Can't let you go
Disclaimer: I don't own the movie Troy or the (almost-)quote from Disney's Pocahontas near the end. Don't own that animated movie either.
Summary: What if Achilles had stopped Briseis from leaving his tent the night in which Hector died?
Chapter 1: Can't let you go
Her sobs resonated through the tent for what seemed like hours in stark contrast to his stubborn silence. He had made no move to comfort her. For one, he doubted she'd let him after what he did today. More than that, though, he didn't know how to comfort her. There was nothing he could say that would bring her cousin back to life, and only so much regret he could feel about the man's death. He had killed Patroclos after all. Achilles had to kill him for that, though desecrating the Prince's body had been wrong of him. Hector had made an honest mistake. He really had thought it to be him under that armour. Patroclos had been as much at fault as the Trojan Prince.
"You've lost your cousin, and now you've taker mine," Briseis voice suddenly cut through the silence as well as through his inner turmoil, "When does it end?"
Achilles felt like screaming. At him. At her. At the gods, and at the entire world. When would it end? They'd come here because of the greed and the thirst for power of a single man, under a rather flimsy excuse, and ever since then the white sand of the Trojan beaches had turned red from all the blood spilled over them – Greek and Trojan. Agamemnon had proven that this war would only end if either the mighty walls of Troy fell, or every Greek soldier had breathed his last. And afterwards... well, there would always be another war. There was no escape.
"It never ends," he whispered, wishing he could say something else, but anything else would be a lie. He did not have it in him to lie to her, even though everything had changed between them in a matter of hours. Had it really been only this morning that he had wanted to ask her to sail home with him? Now he was forever sharpening his sword.
Briseis sighed sadly, and the sound crept uncomfortably over his skin. He didn't dare look up at her from his sword. After a long moment of awkward silence, a rustling of clothes could be heard as Briseis stood and slowly made her way out of the tent. Achilles eyes snapped up to her retreating form, a cold feeling swept over him, engulfed him. How he came to this knowledge, the mighty warrior did not know, but he knew without a doubt that if she left his tent now, he would lose her. If she walked out of his tent now, she would walk out of his life before he'd have a chance to apologize. He'd never hold her in his arms again, and never wake up next to her again, breathing in the sweet smell of the scented oils rubbed into her hair or that underlying note that was uniquely her. He'd never see her smile at him again.
The sword clattered as it hit the sandy floor, all but forgotten by its owner. She had just reached the entrance of his tent when the sound reached her ears, and she turned around. He was on his feet in a heartbeat. Three quick strides brought him to stand directly in front of her. She seemed surprised as he grasped her arms tightly. One hand wandered into her dark curls, holding on to the back of her head. He could hears Briseis gasp mere moments before his lips touched hers. This wasn't like their other kisses though, neither testing, nor passionate. Achilles surprised himself as his lips barely brushed over hers. He had not thought that he'd even be capable of such tenderness. The discovery made his heart flutter, so he kissed her again and again. Then he leaned his forehead against hers, sighing. She had not moved once to encourage him or tell him off. When he opened his eyes, he found her looking back with eyes full of shock, hurt, agonizing love and a slight note of disgust. Not to mention anger. How women managed to convey so many different, opposing emotions within a single look would forever be a secret of the gods, but she did it, and he took a step back out of something he had never thought he'd feel: fear. Every warrior feared and respected him, and none of his opponents-not even Hector-had come close to inflict the same emotion in him. Yet, this girl, this tiny, delicate creature...
She could break him.
"How dare you?" When she spoke, there was no anger in her voice, just anguish. "These hands have killed my beloved cousin mere hours ago. Then, you desecrated his body on the very beaches of his lands. With these hands, the hands of a killer, now you intend to caress me like a lover would?"
Stung, he let go of her, and looked at his hands. He'd cleaned them upon returning from the battle, but no amount of water could wash away the truth of her words, or the sins of his hands. Briseis moved to leave. Suddenly, anger took a hold of him. Did she think she was the only one allowed to mourn her cousin?
"He killed Patroclos," he hissed at her. The words made her turn on her heel.
"And for that I am sorry. No one should have to face such loss," she answered him, her voice firm, "but Hector thought it was you. He had no way of knowing your armour had been stolen, and that the man wearing it was, in fact, a boy. He made an honest mistake."
Achilles didn't know whether hearing his own thoughts thrown at him from her lips appeased him, or made him angrier, but he didn't get a chance to respond as she continued without waiting for his reaction.
"Hector had no way of knowing that you were here with me, so if you want to blame someone for Patroclos death, it should be me. I kept you from the battlefield, making your men restless. They came here to fight, and then a Trojan priestess turns everything upside down. Be honest with yourself, Achilles. You're not angry with Hector. Your anger is for me. You're an honourable man, though. You won't unleash it on those who have no way of defending themselves. It would not have been the fight you needed."
