Chapter Title: Pick It Up
Ship: Troy- Briseis/Achilles
Rating: Story rated T
Disclaimer: First I want to thank any readers (who are still reading that is) for waiting so long for a new chapter of this story. My writing time has been diminished as of late what with work and other projects. However, I am doing my best to try and finish up this and my other stories. The muses were also to blame as they were leading me in all different directions with the opening scene of this chapter. I finally settled on what I felt made the most sense. As always I hope you will enjoy this next installement of Wounded Hearts. The title is inspired by the song Medicine by Daughter. I have run this through a spelling and grammar check but if anyone notes any flubs that I missed please let me know. On with the tale.
Her heart raced as she ran, pushing past the frightened multitudes that were fleeing for their lives. She stumbled through the hallways looking frantically for her family but she could not find them in the throng of screaming people running to get out of the burning building. Racing down a now deserted hallway, she stopped suddenly as her uncle's favorite horse stampeded towards her. Backing up quickly, she slammed herself tightly against a nearby pillar to avoid being run over. The fires set by the Greeks grew higher and Briseis coughed as she tried to catch her breath. As the smoke billowed around her, she picked up the edge of her dress and moved quickly towards the palace gardens. She dodged several servants who would have run into her in their panic to get out of the palace.
The golden statue of Apollo could be seen in the distance, standing in the center of the garden. Briseis dashed down the small staircase that led to the statue and fell to her knees in front of it. In her heart she knew there was little the sun god could or would do for the people of Troy. The city was burning; its patron god had abandoned his people when he had taken Hector from them. Then again perhaps this was his punishment for breaking her vows to the sun god. Even with these thoughts in mind, she prayed that he would at least protect those who escaped, for him to look favorably and watch over her family.
So lost in her prayers, she did not hear the menacing form of Agamemnon approaching her from behind until he began to speak, "Too late for prayer priestess". Before she could react he pulled her up, his hand tightly gripping her hair as he hauled her to her feet. She tried to remove his hand from her head, but he grabbed her hand with his other hand then moved his hand from her hair, grasping her firmly around the throat. His grip was painful but she resisted the urge to cry out. She refused to give him the satisfaction, though a silent tear did slide unwillingly down her cheek.
Agamemnon snarled, "I almost lost this war because of your little romance. I want to taste what Achilles tasted." The Greek king leaned in trying to kiss her, but Briseis pulled away as best as she could. She nearly growled as she he slowly turned her around. He took no notice of her struggles, nor did he notice her sliding the blade she had concealed in her sleeve, into her hand.
"You will be my slave in Mycenae, a Trojan priestess scrubbing my floors… and at night." He smirked, letting the insinuation linger in the air and enjoying his victory; a victory that was short lived.
Briseis wasted no more time, recalling what Achilles had once told her *Nothing is easier*, she brought the blade up and plunged it into the king's neck. In shock, the Greek king slowly fell to his knees in pain. She pulled the blade from his neck, blood spurting out as she did, and slid from his grip. As she brushed past him to get away, his limp body collapsed face down.
Dropping the dagger, Briseis began to run but two of the dead king's guards were on her almost instantly. She struggled against them, knowing she was about to die. She swore she would not make her death easy for them. Just as one of the guards was about to swing his blade at her, his head was cleaved from his neck. The guard holding her tossed her roughly to the ground moving to face the man who had killed his compatriot. His fight was short lived as the other man's sword pierced him through the stomach before being pulled out. The Greek soldier hit the ground dead.
When Briseis looked up she breathed a sigh of relief. "Achilles" she whispered. He stood above her breathing hard, evidence of his frantic search through the city for her. Leaning down, Achilles put his arm around her, "Come with me." Gently, he began to help her to her feet.
Briseis looked up at him, relieved that he had not abandoned her, only to spot Paris out of the corner of her. Her cousin looked back with fear in his eyes, readying his bow to fire. Knowing what was about to occur, Briseis screamed out to Paris, "NO!"
