|A Trying Task
Author: HaloFin17 PM
Achilles has a strange request to ask of his long-time friend and captain, Eudorus. Set about 5 years prior to the movie. No slash. Please enjoy, and feel free to review!Rated: Fiction K - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Patroclus & Eudorus - Words: 3,477 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 14 - Published: 02-15-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4074604
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: Achilles has a strange request to ask of his long-time friend and captain, Eudorus. Set about 5 years prior to the movie. No slash. Please enjoy, and feel free to review!
Disclaimer: Sadly, even after all the time I've spent with them on paper, I still do not own these wonderful characters.
Author's Note: Ok, so this is just another one of my random fun, fluffy ideas. It's always kinda surprised me that there aren't more light-hearted pre-movie fics out there for Troy, and lately I've been having somewhat of an affinity for Eudorus, who really is a great character well deserving of more screen time. Or "fic time," in this case, lol. So below is the result of these combined sentiments. Oh, and fyi, I worked a couple of little things in here that made their first appearances in "Weakness" and the third "Deleted Scene." Just something fun to watch out for if you're so inclined. Hope you enjoy it!
A Trying Task
"Thank you, Eudorus. I am indebted to you for this."
The Myrmidon second-in-command bowed his dark head in the acknowledgment of such rare thanks from his superior. "It will be no trouble at all, my lord. I only wonder that you should ask me, of all people, for I am hardly qualified for such a task."
But Achilles only waved away his concerns. "Eudorus, you have been a true and loyal friend in all the long years I've known you. And with my mother gone so often visiting her Nereid sisters nowadays, you were the first person I wished to ask. I have no qualms whatsoever about entrusting you with this responsibility in my absence."
Eudorus bowed again. "Thank you, my lord."
The pitiable pout and the even more pitiable face that bore it would have melted even the hardest of hearts, but fortunately for Achilles, his own heart was well-practiced in resisting such charms.
"Yes, I am leaving in the morning," he replied with more terseness than was perhaps called for, but the show of strength was necessary if he was to conceal just how much those large, betrayed-looking blue eyes pained him.
"How long will you be gone?"
"I will be gone for three days, Patroclus - three days and two nights."
"May I not come with you?"
"No, you may not."
"Why not? I would behave."
Achilles indulged them both with a small chuckle. "I'm sure you would, but I will be dealing with very dull matters of state. Believe me, cousin, you would not want to come."
"But I would want to be with you," came the quiet protest.
Achilles grinned and patted his young charge on the shoulder.
"Thank you for that, cousin, but you will truly be much better off here. My good friend Eudorus is coming to stay with you while I'm away. You remember Eudorus, don't you, Patroclus?"
The twelve-year-old considered that for a moment, and his face twisted into a much displeased frown. "Eudorus does not talk much."
"Neither do you, so the two of you should get along just splendidly."
"I talk!" an indignant Patroclus protested.
"Only to me," his elder argued. "Cousin, sometimes I wonder if it isn't possible to get you to stop talking. But you still tend to be rather quiet around strangers, I know that much."
Blue eyes widened. "You're leaving me with a stranger?"
It was with a valiant effort that Achilles bit back a long-suffering sigh. "You may have only met him once, Patroclus, but I have known Eudorus all my life. You will be safe with him until I get back."
"But what if you don't come back?"
The question had been whispered in all childish innocence, and it was just enough to finally melt Achilles' heart of stone. "Come here," he beckoned with a small sigh of defeat and when Patroclus had stepped nearer, drew the boy against his chest in an crushing embrace meant to banish all of the dark fear and worry that troubled his young mind.
"I will be back," he murmured softly down at his cousin's head. "I will come back to you, Patroclus - I promise."
There was a slight shiver under his arms before he felt the boy nod into his shoulder, and Patroclus conceded. "Very well, cousin."
Achilles released him. "Good boy," he said with admittedly forced cheer. "Now, get on to bed. Eudorus will be here in the morning, and if you wake up early enough, you can see me on my way."
Patroclus' youthful mirth returned in an instant as he cocked his head slightly to one side and regarded his cousin in a typically inquisitive stare. "But I always get up before you, cousin."
