Chapter 1: 1
Achilles didn't know how long he had been alone in his tent. Everyone had left hours ago, or maybe days. Achilles could not tell. He was not aware of his surroundings, of the time passing around him nor of the noises from outside their- his tent.
He felt empty, like the world stopped spinning around him and he was left alone without nothing but a beating heart and a conscious mind which he only wanted to shut down. The voices in his head would not stop. The whispers kept getting louder and louder and no matter how much Achilles tried, he could not get them to grow silent. The voice wasn't a stranger's. It was his own.
I killed him.
He loved me and I killed him.
He's gone because of me.
He loved me and I pushed him towards his death.
Even if he wanted to quiet his mind, he could not help but to agree with the whispers.
Maybe the hushed voice in his head was not even his own, maybe it was his mother's, scolding him for his stupidity and failure. Or maybe it was Patroclus', maybe it was his beloved, whispering from the underworld the undeniable truth of his mistake, of his choice.
He chose pride and honor over his lover.
People say that the underworld changes the ones who are sent there; maybe this was Patroclus realizing Achilles was not worthy of his love.
Honestly, Achilles could not tell. And he would never know. Nothing seemed to make sense after the death of Patroclus. Everything was dark around him as if, by dying, Patroclus took all the light which used to surround Achilles. People used to look at him with pride and devotion, now they look at him with pity and sadness. His golden hair and his smooth skin used to be the first things people notice by looking at him. Now, they gaze at him and Achilles' lifeless and grieving eyes surprise them into silence. His strength used to be remarkable, for most of the soldiers it still was, but Achilles felt like his limbs had been snatched away, he felt motionless and as if his blood froze and his body was not in his control anymore. He was cold all the time. He didn't feel as strong as he was before all this, physically and mentally, his bones were lifeless and his mind was in shreds. Patroclus not only took the light off him, he went away with the life maintaining Achilles. He went away with his soul.
He could not move. He did not want to. He had been laying at the side of their bed, sitting on the floor, his head laying on the bed, his arm resting on top of Patroclus' unmoving chest. His cheeks were dry with tears and more tears fell down from his eyes as Patroclus' absence became more real by every passing second. He did not know how to stop the tears, he did not know how to stop this cruel feeling of pain and loss. Maybe he could not do it because he deserved it. This was his punishment chosen by the Gods.
Name one hero who was happy. You can't.
They never let you be famous and happy. I'll tell you a secret.
I'm going to be the first. Swear to me.
Because you're the reason. Swear it.
I swear it.
I swear it. I feel like I could eat the world raw.
Once, memories were one of Achilles' favorite thing. Now, they only brought him unbearable suffering. It felt like his memories now belonged to another time, to another place, and to someone else. He did not feel like Achilles anymore. Who was he without his beloved?
There was no Achilles without Patroclus.
He was supposed to be the first hero to be both happy and famous. He might be famous now, for his Godly beauty and strength but they did not matter to him. He had told Patroclus that he would be the first one to be famous and happy because Patroclus was the only one who would make it possible. He was the one who made Achilles happy. Now, without him, without his companion, his love, his soul, Achilles was merely a human stuck in his body with no escape and no hope.
He had killed thousands to become famous, to be remembered, to be worshipped and admired from all. In the pursuit of glory and honor, his pride had taken over him, his heart had become stone and because of that, now he felt dead. He wished he was. Dead. But he was not. He could not. Not before killing the man who had taken the life of his Patroclus. If he could, he would punish himself. Achilles was the one to blame for the death of his beloved. Still, he could not let Hector live more than he already has. Because if Hector did not die, Achilles could not either. And now, the only thing Achilles wanted to do was to join Patroclus to the underworld.
He only had to wait a few more days. He felt it. His time was close. It was the only consolation which eased his mind and heart as his soul crumbled to pieces, unable to handle the pain and the empty place of his heart where Patroclus had existed. Even though he was not here anymore, he will forever live in Achilles' heart. There were no doubts about that. But yet, he couldn't help his heart drowning into a pit of darkness and loneliness.
As much as he tried to ignore the coldness of Patroclus' body, it spread to his own as if they were linked together; as if death was spreading from Patroclus to him. Something Achilles couldn't complain about. The only thing that helped him breathe a little easier was that he was going to kill Hector soon so he could be at Patroclus' side.
Achilles was sitting still on the ground, his head thrown back to the bed, staring ahead, into the void, tears still rolling down from his eyes, his hand tracing circles on Patroclus' cold chest, which had traces of dry blood. Patroclus' blood.
"I always thought I would die first."