Her scream had startled the young prince, but the arrow hit its mark in Achilles heel. The Greek warrior reared back in pain as the arrow pierced the skin. Briseis panicked and with her hands still on the arms of her lover, she peered back at her cousin and screamed. "PARIS… NO, DON'T."
Achilles moved to stand between her and Paris as if to protect her. Another arrow flew and hit him in the stomach. She heard him gasp before he tore the arrow from him body. More arrows flew, each hitting their target. Briseis pleaded with Paris to stop, but it was though he could not hear her. She picked herself up off the ground and raced towards him. "PARIS, DON'T".
One more arrow flew. Briseis spun around, watching in horror as it pierced Achilles abdomen. He gave a grunt of pain as if all the air had left his body and he fell to his knees.
Brenna's eyes shot open and she lurched up in bed. Her skin was covered in sweat and she was breathing hard. She bit down on her knuckle to hold back the tears that always came with this dream. Wiping her forehead she tried desperately to slow the rapid beating of her heart. She looked over her shoulder to see him sleeping next to her. Achilles had returned to her yes, but that night would forever haunt her mind. Pulling the sheet around her, she slowly slid off the bed and moved towards the window. As she stared out into the night, Brenna closed her eyes in an attempt to steady her breath. Those terrible final moments in Troy had lingered for so long. In the months after Troy had fallen, she had somehow picked up the pieces and, as Achilles had wished for her to do, began anew. Her family had not made it easy, especially when Paris had revealed in whose arms he had found her in. It was so hard not to give up when they cruelly shunned her, only speaking to her when necessary. Those were the times when she had longed to be back in Achilles arms, to escape the looks and whispers, but her longing was irrelevant and impossible. Achilles was dead and she forced herself to endure the unbearable loneliness made only worse when she was cursed with this immortal life. A tear slid down her cheek at the memories
Aiden was awake as soon as he felt Brenna get up. He watched for a few moments before sliding out of the bed and moving over towards her. His hands rested upon her shoulders, smiling as she leaned her head back, one hand coming up to rest over his on her shoulder. "Are you alright?"
Brenna opened her eyes. Taking a deep breath and releasing it she nodded. "I'm fine. I didn't mean to wake you." Her other hand quickly wiped her cheek, trying to erase the evidence of her distress.
Aiden kissed the top of her head, his fingers tangling in the strands of her hair. Grinning he replied, "Don't be; I'm a light sleeper. I always have been as you well know." His grin faded as he felt her trembling beneath his hands. "You're not fine Briseis, your shaking. What is it?" His voice was soothing, but firm; he would not be dissuaded so easily.
Brenna sighed, endeavoring to brush it off. "I'm fine, really; we should get back to bed." She moved out of his gripped and moved toward the bed when she felt him grip her arm. Again her eyes closed, now knowing he was not about to let this go.
"We would both still be sleeping if you were fine Briseis. Something about whatever you were dreaming has you out of sorts." Aiden prodded. He had always been a stubborn man and when someone he cared for looked as rattled as Briseis did now he refused to let the matter rest until it was resolved to his satisfaction.
Brenna sighed once more bowing her head before speaking. "I…I dreamt of the night I lost you. Every so often I dream of it. Sometimes I save you and I'm so happy. Then I wake up, you're not there and I have to mourn you all over again. Other times it happens the way it did. Those times, I think, I should have done something more to stop my cousin."
This time Aiden rubbed his eyes. He too had nights when those final moments in Troy with Briseis stalked him. "There wasn't anything more you could have done Briseis. Before I climbed into that horse I knew what might happen to me and I made my peace with it. I did much wrong to you and your family. I never blamed Paris for doing what he did."
Brenna bit her bottom lip. "I blamed him, for so long after we escaped I hated him. He made it so hard after… but I also blamed myself. There were so many times when I wished I had stopped at least one of those arrows, to punish him for his recklessness, to save you."
