i.i Breaking Dawn
After the funeral, she walked into a bar and sat down at an empty seat that was furthest away from the crowd. The atmosphere was friendly and the music not to loud that all conversation could be heard. The smell inside was pleasant and the bartenders were attractive enough to continue buying drinks. Dakota could not understand how people could be smiling and chatting about nothing while things in the world were going to shit.
She ordered her drinks; strong enough to numb her pain. Fill after fill, customer after customer, Dakota was the loner that eyes were watching. Some felt the need to go and talk to the woman who had bloodshot eyes and a frown upon her face. Others stayed away from her, not wanting to bother a troubled soul. The bartenders tried to strike conversation, but Dakota did not feel the need to talk. Why should she explain herself to anyone?
"They told me that you will be here." A strong voice beside her stated. An older man who was barely forty sat beside her in an empty chair. Asking for water from one of the bartenders.
"Where else would I be?" Dakota said, drawing another drink in her sorrows. Her platoon sergeant was sitting next to her, making sure that she does not continue this destructive path that she was heading into.
The man beside her looked at Dakota feeling sorry for herself. He knew that today was tough for her. It was tough for everyone right now. Placing their comrades in the ground while their families cried and the flag was giving to the grieving mother's. It must be tough for Dakota, being the only survivor who witnessed that horrid day. How could anyone not relive such a moment?
"It was not your fault." Dakota slammed the glass on the counter loud enough to garner attention and concern. She sneered at the words she heard time and time again. Her emotions going haywire and eyes becoming blurry.
"I am tired of hearing that it was not my fault! I could have saved them! I could have given them enough time to live and not be buried. It's hard to not think about such moments and having everyone tell me that it's not my fault. It gets easier when you talk about it. Well, you know what? I am not ready to relive that day because no one knows what it is we saw out there!" Dakota got up from her seat. Her knees buckled beneath her and the world around her turned upside down. She was to drunk to drive home.
Seeing her in this state was something that her platoon sergeant was not used to seeing. Her grabbed her by the arm, slinging it over his shoulder. Dakota glared at the man, but she did not have the fight in her. Not right now. Not when she can think straight and making a fool out of herself. Her sorrow was deep within her bones and no one could see the war inside. She doesn't want to admit it. She just can't.
She could not let go of those she lost. The wound inside her heart opened again. After the loss of her parents, she thought that the wound closed. She was wrong. Now with losing her comrades and the man she loved, that wound would never heal. Dakota was destined to lose those she cared for and called her family. She was destined to be alone without anyone to love her and give her shelter.
She sat on one of the crates to change her bandage. Washing the dried blood from her skin, Dakota wished she had some medicine to numb away the throbbing pain. Fear of infection was human nature. So far, Dakota has not shown any signs of symptoms of illness since she woke up in this ancient time. From the looks of things, she hasn't spread anything to the other's around her. Everyone seemed to be in good health for the most part.
Tightening the new bandages around her knuckles, Dakota sighed heavily to herself. A new day has come upon them, brining with it unknown clarity. Sleep had eluded her these past few days and after the events of it all, she slept peacefully and fully. Her body regained some of its strength that had been lost and the dark circles under her eyes began to fade. If one were to look at Dakota, there was something different about her.
Her eyes focused on the waters as it shined against the sunlight. The smell of the salted sea and the sound of the birds calling out, Dakota felt a sense of ease within her. All her sorrow and anger had manifested into hurting her knuckles against the ship. The past had always haunted her since that night of being told of her parents murder. Once more shadowed by the memory of Egypt and the deaths of her comrades.
Dakota always thought that she would be consumed by that sorrow. The anger of feeling helpless and suddenly dragged into the ancient times where she was fated to birth a child she did not want. All these emotions clashed into each other like atoms forming something dangerous and exploded into Dakota harming herself. She admitted to having PTSD. Now, she has admitted that she needed to change her fate and fuck with whatever was behind the scenes.
No one can tell me where to go. She thought to herself.
In the moment of clarity, she heard footsteps behind her. Stopping a distance away, giving her space to feel at ease.
"We should arrive to Phokis within the day." Barnabas said, standing beside Dakota. The woman looked more at peace with herself, instead of fighting with whatever monster was inside of her. These few days have seen a change with her, which many have noticed. The sailors interacted with Dakota more and wanted to spar with her to hone their own skills. But, during this time, Dakota kept her distance from Alexios.
It was worrying to Barnabas to see the two not always bickering or getting into their small arguments. The sailors noticed as well, but could not speak openly about it. When Dakota was above the deck, she would be in her small corner or helping out on the ship. Barnabas wanted to speak about this matter, but Alexios only said that he wanted to give her space.
