Disclaimer: I never have and never will own this universe. *commence gross sobbing*
Acknowledgements: A special shout-out is in order for Horsetamer5, since she helped me greatly with this chapter. Thank you! :)
Author's Note: As requested, here is a wrap-up/aftermath chapter of the first three. I know, I know, I promised that last chapter was the last part of this particular "oneshot" (ahem, and of course I say oneshot very loosely, haha), so bear with me as I turn it into a "fourshot."
But I swear (on my life!), this is the last you'll see of this storyline. The rest of the chapters will be different, and I will try my best to keep them oneshot-length.
Chapter 3: The Aftermath
He awoke in his room to the bitter, chemical scent of herbs and the sensation of his wrists being salved and cleansed with a stinging liquid. He struggled wildly, and a restraining hand was placed on his forehead. The cool feel of the hand made him realize just how hot and soaked with sweat he was.
"Lie still, fool," a cold, cruel voice hissed above him, and he snapped his eyes open to find himself gazing into the ice-blue eyes of Eris, goddess of chaos and war, twin sister of Ares, and daughter of Zeus and Hera. The dark princess of Olympus. Her!
As he remembered the events of the past few hours, he shot up and tore at his hair, screaming in agony like a wounded lion.
Achilles gasped in shock as the power of Eris' blow sent him sprawled on his back again, head and ears ringing.
Before Achilles could recover from the stunning blow Eris had dealt him, she leapt on top of him as quickly as a striking adder and pinned his wrists to the ground. Her fingers dug into the wounded parts of his wrists, and he cried out in pain and struggled harder.
Another blow made him cease his struggles, and he couldn't help flinching as Eris leaned down and growled in his face, savage rage turning her blue eyes amber.
"Listen to me, you filthy demigod. You're running a fever, and unless you yield and accept my divine healing, you will send yourself into delirium!"
Achilles, far from yielding to the goddess, began to struggle again, dark rage fueling a raw power within him. Nobody, absolutely nobody – whether mortal or divine – struck him and lived to tell about it, so with a feral and chilling scream, he yanked his wrists from Eris' grip, grabbed her pale neck in a vice-like grip, and flipped her over. Eris gasped as her body was flung against the wall, but she recovered quickly and leapt to her feet gracefully and within seconds.
Achilles searched frantically for his sword, and the goddess let out a cruel, mocking laugh.
"Looking for this?" she smirked, and holding Achilles' sword in front of her and dangling it before him teasingly, before tucking it back into her black gown."You'll get this back when you learn how to play nice. Honestly, whatever were you thinking, trying to attack me like that earlier? You should have realized I would choke you into unconsciousness without a second thought."
Any other man would have submitted to the goddess then and there, face down and blubbering for mercy, but Achilles was not any other man, and so, with fever-fueled rage, he charged at the goddess once more.
Eris sighed and calmly raised both hands. Achilles gasped as sharp, flaming lightning bolts stopped him in his tracks and pierced his body, and against his will, he crumpled to the ground, twitching and spitting obscenities at Ares' twin.
Eris ceased her torture and stood above him, smirking with sick satisfaction.
"I am a daughter of Zeus. Did you honestly not expect me to possess such powers?"
"I HATE YOU!" Achilles roared, in a spine-chilling and inhuman voice.
"Oh, trust me, the feeling's mutual," Eris remarked dryly.
"Why are you here?! Why won't you go away?! You're only a vision, come to torture me…" Achilles moaned and gripped at his hair in agony.
"No, actually, believe it or not, it was my voice in your head the whole time, and it is truly me standing before you now, in the divine flesh."
She held out her hand, offering to help him up, but he ignored the proffered hand and staggered to his feet, staring at her in disbelief.
"Why do you gaze at me as if I've just grown two heads? It is not an uncommon phenomenon for deities to be able to communicate telepathically with some demigods."
