A/N: Chapter one is finally here. Hope you enjoy :)
"My beloved Mother and Cousin." Achilles stands, and the room grows eerily silent as everyone turns to look at him. At the head of the table, dressed in his blue robe and plain sandals, he holds the air of a warrior. And it is obvious, he still commands respect even outside of battle.
His body is tense as if someone was planning an attack at any momet. If someone was brave enough to attack him in his own house, then I wished them the best, cause they must have balls of steel. His sword hangs from his hip, while his right hand twitches restlessly at his side, ready to grab the hilt at any moment.
Always be prepared for anything is a common motto that repeats during training. At least he practices what he teaches.
"And my dear guest," he reaches forward gesturing towards the others at the table, before picking up his glass. "A toast."
My insides squeezes together as a smile plasters across my cousin's face.
No. Not yet. Not so soon.
The small group of ten that were invited to the dinner, slowly exchange knowing glances, and pick up their glass. Odysseues nods at Eudorus, who smiles slightly.
My body is tense and my fingers grip the wooden table for support. How long would this battle last?
"I've heard the news. And have decided that we'll-,"
"NO!" Everybody in the room stiffens and slowly turn towards the voice - my voice. My heart slams into my chest encouraging me to shut up, but I raise my chin and meet their gaze. "Don't say it."
The silent room's attention shifts back towards Achilles with curiosity. How was he going to deal with his cousin's rude outburst?
Achilles didn't flinch under their gaze. His eyes linger on me a moment, and then he sits his drink down.
"Patroclus," Achilles eyebrows pull together in a frown,"Do you've something to say?"
A million different phrases pass through my head, but I'm only able to get out one word, "Don't."
Don't? It sounds crazy to me now and I wish that I could clearly express me feelings. I feel my ears start to turn burn and wonder if it is noticeable in this light.
"Don't?" He questions because everyone else appears to afraid to speak, "don't what, exactly, Cousin?"
I want to spit out my frustration but don't know how to express the growing anger.
But he knows. He knows that he's about to leave me for another war. "It's too soon," it surprises me how menacing my own voice sounds.
"Not now, Patroclus." Thetis interrupts, standing to her feet. We now make a perfect triangle around the table, with Thetis and Patroclus at one end and me in the middle. "These concerns are for a later time."
The tension in the room is tight, and I turn my head towards Achilles's mother. "It'll be too late then." Her jaw is set and her face shows that she is angry at my outburst, especially in front of company.
And maybe, cause she knows that my words hold a hint of truth.
"Patroclus," she smiles nervously at our table full of guest. "I'm telling you again, drop this for now."
"I will not," I turn stubbornly back towards Achilles, no longer caring what our esteemed guest thought.
"Achilles, cousin, I never took you as one to be pressured into anything." My eyes cut deliberately towards Odysseues and then back to Achilles.
"PATROCLUS." Thetis gasps loudly. "Do not speak to your cousin or his guests in that manner." She steps away from the table and towards me.
Thinking that she was about to slap me, my body tenses. Instead she grips my shoulder tightly. "Leave us," she points with her free hand.
My ears burn along with my whole face at the realization that I am being treated like a child, and sent from them room. "Cousin," my eyes plead toward him for help.
"No," Achilles's dark face glares across the table, stopping my protest. "Do as she says, Patroclus." He reaches for the goblet again, eyes still lingering on me, before turning back to his guest.
When I didn't move instantly, Thetis drags me from the table with her firm grip. "Foolish Child," she hisses, and my feet trip trying to catch up with my shoulder still in her clutch.
"I'm not a child." My eyes peer behind me at the table were Achilles has once again taken his seat. A servant begins serving the first course when he nods. He doesn't look towards us anymore.
"Then stop acting like such," her voice returns coldly, as she whirls back around on me. Only softening when she follows my gaze towards the table adding, "I know it's hard for you when he's gone."
"Do you know?" I question feeling betrayed by the smile on my cousin's face. Turning away from the room and him, I walk past Thetis and out the door.
My own room feels like a dungeon. The fact that laughter is echoing down the hallway doesn't help my mood.
My cousin is leaving again. Leaving me behind.