His sentence would be incomprehensible to anyone but no one was here to hear him. His words were muffled, his voice only a rasped whisper and raw, coming out of his pained throat with difficulty. It hurt to speak. His throat was sore and his voice low. The screaming and the crying hadn't helped.
"It was the only thing which made the prophecy bearable. The fact, the knowledge that I would die first." said Achilles, a little sad smile appearing on his face, a single tear rolling down from his eyes at the same time.
"The prophecy let me know that I would die because of this war. Why didn't it tell me that I would be your downfall? Why didn't it tell me that I would have to live without you?" asked Achilles, to no one in particular. Yet, he couldn't help but to expect an answer back. He couldn't help but to hope to hear Patroclus' voice. Even if deep down he knew that he would never hear his beloved's voice again.
Achilles moved, and if anyone was watching, it would have looked like Achilles was a simple puppet, moving his limbs as if they were boneless. It looked like life had been sucked out of his entire body. He put his arms on the bed, resting his chin on his hand as he stared at Patroclus. His teary eyes stared at his closed eyes and he moved one of his hands forward, his trembling fingers caressing Patroclus' cold, stoned cheek.
"You have to know. If I had known … I wouldn't have made the decision to come here. Patroclus…" whispered Achilles, biting his lips as his heart got heavier by the second. He was hurting all over but the pain his heart was going through, that was unbearable.
"I swear, Patroclus… I wouldn't have joined the war. You have to know that. You have to believe me." said Achilles, words stumbling out of his mouth in a hurry, his voice wavering, his mouth tasting like sand and his tears falling like rain on the beach.
"Tell me you believe me." begged Achilles, whispering to Patroclus, his fingers trailing the cold skin, caressing his cheek, his jaw and finally settling against the side of Patroclus' neck. He couldn't feel a pulse. Achilles hated himself for expecting to feel a beat of life under his fingers.
Achilles swallowed down his sob which threatened to burst out of his throat, and smiled sadly at Patroclus.
"You must hate me." said Achilles, feeling the air blocking his throat, his breath stuttering and his heart breaking by simply thinking about the possibility of being hated by the one he loved. It didn't mean he doesn't deserve it. He didn't deserve Patroclus' love and kindness. He only deserved his hate. He hoped he was at least worthy of that if not his love.
"I would not blame you. I deserve your anger. You have to be angry at me. I was a fool. I was a fool to think that the Gods would let me die peacefully. I was a fool to think that I would have you by my side until my last breath. Now, you took yours but I can't take mine yet."
How cruel fate was. The Gods had promised him honor and pride but took his reason to live in return. Was this his price to pay for such gift ? Was this planned by the Gods? Because they knew Achilles wouldn't have agreed to come to war if he had known that it would cost him Patroclus?
A sudden emotion of rage and hate appeared in Achilles, toward the Gods, the prophecy, his mother and everyone residing in Troy. Still, with Patroclus body in front of him, the hate slowly turned and made its way in himself. What right did he have to hate on others while he knew he was the only one to blame? He was the one who let Patroclus walk away from him, wearing his own armor. He was the one who decided to let go of Patroclus. The Gods didn't make him do it. They didn't whisper it to his ears. He was the one who said the words. He was the one who lead Patroclus to his doom. He was the only one to blame.
His hunger for pride and honor took his love away. He took his love away.
And who was Achilles without Patroclus? A heartless hero? An empty shell? A lifeless body roaming around the living while his soul craved to join his love? While his mind screamed and begged for the Gods of Death to take him away? While every breath of his called for mercy, knowing deep down, he wouldn't get it. The Gods were nothing like that. They weren't capable of showing pity or mercy.
"I promise you, we'll be together soon." said Achilles, his heart taking comfort in the thought of joining his other half soon.
Achilles didn't know when that would be. He didn't know how long he had to wait. The only thing he knew was that he wouldn't be at peace until he took Hector's life. Killing him would start his own death. It was a small consolation to know that he did not have long. The only thing that kept him sane was that he would join Patroclus soon. It was only a matter of days, now.
He held the gift that Patroclus had given him, tightly in his hand, feeling the edges of the wood digging deeper into his skin. He held the wooden toy tighter, the edges of the woods giving him more pain, but less than he deserved. He wish it could draw all blood out of him. He looked down, away from Patroclus, and stared at the wooden gift, a little sculpture of himself that Patroclus had done, and without wanting to, he felt himself drawn back into the past; Patroclus staring at him with the kindest eyes and the most beautiful smile as he gave the gift to Achilles, the way Achilles' heart had beaten in his chest, rapid and frantic, and yet, making warmth flow through his entire body, feeling the love radiating from Patroclus, and reaching his soul.
