now. With you. I fought for something worthy. And now I’m here.”
Ximen stared into Cyran’s brown eyes, then smiled, kissed his man’s serious mouth, and sat boldly astride him. “I have olive oil, Cyran -if this would please you.”
Cyran hiked his tunic to his waist and let his cock assent for him. Ximen rocked back and forth on his own oily fingers and teased Cyran’s balls with his other hand.
“I missed you so. Hippias could always get satisfaction from the sheep when he was unmarried. My needs are not met so easily.”
“No rams?” teased Cyran, slapping Ximen’s hips to encourage him and punish him for slandering his older brother. “And where is Hippias? You said you were stuck with your sisters?”
Ximen scowled but even with Cyran’s cock nudging his hole, he was incapable of disobeying his beloved. “Hippias was in Athens all last year. He got home last week.”
“Ah, my poor boy. Left behind, huh? Here, take my coming home gift…”
Ximen’s eyes widened then closed as he took Cyran’s shaft deep, and Cyran growled as he finally felt the hot velvet surround him.
“Your boy,” affirmed Ximen. “To the end of time?”
“End of time… oh … like that… harder…”
Ximen settled into riding Cyran’s prick, easing off every time either came close to finishing and bringing Cyran repeatedly to the edge. They entered a trance -the slow rocking, the sun, the surf, the bees, the ebb and flow of pleasure -and they moved together outside of time until a shadow over the sun made Ximen shiver and increase his motions. After so many withheld peaks, Cyran’s seed blasted into Ximen, making the boy quiver and whimper until Cyran reached out and gave Ximen’s cock a firm squeeze and tug. Ximen’s milky come filled his palm instantly.
A sticky snooze later, Ximen began the chore of gathering the sheep for their trek to the night pasture where a family watchman would take over. Cyran watched him. He’d learned not to help. The sheep were docile for Ximen, but they scattered when strangers or predators approached.
“It chafes him.”
Cyran looked up, slowly, to conceal his irritation that plump Hippias had arrived without alerting him. Hippias’ face wore an amiable smile, but Cyran knew the man was no fool. He was easygoing, but deeply conventional.
“Hippias. Good to see you. You look well. Two sons, is it now?”
“Aye, and a daughter between the two. Ximen plays well with her. But this life chafes him, I know.”
Cyran nodded, cautious. It had been Hippias’ perpetual theme before Cyran had left for the war: plans for Ximen’s ephebe status and where his military training should take place once he gained full manhood. Cyran knew Hippias considered that he, Cyran, was debauching Ximen by delaying his passage to full citizenship.
He shrugged. “I know, Hippias. But he makes his own decisions. He says he’s not ready for training yet, and after what I’ve seen this past year of war, I’m happy for him to delay.”
“Both your reputations suffer. People say he is a coward. Our father is embarrassed by having a twenty year-old son who is staying a boy.”
“There’s nothing dishonorable going on.”
“I saw you from the hilltop.”
Cyran muffled a groan, and stared out to sea so he could avoid Hippias’s gaze, and prevent a tactless lingering on Ximen’s thighs as they flashed golden in the dusk as he shooed a laggard ewe up the hill.
“We’ve promised ourselves to each other.”
“What good does that do when no one will recognize it? It’s the way of things, Cyran. I know you’re an honorable man, and I’d be proud to have you as brother-in-law.”
“Not that again. I can’t marry Philomela, Hippias, even if she agrees.”
“Be realistic. What better excuse could you find than being Ximen’s kin? And Philomela will be appropriately grateful for a husband who never bothers her but for begetting.”
“Hippias, I know she’s a sapphist -but it’s still wrong. Her dignity and reputation matter, too.” Cyran added silently: And she’s a better man than you. Philomela only matters to you as a bargaining chip.
“It’s time for Ximen to move on. We’ve all been boys and we’ll all have boys of our own -at the right time. It’s time for you to mentor a new boy and for Ximen to marry, even if you won’t take Philomela. What do you say? We can go to the gymnasium together. I’ve stayed away long enough myself. Is it so hard what I’m asking? We all do it: we put aside boys for a wife. We pass from boys ourselves, tutored by men, turn to women for sons, and come back to boys, ready to teach what we’ve learned. Move on my friend, and let Ximen move on, too.”
“He is a man already,” growled Cyran. “And we don’t want to move on. We’re happy together. We’re both younger sons. Our family bloodlines continue without us. And we’re not so noble that we’re worth alliances.”
Hippias let a flash of anger into his voice. “We’re offering you Philomela. We think you’re worthy. Do your duty.”
“Enough duty! Enough. I’ve left my home, left my boy, fought in the wars, and now I’m home. I just want him and a quiet patch of hillside.” Watching Ximen in the dusk, Cyran felt some anger melt. He laughed. “But I’d trade for Athens -to make him happy. Come Hippias, don’t you see? He could be great! He’d have the playwrights begging for him as their leads.”
“Even worse. He wants to play a woman. And you!” Hippias clutched the edge of Cyran’s chiton for a moment. “Think, man! What can you hope for? I’m offering you the best chance. We all have to yield somehow.”
“I fought for my homeland. I should have a right to settle in it with the one who makes me complete.”
Cyran stared out to sea. Hippias, silent for a change, waited beside him. He felt a moment of pity for poor Hippias: the man had done his duty as he saw it.
“Philomela’s not so bad. For all her temper, her figure’s boyish enough.”
“Gods, man! No. A hundred times. No. Ximen or no one.”
Hippias threw up his hands. “Enough for now. Come to dinner tonight. Hear our father’s formal offer. And enjoy a welcome home.”
Cyran paused. Philomela would be out of sight with the women, and Ximen would sing for the guests as they drank wine. And his father would be insulted if he didn’t attend.
“For Ximen’s sake.”