"Hm." Dakota said, leaning her head back to bask in the sun. She knew why Barnabas was next to her. She knew what was on his mind.
"If you want to speak about it, do not let it fester. I know you want me to answer, but what should I say to you, Barnabas?" Dakota was one to be blunt and did not waste time. She was keeping her distance from Alexios because she wanted to figure out how to change her fate on her own. If this was to be her destiny, she would find a way to change it herself. Someone in the shadows wanted to use her body without her consent. Her body was her own right and who she chooses to use it was Dakota's decision to make.
Fuck what the ancient times say. This is my body. I have a right to control my own life. I am no ones property or slave. Dakota was not going to be owned. She was not going to abide what fate wants her to do. Even if she held some feelings for the man, she was not going to let fate win. She wasn't going to lose this fight.
I am not going to lose myself again. She crawled out of that dark hole and she was not going to go back. She will continue to fight until her very last breath.
Barnabas could feel the raw emotion within her. All that anger she had held within and the sorrow that was evident upon her face; there was a change within her. She looked all the more like a warrior goddess like Athena. She was skilled like the huntress Artemis. This was Lionheart.
"Do not be mad at Alexios. The gods have given you this fate, but you should not anger them. Bad omens fall upon those who anger the gods." Barnabas stated. He did not want to see these two drift apart as they were fated to walk along this path. Where it would lead them, only the gods new. Dakota wanted to anger fate and change what was laid to her. He did not want to see a bad omen plague the woman.
"I understand your concern, Barnabas." Dakota sighed and lightly smiled. These people were superstitious of the unknown. How could she blame this man for not wanting to anger the gods? If only she could explain that she was not one to believe in such ancient thinking? Everything could be explained through modern thinking.
"I am not mad at Alexios. It was not his decision to be placed in such a predicament. He has his own troubles and has to also bare this problem." Dakota scratched her head in embarrassment. How can she look the man in the eye? It was one reason why she kept her distance from him while she planned in her mind. It takes two people to create life and Dakota wasn't going to take that step. Thinking about it made her want to bleach her mind of even trying to conjure such indecent images.
It made her want to twitch her eye.
"Then why are you keeping your distance? Are you afraid that what was said would happen?" Barnabas asked, actually making Dakota's eye twitch. Is he insinuating that I am afraid that I will actually…
"Me keeping away from him, is for me to think of how to change my fate. I cannot help but feel that those who took my blood will do something to the child. Not that I plan on having one with the man!" She quickly added while pointing to Barnabas. She had thought about if it were to happen, would those hiding come and do something to the child? Why a child? What is within their blood that is deemed worth taking?
"So, you have thought of it? Changing your fate because of the dangers." Dakota nodded her head to Barnabas's words. Changing it all would prevent hurting an innocent. Dakota could not live with her life knowing that an innocent was harmed because of their bloodline. No one deserves to be put into such a position.
"That man wanted my blood. Now that he has it, those who hide must know too. I will not give them the pleasure of having fulfilled it. I have seen and fought an enemy that cover their faces. I am not going to hold back when the time comes to unmask them." Dakota stood up with a new determination in her stance. The sea wind blowing warm air to soak the sweat from her skin. She looked to her bandaged knuckle and turned it over to see the scar along her palm. The man that had scared her and haunted her, was no longer that to her.
Reaching the shores of Phokis, the ship was placed near the harbor. Dakota looked to the people at the port going about their daily life. Unaware of some mysterious force in the shadows preparing for something dangerous. Dakota placed the hood over her head as she felt someone familiar beside her. She could feel her body tense a little. Her focus was on the small market in the port and the sounds of people chatting about a sell or the chickens clucking in their cages to be sold. She could even see some children running along the boards; laughing and yelling as they chased one another.
It seemed so carefree that such innocence could be harbored during times of war.
"You are free to follow me to meet with someone or you can choose to stay upon the ship." His strong voice sent a chill down her spine. Dakota has not spoken to Alexios since their reunion in the Spartan camp. Since then, she kept her distance. Now, it seems that Alexios was the one to come to her and having her make a decision for herself.
Dakota moved a little to the side to keep some distance. She was still felt unease being around the man who she was meant to conceive a child with. Of coarse she would have such an uneasy feeling around him. Who would be of acceptance and be in a good mood after being told your fate was sealed to the person beside you?
"It seems you still want to keep your distance from me." Alexios stated, a hint of sadness in his voice. Why did he feel wronged? It was not his decision. Did she think that he too is happy about this? He had never thought of such things about Dakota. Then why feel this way if you have no feelings for her?