If only he could go back in time, he would do everything differently.
He closed his eyes shut, and held on the wooden sculpture of himself, a part of him wanted to break it into pieces, thinking, knowing that this wooden piece didn't represent himself anymore. He wasn't the Achilles that Patroclus used to see. Achilles didn't exist, if he couldn't be seen by Patroclus' gentle eyes.
He felt as if his heart was now trapped in his throat and felt his breathe stutter and a shudder went through him, the wind making its way into the tent. He hated the hope in his heart, he hated that his heart believed that the wind was some kind of contact from Patroclus. Was he reaching to him from the underworld? Would he, if he had the chance? Was he looking down at Achilles' miserable and pathetic existence, disappointed at the lack of graciousness and the lack of life in his limbs? Was he disappointed of what became of the epic, heroic, strong and golden hero of Troy? Was he pitying him? Was he sad? Was he angry? Did he want to reach out to him and touch him? Did he want to leave the underworld behind to be alive again, by Achilles' side? Would he want that? Did he want to grab Achilles and drag him down to the underworld, where they could be together forever? Would he want that? Would he want Achilles? After what he had done to Patroclus? Would he even want to look at Achilles?
Feeling the weight of the whole universe on his shoulders, as well as his guilt and self-hatred and pain, Achilles let his head down on the bed, his cheek laying on the cold, dead, shoulder of Patroclus. His eyes found themselves staring at Patroclus unmoving chest, with the hope to see it raise, to see Patroclus breathe. To see him alive. He bite down hard on his lips, swallowing the horrible scream he wanted to let out, locking his pain and his misery and his feelings of helplessness and heartbreak inside of him, hoping that they would be enough to erase his existence from this Earth, on where Patroclus wasn't by his side.
You killed him. You deserve this pain. You deserve to feel this awful anguish and body seizing horror of living, ever for a few seconds, without the one you love. You were the one who killed him.
He let his tears fall free from his eyes as he hid his head in the space between Patroclus' shoulder and head, his lips kissing the dead, lifeless skin of his lover, welcoming painfully the icy cold of Patroclus' body. He shut his eyes closed, and let himself fall into the dark pit of pain and loneliness.
He didn't know how long he had been sitting on the floor, his head tucked between Patroclus' head and shoulder, his eyes closed and breathing helplessly. Everything was dark around him. He couldn't see himself and he couldn't see anything except pitch black darkness. He searched for Patroclus' face, his smile, his glowing eyes and loving touch but he couldn't see them and he couldn't feel them either. All he felt was the void. All he heard was silence. It was awful and it was tearing him apart from the inside but Achilles didn't want to open his eyes and see a world without Patroclus, he didn't want to wake up and live a second more in world without his lover's presence. But he felt himself be pulled away from the darkness, into the world, two hands pulling him away from Patroclus. He felt his eyes flutter and when the hands tighten their grip on Achilles' arms, when he saw and felt himself being taken away from Patroclus' laying form on the bed, Achilles felt himself wake up instantly.
He yelled and pulled his arms away from the hands holding him, his knees scratching the rocky ground under him as he crawled back next to Patroclus' body in the bed. He took the wooden sculpture which had fallen on the floor and his other hand held on tight on Patroclus' cold arm. He felt anger rise inside of him.
He turned his head around and saw multiple soldiers in the tent, backing away immediately as Achilles' raging cold, dead, burning eyes found them. His hand hitched for his blade, for any kind of weapon, so he could shred to pieces the ones who tried to take him away from Patroclus.
The soldiers backed away from Achilles, silent, their eyes wide and apologetic, their hands up in surrender.
"What were you doing?" asked Achilles, yelling, his voice firm and strong, shaking with fury.
Chapter 2: 2
The soldiers jumped in fear and kept backing away. Then, Agamemnon appeared in Achilles' eyesight and he backed away until his back hit the edge of the bed, his hand tightening his hold on Patroclus' arm.
Agamemnon sighed and ordered the warriors to get out of the tent by a gesture of his hand. Soon, the only people in the tent were Agamemnon, himself and the body of Patroclus. Achilles saw Agamemnon's eyes shift from Achilles to Patroclus and Achilles hardened his gaze.
"Get out." said Achilles, his eyes flaring, his voice cold, yet, he felt and heard the tiredness in it.
"You know you can't talk to me this way. No matter the circumstances." answered Agamemnon, his dark eyes landing back on Achilles, raising one of this eyebrows at him.
