A/N: I don't own anything. No slash.
My first shot at writing anything in a while!
Dedication: To the wonderful Spiritblaze, who's magnificent writing and wonderful words of encouragement really got me to write this. If you haven't please go read her stories as well, they are mature, sensationally written, and absolutely and entirely some of the best writing I have seen. She is also very approachable and the one who encouraged me to publish the story you are about to read. Honestly, it would not be up here if it weren't for her.
I was surprised when I saw her. She was pretty, with dark hair and crystal green eyes. I could see why my cousin liked her. What really struck me, however, was that she looked to be about my age and she was hugging her knees to her chest and rocking back and forth, whispering to herself. It made a lump rise up in my throat and I could feel a I clutched the pitcher of water in my hands and walked towards the place where she was tied.
"Hello," I started softly and crouched down next to her. She didn't look over at me. I sighed and took out a small knife, cutting her binds, not sure whether she would run. It would have been human nature to run, it wouldn't have been a reflection on what kind of person she was. If she ran, then I would have had to answer to my guardian as to why I was in his tent in the first place and I was sure that he would not be pleased with me. However, my conscience outweighed my desire to stay out of trouble, however. I wondered what kind of person that made me. Good, because I was helping a innocent or bad because I was defying my cousin? No one should have to be tied like a animal, I knew that much. It took a bad kind of person to tie someone like an animal and feel no regret for it.
She immediately backed away from me, shielding her face in an animalistic sort of panic. Poor girl. Achilles would have been furious with me, but when I heard about the prisoner that my cousin and guardian had taken such a fancy too I had to meet her myself. When I saw she was my age, I couldn't just stand there.
"I'm not going to hurt you," I tried and took a step back, showing her I'd give her space, unlike most every other man here. I left the water pitcher where I sat and moved back another space when she was still unresponsive. I sighed and crossed my legs.
"I'm so sorry you had to see it," I looked over at her. "You know, I saw my mother and father die as well." She looked over at me, finally. I gave a small and sad smile at the girl, but my head had started to throb with the pain of the realization as memories of that night when I was merely ten started to swim back to me. I regretted even mentioning it and I bit back a small gasp. I turned my attention back to the girl.
"What's your name?" I asked her gently. She picked the water up slowly, never once taking her eyes off of me.
"Briseis," she whispered, under her breath for my ears alone. I nodded softly and there was a silence before it dawned on me that she might be hungry or hurt or cold or hot. I didn't quite know. I also didn't quite know why I cared for the girl. She was pretty, however, I hadn't wanted to take advantage. She didn't talk and I had my dear cousin, so I was not lacking in companionship. Maybe it was the fact that she was my age. That must have had something to do with it, but when all came down to all, I decided to myself that it was the ropes. I hated seeing ropes on people. It was the only plausible explanation for why me, who was usually quite with strangers, had decided to help her. Another reason, that I dared not even admit to myself, was that I helped her because I knew exactly how she felt, alone cold, scared, and hopeless. It was how I felt when I killed the boy. It was how I felt when my parents hid me under the bed, told me not to move and left himself to the men, avenging the death of the life that I took. I didn't need to contemplate what kind of people they were. Every fiber of my being knew that they were the worst kind. It made my stomach toss and my ears ring, with the sound of my parents screams and the hollers and deafening hoots of those who committed the atrocious act. I was ripped out of my thoughts by the sound of a harmonious voice.
"What's yours?" It was the longest and most engaging thing she'd said to anyone here. I took a breath in.
"Patroclus," I said with a small nod and then I extended my hand. She looked at it for a second and then took it gently and hesitantly and shook it. "And I can promise that no one will hurt you." She shook her head and resolved into more tears.
"He will! I can just see it...the way he killed my family...the way he smashed the statues..." I shook my head again.
"Achilles? I won't let him. I'll talk to him right after this." He was a good kind of person. He'd listen, I knew that but her blue eyes widened in fear and she shook her head.
"No! Don't! He'll kill you! He's violent and-"
"Not so," I sighed. "He's my cousin and he's been my guardian since I was ten. He'd never hurt me and he'll listen. I promise." Being placed in a strange place where you were not sure who was going to hurt you was terrifying and my mind flashed to the weeks I had spent not talking to my cousin and wondering if he was going to hurt me.
Snapping me out of my thoughts again was Briseis.