Achilles grinned at that despite himself, but he still directed a playful swat at the child's backside before shooing him off to prepare for bed.
The Eastern sky was lit with the first rosy glow of early morning when Achilles ushered his old friend inside his home.
"Patroclus is still asleep," he told Eudorus with a companionable grin. "He didn't believe me when I told him he would need to get up early if he wanted to say good-bye."
Eudorus set down his pack of belongings in the guest room as his commander had directed, and the two men returned to the front room where Achilles was just finishing his own packing.
"I cannot foresee that there will be any problems," he continued, "but should any trouble arise, I have full confidence that you will handle it as well here as you always do on the battlefield."
"I am grateful to have so earned your confidence, my lord." Eudorus hesitated a moment, then continued. "But, Achilles, seeing that this is rather a far cry from the normal line of duty, and considering that I have little experience in such matters...ah, have you any word of advice for me before you leave?"
The golden warrior thought on that a moment before instructing, "I would suggest you keep him active during the day. He is an excellent swimmer, and I know he would appreciate it if you were to spar with him, provided the two of you don't try anything too complicated. And at night, I find it best to occupy him with stories, for he is always eager to hear tales of great battles and the heroes of ages past." Achilles stopped suddenly and sighed. "He's been in my care for just over two years now, Eudorus, and this will be the first time we've been apart for more than a day. He may be quiet at first, but I'm sure you will have no trouble with him."
Both men turned then and saw a bleary-eyed Patroclus standing in the doorway behind them, his mop of dark blonde hair looking more than a little disheveled at this hour.
"You really are leaving early," he mumbled. "I didn't think you meant it."
Achilles smiled warmly at him and stepped forward, pulling the boy into a close embrace. "This is one of the few times you'll ever see your cousin up this early, Patroclus. You'd best remember it well."
The two cousins drew apart then, and Achilles held his charge at arm's length, looking him steadily in the eye.
"I will be back in three days, Patroclus," he said quietly. "Behave yourself for Eudorus while I am gone - do you understand me?"
The boy nodded meekly. "I do, cousin."
"Good. I will see you in three days, then." Achilles briefly hugged his cousin one last time and clasped Eudorus' hand in farewell before gathering up his supplies and striding out the door, leaving the boy and the warrior alone. Eudorus would always remember the silence that followed as one of the longest and most awkward of his existence. Experimentally, he cleared his throat.
"It is still very early, Patroclus. Do you wish to return to bed?"
The child only stared at the floor and shook his head.
Eudorus tried again. "Are you hungry, then?"
Another shake of the blonde head answered.
"Do you plan not to speak to me at all while your cousin is away?" he pressed.
"No," came the whispered reply, and after daring a cautious glance in his new caretaker's direction, Patroclus quietly slipped away back to his room.
Staring after him, Eudorus sighed in bitter frustration and ran a hand through his black hair. This was going to be a long three days.
The morning dragged on at a sluggish rate, and Eudorus saw nothing of his charge for several hours, for the boy was still barricaded in his room behind a closed door. The Myrmidon captain did what he could to pass the time, but when midday had come and gone and there was still no sight nor sound of the child, Eudorus decided it was high time to check on his charge, whether Patroclus liked it or not.
He made his way to boy's room and rapped softly on the door. "Patroclus?"
There was no response, and Eudorus knocked again, louder this time. "Patroclus, are you there? Patroclus?"
When there still was no reply, Eudorus concluded that, privacy or no, this was reason enough to take matters into his own hands. He opened the door, which had thankfully been unlocked, but the room itself was deserted. Impossible! There was no way the boy could have sneaked past him. But the warm breeze drifting in through an open window, ruffling the heavy curtains as it came, begged to argue another possibility. Eudorus darted from the room, cursing under his breath. How could he possibly have lost track of his charge this soon? And what would Achilles say if he could see him right now?
Growing more frantic by the second, Eudorus hurriedly scoured the house and the surrounding area, but all in vain. Finally frustrated in his efforts, he stood out on the high point upon which his lord's home was situated and stared out toward the distant sea. Achilles had told him of Patroclus' love for the water, but how far could the boy have truly gone? There seemed to be no other option, though, and Eudorus headed down to the shoreline at a brisk pace.
