The title for this chapter comes from the song "The Rabbit" by Jimmy Wayne, a song my niece loves. I won't type out the entire thing, but here's the chorus:
"What goes around comes around
There's no doubt
We'll have to answer for the things we've done
When the tables turn and they will turn
Mark my words
It ain't gonna be no fun when the rabbit gets the gun."
I thought it was appropriate!
The troops on the Trojan and Myrmidon ships could see an army at the gates of Troy before they even reached the beach. Hector squinted, trying to get a better idea of what was happening. The force outside the city wasn't particularly large, but it could hinder them once they were ready to go to the palace and deal with Priam. He gave the order to ring the signal bell; the toll was answered seconds later. 'Good,' thought Hector. 'At least we'll be prepared when we meet them.'
Paris came running up from below deck at the sound of the bells. He'd been traveling with Hector on the Trojan ship since they left Achilles' homeland, while Achilles and Odysseus traveled with the Myrmidons. Achilles hadn't overly thrilled about this arrangement at first, not wanting to be separated from his young lover, but Odysseus convinced him that it would be better if Paris and Hector could deal with their new relationship without the added complication of his presence. Both Paris and Achilles eagerly awaited their reunion on land, but now it looked like that would be delayed. "What's going on?" Paris demanded.
"It looks like the city's being besieged," answered Hector, pointing.
Paris squinted in the sunlight. "They'll need more men to do that properly," he remarked. His eyes widened. "They're turning around; it looks like they're coming to the beach!"
Hector cursed silently and ordered the bell to be rung again. "Get ready, men!" he shouted. "It looks like we'll have to make a stand very soon after we arrive!"
Paris still watched the situation on land. "The city gates are opening," he observed. "Some sort of force is pursuing them."
The boat ran aground before Hector had a chance to reply or even wonder what was going on. He turned to order his men onto the sand when he saw his son fingering the hilt of a sword strapped to his side. 'Where did he get that,' he wondered, but that was unimportant right now. "Paris, stay here," he said.
"But Hec-Father!" he protested. "I can help."
"No!" Hector's voice was firm but desperate. "You are not properly trained. Please, for my sake if nothing else, stay here and don't argue right now!" Even as he spoke, he silently cursed himself for sounding like Priam; he forced himself to remember he wasn't his father.
Paris looked like he wanted to argue more, but he relented. "All right."
Hector spared him a small smile. "Thank you," he murmured, and then raised his voice: "Men! Foes are coming! Step forward and fight!"
The Trojan force leapt off their ship and ran forward with Hector at its head. They were joined almost immediately by the Myrmidons. Achilles and Odysseus were soon running beside Hector. Despite the danger, Odysseus grinned at him. "Where is your wayward son?" he asked.
"Still on board the ship, of course," answered Hector grimly. "He's not trained to be a warrior."
"He won't be happy about this," Achilles commented. "Never tell him, but I'm glad he's not going to be in this, even though -"
His words were cut off by a surprised cry - the besiegers had come up on them sooner than expected. However, Hector took one look at the troops and knew their arrival wasn't the reason for the surprise. It was because the opposing troop was made up of Trojans. Priam was at their head and Lord Isidore stood a little behind him. Hector's troops hesitated, as did the Myrmidons. None of their men were sure about what to do now.
Hector spoke first. "Father," he called. "Did the people actually rise up against you?"
"They certainly did," hissed Lord Isidore. "Your treasonous words spurred them on, you ungrateful brat."
Hector's eyes never left Priam's face. "Good," he declared. "Whom do I now call my king?"
Priam laughed bitterly. "They rose up in your name," he said. "They call you king, but don't believe it. You're nothing but a weak boy who allowed himself to be seduced by a servant whore and then grew up to be a weak man obsessed with his bastard child. You'll never be much of a king, not without my guidance; and now I'd rather kill you than watch you take the throne."
The scene turned chaotic in an instant. The soldiers who traveled with Hector were his most loyal and they had no problem accepting him as their new king. Trojans fought Trojans in the names of their acknowledged lord, and the Myrmidons fought for Hector at Achilles' command. Achilles himself fought with and killed many opposing warriors, all the while looking for one man: Lord Isidore. Oh, how he despised that man! He'd learned from his frantic questioning of the palace prostitutes the night before he left Troy that the foul lord "trained" the initiates, and the leers he gave Paris told Achilles that he look forward to starting the prince's training. Achilles gritted his teeth. Yes, he was going to kill him, but not before he cut his balls off and shoved them down his throat.
But his search proved fruitless. Achilles' blood ran cold at the realization: Lord Isidore wasn't there. Sometime, during the confusion of battle, he had slipped off unnoticed.
Paris stood on the beach, too sullen to feel guilty about not entirely complying with Hector's orders. He wanted to know what was going on, and he wouldn't find that out by staying on the ship. His thoughts were so focused on the battle that he didn't hear a man approaching. "Well, well, well," a voice beside him cooed mockingly.
Paris turned slowly to see Lord Isidore standing just a few feet away with an evil smile on his face. "Look who came back," the lord continued. "The king and his men are fighting the traitors and foreigners right now. I dare say we'll be victorious before too long."
The boy refused to dignify that with a response. Lord Isidore's grin turned lecherous. "Don't worry," he purred. "You be a good boy for me right now, on your knees with that pretty mouth open and ready, and I'll make sure you won't be killed. In fact, since you seem to enjoy spreading those legs for common warriors, I'll even let you provide the entertainment for the loyal troops when their celebrating their victory on the bodies of the dead."