All his anger left him at hearing what she said. Perhaps she was right, to a degree. He had been angry enough with her to nearly choke her. He could still see the angry red marks his hand had left on the soft skin of her throat. He'd thought he'd been angry with her because she was a Trojan, just like the man who killed his cousin, but maybe she was right. Maybe he had inadvertently blamed her as much as her cousin, and then released his entire fury on the man with the spear instead of the fragile form of his lover. Achilles shook his head free of all these thoughts. It didn't matter any more. What's done is done. Hector was dead, Briseis lived, but she was about to leave. He couldn't let her leave. He moved towards her again. This time his grip was as gentle as his kisses had been.
I'm not Odysseus. He could talk his way out of anything. I'm no good with words, he thought, but I can't let her leave now. Not like this.
"If I hurt you...," he began, unsure on how to say this, "it was not what I wanted."
He could see it in her eyes, then. She understood that this was an apology he could not quite phrase. He was a man of war, not of words. The obvious anguish on her face seemed to grow, making him wonder what he'd done wrong. Was it because he couldn't say the words? How was he going to make her understand? His worries were interrupted by two arms encircling his neck, and a cheek pressing against his armour-clad chest. His hands flew around her, holding her close. Carefully, he lifted her up, and carried her over to his make-shift bed where he lay her down. Removing his clothes he crawled in behind her, nestling her against his body, and kissed the top of her head. He'd just closed his eyes contentedly when he felt her trembling lips caress the skin of his throat. His eyes snapped open.
"Briseis?" He looked down at her.
She didn't answer. Instead she shifted on the bed to kiss him fully, one hand sliding up over his shoulder to rest on his cheek. Achilles could feel her shivering, and not from the cold. His jaw clenched in the effort to restrain his passion. This woman could ignite fires in him that pained him more than even Tartarus could.
"Careful, woman," he growled in warning. If she didn't stop soon, he wouldn't be held responsible for his actions. The matter wasn't completely settled. Even if she had accepted his apology, she was still pained by what happened to her cousin as was he by what happened to Patroclos. He still had to figure out whether or not he would allow Hector to receive his funeral games, and decide whether or not he should stay or sail home. And then there was the matter of what would happen to Briseis if he left.
"Let me forget," she pleaded with him, "just for tonight, let us just be. Let there be no war. No Troy. No Greece. No Hector. Only us. Achilles and Briseis. A man and a woman. And blissful oblivion."
She was almost frantic in her speech, but Achilles had his doubts that she would think the same way in the morning. He did not want to give her another reason to be disgusted with him. Then her lips opened against his, and her tongue touched his mouth, and oblivion claimed his mind. He wasn't Odysseus. He obviously wasn't smart enough to resist temptation even when it was so obviously a very bad idea.
Their eyes closed and their tongues danced. His hand caressed her thigh and hips, taking her gown with it. Quickly rid of it, Briseis pressed her naked form against his. He revelled in how the heat of her skin burned him, in how the softness of her body felt as he ran his calloused fingers over it, eliciting such sweet moans from her. His lips left her mouth to kiss their way down her throat, paying special attention to the ugly red marks he himself had left there. (Had another done it, he would not be breathing any more) He left tender kisses everywhere as an apology he could not say out loud. The movement of her hands on his back turned soothing. The sting of her fingernails followed as he traced his tongue along her collarbone and down to her breast, suckling it. One leg rose to envelop his hip, bringing her centre against him in her urge to be closer to him. Growling against her skin, he thrust once without entering her, earning himself a pleasured hiss. He thought about moving his mouth lower to please her, but then decided against it. He wanted to watch everyone of her reactions this time. Crawling up to be face to face with her, and giving her another quick peck, he let his hand sneak in between them to slip through her folds and into her moist heat. Her hips rose again, her head fell back and a loud, lusty moan left her lips, sure to be heard by the entire camp. He added his thumb to the torture, slowly rolling around the tiny pearl of flesh above her opening. This had Briseis bring up a hand in order to stifle her scream of pleasure. The other, unexpectedly, found a tight grip onto his manhood, which had him falter in his movements as she stroked him. He removed his hand, then, kissed her passionately and entered her with one swift push of his hips. They both hissed at the feeling. He never stopped kissing her as he started to move with her. He grasped hold of one of her legs, and raised it a little, so he could slip in deeper, caress her more intimately. His hand resumed its teasing at her womanhood, and soon the rush spread though her entire body, and now she was shivering for an entirely different reason. They both were.
Soon, he rolled them over, so as not to crush her tiny form. Her hair stuck to her sweaty skin, and she was panting, but she had rarely looked more beautiful than she did in these few, precious seconds as they enjoyed the afterglow of their love-making. He moved the strands of hair sticking to her face away, so he could get a good look at her, holding her face in between both his large hands. She seemed so frail as she smiled, and kissed him again.
"You're insatiable, woman. At least give me a couple of minutes," he teased her.