"Do not think that I am mad at you." Dakota said. "Keeping away from you for some time is for the sake of my sanity. Being told that we are to share a common fate, what did you expect from me? That your gods are giving me a gift? Maybe some other woman would be happy and just accept it, but not me."
She looked at him with a fire in her eyes. Her stance was tall and unmovable, that standing straight in front of Alexios caused the man to see her in a new light. The hood that covered her head blocked some of the sun and left a shadow on her forehead. Her face was more tanned, that it almost glistened in the sun. The woman who was stubborn and strange to Alexios, was still that same woman he had come to know.
"Then how do you plan on changing your fate?" Alexios said, after some time.
"I do not know yet. I only want to know why my blood is so important to them. Do they have something to do with this? I am not going to accept what has already been paved for me. I'd rather destroy it and rebuild on my own." The way she looked at him was enough to see that Dakota had accepted her darkness. Everything that she had felt up to this point had given her enough strength to go head to head with fate. That fire inside of her that was once dimming had ignited strong.
"Then, maybe I can help you to change it. If you say that those who hide might have something to do with our path, I would want it to change to give you peace. One cannot force a heavy burden upon someone unwilling." Dakota was taken back for a moment after hearing what Alexios said. As a man in these times, one would think he should accept what the gods say. His fate and destiny were unmovable and could not be changed at all. He had to accept the fact that he and Dakota were fated to have a child. If Alexios wanted, he could have just done what fate wanted regardless of Dakota's consent. After knowing Alexios for some time now, he was the kind of man who was cautious of fate.
"You know, Alexios. You are getting a little better at comforting people. It's a shame that the only woman you are able to get is someone who doesn't see you as a potential husband." Alexios flicked Dakota's forehead in a playful manner. Ow!
"I do not think I would want you as a wife, seeing that you would never obey your husband. You are too wild and have a sharp tongue." Dakota rubbed her forehead to ease the pain a little. She lightly kicked Alexios in the shin, which he cursed at her, making Dakota laugh loudly. Payback! Not like I would marry you anyway! Fate did not say we had to be married.
Dakota twitched an eye again after thinking that. She wanted to change her fate, not think about being forever stuck with the man!
"We should carry on with your mission. I do not think I would miss the chance to see you try to get out of trouble.I think I would rather see the outcome then stand aside." Dakota stated, looking at Alexios. Their was shiny of a grin upon her lips and a playful glint in her eyes that one could not miss. This was what was missing about Dakota since telling her about having a child. The air around them seemed much lighter, instead of heavy.
He would not think of it. This was the side of Dakota that he, though he would never admit to it, that he had missed. Not the woman who looked war-torn, blaming herself, keeping her distance from him. It was if he had lost a friend because of some circumstance that he could not control. To see Dakota look well rested and finally speaking to him, Alexios felt that his friend was back.
But the little voice in the back of mind told him how long it will last before she decides that she could no longer stay by his side. That voice was silenced for now while hood omens finally graced him. His mother's whereabouts are unknown for the moment. She could still be alive and waiting for his return. This moment had kept Alexios keeping hope within his heart that his family could become whole. Now that Dakota was speaking to him again, it could mean that she was never mad at him because of the circumstance.
He was grateful for giving her the time and space to deal with it on her own.
"You were never one to stand aside. Always head first into battle and I seem to always have to get you out of it." Dakota rolled her eyes at the man beside her. Who is saving who from trouble? She thought. It seems that the dark veil that was over them had come off for the time being. Dakota chuckled at the truth of herself.
Not to far away, Barnabas smiled at the two.
It has been almost a year since I last updated this story. I apologize to everyone who has been waiting. I am back with updates and the progress that Dakota has made was a big step for her character. I did not want her to dwell on it and not learn how to grow on her own. She is the type that may hit rock bottom, but it takes hitting rock bottom to stand back up. I did not know how I was going to write her growth without making her forget immediately. It takes time to accept all the trauma, even though she has no way of finding help.
Dakota is written in a way where I want her to be this strong character that happens to be a woman in a time where women were considered property and had to be told what to do by a man. Women in those times had to take care of the daily chores around their home. Women had little opportunities, as they were often married young. I wanted to make every setting as realistic as possible. To the people seeing Dakota, they would see her as strange and unkempt. She is lesser then a man.
Thank you for the reviews!
Here's a question: should Dakota and Alexios be together in the end? I've been thinking about this for a year and have two different endings for this story. Let me hear you thoughts on why they should or why they shouldn't.
Should Dakota go back to modern times or stay in Ancient Greece to make a name for herself?
Would love to hear opinions.