He looks around the bar, his carefully guarded emotions weeping through the cracks on his face. He had killed a boy today. Sure, the victim had a weapon. He was trained in the deadly art of war, but that did not change the grief that sliced his heart the same moment his own blade had brutally gashed open the boy's throat.
He remembered his wife earlier that night, consoling him that it was all necessary in the defense of Troy. He had never known until that very moment how little she understood what Hector himself went through every day. How could she hope to understand? She only experienced life and it's creation. Not the other end of the spectrum.
"Another." He muttered hoarsely, empty cup pounding the counter as loudly as the guilt beating in his heart. His arm felt as lifeless as he, an emptiness he intended to fill to the brink with wine and brew a plenty.
The pudgy bartender eyes him as though he were another stain on his filthy apron. He barely moved from cleaning a tankard with a dirty rag as he grunted, "If you got the coin..."
In no mood to wait, or argue for that matter, Hector takes his coin purse and dumps most of it on the counter. If he were in lighter spirits, he may have chuckled at how very wide the grubby man's eyes got, or how quick the overly large man was to serve him after that. He barely had the energy to lift the wooden cup to his mouth.
So deep was he in his stupor, that he failed to notice the dying out of the din and lute until all was quiet and still. Barely shifting in place, he brought his sluggish gaze towards the sharpened focus of everyone else in the room. There at the entrance, stood several travelers. Or rather, several soldiers from the gleaming of the armor and weaponry under their cloaks. For a moment, time stilled and the whole room seemed to be holding their breaths. One of the newcomers stepped forth, commanding attention as though it were as natural as riding a horse. The fire played brilliantly off his mane of golden curls, together with his bold stance and striking demeanor, reminding Hector of a battle-hardened lion.
"Peace, good tavern folk. We are merely brothers in need of the same liquid sustenance you have all sought tonite." His voice rumbled with power, though his eyes twinkled with mirth. And just like that, a collective breath was heaved and the tavern sprung back to life.
Hector eyed the soldiers warily, hair standing on end at his nape. Unconsciously, his shoulders stiffened before he rigidly tried to appear as small as possible. The prince wasn't looking for trouble, though it always seemed to find him. He wasn't sure which deity had cursed him with this sort of luck, but he could sense those were a dangerous sort. Just the kind he had been hoping to avoid on a night like this. His nerves were already on edge due to his brother's unfortunate inability to keep his wits about him when his heart and his loins conspired against him. The whole of Agamemnon and Menelaus's combined forces were due to arrive within a fortnight.
Andromache had begged him not to go. That the danger was too great that he would fall to the blade of thugs or drunken men with weapons before the night was out. And this bunch looked capable enough to take him on a good day, much less with his wine addled body trying to keep upright in his stool. What concerned him the most was their obvious leader. The golden-haired lion. Something about the man made a shiver stroke down his spine. Hector drilled his near empty cup with hardened brown eyes. Perhaps he should have listened to his wife. Dressing down as a simple townsfolk could only shield him so far. Alas, it seemed he needed to conclude his guilt-wallowing in another pub.
Just as he raised his eyes to search for the bartender and settle his final payment, a muscled body seated itself heavily on the stool next to him. It took much to catch the tactician off guard, so it was difficult to keep the surprise written so plainly on his face. The very man he wished to avoid replied with amused smirk.
Achilles drunk in attention like it was his life's blood. So when he noticed the lone figure attempting to make himself as unnoticeable as possible, what else could the Myrmidon do but investigate? What he had not expected was how perfectly the man's dark curls would frame his surprised features. Or just how eagerly the man's brown orbs drunk in the fire's glow as they darted elsewhere.
Achilles, still armed with his charming grin, realized he would have to chisel out the silence first, "Greetings."
Hector felt as though scorched as he met those burning blue orbs, so he let his gaze wander in search of the pudgy man as he replied likewise, though half-heartedly, "...greetings."
Amused by the darker haired man's adamant refusal to let his gaze linger on Achilles for longer than a few breaths, the blonde chuckled, "Am I that repulsive to you?"
Unable to stop himself from throwing a speculative glance in response to the question, Hector blinked as he realized the man's strong jaw and chiseled features were god-like in comparison. He had to wrestle his clumsy tongue from saying just that, boiling it down to a simple, "No." before returning to the task at hand. He had found it surprisingly difficult to wrench his eyes away, but sought to shove that thought to the deep recesses of his mind.
Though turned away, Hector still caught the warm rumble of another chuckle from the stranger beside him. It pulled at a place inside of him that he had no wish to indulge or explore. He had just thanked the bartender, slipping the necessary coins across the wooden top, when a strong hand clasped around his forearm.
"Leaving so soon?" Achilles inquired, disappointment coloring his voice.
Despite his drunken state, Hector couldn't help the telltale flinch of his arm beginning to reach for a sheath and sword not there on his hip. A gut reaction he barely quashed. Though the raised brow of the golden-haired stranger let him know the minute movement had not gone unnoticed. The man was good.
Which was exactly why Hector should get as far away from him as humanly possible.
Hector grasped for the closest excuse he could find, "I'm married."
Taking his foot and shoving it into his mouth would have been a more preferable response, in Hector's opinion.
Achilles wasn't deterred one bit by this piece of evidence. In fact, his smirk grew wider, "And... yet she is not here with you, and neither is her ring on your finger..."
Hector's eyes widened as he realized he had been playing with the ring earlier, fascinated by the play of light off the band as well as the many symbols and meanings the token represented. Before he could adequately rise in panic, that same token was glimmering up at him between the soldier's twirling fingers. Hector made to reach for it, but Achilles easily pulled it farther away, feigning a closer inspection as he perused aloud, "I wonder what would be offered in exchange for such a beautiful artifact."