"What will you do? Kill me? Do it. Do it!" screamed Achilles, his voice filled with anger and pain, almost begging.
Agamemnon sighed again and crossed his arms in front his chest and stared down at Achilles.
"Unfortunately, for the sake of Troy, we need you."
"I am no hero no longer. I am no warrior." whispered Achilles, anger turning into helplessness, as he turned his back to Agamemnon, putting his chin on the bed where Patroclus' unmoving body laid.
"I don't want you to be the arrogant hero you used to be. I need you to kill Hector. It doesn't matter how you see yourself when you do it. People will still see a hero in you." replied Agamemnon, from behind him.
Achilles heard Agamemnon's feet moving and he looked up to see Agamemnon standing on the other side of the bed, looking down at him.
"I know you want to kill Hector. Now get up and do it." said Agamemnon, with authority, his lips set in a thin line as he glared down at Achilles.
Achilles looked away. Agamemnon rolled his eyes at him and Achilles wanted to wipe that annoyed glance from his eyes with his fists. Before he could say anything, Agamemnon spoke again.
"The others are complaining. Your… His body- he's starting to smell, Achilles. It's reeking in here. He needs to be cleaned up and burned."
As soon as Agamemnon's words were out, Achilles froze, and got closer to Patroclus' body, as if it was even possible. Agamemnon interrupted him before Achilles' refusal could be spoken out loud.
"The longer you keep him here, the longer he'll be stuck in the veil between the two of our worlds! Is that your selfish wish? To keep him trapped in the veil so he can see you mourning miserably? Get your mind back in place and do what you must to let him rest in peace!"
Agamemnon's words struck Achilles and he felt his breath catch in his throat. His eyes widen in horror and he looked up at Agamemnon, silent.
Agamemnon shook his head and breathed out deeply, moved his hand up and rubbed his forehead with his fingers.
"Look, just because your world stopped spinning doesn't mean ours did. Mourn and burn his body quickly so we can go back and win the bloody war which is still your duty. There are some fresh rags and a bowl of water next to the bed. Clean him up and bring his body out. We've prepared the pyre already. Just… Hurry up, would you? "
And without another word or another glance, Agamemnon left, walking out of his tent.
Achilles snatched his hands away from Patroclus' unmoving body, breathing rapidly, feeling his heart beat so fast, he thought it might leap out of his chest. A tight grip seized around his heart and he felt his breath stutter. He clenched his hands into fists, as he sat on the floor, staring in horror at his lover's dead body. It took him a few seconds before Agamemnon's voice ringed in his mind, making him flinch.
The longer you keep him here, the longer he'll be stuck in the veil between the two of our worlds!
Achilles felt a bile raise in his throat and he pushed it back down while he struggled to stand back on his feet, his eyes never parting from Patroclus' laying body.
Is that your selfish wish? To keep him trapped in the veil so he can see you mourning miserably?
Achilles shut his eyes off, digging his nails into his palms until he could shut off Agamemnon's voice from his head, and re-opened his eyes to stare at Patroclus' unmoving form on their bed.
Clenching his jaw, he turned away, a powerful and infinite feel of rage and hate toward himself took place in his heart. He let it consume him. He let his self-loathing took over him, almost choking on it, suffocating him from the inside. A part of him wished that this simple feeling of self-hatred would be enough to end his misery. But another part of him told himself that he deserved this heart-wrecking torment. He caused Patroclus' death. He sent his lover to his death. Achilles deserved this.
I deserve this. I deserve this. I deserve this. I deserve this.
He kept repeating this sentence to himself, hearing his own voice muttering those words to him, as he made his way to the side of the bed to find the rags and the bowl of water which were put on a wooden table. As he made his way back toward the bed where Patroclus was laying, he reached the point where he was muttering out loud those words, whispering them slowly yet steadily, to himself. He stopped in front of the bed, but he couldn't look at Patroclus. He kept his head low and his eyes down, staring at the wooden bowl filled with water in his hands, the fresh rags resting on his wrists. Soon, the clean water will be red and the white rags will be colored with Patroclus' blood. The blood he spilled. The blood of half of his soul. The blood he chose to sacrifice because he was filled with too much pride and anger. The blood of the most lovely and kindest man he had ever known.
The blood which was supposed to be his own.
When he looked up to finally look at Patroclus' body again, his heart throbbing with sorrow, cold, while he wished it would turn to stone, the voice in his mind wasn't his anymore. It was Patroclus'.
You deserve this. You deserve this. You deserve this. You deserve this.
You did this to me.
