FIC: "The Vessel" (1/WIP)
AUTHOR: Mistress Marilyn
camelotslash-2 at qwest.net
DATE: August 8, 2004
FANDOM: "Troy" (Warner Bros. 2004)
PAIRING: If you read it, you'll find out.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'em. They belong to Homer, to Warner Brothers, to the respective actors of the movie "Troy" -- and to the ages! This is the work of a fan, done for no remuneration save the satisfaction of the work itself.
WARNINGS: Slash, mpreg
SUMMARY: How will Hector make up for having taken the life of Patroclus?
DEDICATION: To Eric Bana -- happy birthday a day early! Thanks for making the hero Hector such a beautiful, memorable man.
AUTHOR NOTES: Too many plot bunnies, too little time! This fic was written to be posted at the Troy MPreg group I moderate: Troy-MPregs-FemPregs
He restrained the trembling in his hands, gripping his sword tightly. Then he drove it through the boy's chest and was rewarded when the dreadful bubbling sound ended. Air no longer escaped from the rent across the boy's throat. He was dead.
Prince Hector of Troy stood up, panting, his eyes searching the soldiers, both Trojan and Greek, who pressed tightly around him. Everywhere he saw grief, but moreso, relief. It was a tragedy to see this boy die, yes, but the gods had granted the Greeks a reprieve when the one who wore the armor of Achilles was not Achilles himself.
Hector's eyes met those of one Greek standing close by.
"Enough for today," he said hoarsely.
"Yes," the man assented, then turned to the Greek soldiers. "Back to the ships!" he shouted, and the command was repeated down the line.
The Greek came closer. "It was his cousin," he said.
Hector felt a sort of dread that began like an ague in his hands and feet, then slowly climbed his arms and legs. Probably it was the precursor to his own death.
"I am Odysseus, King of Ithaca," continued the man, pulling off his helmet. "I saw your act of mercy, Prince, and I'll try to tell him. But it will do no good."
Hector couldn't speak. He swallowed, tasting bile.
Odysseus took a step toward Hector. "Prince, the boy, Patroclus -- he was Achilles' favorite. And, moreso--" he began, dropping his voice so no one could overhear, "he carried Achilles' son."
Hector stared at Odysseus, a man known for his ability to dissemble and exaggerate. What sort of trick was this?
"A child of his own body? It's not possible!"
Odysseus nodded. "It's true. Your brother is known to be the favorite of the goddess Aphrodite, is he not? The goddess sought to save his life by offering a boon to the Myrmidons, that Patroclus be the vessel for Achilles' seed, if Achilles and his men would stay out of the war with Troy. This is why Achilles has not joined the battle for many days."
Hector, fearing he would be sick, stepped back from Odysseus. He shook his head, more sure than before that his life was now forfeit. And if he fell, Troy would fall. This was certainty, not hubris. Hector fought to collect himself; he pulled off his helmet and gasped for air. Perspiration sheened his face and burned his eyes.
"Tell him . . . tell him I will speak to him," Hector said. "Please. Give him this ring." Hector dropped his bloody sword and struggled to pull a ring from his left hand. When he succeeded, he handed it to the Greek king. "I send this as a symbol of my sorrow for his loss. I will come to him tonight."
Odysseus closed his fist around the ring, shaking his head. "I don't think he'll listen. His grief will turn him to madness, I fear." Odysseus stared up at Hector with tired eyes. "But I'll try," he finished. "I swear by the gods to do my best."
Hector nodded, out of words as well as energy. He turned, motioning weakly for the Trojan soldiers to follow and headed back to the city. When he reached the place where Lysander held his horse for him, he simply shook his head and tossed the man his helmet. He wanted to walk. This might be the final walk he would take back to Troy, his beloved home.
How had it come to this? Why had he indulged the folly of his brother Paris and allowed the young man to give the ambitious Agamemnon an excuse for his imperialism? It seemed impossible to believe that the Greeks had come so recently, so much had happened so fast. And now, with the death of this brave but foolish boy, the tide of the war would undoubtedly turn away from the Trojans and in favor of the Greeks.