For the Myrmidon, it was worth it just to see Hector's slender brow crease into a slight frown, those sharpened eyes attempting to hide the calculating mind behind them.
"You are playing with fire, soldier." Hector said calm and in control, though his mind was racing in a small burst of fear. What was he to tell his wife should she discover the ring was missing? A sudden questioning their marriage would turn into a blaring and outright rejection.
Achilles was not blind to the Trojan's weakness, "You misread me brother, I do so love playing with fire."
Hector felt his ire and anger rising as the man continued to dangle the ring just out of reach. Irritation goaded him to snarl, "You are not my brother, stranger."
"Oh really?" Achilles asked, leaning in closer as his gravelly voice purred, "Then how about lovers?"
The turn of topic once again slapped Hector in the face and had his head spinning wildly around. And for once tonite it was not because of the alcohol. He felt his anger doused, as he couldn't help the surprised parting of his lips, a trait that made the eyes of the bronze warrior before him burn.
"Who are you...?" Neither the question nor the slight awe cooperated in staying within Hector's crumbling composure. He felt as though they were in battle and the other man was slowly, yet surely disarming him. It was neither familiar, nor welcome.
"I am simply the man who will make you feel as no other has before." Achilles answered, a dark velvet promise overlaying silver tones.
Hector couldn't help the slight tremble that traveled through him at the pure confidence and drive in the soldier's eyes, as though there were nothing out of his reach.
But Hector himself was no virgin to be swayed so easily, even if he had more experience or preference for the male gender.
Time to turn the tables.
Hector turned on his own charm, grinning warmly as he shifted closer to the sculpted warrior next to him. He could read the brief flicker of surprise and interest in the other man's eyes at Hector's sudden change in demeanor.
"And..." The prince let his lips drift dangerously close to the other's, breath ghosting the man's cheek as he changed direction last minute, stopping short of nuzzling the other's ear, "...just how do you propose to do that?"
The warrior grinned. He loved a challenge.
"Mmm, in many..." Achilles lowered his head to brush against the crook of Hector's neck, enjoying the warm fluttering pulse of the handsome man before him, betraying the darker-haired man's calm demeanor, "many ways. Though I must say, it is not too often that I come across royalty in a common pub."
Hector stifled the gasp of surprise, confidence faltering as he felt the bronze man grin against his neck, reading the Trojan like a book. He tensed, frowning. How could he know that? A dark chuckle and Achilles drew back, giving Hector room to breathe before reaching out to play with a strand of the Prince's hair, "When attempting to hide your true self, you may want to take out *all* these shiny trinkets from your hair." Achilles took a moment to enjoy the deepening scowl on the other's face before continuing, "And consider borrowing your servant's wardrobe, while rubbing on dirt to cover up your regular use of baths and oils."
Hector wasn't sure what bothered him more, the blonde man himself, or the fact that Hector knew better and would have thought of all these things had he been of sounder mind. At the warrior's damnable smirk, Hector felt a sudden urge to growl. The man was doing it again, disarming him, attempting the leave him naked and vulnerable. But the Prince wasn't without his own wits.
"And it is not often that I come across a soldier of Agamemnon at Troy's borders."
Achilles eyes narrowed, a nerve accidentally struck.
"I do not bow to that swine." The disgust dripped off the warrior's words as tangible as the liquid sloshing within Hector's untouched cup.
"Yet you serve him, nonetheless." Hector pointed out, raising his forgotten cup to his lips.
A strong hand once again gripped his forearm, though this time it tightened in warning, as it's owner growled, "What was it you said about fire?"
"I have my own ways to keep from getting burned." Hector said with a level gaze, voice steady despite the threat.
Achilles soon discovered a dagger tapping at the inside of his thigh, the plaited leather hardly a barrier. The Myrmidon stiffened. He had seen many a man die within minutes from the large artery severed at just that area. How had he not seen the weapon?
Hector's eyes flickered over to Achilles, expecting the understanding he found in them. What he didn't expect, was glimmer of something far more intense in those cerulean depths.
Achilles relaxed his grip, fingers loosely trailing up to Hector's wrist, until they finally reached the chalice once again forgotten in the Apollan's grip, "I... am impressed."
Hector strained to pay attention to the man's words, instead of the strangely heated trail branded on his skin from the man's simple touch. As if knowing the effect he was having, or maybe from thrice-cursed coincidence, the warrior curled his hand around the goblet, fingers intertwining with the Prince's own. He pulled the cup and Hector along with it, towards his lips.
It was rare that someone with royal blood could show such daring or courage.
And rarer still that someone would dare show such boldness to Achilles himself.
He paused before the rim touched his lips, holding those frozen brown orbs as he murmured truthfully, "And I... am not easily impressed."
Hector's throat ran dry as the man gulped deeply until nothing remained, his eyes drawn to the apple that bobbed at the man's throat. A trickle slipped past the corner of Achilles lip, and Hector couldn't quell the urge to wet his own. He did fight the flush, however, when he caught the warrior's half-lidded gaze catching Hector's tongue darting out to swipe his own lips.
There was that smirk again.
If only Hector could banish the nervous fluttering in his stomach.
"I see..." The prince uttered absentmindedly, giving an experimental tug. As he had feared, the warrior refused to relinquish his hold just yet. Tapping the blonde's thigh with the flat of the blade, Hector cleared his dry throat and ordered silently, "...release me."
A blonde brow arched, a challenging 'and if I do not' sparking between them.
Not about to have his bluff uncovered so easily, Hector put slight pressure on the hilt, knowing the point had to be close to breaking skin. Those blue eyes just kept contact, daring him on.