Story Title: In the Time of Grief
Summary: Bagoas and Hephaestion try to cope with the atmosphere of confusion and grief left in the wake of Cleitus's death.
A/N: This story? Just because I can…
Warnings: uh, besides the usual topics surrounding relationships between Hephaestion and Alexander and Bagoas… well, there's some graphic/violent stuff, but I don't think it's too terrible. (But then again, I'm just plain weird!)
Disclaimer: I own nothing and gain nothing from writing about Alexander and his contemporaries.
You saw me sitting outside his door, trying to withhold my tears of worry and confusion. He had thrown me out over an hour ago. You knocked on the heavy wooden barrier and slipped inside to see him, to offer your own comfort to him, but he sent you back out mere minutes after you had disappeared through the threshold. You looked at me again before striding off with a sigh towards your own rooms. I saw the pain and distress upon your face.
I sat frozen in my spot, unable to move from my place of watchfulness outside the king's suite. The guard changed, and the young men stared at me with raised brows as I continued to gaze at his door. The stone floor was cold and grew even more frigid as the darkness of night deepened over the fortress and its city. But I could not bring myself to move, hoping that perhaps I would be called for. Surely he would want me to tend to him eventually.
Although I had lost track of time, I think it was sometime after midnight when you came back and knocked on his door again. He commanded you out just as soon as he saw you through the opening portal and a silver water pitcher crashed against the wall beside your head. I had never thought I would ever see you flinch at anything.
After closing the door again, you looked at me once more and shook your head. You stepped over to me and hauled me to my feet by my armpits, startling me to no end. The only thing going through my head at that moment was surely you wouldn't blame me for this. Surely you wouldn't take your frustration out on me?
"Come, Bagoas. There's no use in you catching cold out here keeping watch. He won't be snapping out of this grief anytime soon," you tried to keep your voice soft so as not to frighten me, but it was still rough with your own worry and sorrow.
I clung to your biceps as you set me firmly on my feet, afraid to let go for a moment. It's the first time you've ever dared touch me and it has taken me completely by surprise. I look up into your soul-rending blue eyes, knowing I must be little more that a nuisance child to you, but I know not how to change this perception you have of me.
Finally getting over my small shock, I let go of you and allow you to step back. I figure you'll send me back to my own tiny room to sleep for the rest of the night, but instead, you place a hand on my shoulder and steer me in the opposite direction, towards your own lodgings. I quiver in apprehension as you guide me through your door, fearing your intentions. The death of a lowly eunuch would be of no consequence to anyone, so why wouldn't you take this chance to be rid of me? I have come between you and your love after all.
But you slip away from me once the door is closed and sit upon the windowsill, staring out at the glowing moon. After a moment's hesitation, I follow and kneel down at your feet. If Alexander will not allow me to serve him in his time of grief, then I will serve you, though I know so little of you, about your wants or needs. A long silence passes between us before you glance down at me and caress my hair with your war-roughened but gentle fingertips.
"They were good friends, you know, despite all their differences. Cleitus was like an uncle to him in a way," your voice is so tranquil that it hypnotizes me. "Alexander could always count on Cleitus to help him ease the tensions between him and his father when Philip thought his son was being manipulated by Olympias. Cleitus was one of the few men that Alexander valued that the queen couldn't bend to her will. It infuriated her no end, especially considering that Cleitus was Philip's favorite."
You fell silent after giving me that brief explanation, and although it dispersed some of my confusion, all I could do was gaze up silently into your beautiful eyes. I can see why Alexander loves you even if I don't understand how your relationship with each other has come to be forged so deeply. I never meant to put a rift between you. I just wanted to be loved again. Do you know that I have not been loved since my family was torn away from me? Yes, men have lusted for me, but no one, not even Darius, has thought of me as a person since my gelding. And yet Alexander offered me that, he offered me my humanity back again. And he gave me love. How could I deny him my heart after that?
You give a sigh and rise from the windowsill, heading towards your bed. I follow and begin turning down the covers, kindle the night lamp, help you disrobe. You raise an eyebrow at me as I go through these motions, obviously surprised by my choosing to serve you. But I know not what else to do. The events from earlier this evening, Alexander's rejection and grief, and now being here in your rooms have all made me uneasy, but performing these familiar bedtime tasks for you helps to soothe my nerves.
After wiping away the day's sweat and dust with a damp cloth, you slip quietly into your bed. It is not quite as big as Alexander's but still suitable for any royalty who wishes to find a good night's rest beneath its blankets. Thinking you have no more need or want of me, I turn to leave, but your gentle voice halts my catlike steps.