His heart stopped beating for a fraction of a second at her words and he gripped her tighter to him. Her words struck too close to what he had too often witnessed in his dreams. To hear her utter his worst fears about what might have occurred that night was chilling. "NO, don't you ever say that." Aiden turned her around to face him as he pulled her closer. "I knew what I was doing that night Briseis. Much of my life I spent causing death, staring it in the face and mocking it with my aspirations of immortality." He gently kissed her forehead before continuing. "But when Paris did what he did, I thought at least for once in my damn life I would get to face death for a good reason; instead of just for glory." This time he pulled away and looked out the window into the night sky and then over his shoulder at Brenna "All that mattered was that you were safe. If one of those arrows had struck you, I don't think I would have let him get out of that city alive." In fact he knew that if Paris had harmed Briseis, he would have torn the younger man apart regardless of his wounds. He took a deep breath to reign in his emotions then turned to her with a smile. "I have no regrets over that night and neither should you." With a few quick strides he was by her side again.
Tears pooled in her eyes, but she held them off. She looked down for a moment before gazing back up at him with a smile. Doing her best to stay composed, she quietly stated, "Who would have thought, the great Achilles has turned into such a sentimental creature."
Aiden gave her an amused look before picking her up and bringing her back over to the bed. "Let's just keep that between you and me."
Sunlight filtered in through the window, shining onto Aiden's face and waking him instantly. Brenna shifted against him; turning to face him as she curled up, nestled into his side. He looked down at her with a smile, brushing a lock of hair out of her eyes. She mumbled in her sleep before opening her eyes. Upon seeing him she smiled, "Good morning" she whispered.
"And a good morning to you" Aiden whispered back before kissing her head. He watched in amusement as she gave a little yawn. "I trust you slept a bit better that time?"
Brenna looked up at him with a grin, "Much better thank you." She laid a hand across his chest, letting her fingers glide over the smooth skin. By the gods she had missed waking up next to him. "What about you?"
Enjoying this quiet moment with her, Aiden ran his fingers over her hand. "About as well I always have. Nothing I can't handle, especially when I get the pleasure of waking up to such a lovely sight." He leaned over to kiss her on the lips for a moment before Brenna's stomach grumbled.
Brenna blushed at the sound as she pulled away from his kiss. "Sorry, I guess my insides are protesting the lack of supper last night."
Aiden grinned, "Tell you what, why don't you go freshen up while I order us some breakfast. Then we can figure out what to do next."
"That sounds like a good idea." Brenna laughed lightly as she sat up. Leaving the sheet behind, she climbed out of the bed and moved towards the bathroom. With a quick look over her shoulder and a smile, she closed the door behind her.
His eyes followed her naked form, only looking away when she had disappeared into the bathroom. By the gods she was still as beautiful as the day they met. Rubbing a hand over his face, Aiden took a deep breath before climbing out of bed and pulling on his pants. As he picked up the phone to call for room service his cell phone rang. He pulled the device out of his pocket to check the number, sighing when he realized who was calling. For a moment he debated about whether or not to answer, but he knew they would just keep calling. Not wanting his time with Brenna to be disrupted, he answered sarcastically. "Aiden here, to what do I owe this early morning call?"
The voice on the other end chuckled, "I see you're in good spirits as always."
Aiden rolled his eyes. "It is far too early in the day for you're good humor so let's just get to the point of your call Evan." He had made few friends over the years. Evan was one of the only ones who he kept in touch with. Sometimes it was good to have someone to bounce thoughts off of as he had with two old friends. In fact, there was something about Evan that reminded him of those friends. He was like an odd combination of Eudorus and Odysseus and so he tolerated the man's incessant need to play psychiatrist.
"Since you're in such a pleasant mood I'll make this brief. I heard you were in Turkey and I thought I would pay my good friend a visit" Evan replied with a smile in his voice.
"Please tell me you're not already here in Turkey" Aiden pinched the bridge of his nose. Not that he hated Evans' visits but he did have other plans at the moment, none of which involved his nosey friend.
