Just a little something short and cute to occupy my time while I'm recovering here at home. All the usual stuff...I don't own the characters or anything related to them. I am very grateful that they allow me to play with them.

A fairly mild M on the third chapter, squeaky clean on the rest.

Everything was set up perfectly. The private meeting room had been transformed into an intimate dining room set for two. The large wooden table in the center had been draped with the finest embroidered cloth. Golden plates and goblets awaited the feast that was to be brought in at the appropriate time. Vases of flowers decorated the room, and braziers burned in several spots, giving the darkened room a softly flickering glow. Cushions had been placed on the floor for relaxing upon after the dinner was finished. The smell of sandalwood and cedar permeated the air. The only sound to be heard was the subtle crackling of flames and the gentle rain that was falling outside the window.

Yes, it was perfect. All that remained was for the invited to arrive and the feast to be served to them. Then they would be left alone. The guards had been instructed that once they were seated inside, no one was to disturb them.

A soft smile graced the face of the one who had prepared it all.


Alexander was stressed beyond belief. Everyone needed something from him lately it seemed, and all at once. It never failed. As soon as he got one fire put out, another one sprung up in its place. There was always a problem with a satrap somewhere or talk of an uprising from a neighboring tribe. His generals seemed to be at odds with each other constantly these days. He spent more time refereeing disagreements among his men than battling his foes.

He sighed heavily. He missed Hephaestion. Oh, he had returned from his away mission nearly a week ago, but there had been precious little time to spend with him. If he wasn't buried by his own responsibilities, Hephaestion was buried with his. Other than brief meetings in council and the short conversations at dinner, they had not had any time together at all.

Sometimes he truly wondered if being king was worth it. That thought made him laugh quietly to himself. Of course he wanted to be king, but sometimes….

Yes, sometimes he wished for the days of their youth. Things had been so much simpler then. Even his first few years as king were not so bad. It was to be expected, he supposed. The more kingdoms he conquered and the more cities he founded, the greater his responsibilities. That only made sense. He had delegated some of it to the men he trusted most, Hephaestion being one of them. He was confident in anything that Hephaestion did and never questioned him on anything, but at the same time that meant that he was nearly always either away on his own business or buried under paperwork here.

He was frustrated, tired, irritable and impatient. He felt a little bad for being so short-tempered of late, but was just how he felt. He needed a break, but did not see one in the immediate future.

He frowned and sat down on the side of his bed. He lay back, and promptly sat back up as he felt something poking him in the back. Reaching around, he found a rolled parchment tied with a ribbon lying on the bed. He smiled. Who could have left such a thing? His smile grew wider as he unrolled the parchment and read the contents. It was a short note, dictated to a scribe no doubt, that simply requested his presence for supper in the private meeting room at dusk. The letter was not signed, but he felt a happiness that warmed his heart. It had to be Hephaestion.

Responsibilities be damned. He was going to make time for this no matter what.

Suddenly his day got a lot better.

Hephaestion mumbled something under his breath and tossed a wadded up parchment across the room. Gods, he was so tired of paperwork. Since he had been back from his last mission, he had barely left his room except to eat, and even then he sometimes took his meals in his quarters. The mountain of paperwork that stared back at him was unbelievable! Obviously, no one did anything with any of it while he was gone. It just piled up and was left waiting for him. He had correspondence to write, plans to lay out, inventories to take and supplies to order, letters to answer, maps to draw up…the list went on. What he would have given to take a torch to all of it and watch the ashes drift slowly away on the wind.

When had he become a secretary? Didn't Alexander already have one of those? What the heck did the man do then? Surely not paperwork, for it all was sitting on his desk. He thought he might have to look into that, if he ever got time to leave his room.

He missed Alexander. He had not gotten to spend any time with him since he had returned last week. Their brief conversations had been strictly business and quite short at that. The few times they had dined together had been in the company of the other generals. They had yet to find any time to speak privately, much less anything else he would have liked to do privately.

Gods. He missed the days when they could sneak off for an hour or two to be alone, even if it was only to talk. They could always vent their frustrations to each other, and say how they really felt about things…things neither of them would ever dare say in front of the others. They could express all their doubts and fears, their hopes and dreams, and yes, express their love for one another freely.

It seemed that those days were over, and that made him quite sad. He missed HIS Alexander. Now, he had to share him with the world. Such was the price of loving the king. He sighed and leaned back in his chair, stretching his sore back which responded with a loud crack. Out of the corner of his eye, something caught his attention. Lying on his bed was a rolled parchment tied with a silk ribbon.

Hmmm. What could that be? He felt his heart beat just a little faster as he retrieved the paper and unrolled it. His smile grew wider as he read. It was an invitation to dinner, at dusk, in the private meeting room next to the council room. It was not in Alexander's handwriting (it had obviously been dictated to a scribe), but there was no one else who would have done such a thing.

He would inform his pages that he would be unavailable for the rest of the evening, no matter what.

Suddenly his day got a lot better.