"Why are you helping me?" She asked hesitantly. "If you're his blood? Surely, he means to harm, if not kill me."
"I don't really know," I answered truthfully. "Perhaps I know what you're going through, perhaps I'm more sympathetic than the other warriors, perhaps I'm tired from the day's events and I'm delirious with pain of my injuries suffered today, I don't know Briseis of Troy, but I do know that you can trust me." It was the most I'd really said to a stranger in a while. I suppose it was easy to act confident when you clearly had the upper hand. A ghost of a smile flickered across of her lips and disappeared just as quickly it had appeared. It was then that heard a small smirk from behind. I turned around to see my cousin standing in the door. I flushed a bright crimson and rose up to my feet, wondering how much he had heard. He was smirking and his arms were crossed.
"I do not intend to harm you, girl," he offered, arms still crossed and eyes set on me now. "What are you doing in my tent, Cousin? Making friends, I see." He nodded at Briseis. I couldn't find the words to tell him exactly what I was thinking, when I myself did not exactly know.
"Cousin, I was-" He raised a hand and motioned outside.
"A word, Patroclus." His face was hard to read. It was not gentle, but it was not angry. I decided it best not to argue with him and I rose to my feet, standing and exiting the tent, looking back at Briseis. I nodded reassuringly at her and then followed Achilles out. When we're a safe distance away and he's sure that we're alone he turns to me.
"Achilles, I am sorry for intruding on your tent and your property but the girl was-" He silenced me with his hand.
"Dear cousin, I am not angry, far from it, however, I do wish to caution." I tilted my head, confused.
"The girl. Any prisoner. They're scared, Patroclus and they'll lash out. I do not want you near her." I shook my head.
"She won't, Cousin. I can tell that-"
"My order stands, Patroclus." His tone was gentle, but his face stayed hard to read. "Do not argue with me, Cousin. I have seen what a trapped man will do. The girl is no different. Believe me." I sighed and sat down on an upturned log. "I don't want anything to happen to you, Patroclus."
"Very well, Cousin," I muttered. His expression changed as I forfeited the battle and didn't argue. It was quite unlike me to back down from something with my cousin when I disagreed.
"Is everything alright, Cousin?" He asked, suspiciously and his brow creased into a frown. I looked along the setting sun and the horizon. The water glimmered like the jewels my mother used to wear. I closed my eyes briefly.
"I've been thinking recently." I put my head in my hands. He didn't move. "About that night." I didn't need to reference a date, a name, or anything else. He knew what I meant and he sat down next to me. I never should have said anything. Now I was going to have to explain everything to him.
"What have you been thinking about?" Against my better judgment I went on, talking.
"How I never should have hid and let them die." He opened his mouth to speak but I beat him to it. "I was so stupid, I should have given that boy the dice when he tried to take them, I never should have fought him for it, because when he fell, his parents called their men and they all came in and he was dead. They ran after us and-" I don't think Achilles could stand quiet anymore.
"You needn't worry about that anymore," he whispered softly. "You're safe and it's over." He was cooing to me like a father would a child and that was all it took for two small tear to trickle down my cheeks. I wiped them away frantically. He had let me come. Trusted me enough to be here. Thought I was strong enough to be here. I would not ruin this trust and faith that he placed on me in a sheer moment of weakness.
"I just…" The words didn't quite come out the way I wanted them too.
"You just what?" His voice sounded more tender and less monotone as I couldn't find anything else to say.
"I just think that I shouldn't have hid."
"Cousin, you were ten." He scoffed and looked at me, I avoided his eyes. Whenever I looked at him I couldn't help but see my father or my mother. I couldn't risk anymore tears here in Troy. Not with my cousin.
"You would never have hid." I knew that was the truth. No matter what he said to convince me that my sins were alright, I knew that Achilles, the greatest warrior alive, never would have hid from danger in order to save himself. He never would have left his mother or me to die. I knew that for a fact, and this, because I did and he did not, made me a coward and here in Troy, under the command of King Agamemnon and Menelaus. Cowards were stabbed and then hung out by the tents for everyone to see the bodies of those to sickeningly weak to defend their country. Achilles always complained it was unsanitary and barbaric. I tended to agree. Once someone was dead, it was a disgrace to desecrate the body and never let them pass through to the underworld. Another reason Achilles would never bow to or take orders from Agamemnon or his brother.
