Chapter 3

Alexander woke up at some time of the night, feeling slightly disoriented for a while. His rooms were dark, but a soft, steady breathing against his neck indicated that he was not alone in the room. Blinking in the darkness, Alexander turned his head, seeing the moon reflecting from behind the curtains covering the doorway of the balcony. It was indeed night as he had first guessed.

Shifting a little, Alexander looked down at the sleeping figure beside him. In the nearly absent light it was hard to see at all, but Alexander's hazy memory was already collecting itself and one touch told him exactly whom he had invited into his bed tonight. A smile crept upon his face as he lowered his head to kiss the forehead of the other. He slid his arms around the prone form, pulling it closer. A soft moan escaped from his companion, and Alexander's smile turned fond.

He remembered the letter he had received from his mother yesterday. She had demanded him to bring her into Babylon immediately. Hephaistion had encouraged him, and who was he to deny his friend's counsel?

Glancing down once more, he just made out the peaceful silhouette of Hephaistion's sleeping form. He had asked him to stay with him for the night. After a moment of uncertainty, Hephaistion had agreed, to Alexander's great relief. He wasn't sure what he would have done if Hephaistion had refused…

A desperate wail echoed from some of the hallways, carrying clearly in the silence of the night. Reflexively, Alexander lowered his hand upon Hephaistion's head, fondling the dark hair. The wail came out again, and then stopped, making Alexander wonder what was causing it. But many were the pleasures here at Babylon…

Hephaistion sighed contentedly, unconsciously moving nearer to the warm body beside him. What dreams he saw Alexander didn't dare to guess, but in a dark corner of his mind he hoped that his lover was dreaming of him. And here again I stand face to face with my fear, Alexander thought grimly. I have become a king of Asia, I command thousands of men, and yet I am afraid of something that all my men have conquered: I do not dare to love my lover as I should and as I desire. Could it be so that we are both still remembering Aristotle's words, and I am now beginning to share Hephaistion's uncertainty? What happens if we do something wrong? What would become of our love…

Glancing at Hephaistion, Alexander remembered his own response when Hephaistion had asked this of him. "You could never do wrong." Alexander still believed in this. And perhaps he was worrying over nothing: his love to Hephaistion was as pure as it could be, and when the day would come when they would lie together… Alexander shook his head, afraid of his own thoughts. He knew what men did together: he had witnessed such actions in banquets times enough to know.

But was that the way he was willing to treat Hephaistion? Of course there were many ways to love, but such a brutal act against his lover seemed somewhat wrong, as Alexander thought about it. Would he, king of Macedonia and Asia, dare to touch his lover like he would never touch another man?

The answer was simple enough, and it frightened Alexander. He had been uncertain for years, but now he knew.

And the answer was yes. If Hephaistion would have him. He would never force his lover into anything.

Turning to his side, Alexander watched Hephaistion. The rays of the moon shining through the curtain filled the room with silver light, making everything look like a world of dreams. Caught up with an inner desire, Alexander let his hands roam over Hephaistion's body, his fingers gently touching the skin visible to him. He felt like a thief in the night, stealing soft caresses from his lover, but he couldn't help himself. He had yearned for this for so long, and now that an opportunity presented itself so temptingly…

Alexander shifted closer, closing his eyes, his touch memorising every moment of this. Hephaistion moved slightly when Alexander's fingers played down his back, mapping out the scars of many battles. As Hephaistion did not stir, Alexander grew bolder, his touch lingering longer. He had touched Hephaistion before, but this seemed so much more intimate than ever, as if the Gods had possessed him.

Carefully, not wishing to wake Hephaistion, Alexander rested his head upon Hephaistion's shoulder, breathing in the familiar, soothing scent that always calmed him and made him oblivious for the rest of the world. Tenderly, he kissed the skin that was warm beneath his touch, deciding that this was the first time he tasted Hephaistion. Smiling at this new discovery, Alexander joined his mouth to his fingers, mapping out the body before him.

He found a long scar near the hip, tracing it with his fingers, then with his mouth. He couldn't completely forget that it was his doing that Hephaistion had his scars: his guest to the east had drawn his lover to battles, but not once had Hephaistion hesitated. They both had their own scars, both visible and invisible.

In his thoughts, Alexander slid the garment partially covering Hephaistion lower, following the long scar down a strong thigh. Only when a ragged breath was drawn above him, Alexander looked up from his task, seeing a pair of eyes glint in the darkness. Hephaistion blinked, but he looked all but asleep. The wake up he had received was all but that he had been used to, and the confusion upon his face was obvious. And yet Alexander saw something else in his eyes and expression. Something that made the king's heart beat faster. With one, lingering kiss upon the thigh, Alexander slowly crawled up to lie beside Hephaistion, still feeling uncertain as how Hephaistion would react at this. Would he leave Alexander, never facing him again?

Hephaistion blinked once more, and then his hands shot up with a speed that had made many enemies fall, grabbing Alexander by the shoulders and drawing the other man closer. Alexander tried to pull away a little, wishing to make sure that Hephaistion was not hurt, but the other gave him no chance for that. With a need that had grown for years, Hephaistion kissed Alexander, his hands locked around Alexander's neck, preventing him from moving.

Accepting this, Alexander met Hephaistion, feeling the other man yield under him, the hands behind his neck loosening, caressing his hair. They kissed like this for a long moment, not violently like warriors, but more like experimentally, learning each other.

When they finally drew apart, Hephaistion held Alexander close, his eyes as dark as the night sky and his breathing unsteady. Caressing Alexander's back, Hephaistion slowly smiled. "My Alexander," he breathed, making Alexander shiver. The blue eyes held a promise for future, love shining in them, no longer hidden or uncertain.

Resting himself upon his lover, Alexander pressed their foreheads together. "My Hephaistion," he echoed, closing his eyes in bliss. There was no need to rush. They loved each other, and that was enough. They would have an eternity in front of them.

The End