Briseis slapped him on the chest playfully. She may not be a virgin any more, but her body was still unaccustomed to his intrusion, and so it was not wise to love her again so soon after their first bout. He was about to say something else when someone entered his tent, and it wasn't a Myrmidon. Quicker than anyone could have seen, he was out of his bed to face the intruder, sword in hand. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Briseis trying to disappear between the furs and blankets of his bed, undoubtedly remembering the last time someone had come into his tent uninvited (he really was going to kill Agamemnon for that).
"Who are you?" Achilles demanded of his unexpected quest.
The hooded figure came closer, unmindful of his weapon. He took Achilles sword-hand into both of his carefully, and kissed it. Then repeated the same process with the other one. Achilles, meanwhile, was starting to lose his patience.
"Who. Are. You?"
"I have endured what no other man has had to endure," the figure said, looking up to reveal a frail old man with clear blue eyes, "I kissed the hands of the man who killed my son."
Achilles brow furrowed.
"Priam?" What was the King of Troy doing here? "What are you doing here? How did you get into camp?"
"I dare say I know my lands better than the Greek do," the old king answered plainly.
"You're here for Hector's body." It wasn't a question.
Achilles couldn't really say anything to that, but, as it turned out, he didn't have to think of anything as Briseis took that moment to make her presence known. Wrapped in one of the blankets, she ran up to the old king with a joyful shout of "Uncle!". When the other man looked at her, he had little time to do anything but envelop her in a hug, a smile on his face. However, her state of undress, coupled with his own (no pun intended), could not go unnoticed by Priam. A grave sadness came over his face like a shadow as he looked directly into Achilles eyes. The Myrmidon did not flinch, or lower his gaze. He had nothing to be ashamed of, he had not forced her. Suddenly, a thought came to Achilles. What would Priam give to see his son returned? Would he give up the perfectly alive niece he held in his arms now? Achilles had to know. Hector was going to get his funeral games, but he would not have it done by a man who'd surrender his own flesh and blood to the enemy for it.
"Even if I give you Hector, it changes nothing. You're still my enemy tomorrow."
Briseis looked at him questioningly.
"You're still my enemy tonight," Priam answered, his grip on his niece tightening, "but even enemies can find common ground."
"If I told you that you could have Hector, but at the cost of Briseis, what would you say, King of Troy?"
Both the Trojans eyes widened. No matter how this ended, Achilles had a feeling that his otherwise so peaceful priestess was wondering whether she could get away with slapping him for real.
"You can't expect me to leave her here in my enemy's camp!" With you, went unspoken.
"She's free to go back to Troy, King Priam, if you leave your son's body here. Which do you choose? The living niece you raised, or you dead son?" Achilles needed this answer, needed to know she would be safe.
Priam glared at him. Briseis ran over to him, placing a hand over his chest.
"I'll stay. Give Hector back to his people, I'll stay."
"But you wish to be with your family to mourn him."
"As much as I wish to follow you to your home, and always be with you. You asked me if I would leave Troy behind, and I know the answer now. I would. I will, but that does not change that Hector needs to go back, please," she told him, clenching her small hand around his larger one.
The King seemed equally surprised and suspicious at their exchange, and made a step forward, catching their attention by clearing his throat. They both turned to look at him. Briseis blushed brightly, realizing that she had just revealed the true nature of her relationship with Achilles. She had not wanted her revered uncle to find out like this, although she would have had to tell him eventually. She couldn't, in good conscience, have him go on believing the Greek warrior had ravished her. Said man just gave him a curious glance.
"I choose Briseis," Priam informed them solemnly. "I will not lose another family member, and I know it is what my son would have wanted me to do as well. I know Hector understands. Still, I ask you to reconsider. I will not waver in my choice, but I do not wish for my son's soul to be lost as he cannot take the ferry to the Underworld without paying the Charon, the Boatman."
Achilles sighed, pulling Briseis into his side one more time. He breathed her in, then kissed her forehead, and pressed Patroclos' seashell-necklace into her hand. As he carefully held her tiny hand in both of his, she laid her own atop of his, caressing the back of his hand tenderly with her thumb.
"I will see you again," Achilles whispered, kissing her forehead one more time before turning to Priam. "You are a better king than the one leading this army. Go. No one will stop you. You have my word."
He accompanied the outside. His men were already waiting. They must have guessed what was happening inside his tent, or they had just eaves-dropped. He smiled slightly at the thought, and continued to smile as she stepped onto the chariot, even though inside his heart was breaking just a little bit. He would see her again, and then he would die. Who would've thought that his mother could've meant this fragile flower when she spoke of his doom. Briseis had made him a better man, had given him peace in a lifetime of war, and he'd pay for it with his life-gladly. He'd rather die now than live a hundred years without ever having met her!
She kept looking at him as the chariot rolled away, guarded by his most trusted Myrmidons. He couldn't let her go, but he would. Because he had to. Because that's what a good man did.
A/N: This was interesting. Troy just came on TV again recently, and this is what it did to me. The typical 'What if...' question popped up in my head, and here we are. I hope you enjoyed reading this story. Please review.