"Stay, Bagoas. Rinse off and come to bed," you whisper the words, nearly mumbling under the weight of your exhaustion after the evening's stressful events.
I obediently disrobe, placing my Persian garments on a nearby chair, and sponge off quickly. The air has grown very chilly and causes my skin to prickle with goose bumps. Briefly I wonder if you're watching me while I go about my business, but turning to make my way towards your bed, I find your blue eyes already hidden behind their lids. In silence I slip underneath the blankets, nervous of this situation. I've never imagined any good ever coming out of us sharing a bed. I find it more likely that I would never wake from such an experience. But I settle at your side anyway.
Your blue eyes flicker momentarily in the glowing lamp light. I feel your hand wrap around my own beneath the covers, giving a gentle squeeze before relaxing into a loose grip. Before I know it, we both drift into sleep.
But the night does not bring me any peace. I see again Cleitus impaled upon the spear Alexander had snatched from a guard in the midst of their drunken argument. I hear Alexander yelling at me to get out of his rooms, rejecting me, sending me away. My nightmarish dreams spin and turn, and once again I face the deaths of my family members. The blood of my parents stains the floors of my childhood home. My siblings scream and writhe in agony as they're trapped amongst the burning timbers of our house. I can smell the burst entrails and roasting human flesh. Terror clutches my chest and throat, and I cannot breathe. Billowing smoke causes my world to turn dark, and I scream in grief and fear.
In the darkness of my mind, I hear the voice of the man who castrated me mocking me, saying that he's cut away everything that could ever bring me love. The voice turns demonic and hateful. It tells me I'll always be alone. No one will ever want a eunuch once he has grown out of his youthfulness. There will never be any children to look after me and provide for me when I become old and frail. Alexander will cast me away when I've outgrown my novelty. In fact, he has already rejected me. I've already begun to outlive my welcome under his protective roof. The voice continues to laugh mockingly, and I scream out in despair. I cannot survive being alone. I would rather die than face this fate.
"Bagoas!" a voice hisses in my ear as someone shakes me awake. I expect to wake up in my own bed, or Alexander's, but in the dimness of the night lamp, I don't recognize my surroundings. Without comprehension or memory, I stare into startlingly blue eyes which I soon recognize as yours. The fear and distress of my nightmare still contaminate my thoughts and body, and coming face to face with you upon my waking brings terror-filled tears to my eyes. I sob and try to pull away from you, but you still have a hold on my shoulder. I begin to shiver and spasm in fright as my struggles turn out to be fruitless.
"Bagoas, shhh, it's alright," you force me against your chest and wrap your arms about me protectively. "Bagoas, it was only a dream, a nightmare. Shh, you're alright now. You're safe."
"No, I'm not," I sob against your chest as intelligence finally comes back to me. "I'm a eunuch, Hephaestion. You know this, but I don't think you understand it. I have lost all of my family and am fated to never gain another. Alexander loves you and will always love you. But I'm only a novelty, a spoil of war, which he'll eventually tire of. I am condemned to die alone because of what I am, but being alone is the one thing that I have feared above all else."
"Shh, Bagoas, shhhh," your body shifts beside me and you seem to soften. "Alexander and I will never let that happen to you. For as long as you love him, Alexander will never grow tired of you. You'll always have a place here with us. You'll always be a part of our family now."
"You accept me?" I ask in both wonder and apprehension.
"Alexander will always be the only one whom I accept as my lover, but that doesn't mean that I don't want to love you, Bagoas," you tilt your head back in order to gaze into my eyes. "I would love you as a little brother if you'd let me."
I take a moment to consider this idea, rolling it about in my mind until a question enters my head.
"Do brothers often share beds in Macedon?"
A breathy laugh hisses between your teeth as you try to keep it quiet.
"No, brothers don't often share beds in Macedon, at least not at our ages. But these are extenuating circumstances. I am grieving for a friend, and we're both nursing our wounded spirits after being sent away by our most beloved Alexander. I think we could both use the familial comfort right now, don't you?"
I offer you an understanding smile and press a chaste kiss to your cheek.
"It would be a true honor to have you as my brother, Hephaestion."
End A/N: So that's it for this story. I know… it's weird. But I'm weird. Reviews & comments are very much appreciated. Even the negative flames!
Thanks for reading! ~ Stony Knight