Achilles swallowed down the sob which threatened to come out of his throat and bite his lips. He blinked the tears back as he walked closer to the bed and slide down to the floor to sit on the ground.
He put the wooden bowl on the floor and the rags on the bed. He sat there, silent, as he stared at nothing in particular. His whole body felt numb and he could hear the sound of his heart cracking inside of him. As much as he tried to keep them inside, the tears fell down on his cheeks. He wiped them away with the back of his hands, angry at himself, knowing that keeping his pain inside was the torture he deserved for the death he had caused. He deserved more. But was there anything more painful than to live without the half of your soul?
He let out a breath, which clawed its way out of his throat, and he shuddered, feeling the physical effect of the deserving torture he was going through.
His numb finger closed around the rags and he washed them in the clean, cold water of the wooden bowl and squeeze them before bringing them close to Patroclus. Achilles' eyes fell on Patroclus' closed eyelids and he clenched one of the rags in his hand, the freezing water from the squeezed tissue falling on Patroclus' arm. The drop of water slipped from his arm onto the mattress and Achilles saw his own tear fall on his lover's cold arm.
"Do you remember when we used to swim in the lake near Chiron's cave?" asked Achilles, knowing that Patroclus wouldn't answer him, but hoping and wishing that he could.
He brought the tissue on Patroclus' arm and tried to wash away the dried blood on his lover's skin. It wasn't going away. Achilles swallowed and clenched the tissue tighter in his hand, and started to apply more pressure with it and started again.
''You hated swimming in the cold water during the winter. Chiron had to drag you away from his cave and push you toward the lake because you could spend days without cleaning yourself just because the water was cold.''
Achilles wanted Patroclus to look at him with exasperation, to shake in head fondly at him, to snort at him in amusement, to smile at him. Achilles looked up at Patroclus and all he saw was death. He inhaled sharply and shifted his attention back to cleaning the blood away. He couldn't feel his mouth move, his own voice sounded unfamiliar to him, as if it was one of a complete stranger. Maybe he was becoming one. He couldn't recognize himself. He hasn't been able to for quite a long time now.
The blood on Patroclus' skin wasn't going away.
A wave of anger and rage almost took over Achilles but he pushed them away, and let the pain, fear, desperation and heartbreak took over. It was the only thing he deserved to feel. He exhaled unsteadily and with shaking hands, he rubbed Patroclus' arm harder and faster, but with gentleness.
''When we were in the cold and freezing lake, you used to cling to me. You said … you said being close to me kept you warm, that it made you feel better. Alive. You wouldn't let me go.''
I'm sorry I let you go.
I'm sorry I pushed you away.
I'm sorry I couldn't keep you warm anymore.
I'm sorry I couldn't save you.
I'm sorry I couldn't keep you alive.
His pain and guilt washed over him like uncontrollable waves and he let them drown him, he let them pull him under, into the numb darkness. There was no light around him anymore. He better get used to the dark. It was all that was left for him.
''I'm sorry I couldn't find any warm water to clean you with. They- I didn't ask them. I should have asked them for warm water instead. I'm sorry.'' whispered Achilles, his eyes focused on Patroclus' bloody arm, not daring to look up and see his lifeless face.
Achilles missed the warmth he used to feel next to Patroclus, he missed the light which used to shine and enveloppe him whenever Achilles was loosing himself. He missed his smile. He missed him.
Without meaning to, his mind wandered to the moments he had spent with Patroclus, in his palace, in the cave with Chiron, in the tent, here, in Troy. He had felt grounded, all these years, next to Patroclus. Now, he was floating between life and death. He was suffocating, lost in sea, without his anchor. He was drowning. He was groundless. He just wanted to feel Patroclus' warmth again. Now, all he could feel from Patroclus was cold, emptiness and death. No light. No warmth. No life.
He let the darkness fill him, painting him black in all the places Patroclus had touched him with love and light, with kindness and warmth. The little bit of sanity and calm he had thanks to Patroclus vanished and the storm raged inside of him. He welcomed it.
More tears fell from Achille's eyes as the blood came off Patroclus' skin to taint the white rag in his hands. His vision clouded, one minute his fingers were holding the wet rags tainted with Patroclus' bood and the next second, his vision darkened and saw blood pouring out from Patroclus' wound on his arm, onto his own fingers. He felt the warm, red, hot blood of Patroclus' run down on his fingers.
He recoiled from Patroclus in fear. He felt the horrific scream leave his mouth before he even heard it. He flinched back and let go of the bloodied tissue, which fell on the ground and scrambled back, using his legs, shaking his hands widely in the air, trying to wash the blood away from his fingers.