My window is open letting a soft ocean breeze flow through. It calls to me, and I walk towards the opening and slide out the window.
My hands and knees catch me and my body instantly relaxes. Feeling the dirt beneath my hands and breathing the fresh air helps. I inhale deeply then stand.
My feet know exactly were to take me, and they automatically set off down the worn trail towards the garden. And my favorite hiding spot.
My body springs over the gate with ease, and I jog the rest of the way to the tree, swinging up on to the first branch.
The garden is not very large, but it is tucked away neatly against the house. Usually, it is abandoned. Today is no exception, and I'm thankful for the privacy as I climb higher into the tree.
From the top of the tree, you can see for miles and miles out to the sea. Many of evenings have been spent there, perched on a branch, waiting for Achilles to return from one of his battles.
The sour taste returns to my mouth and I know it doesn't matter what I say or do, Achilles will leave again.
And I'll be stuck here. Waiting.
The gate squeaks breaking me out of my dazed thoughts. It has only been about half an hour since my rude interruptions at dinner.
His walks like a lion across the small garden towards the tree, and if the gate had not of alerted me to his presence, he would have surprised me.
He squints up towards the top of the tree. The setting sun is playing in my favor, keeping me hidden from his view.
"I know you're up there," he pulls his hand above his eyes to block the sun.
My anger has cooled, but his choice to leave again still stings, so I don't respond.
"Patroclus," he tries again, and when no answer comes, he turns and sits against the tree.
"You do realize that I should be the one who is angry with you."
I bite my lip to keep from answering.
"You caused a scene and Thetis sent you from the room."
My ears begin to heat again.
"You know I'm always on your side, but she had every right to ask you to leave."
"More like drag me to the door," I offer bitterly as I thought of the memory.
"Ahhh...," His voice is light and I know he is grinning, "you do still speak. Scared me there for a moment."
Grabbing a nearby apple, I bite into its side, hopping that a full mouth will keep me from talking.
"Come now, Little Cousin, don't pout. What's done is done," he peers up towards the side of the tree where he first heard my voice.
"I'm as big as you now," I return and pieces of apple shoot from my mouth. The rest of the half eaten fruit drops from my hand, in hopes that it will hit him in the head.
The apple falls at his feet with a squashing noise. "And, oh so mature," he grunts, kicking the smushed apple off the top of his boots.
Happy that the apple had hit at least his shoes, a wide grin spreads across my face. "Opps."
"Patroclus," his standing again, and uses his whole arm this time to look up at me. "Come out of that tree, we need to talk about this."
My knuckles grip the limb tighter in silent protest. "Save your breath, Cousin. I already know your news."
"Oh?" His voice is light. Curious. Why shouldn't it be? He is about to embark on another one of his great adventures. Leaving his annoying little cousin behind.
He has agreed to become a part - yet again - of Agamemnon's plot. This is hard to understand because of all the people in Greece, my cousin hates the king and his brother the most.
"I was there when Odysseues approached you, remember?"
He chuckles lightly, which only serves to dampen my own mood more."Of course, but -,"
"I know you, Cousin." It is his nature to never turn down a chance for fame. A chance to be remembered forever. "You accepted. You were gonna announce it at dinner."
He sighs and turns his back towards the tree.
His action confirm my suspicion. I am to be left behind again, while he pursues battle and glory.
"Yes, I accepted," he announces. "And I cannot apologize for that."
Aggravated that he is still going and that he can read me so well (even from a distance), I grab another fruit and drop it below.
This one hit his shoulder and bounces off to the side.
"I'll chop this tree down," he grumbles, as he rubs his shoulder. He wasn't serious, but my fingers wrap around another apple as if to challenge him.
Eying my target carefully, the third piece of fruit falls with more accuracy and cracks against his skull. The fruit splits leaving red, mushed up chunks on his head while the rest falls to his feet.
The great warrior freezes in momentary shock. He lifts his hand to his forehead, swiping at the fruit on his face. As if he didn't believe it, he pulls his hand back in front of him staring at the apple.
I try to bite back my laughter but fail. Achilles looks so ridiculous standing below me covered in chunks of apple. And it feels good to be the one that dropped it, like it had let out my frustration.