Hector willed his legs to move, first one, then the other. Again and again. He was now unarmed, having left his sword and shield behind; hopefully one of his men had recovered them. He tried to keep his mind on the mundane, like the fate of his sword or the impatience of his war-horse, who, having been kept from the battle must have been hard to hold when the scent of blood first flared in his nostrils. With each step, Hector tried to stay calm and allow his mind to sort out what must come next.
He could either accept his fate and prepare to take leave of those he loved or formulate a plan to cheat the gods out of the tragic scenario now being enacted.
When they finally trudged into the city, Hector went directly to the citadel, not stopping to speak to the soldiers, which was his habit. As he had the first day the Greek's landed, he walked into his brother's chamber still covered in the dirt and gore of battle, expecting to find Paris resting or preening or making love to the Spartan queen. It was time for his brother to put away his idle ways and take responsibility for the calamity facing Troy. Where was the beautiful Paris?
Helen sat alone, sewing. Hector watched her for a moment, imagining her using the same needle to close the leg wound his brother had received from Helen's husband, Menelaus. Menelaus was now an inhabitant of the Underworld, where Hector's sword had sent him that fateful day, the same sword that ended the life of the lover of Achilles.
She looked up, her blue eyes perfectly rimmed with kohl. As ever, she was beautiful and seemingly calm. "He's practicing with his bow," she said. "He is always practicing."
Hector didn't show his surprise. "When he returns, send him to me. Tell him it's important."
She nodded, and he left her. He went to his private bed-chamber, the one he didn't share with his wife, Andromache, and stripped off his breastplate and greaves. He washed his hands and arms with fresh water, splashing some on his dusty face. Then he sat down and dropped his head into his hands, pressing his fingers into his scalp, trying to wring all thought from his tired mind. After a time, he heard the lilting voice of his younger brother.
"Brother? Helen said you wanted to see me. How did the battle go? We saw the ships burning from here."
Hector raised his head. "Yes, we were able to destroy two or three of their ships, perhaps more."
"Were many men lost?"
"I killed a boy today. He was too young to die, and he was Achilles' cousin."
Paris, still clad in the armor and leather gauntlets he wore to shoot, sat down beside Hector. "Achilles? He's their greatest warrior, is he not?"
Hector nodded. "Yes. He and his Myrmidons have been sitting out the war. But after today, they will rejoin it . . . unless we find a way to stop them."
"What way, Brother?"
Hector stood up slowly, then turned and knelt at his younger brother's feet. He reached out and wrapped his strong hands around Paris' wrists, squeezing the gauntlets. Paris watched him, his brown eyes wide.
"Paris, they say the boy I killed was Achilles' favorite . . . and that the goddess had allowed him to carry Achilles' child if the man would forego the war against Troy."
"I have not just killed Achilles' cousin, Paris -- I have killed his son!" Hector's eyes bore into his brother's; he silently willed Paris to understand. "Achilles will now turn his wrath on Troy -- on me, Paris!"
"What can we do?" Paris asked, looking pained. "It's done."
"We can offer Achilles payment for this offense . . . another vessel for his seed . . . and one the goddess would approve."
Hector watched his brother's face, still fair despite the scratches from his fight with Menelaus, as the realization of what Hector was suggesting sunk in. He sat for some time, saying nothing, Hector still gripping his arms, and then his features started to change. His eyes and mouth hardened, and the perfect symmetry of his cheeks and jaw seemed to elongate. As Hector watched, his brother aged before his eyes.
"Yes. I'll do it. I'll take his child," Paris said.
Hector released him and stood up. "Good. I've sent word that I'll speak to him tonight, and I want you to be ready. I need to bathe and break my fast. I haven't eaten since yesterday."
Hector paused. "Yes, Paris?"
