Alexander's POV.

Lyrics are from The Tension & The Terror by Straylight Run.

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Your lips, they pout and twist, and I die trying just to keep myself from kissing you.

He was a little older than me, slightly taller and considerably more attractive. I had openly envied him for longer than either of us cared to remember. Both of our mothers told us that we would grow out of being so competitive with one another, and on some levels they were right. I certainly stopped envying him, but the competition between us continued, changed to serve a higher purpose but still inevitably there. Of course, that is a story for another time.

I remember always thinking that his brilliant chartreuse eyes were the most expressive part of him, but at the distance I found myself watching him from on that one auspicious day, it dawned on me that his mouth was equally as readable, even from several yards away. Its width made him look boyish, but the faint shadow of stubble along his jawbone detracted from the childish image and served as a reminder that he was an adolescent—and older than most of his peers. His lips were full and, it seemed, constantly animated, even when he paused to let others speak; he bit one side of his bottom lip, then the other, pursed them, pouted, flicked his tongue out over them…

I caught myself wondering what it would be like to kiss him.

"Alexander? Hello…"

Lost in my private daydream, I had neither heard nor seen him approach and was unaware of his presence until he called me and waved a hand in front of my face. I looked up at him, my jaw slack with surprise, then lowered my head again as the colour rose to my cheeks and I fought to banish the thoughts that had been pervading throughout my mind—thoughts of what his lips would feel like against mine.

"Sorry about that," I offered with an uncharacteristically nervous laugh as he sat down beside me. I heard the quiet breath of air he expelled, and there was no need for me to turn around in order to work out that he was laughing at me. "Must be the weather… making me tired."

"You were daydreaming, admit it," he urged with a laugh and a nudge at my side.

"No, I was just… yeah, I suppose… tired, daydreaming, not really much difference." My face seemed to have cooled somewhat, and so I looked up from the dust swirling at my feet. It was apparently a mistake, because Hephaistion raised a brow and then broke out laughing again.

"The colour suits you, Alexander!"

"What… what colour? I don't—"

"You've gone red," he observed. "Embarrassed, are we?"

"Oh, well…" I tried to force a laugh, but I was so desperately uncomfortable that it presented itself as more a groan than anything. "You know how I hate being caught off my guard."

"Should be used to it from me by now," he replied with a playful sneer. I raised a brow and nodded in response, managing a laugh this time because it was actually funny.

I don't think anything could've prepared either of us for what I said next; all I know is that I regretted it immediately and it was all I could do to finish what I'd started and wait for a reply.

"Phai, if I were to kiss you—" Oh gods, what are you saying… "—what would you do?" I felt almost sick to my stomach, but I supposed that the least I could do was have the decency not to vomit in his lap and make the situation a little bit more awkward. I watched his mouth, so expressive, so constantly betraying his emotions, open and close as his brain tried to process what had just been said.

"Well," he began, and I judged that he was choosing his next words carefully, "I suppose…" he trailed off into silence, breaking eye contact and raising his brows as he searched for what I imagined would be the kindest way to turn me away, "you could try it, and find out."

My breath hitched in my chest. A brief shiver of anticipation ran through me and I subconsciously drew my hands up to my thighs in order to wipe my sweaty palms on the dry fabric of my tunic. Before I froze up completely, I managed to swallow the imagined lump that was inhibiting my breathing—for all the good it did me when I was staring at him helplessly, wanting to move but completely unable to.

There was an almost shy smile on his lowered face, and he was chewing at his bottom lip again as he looked up at me through his lashes and waited for me to regain control of my motor functions. It wasn't until he leaned back, looking somewhere between disappointed and irritated, that I recovered well enough to reach out and touch his face.

He smiled again.

I kissed him.

It was hesitant, brief, clumsy; everything an adolescent kiss should be. His tongue flitted out and brushed against my own before we drew apart, mouths tingling, cheeks flushed, eyes glazed and distant.

"Seems I'd kiss you back," he murmured.