"Well not yet, but I was about to buy my ticket, why?" Evan asked. He could hear the frustration in Aiden's voice.
Aiden sighed in relief. "Look right now is not a good time. I didn't come here for a holiday Evan. I'm here on business. I'll take a rain check on that visit." While this had been originally true, finding Briseis here had altered things a bit, but he wasn't about to get into that with his friend.
Evan could tell Aiden wasn't being completely honest, but based on his friends impatience he decided now was not the time to pray. "Alright my friend, if you say so."
"I get back to New York in a few days. I'll talk to you then." Before Evan could say anything else, Aiden hung up tossing the phone onto the bed. Evan was pretty smart and had an excellent sense of humor, but he also could be absolutely exhausting. Thinking no more of his buddy, he heard the shower turn on in the bathroom. Quickly he went back to calling for room service, hoping that it would arrive before Briseis was done.
They sat quietly eating their breakfast until Brenna's curiosity won out and she asked him about his immortality. He described waking up as Odysseus alone prepared his body and she was currently trying not to laugh at the man's reaction to his dead friend coming back to life and failing miserably.
"I am standing there trying to figure out how in Hades I was still alive and the whole time Odysseus is standing there speechless. That had to of been the only time that man was ever tongue tied." Aiden explained with a laugh. "Finally, he just started laughing and then says, 'I suppose if anyone was to outwit the lord of the underworld it would be you Achilles'."
Brenna took a sip of her juice before responding. "What did he do after that? I mean all those Greeks had seen your body already. How in the world did he pull off your funeral pyre after that?" She had seen the smoke from that pyre as the survivors had climbed Mount Ida. Her heart had broken once more knowing in her heart that it was her beloved Achilles burning.
Aiden swallowed his bite of egg. "Well he certainly couldn't put a live man on the pyre and I couldn't just appear as though I hadn't died. So Odysseus simply used that clever mind of his and used another soldier; one who looked close enough to me that the other soldiers would be none the wiser. He allowed no one to see the body until it was already up on the pyre and by then no one could tell that it wasn't me. I let him take my armor to make it look more realistic." Aiden paused, "It's an odd thing to witness one's own funeral."
Brenna shook her head at the cleverness of the Ithacan king. Her smile faded slightly as she pondered the thought of what Aiden had said about his funeral, recalling how her own death and rebirth had occurred. "I wouldn't know."
"You didn't get to see your funeral pyre?" Aiden wiped his mouth with his napkin. He noted the distant look in her eyes and her voice.
"I don't think they had one." Brenna paused looking down into her lap before gazing back up at him. "Paris wasn't exactly happy with me after he found me with you and he wasn't shy about sharing that information with his beloved Helen and poor Andromache. When he did that, well Andromache wouldn't even look at me anymore. Paris only spoke to me when absolutely necessary which wasn't often. Helen tried at least to understand, but she loved Paris. "
Aiden sat back in his chair, arms crossed over his chest. While he hadn't condemned Paris for 'killing' him, it did not sit well with him that the man had treated his own kin in such a manner. "That's not an excuse not to give you proper funeral rites. You were still his family Briseis."
Brenna smiled at the indignation in her lovers' voice. "I know, but I actually don't think they even knew I was dead." At his confused looked, she began to explain. "We were attacked by bandits in the woods on Mount Ida. Three of them went after Helen and Andromache and while Andromache wasn't very fond of me at that time, I wasn't about to let anyone else hurt her, her son or Helen. I foolishly thought that I could kill them as I had Agamemnon. I was able to kill one of them right there, which drew the other twos attention and then I led them away from my family deeper into the woods. I fought another one off, got him good too. I thought I was home free but I forgot about the third man. He grabbed me and stabbed me from behind." She took another sip of her drink. "I remember hitting the ground, watching him run off into the distance and thinking at least I protected someone if only for a short time. Then nothing but darkness until I woke up, which was not exactly pain free. I stumbled back towards where we had camped but I guess they moved on to get away. Maybe they thought the bandits had simply taken me captive. It was hours later when I woke up so, I don't know, I never found them after that. "
Closing his eyes, Aiden grimaced as he imagined her death. When he opened his eyes he reached hand across the table to rest onto hers. That she had to experience such a death only to wake up and to face it alone was more than anyone should have to endure. While he hated that she felt she had to make up for supposed mistakes and that she had placed her own life in danger for people who had seemingly thrown her out of their lives, words truly could not express how proud he was of her for protecting those she cared for. "You are one of the bravest women I have ever met. "
Brenna smiled over at him. "Well, I seem to recall you telling me that I had to begin anew. Over the years I've learned to pick myself up and start over again many times. Besides, as lonely as it was to be on my own, it was far lonelier being with people who would rather I was not around. It was a painful escape, but an escape nonetheless."