Their eyes locked for a moment, and the silence between them was redolent of the past, both bad and good -- the times they had bickered and disappointed one another and the times they had rejoiced together and loved one another. Paris waited, but finally said nothing. Hector tried to smile as he patted his brother's shoulder, then turned and walked to the doorway. He called to a servant to bring him bread and cheese and to prepare a bath; Paris silently left.
When night had fallen, Hector led Paris through the underground passage that led to the temple of Apollo, just above the Greek camp. They brought no arms, and only Lysander attended them; Hector needed to send someone to the camp he could trust not to give away the secret of the passage-way, even under torture.
Hector gave Lysander terse instructions. "Tell Achilles I wait for him at the temple. If he sends you back unharmed, I will meet him in the camp and risk my life." He turned to Paris. "If Lysander gives me the signal, I'll go to Achilles. If I don't come back within an hour, assume he's killed me and return to Troy quickly and tell our father."
Then Hector sat down near the entrance to the temple, where he could clearly see the stars reflected on the sea, to watch and wait.
Within a few minutes he saw Lysander waving up to him. He turned again to his brother. "Remember what I said."
Paris ran to him. "Before you go, kiss me, brother! Please."
Hector bent to him and placed his lips on Paris' forehead. "You're a prince of Troy; I know you'll make me proud." Then he walked down the temple steps.
A dark-haired man with the lightest eyes Hector had ever seen pulled aside the leather straps that sheltered the entrance to what must be the tent of Achilles. Did those eyes hold some sort of warning, or was it perhaps commiseration? It was probably just the strangeness of the color that made it seem so. Hector bent his head and entered the tent, smelling fresh-cooked meat and another familiar scent -- death. He looked around and saw the Greek warrior huddled in a corner, blue eyes staring, but not before he noticed the body of the naked Patroclus lying across the furs of the sleeping mat.
"So you've come?" Achilles said.
"Good. We were waiting for you."
Hector didn't dare wait to speak. "I come to offer you payment for what I took from you."
Achilles stood, his staring eyes wet, his face smudged with dirt and grief. He wore nothing more than a leather apron, and his skin was the color of dark gold. "Payment? What payment is there but your life, Prince of Troy?" Achilles motioned to the piles of gilded plunder that filled the tent. "You've already taken what was most precious to me."
"I know of the miracle . . . of what the goddess gave you. If Aphrodite wills it, I offer another vessel for your seed."
Achilles walked toward Hector, cocking his head. "You? I don't believe you."
Hector watched Achilles as he approached, noting the Greek was unarmed. "I didn't mean to kill him," Hector said. "I thought it was you. In return I offer what's most precious to me . . . my brother, Paris."
Achilles laughed. "Your brother? The one who stole another man's wife and then groveled in the dirt and held on to your feet as that man sought his proper vengeance! Are you joking?"
"Paris is a favorite of the goddess. She would do this for him, I know."
Achilles put his face close to Hector's, then motioned at the bed. "He waits there, still holding my seed. He was foolish to disobey me, but he was brave and strong. No Trojan catamite will take his place!"
Hector breathed in, a slow anger rising. Even in his pain, this warrior was arrogant and recalcitrant. It was difficult for Hector to feel sympathy while listening to the man vitiate his brother. "If you refuse, there's nothing I can do," he said, swallowing his ire.
"Is there nothing, Prince of Troy? Why do you not offer your own body to take my seed and bear my son?"
Hector stared, disbelieving. Achilles laughed louder.
"Now that is something you had not considered, isn't it? You thought I'd be happy to have your pretty brother in my bed, to stroke his fine head and mount his white ass? You probably know him well yourself, and you've prepared him for this sort of assault. Is this not true?"
Hector started to sputter, furious despite himself.
Achilles dropped his smile and looked at Hector with hard eyes. "There is only one vessel acceptable to me and to Patroclus to bear the seed he can no longer carry.
"And that, Prince of Troy, is you."
The End, Part One