"If I were ten?" Achilles said and raised an eyebrow. "I may very well have done just that. You were a child. You still are." I shook my head.
"You always will be to me. Come now, go run along. Just promise me not to talk to the girl again." I sighed. I couldn't do that. I couldn't just leave someone who needed help alone and vulnerable. Especially with my cousin. I loved him like a father, but he did have a history of not being even tempered and who knows what he would have done to someone like Briseis and her stubborn temperament. Achilles raised an eyebrow. "Promise me, Patroclus," he chastised as if I were still a young child. Sighing, I felt terrible. He had been so good to me and here I was, outwardly defying his orders.
"I can't, Achilles. I'm sorry." He groaned, frustrated. I could tell that my disobedience was aggravating him.
"And why not, dear Cousin?" I could tell he was curious and concerned. His brow got a certain way when I broke my arm a few years back, when I was sick with a high fever and he had to ride me into town for help, when I had nightmares, and when I first asked him to teach me to spar. His brow was like that currently. I sighed.
"I won't talk to her, just don't tie her up anymore." Achilles scoffed.
"I haven't even seen her, Cousin. She was brought like that."
"Then promise you won't keep her tied up."
"She'll run away." Achilles was looking at me curiously now, even more so than before. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get out of the conversation without telling the truth to some extent so I sighed.
"When they first broke into the house, they tied me up and went after my parents. I was able to get free and that's when I found my mother and father and they hid me." He stilled at the revelation that I had not even told him before.
"So really it was all my fault because I should have ran for help or went after them then." I was more pouting now then I was trying to talk to him.
"Again, Patroclus, you were ten."
"Don't tie to girl up anymore, please, Achilles. Don't hurt her. For me." He sighed and then looked over at me. "I know what it's like to be alone and scared, Achilles. Just let her be. Make sure she knows you're not going to hurt her." He looked over at me and nodded.
"For you, I will make sure no harm comes to girl, cousin. This does not mean I want you near someone who may be a danger." He put a solicitous and warm hand on my shoulder. I exhaled. I knew that I'd done the right thing. I could just feel it.
"If you promise no harm will come to her, I promise not to talk to her." He nodded and a faint smile played on his lips.
"You're a much better person than I, Cousin. This is one of the reasons you will not be fighting. I could not lose you and you are a better person." It was my turn to look confused as I remembered.
"What's being a good person got to do with fighting?"
"Look at what taking one life did to you, imagine what taking thousands would."
"I'd get used to it. You did. Ajax did. Odysseus did and- "
"Enough. None of us 'got used' to anything. If we did then we'd be gods, not mortals, as we are." He retorted. I looked at him.
"I'm not a better person than you. If you were a bad person, you never would have taken me in and helped me. Bad people don't comfort nightmares and promise to help their family. Thank you from me and Briseis." I rose up, to leave but his hand caught my arm.
"I love you, cousin." I paused. It was rare that we talked so frankly. I supposed it was because he was a great warrior and I was a teenager. Either way, one does not go around telling their feelings.
"I love you too. Bad people don't love either. You weren't lying a minute ago, were you?"
"Of course not. I love you more than anything. You know that."
"Then you're not a bad person." He smiled. "And bad people don't try to keep others safe."
"Well, then I suppose I'm really not," he gave a small smile. I could tell he was lying though and I wondered what kind of people lied or if it was just human nature. My cousins went on. "Seeing as I won't let harm come to you, here, cousin. Just let me try to keep that promise and I'll be content." He stood up but I rose with him this time and looked over at him.
"I think…" There was a pause before I went on. "Talking like this was good for us."I finished the sentence awkwardly
"As do I."
After he left, I sat there for a while and I wondered what kind of people we were. Good? Bad? Or just there?Average? Excellent? How could someone such as my cousin kill thousands of people everyday and still be good? How could Menelaus treat the dead so disrespectfully and yet still be good? How could I have let my parents die and still be good? Everyone else had a reason. Achilles loved me. He made up for those thousands of lifes every time he soothed a fever or calmed me after a nightmare. Menelaus had a job to do. He was trying to protect his family as well, by getting Helen back. What did I have to make up for my crimes? Being young was not a just excuse, no matter what my dear cousin thought. Then a thought came. If I could make up for that, by not letting anymore die, then perhaps, just perhaps, there was hope for me as well.