The irregularity of the cliffs and towering rock formations along the water's edge made it difficult to see much of any one stretch of beach at a time, but after several more unsuccessful attempts, Eudorus at last found what he sought – a tall blonde boy standing at the water's edge in a small cove, skipping smooth, flat rocks across the blue surface. The waves were unusually calm today, contributing to the ease of such an activity, but they did not mirror Eudorus' temper at the present moment.
"There you are!"
The boy jumped as his pastime was so sharply interrupted, and he snapped his head up to see Eudorus marching toward him, looking none too pleased.
"Patroclus, what on earth are you doing here?"
"Skipping rocks," the child mumbled dispassionately, digging his toes into the sand and staring down at them so he wouldn't have to meet his guardian's icy blue eyes. "Achilles always lets me come here."
Eudorus sighed, aggravated. "That is not the point! Patroclus, you should not have run off without telling me where you were going. I have been searching everywhere for you, child."
Patroclus flinched a little at the older man's harsh tone and found himself blinking furiously. He would not cry!
"Come back to the house, Patroclus," Eudorus said sternly. He reached out unthinkingly to take hold of the boy's slender arm, but Patroclus instantly shied away, his blue eyes wide with apprehension. Eudorus hesitated when he saw his charge's reaction, then dropped his hand. Did the child think he actually meant to harm him?
"I won't hurt you, Patroclus," he said in an attempt to sound reassuring, but the mounting frustration in his voice was painfully evident, and his consolation had little of the desired effect. Patroclus offered a quick nod in his direction and skirted past him, his stormy eyes downcast as he hurried back home. Eudorus only shook his head, perplexed, and followed.
Late that night, Eudorus sat alone outside, gazing up at the stars after what could scarcely be called a productive day. Patroclus had pointedly avoided him since the incident at the beach, showing his face only to eat his supper in stony silence and return to his room immediately thereafter. Eudorus had made sure Patroclus was asleep before leaving the house, and the boy had certainly appeared to be sleeping soundly enough. But it had been a trying day, and right now, Eudorus needed nothing more than to bask in the cool air and relish the calming stillness of the night. But at last, he grew weary himself and slowly made his way back to his lord's dwelling.
He strode inside, increasingly anxious to retire for the evening, but stopped short when he saw Patroclus sitting on the floor of the main room near the fire, his skinny knees drawn up under his chin. The boy looked up, startled, when Eudorus entered and instinctively hugged his legs up tighter against his chest.
"Patroclus, what are you doing awake at this hour?" the seasoned warrior asked with a frown.
"I couldn't sleep," the child answered quietly.
"You were sleeping fine when I checked on you not long ago. Is something wrong?"
Patroclus only looked away, his eyes bright with moisture as he stared off into the dying embers of the fire.
"Was it a dream you had?" his guardian suggested slowly.
The boy nodded and wiped a hand over his eyes to brush away the stubborn tears.
"About my parents," he whispered, still not meeting Eudorus' concerned gaze. "I used to have them a lot when I first came here, but I hadn't in a long time."
The older man felt a sudden stirring of pity within him as he stepped closer and sat on the floor next to his charge. "Perhaps these dreams have returned now that your cousin is gone?"
Patroclus shrugged noncommittally, but Eudorus could tell his guess had struck true.
"He will be back." It was really the only comfort he could extend to the child, who merely sighed shakily in reply.
"I know. But I still miss him."
Silence reigned for a time then, until Eudorus finally decided it was his responsibility to say something - anything to distract this distraught child in his care.
He let out a long, low whistle to break the stillness and hesitantly began, "Patroclus, has your cousin ever taught you Mischief?"
The boy blinked out of his dismal daze and frowned quizzically up at his guardian. "No. What's Mischief?"
Eudorus grinned, relieved that his distraction seemed to be working rather well thus far, and scooted closer to the child.
"It is a game Achilles and I made up when we were just a few years older than you."
Patrolcus' sea-blue eyes brightened happily at the mention of his cousin. "Really? What kind of game is it?"
"It is a game of strategy played with square tiles on a checkered board that can be drawn in the sand if need be. The object of the game is to outwit your opponent and capture as many of their tiles as you can while still protecting your own."