Now that Achilles was fully conscious and alert, he sized Eris up, taking in this eerie, yet sophisticated goddess. She was quite beautiful, but not in the way that golden Aphrodite was. No, this goddess was like the afternoon thunderstorm, emanating regality and raw, unrestrained power. She was tall and slender, almost appearing fragile and delicate, but the aura of black power around her made one disregard this. Her skin was very pale, her eyes ice-blue, and her hair long and jet-black. Dark blood – his blood – spattered her black, flowing dress.
For once in his life, Achilles recognized a being more powerful than he, a being who could utterly destroy him if she so wished and since he was not a man who made the same mistakes twice, he ceased trying to attack her and instead decided to listen to her in defiant silence.
Eris chuckled darkly and handed him his sword as she saw his tense body relax in surrender. "And here, I was starting to think that wretched mother of yours never taught you manners."
Achilles' head shot up, and he said in a low, menacing voice, "Do not utter another word against my mother."
Eris ignored him and spat out, "Ah, yes, Thetis - the little Nereid who dared to insult me by not inviting me to her wedding. Little did she know, she chose the wrong goddess to cross."
Achilles glared at her, and Eris continued, "You know the story, yes? I'm sure your parents told you many lovely things about me over the years. Did they tell you how I interrupted their wedding and caused chaos amongst the deities? Do you know how?"
Achilles had, indeed, heard this tale many times growing up. "If your quarrel is with my mother," he queried, "then why have you been torturing me recently?"
Eris slowly approached him until they were face-to-face, and Achilles tensed and gripped his sword as Eris spoke to him in a low, ominous voice.
"My quarrel isn't just with Thetis, Achilles. My quarrel is with everybody in association with her, especially those by blood."
"No, Achilles, you listen!" Eris shrieked now, and with one lightning quick movement, she grabbed the demigod by the throat and slammed him up against the wall. "I will never forget nor forgive her blatant disrespect, and I will never embrace or accept those she loves, because you're all the same! Arrogant bastards!" She tightened her grip on his throat and hissed in his face, "I do not seek to kill you, for destiny will take care of that for me, but I still want to break you as much as possible before that."
At his confused look, she grinned in sinister manner and whispered, "Oh, yes, my actions that day will lead to a series of devastating and irreversible events that will cause the death of many demigods, men, women, and children. I knew full well, too, and you know what? I still didn't care, because they all know now to never cross Eris, ever again!
And here's another little secret for you: I am one of the most powerful deities on Olympus, though I may not be part of the Twelve. War, chaos, and discord are my domain, and my power is raw and unrestrained. I could take over Olympus if I so chose, so it's a good thing I am content with the way things are.
But where were we? Ah, yes, the golden apple of doom. Do you know, Achilles, that one little pretty golden apple will lead to war – war that results in the death of many gods' children? Filthy demigods will meet their doom, and I will sit back and watch it all, laughing with glee as their tainted blood floods the earth and chaos rules!" At this fevered declaration, her eyes flashed golden, and she threw back her head, shrieking with maniacal laughter.
Achilles recoiled, struggling wildly, and after freeing himself from her loosened grip, he leapt back from her as far as possible. Never had he felt so spooked in his life.
"Eris," he rasped, "what have you done?! If you want revenge against my mother, why not just kill me, here and now? Why did you heal me if you hate me so much?" He gestured to his clothed wrists as he spoke.
"As I stated before," Eris purred in a silky voice, once she composed herself, "destiny will take care of that for me, and as for patching you up… well, a goddess can't make do with a broken plaything now, can she?"
Achilles glared at her in disgust as she referred to him as a "plaything."
"What do you even want from me?" he spat out.
"I told you before: your sanity. I already know how your life will play out, and I know what the Fates have in store for you, so I don't need to kill you myself to feel avenged. I do, however, want to cause you as much emotional pain as possible, until every ounce of sanity drains from your essence and leaves you a broken mess."
"Youtruly know how my life will play out?" he asked her, and he couldn't help the curious note that crept into his voice now.
Eris smirked. "Oh, yes; though, if you expect me to reveal anything about you, you're sadly mistaken."
Achilles stood his ground. "Tell me," he whispered threateningly.
"No," Eris replied, in a teasingly calm voice, "I don't feel like it."
