Hephaestion looked up from the between the piles of scrolls on his desk at the sunny day outside. The breeze that made it's way to his face past the mess in front of him, felt wonderful. Pushing his chair away, he made his way out of his room and to the stables.

Letting his cares and responsibilities go for a couple of hours, he rode through the grasses and plains. The wind whipped through his long hair and the sweet smells of summer filled him with a few moments of peace and quiet.

Returning refreshed and renewed, he entered his room to find an agitated King waiting for him. Not speaking right away the King only glared at him.

"Is everything alright? Has something happened?" asked Hephaestion innocently.

"Fine, if you count my second-in-command missing for half of a very busy day." Alexander bristled.

"It seems he thinks playing in the fields is more important than his duties with the King." The King added tartly. " If you find your duties too much to handle, I'm sure I can find someone to replace you."

Hephaestion stared at the Alexander, his mouth hanging open. Then he lowered his head, took a deep breath and bit his lower lip. His eyebrows furrowed in anger and he took his time answering the irate King.

He looked back to Alexander's face and smiled. "I think you are right. Maybe you should find someone else to be your second-in-command. I bet there is someone out there who could do a much better job than I am doing. I will even help you find someone," he said as he took an empty scroll and started to write on it.

"Let's see…what are the qualifications and responsibilities?" Hephaestion said thinking out loud.

"Must be able to work on many things at the same time but willing to drop everything if the King wishes. Must be an excellent mind reader, counselor, warrior, architect and organizer. Must be able to watch the King's back during battles and his front when he is partying. Must be willing to be carry out the King's commands and wishes at any hour of the day and night, forfeiting any plans he may have had for himself."

Alexander listened with his arms folded across his chest, no smile appearing on his face.

"Most importantly," Hephaestion continued, " must be very thick-skinned. Must never let the rest of the court, other Generals, and especially the King himself, see any frustration, hurts or pains he may be feeling from his responsibilities. Must be willing to do all to the above mentioned duties while being taunted and teased, made fun of and belittled with out retaliating in any way."

"Am I missing anything?" Hephaestion said turning to Alexander.

"Are you finished yet?" the King asked seething.

"Nay," said Hephaestion thoughtfully, "I just thought of the most important thing. This is very important and they must agree to this completely or all the other things will not matter."

"And what would that be?" Alexander said through his clenched teeth.

"Whomever you find to replace me must be willing to give up all of his own dreams and visions. He has to be able to let you go as you turn to others, if he happens falls in love with you. He has to pretend and never let you see how much it hurts to see you with someone other than himself." Hephaestion finished, looking again at the sky outside.

Turning back to Alexander, Hephaestion looked into his eyes and saw tears. He looked down feeling his own tears start to fall.

"Do you think you can find someone soon because I have some dreams I have put on hold for awhile and I am anxious to get to them now that I will have the time?" Hephaestion whispered softly.

Alexander took the couple of steps to erase the space between them. He put his hands on Hephaestion upper arms and squeezed them gently.

"I only know of one man who could handle the job you have so accurately described and he is standing in front of me. The only question I have is why he would want a job like this. Why would he give up everything, his dreams, his time, his dignity at times and his own many talents to follow one man on his quest for glory?"

Hephaestion looked away towards the window before answering. He looked back at Alexander and answered with complete sincerity.

"Because I fell in love with the man on his quest and his dreams, and because most of the time he is not too much of a pain in the arse, except when he is totally wrong and then I just have to set him straight again."

"Ah, Hephaestion, you can't be replaced, not in your duties, your friendship, but most importantly, in my heart. You are the core of my soul and I can never let you go. Forgive me for taking you and all the things you do for me for granted, yet again. Can you forgive this fool one more time?"

Hephaestion looked into the eyes he had known for so long. He could read the thoughts and feeling behind them by just looking at them. He could see the fears, happiness, confusion and determination. Now all he saw was love, pure and unconditional love.

He took Alexander in his arms and held him tight letting the warmth of the arms around him flow through his blood.

"I forgive you Alexander but I think with my job I deserve a raise." Hephaestion whispered in Alexander's ear.

"That, my beautiful one, you already have." Alexander whispered back.

And they held on tighter as they laughed in each other's hair.