"It sounds like a game Achilles would be good at," Patroclus remarked with a grin. "I wonder why he never told me of it?"
"Probably because I beat him almost every time we played, and he did not wish to relive the humiliation." The older man laughed aloud after that comment, and Patroclus joined in with a shy little laugh of his own.
"I'm afraid your cousin never has been a very gracious loser," Eudorus went on, "and he would always want to spar or wrestle afterwards - something he knew he would win. But many times we would begin to argue over the rules and fair play and then get into all sorts of trouble with the adults who were watching us."
"And that's why you called it 'Mischief'?" Patroclus surmised, to which his companion nodded an ascent.
There was another brief pause before a timid, childish voice ventured, "Would you teach me this game, Eudorus? Please?"
Eudorus gave the boy a rare, heartfelt smile and slid an arm across his slim shoulders. "I would be honored to teach you, Patroclus. And I never told him this, but your cousin was so predictable when we played, always using the same tactics. It should not be difficult at all to show you how you might beat him, as well."
Patroclus grinned brightly, evidently pleased at the thought. Both Greeks stared into the fire for a while then, the silence much more comfortable now. But Eudorus still blinked rapidly in surprise when he felt a light weight on his arm, and looking down, he saw Patroclus resting his head against him. The elder warrior tightened his arm around the boy's shoulders and pulled him close, hoping to convey what meager comfort the warmth and strength of his presence could offer.
"Can we spar tomorrow also, Eudorus?" Patroclus asked suddenly, his voice hopeful. "And then go swimming afterwards?"
Eudorus smiled down at the dark blonde head as Achilles' final words of instruction came fleeting back to him, and he nodded, giving the boy's bony shoulder a quick squeeze.
"Of course we can, Patroclus. Your cousin is a thorough teacher, I'm sure, but perhaps we can find something new for you to learn, eh? Something to surprise him with when he returns?"
Clearly satisfied with that response, the boy giggled gleefully and closed his eyes, sighing contentedly as he leaned against his caretaker.
They stayed that way for some time, until the glowing embers of the fire had burned down completely, and Eudorus felt the weight on his arm shift.
"Could you teach me how to whistle like that, too?" Patroclus offered a weak, pitiful imitation of the sound he had heard his guardian make earlier that evening, and Eudorus laughed.
"Yes, child, I can," he answered, looking back down at his weary charge. "But tomorrow, Patroclus, for it is very late. Are you ready to go back to bed now?"
The boy gave a barely perceptible nod and yawned widely. "May I sleep in Achilles' room, Eudorus? His bed is comfier."
"I don't see why not." Eudorus chuckled and rose to his feet, easily lifting Patroclus up with him. He then guided the child over to his cousin's room on sleepy legs and saw him into bed, pulling the blankets up over his shoulders when he had lain down.
"Sleep well, Patroclus," he murmured gently.
The boy fell at once into a tranquil sleep, and Eudorus withdrew noiselessly from the room before returning to his own.
By now, it was much later than he had originally intended to stay up, and certainly later than Patroclus should have ever been awake. Perhaps if he was lucky, they would both be exhausted enough to sleep late into the next morning. But only if he was very lucky. More than once, the Myrmidon captain had heard his commander's lighthearted complaints about how his young cousin would disturb him, coming to wake him at the most unholy hours of the morning. Besides that, Patroclus was already excited enough to learn Mischief, as well as any new sparring tricks he could show his cousin when he came home. And with that thought, Eudorus knew it would be wise to make the most of whatever rest he might get that night. But all the same, he was relieved beyond expression. The trials and strains of the first day were past, and somehow he felt that his remaining time with Patroclus would be a much more pleasant experience indeed.
Author's End Note: And there you have it - Eudorus babysitting! I briefly flirted with the idea of continuing on with the entire three days and seeing what kind of crazy mishaps and adventures I could put them through, but upon further reflection, I realized Eudorus really isn't the kind of character who would let things get wildly out of hand or freak out even if they did. And so for better or for worse, I've decided to end it here. Anybody catch those parallels to my other fics I mentioned at the beginning? Thanks for reading, everyone!