This was too much for Paris to bear. He pulled his sword out from his side, his eyes burning with hatred. "Your troops won't win," he growled. "And you won't live to touch me."
Lord Isidore looked amused. "I may be older," he said, drawing his own sword forward, "but I was trained by only the best Trojan warriors. Who taught you to fight?"
Paris smirked. "The greatest warrior in the world."
Never in his life did Hector imagine that he'd be fighting his father in battle, but there they were, clashing blades. "I'll give you this one chance," he shouted. "Order your troops to surrender and you can all leave Trojan land alive."
Priam just snorted. "Always too compassionate, Hector," he sneered. "Always too merciful. That's why I took Paris from you; I didn't want him to grow up to be as weak as you. Of course, that was before I saw there was too much of his mother in him to be anything but a whore."
Hector let out a bellow and the fight continued. Swords sang and blood was spilled, but he got the upper hand fairly easily and soon Priam sprawled on his back on the ground. Hector stood above him, his sword pointed at his chest. "Do it," Priam taunted.
Hector shook his head, but didn't move his sword. "No," he declared. "That's much too easy and quick. You don't get to take the easy way out. For over sixteen years, I was in a prison of your making, never able to be with my son. Now you're going to spend at least that long in a prison of my choosing."
Something flashed in Priam's eyes; fear perhaps, or despair because he finally realized he'd lost all control. Hector didn't have a chance to analyze it, because Priam quickly lifted himself off the ground and impaled himself on his son's sword. Their eyes locked as Hector stared in surprise and horror. It was as if Priam was willing him to witness his last moments, for them to be etched on his memory and haunt him forever...
"Paris!" Hector started at Achilles' scream. "Alexandros," he breathed, and took off toward the ships, sparing no more thoughts for his dying father. He sped past the fighting, praying to Apollo or any other god listening that nothing had happened to his son.
He gasped with a mixture of shock, horror, and wonder at the sight that greeted him on the beach near the ships. Lord Isidore was on the ground, bleeding too much to still be alive. Achilles stood next to Paris, holding on to one of the boy's arms and murmuring soft words. Paris heeded neither words nor man; he was staring in shock at the dead body while clutching a bloody sword so tightly his knuckles were white.
"Paris," he said gently as he approached. "Paris." Paris didn't move; he didn't seem to know he was there at all. "Paris Alexandros," Hector said, a little more firmness in his voice. Paris looked up and saw the loving expression on his father's face. "Let go of the sword, my son."
Paris let the sword slip from his hand; Achilles caught it and flung it onto the sand. "I had to kill him," Paris said.
Hector took him into his arms. "I know," he comforted. "I knew him and there was no choice but to fight." He frowned a little. "Where did you learn how to fight?"
"Achilles taught me."
Hector raised his eyebrows at Achilles. "What did you think we did all day?" he asked, and had to laugh, despite everything, at Hector's responding blush. "All day and all night? Even I don't have that kind of stamina."
The former King Priam and Lord Isidore laid on side-by-side funeral pyres. Hector, newly crowned as king of Troy, watched as Odysseus placed the coins on their eyes. He was grateful to Ithaca's king for understanding why he couldn't do it himself and volunteering for the job.
His eyes strayed to where his family stood. Paris was there, watching the funeral rites. A new sense of confidence had seemed to come over him, after facing down his nightmare and winning. Hector talked to him about being named his heir, but Paris refused. He told his father he didn't want to deal with all the questions of legitimacy, politics, and having to carry on the line. What he wanted was to be with Achilles, and that would take him away from Troy. Not forever; Achilles wasn't so attached to him home that he'd object to spending months at a time in Paris' homeland. "Let Astyanax continue to be your heir," Paris had told him, "and I'll get to stay with the one I love without causing a major scandal."
Achilles stood next to Paris, his arms wrapped protectively around him. Hector decided he liked the Grecian warrior, despite his odd humor and quick temper; his love for Paris was genuine. He laughed to himself as he remembered when Achilles informed the members of the court that his Myrmidons would be camping on the beach during his and Paris' long stays in Troy. The nobles had been horrified, but Achilles dismissed them in his usual unconcerned fashion, saying he couldn't see how having an army of the finest Grecian warriors between the city and the sea could possibly hurt Troy's security.
Next to them was Andromache, holding Astyanax. It had been Andromache who raised the troops on his behalf during his absence, after making sure the baby would be safe at Mount Ida. Achilles and Paris had been surprised, but Odysseus - who was also the husband of a formidable woman - only chuckled with understanding.
Odysseus now stepped back and stood beside Hector. "You didn't have to do this," he told Troy's new king. "Everyone would have understood if you'd have let them rot."
"If I did that, they would always be on my mind, haunting me," replied Hector. "It's better to hand them over to Hades and forget them. We can't let the past destroy us when we have the future to look forward to."
"A future with an alliance between Ithaca and Troy," said Odysseus. "And Achilles fights for you now."
This time Hector did snort. "Achilles fights for Achilles."
Odysseus smiled. "He also fights for love of Paris," he responded as the two kings walked away from the fires and toward Hector's family. Behind them, the bodies on the pyres burned, sending Priam and Lord Isidore to the judgment and punishment of Hades.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who read this story, and especially to those who reviewed it. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it! I may do a sequel eventually, and some plot bunnies for possible companion pieces have been attacking recently...