Aiden nodded his head before returning her smile. "I wish I had been there to see my brave Briseis taking out those two bandits. I bet they never saw it coming."
She couldn't help blushing at his statement. "I'm not sure you would be wholly impressed with my skills. After all, I did let one of them get the best of me."
"I'm fairly certain I would have been. I was impressed with how you dispatched that bloated pig Agamemnon. If you took those two men down with half as much skill, gods I would have loved to of been there to see it." Aiden sat back once more remembering with some fondness how she had done away with that nuisance of a king. "Besides, after all these years I'm sure you've developed even more skill with a blade then your cousin ever had."
His final statement made Brenna laugh. "Paris was never very good with a blade. He loathed sword practice. Hector constantly had to practically force him to even attend his lessons. I think he preferred to spend that time looking for some maiden to bed. I like to think I was and still am better than he was. After all I seem to recall holding a blade to one of the Greeks finest warriors' necks."
Aiden smirked. He remembered that night quite well. "Ah, but you hesitated that night and Greece's best warrior took the victory, though I must say it was a well fought battle on your part."
For a moment Brenna said nothing somewhat annoyed at his comment before shaking her head in amusement and tossing her napkin at him. "Some things about you haven't changed at all I see. You still enjoy provoking me."
He dodged her napkin easily, "I always have as you well know. You make it quite enjoyable actually. I had never met a woman who was so eager to disagree with me on everything before I met you Briseis. And, you didn't exactly shy away from trying to provoke me either" Aiden replied.
Brenna pursed her lips "That's true, I must admit. I hated that you made good sense about a lot of things, but you seemed to enjoy the challenge."
Aiden leaned across the table, a huge grin on his face. "I never back down from a challenge, so what say you and I finish up here and then we can see just how good you've gotten with a blade."
Her eyes went wide with a mixture of amusement and shock. "Right now, what you want me to hold a dagger to your throat again?" She had to chuckle at the thought of re-enacting that first night they shared.
"No, but you have a sword tucked away somewhere no?" Aiden stood up from the table. He walked over to her, taking her hand in his as she too rose up.
"Yes, but I haven't used it in years and I don't travel around with it" Brenna looked at him, a bit astonished. "People don't fight with swords anymore. I think they prefer using guns nowadays." Brenna's tone was rather sarcastic. Truly she wasn't certain why she kept the sword after all these years, except that it had been a gift from the first person she had met who explained to her what she now was.
Aiden frowned mockingly at her, "Damn, well I guess the swordplay will have to wait for another time then." He wrapped his arms around her and felt her head rest against his chest.
This time it was Brenna's turn to console him. "I suppose so, but it's not the end the world. Tell you what, why don't we go take a walk on the beach. Seeing as you know some of what I have been doing with my writing, you can tell me what the great Achilles has been doing all these years." She gazed up at him to see what he thought of her idea.
He looked forward, jokingly pondering her idea. "Hmm, I don't know. I'd much rather take you to bed and ravish you again." Aiden paused then glanced down at her with a grin. "But I guess that can wait till later." He kissed her on the lips before taking her hand and walking towards the door. Brenna grabbed the door key and the pair swept out of the room to spend the day together.