Shaking his head, he peers back up at me. "Have your laughs, my dear little Cousin."
My chuckles become full blown laughter and he shakes his head again.
"I wanted you to climb down so we could talk about this," he calls as he furiously wipes the rest of the apple from the top of his head, "like ADULTS." He emphasizes the last word loudly, as he sling the last remaining chunk of apple to the ground.
"I guess, Patroclus. If you will not come down," Achilles announces, dropping his sword from his hip and leaning it against the tree. "Then I must climb up."
The laughter instantly dies in my throat. Reaching for another apple, I think about dropping it, but know this won't stop him.
"Drop another apple," he dares me knowingly as his head appears through the bottom branches. The rest of his body gracefully follows.
Eying me still above him, he quickly climbs the remaining branches finding the exact foot holds with ease. He sits opposite me now, fixing me with his deep questioning gaze.
"Nice place," he comments looking around.
And when I don't speak, he frowns, "Patroclus, about earlier."
"I know it was childish and uncalled for...," I turn from his face not wanting him to see the tears that were trying to form. Warriors do not cry.
I imagine his eyes narrowed at my back. "True, but you didn't let me finish my news."
"What? That you're gonna be gone for six months this time?" I didn't try to keep the bitterness from my voice.
His hand touches my shoulder and squeezes. "Maybe, but that's not my news."
I turn my head slightly. "What then, Great Warrior?"
He snorts. "Well, I was gonna say you get to come with me, but with an attitude like...," his voice fades.
I almost fall from the branch when I jerk my body back towards him, sputtering. "What? What did you say?"
He smiles, grasping my arm to keep me from falling. "Well that is if you really want to come along."
"Of course." "Yes" "Please." My words are coming out of my mouth before my mind could process them.
He laughs out rightly now. "Odysseues and Eudorus convinced me that you were ready."
My ears heat again with the mention of Odysseues's name. I had acted like a fool in front of Achilles's friends.
"Yes, Patroclus, the toast was for you."
My whole face burns now and I pray that Achilles cannot see the embarrassing color. "I've shamed you then."
Squeezing my shoulder again, "Nah, you are only passionate about what you think. That makes a good warrior."
"Really think so?"
"Really Achilles," Thetis interrupts, peering up at us through the trees, "I hate it when he climbs this tree, you shouldn't encourage him."
It is dusk now, and she can easily see our shapes among the branches and fruit.
Achilles shoots me a look and then slides off the branch, dropping to the ground in one leap. It was so graceful that I thought about dropping another apple out of envy.
"Sorry, mother," he stands, kissing her cheek. "Just having a little talk."
It is not till then that I notice the plate of food in Thetis's hand. My stomach gives a rumble of approval. It wasn't use to skipping meals.
Following Achilles example, I scoot off the branch and drop. My stomach clinches as I fall and then my feet crash against the ground. Surprised that I made it, my body stumbles forward. My hands reach out to catch the ground so that I don't hit my face, but Achilles catches me around the waist.
Standing again, I grunt my thanks and then meet Thetis gaze.
Thetis eyes me carefully and then shakes her head. "I hear food on the high sea isn't that good."
I take the offered plate, smiling sheepishly, "I'm sorry."
She nods, all anger now gone. "I really do understand, Patroclus."
And this time, it is her that turns and leaves.
"Eat up, lad." Achilles slaps me on the back. "She's right. Food that we can actually pack gets old quickly. And we're leaving in the morning."
I'd eat my own foot if that I meant I could go. Instead of saying this, I nod and follow Thetis towards the house.
He was leaving in the morning for Troy. Only, this time, I get to go too. I am going to Troy.
"Yes?" I start to turn, when something hard smacks against my face. It splits open causing sticky juice to run down my jaw.
My hands are still tightly wrapped around my dinner, so I shake my head back and forth trying to get the apple off the side of my heax.
This cause him to howl with laughter as he jogs up beside me, nudging me in the ribs with a wink, "Remember your place, hmmm, Little Cousin?"
I laugh too and follow him into the house, with dinner in my hands, apple on my face, and excitement in my eyes.
A/N: Feedback inspires me to keep working forward. So click comment and let me know what you think.