Achilles let out a frustrated cry as every emotion he'd felt these past hours came rushing back to him, and without thinking twice, he rushed at Eris once again, sword drawn. He wanted nothing more than to slash that horrible goddess to pieces!
Eris only smirked again, and with a snap of her fingers, she disappeared in thin air, making it seem as if she'd never been there in the first place.
As soon as she disappeared from sight, Achilles threw his sword on the ground in frustration, and he began to pace back and forth, gripping his hair and breathing heavily in an attempt to regain control of the emotions that threatened to spiral out of control.
The warrior in question stopped his fevered pacing and spun around as he heard his cousin's small, timid voice in the doorway of his room.
Patroclus gazed at him, fear and sorrow glimmering in his eyes. Tears streamed down his face, and he shook like a blade of grass in the wind.
Achilles' own tears sprang forth as his eyes settled on his cousin, and he felt his heart break anew as he remembered the boy's hateful words to him earlier.
"I-I'm so sorry!" Patroclus blurted out miserably, his tears falling faster now. "Please forgive me, Achilles!" He fell to his knees, sobbing harder in his life than Achilles had ever seen him sob before.
He was at the boy's side in an instant, wrapping him tightly in his arms and trying in vain to soothe him.
"Shh, shh. It's all right, little warrior. Your words are forgiven," he whispered, kissing the little boy's forehead and stroking his hair. "Just calm down now."
Far from calming down, Patroclus only cried harder. "I had no right saying such cruel things to you! I didn't mean them, either," he choked out. "I was just so angry because I couldn't help you feel better, but I don't think you're pathetic and disgusting, and I don't hate you." He was speaking in a rush now. "Please, don't hate me, Achilles, please! I love you!" The boy buried his head in Achilles' chest now, clinging to him for dear life.
Achilles felt his concern spark at his cousin's fevered words and actions; he was on the verge of hyperventilating, so hysterical he was.
"Patroclus," Achilles murmured softly, and tightened his embrace on the boy. "Listen to me, little warrior. Your words are forgiven, all right? I know they were spoken in anger, and I know you didn't truly mean them. I, too, possess the unfortunate habit of saying and doing things I don't mean in the heat of anger. It runs in our family," he added with a grin, hoping to soothe his cousin's misery with the jesting words.
When even that didn't make Patroclus cease his sobbing, Achilles sighed and lifted him into his arms, carrying him over to sit on the bed with him. He knew something else was wrong with the boy, besides feeling guilty over petty words.
"Oh, Patroclus." Achilles once again wrapped his arms tightly around the boy and held his head close to his heart. "What is it, my little warrior? What else troubles you?"
Patroclus drew in a shuddering breath and choked out, "I thought you were dead. You were lying on the ground, not moving and with blood pooling around you, and then that weird goddess looked at me and told me you were still alive, but I didn't believe her. Her eyes turned this scary yellow color and she told me to leave, so I had to obey her, since she's a goddess."
He buried his head in Achilles' chest again. "I'm so sorry for leaving you behind. I should've stayed there and tried to protect you," he whispered, shame coloring his features.
Achilles shook his head. "No, Patroclus, you were right to obey that goddess. Her name is Eris, and she holds a grudge against those who share my mother's – your aunt's – blood. Who knew what she would have done to you if you had defied her?" He shuddered at the thought and held Patroclus more tightly.
"I thought she was going to kill you!" Patroclus wailed. "And then I would've been left alone, and my last words to you…" he trailed off, unable to continue.
"Oh, little warrior," Achilles murmured, "let us forget such things now. You need to rest; we both do."
Patroclus shook his head frantically. "I can't! After seeing all that, I'll have nightmares. Please don't make me," he begged, beginning to cry again.
"Then stay here with me," Achilles whispered. "I'll watch over you."
The boy nodded, wrapped his arms around his neck, and rested his head on Achilles' chest, feeling all his fears and sadness drain away as he drifted off to sleep.
Achilles sighed as he watched his cousin fall asleep, tears filling his eyes once again.
"We'll get through this, little warrior," he whispered, kissing the top of his cousin's head and laying down himself.