We're part of a story, part of a tale
We're all on this journey
No one is to stay
Where ever is it going
What is the way?
We're part of a story, part of a tale
Sometimes beautiful and sometimes insane
No one remembers how it began.
Never-ending Story Lyrics by Within Temptation
Besik Bay. He had saved his money for years to visit this legendary place and now he was finally here.
The blond man opened the car door and set foot on the Turkish soil. Scanning the grounds, he saw the remains of Troy in the distance. The legendary city was another reason he had come here. He walked toward Kum tepe, an ancient hill that rose before him. Scholars believed that this was the last resting place of Achilles and Patrocles and he was eager to get closer to it.
His movement was slow, but his footsteps never faltered. His injury still hampered him, but he didn't give in to the pain and continued his way over to the hill. He had been shot on the job almost a half year ago. A drug dealer had objected to being arrested and had buried a bullet in his side. The bullet had torn his lung and he had been in a critical condition for several days. That was when the dreams had started; dreams about ancient Greece and her heroes.
Alex had always had a fascination for the things of old. His mother had been an antiques dealer and had often brought home interesting objects for him to study. As a child he had been fascinated by statues and coins and he had examined them while listening to her stories about Greece's immortal heroes. His favorite hero had been Heracles, closely followed by Achilles.
In the hospital, he had suffered from fever-driven hallucinations and those dreams had been about Heracles, Achilles, and even Alexander the Great, the Macedon King his mother had named him after. Those dreams had pulled him through rehab, which had been hell. Remembering his heroes' suffering had helped him cope and had made him determined to make a full recovery. His side had hurt terribly and he had been short of breath for months. In the end, the doctors had released him, telling him to rest and to limit any strenuous actions to a minimum.
He was beginning to pant and it became obvious that he had overworked himself by hiking to the hill. He should have taken the jeep instead. But taking the car that close to the hill didn't seem right; it almost felt sacrilegious.
His heart beat began to race due to overexertion. His doctor had probably been right to tell him to keep off his feet, but he had always been stubborn and this pain was just something else he needed to overcome. He was determined not to give in to his discomfort.
Life had treated him kindly until six months ago. His mother had done a good job raising him. He hadn't really missed having his father around. His father, Phil, had never been much of a father and his mother had kicked him to the curb the last time he had returned home drunk and covered in lipstick marks. He had applauded her decision and their life had become more peaceful and comfortable once Phil was out of the picture.
Ever since he had been a little boy, he had wanted to join the army, but in the end he had joined the police force. He had been about to be promoted to Captain of his squad when he had unfortunately been shot. The injury had ended his career and had forced him to officially retire.
He pressed his hand against his side which was hurting. It was a warm day and sweat poured from his brow. He quickly wiped it away with a corner of his sleeve and continued towards the hill.
He stood at the foot of the man-made hill and tried to imagine what this place would have looked like the day Achilles was laid to rest here. Patrocles, Achilles' lover, was also said to have found his last resting place here. Was it true? Were Achilles and Patrocles' bodies really inside this hill? And why did he feel such an insane urge to remove his clothes and dance to a melody only he could hear? Was he losing his mind?
The man's voice took him by surprise and Alex spun around. The movement only caused the ache in his side to flare and he bit his bottom lip in an attempt not to cry out. The sun stood high in the sky and cast a shadow over the man now standing in front of him. Alex's eyes narrowed, trying to make out the stranger's features. Whoever he was, he was quite tall and muscular. Long, auburn hair framed the face, whose features he still couldn't see. The stranger was dressed in a sleeveless shirt and faded jeans.
"Hello," Alex replied belatedly. His instincts, which had saved his life many times on the job, kicked him, making him cautious. What were the odds of running into someone else in the middle of nowhere?
"Are you looking for anything in particular?"
The stranger took a step forward and the sun no longer kept Alex from studying him. The first thing that struck him was the deep blue eyes. They possessed the azure of the Mediterranean Sea and, looking into them, he thought he heard waves crashing onto the shore. They were quite something, those eyes. A strong jaw line, full lips, and the open expression on the stranger's features made Alex decide that the other man presented no threat.
"Actually, yes. I was told that this hill contains the remains of Achilles and Patrocles and I was looking for evidence."
The stranger nodded his head once. "Heinrich Schliemann believed that this is Achilles' tomb. I think he is right." There was something about the way that this blond man cocked his head that made him want to approach. It was like an invisible cord was pulling him closer and he moved forward. "Most people call me Hef." He raised his hand and offered it to the blond man.
"My name is Alex." Alex accepted the hand and shook it. "So what brings you out here, Hef?"
"Archeology is a hobby of mine. I came here for the same reason you did." He came to a standstill next to Alex and joined the other man in staring at the hill. "It is quite an awe-inspiring thought that Achilles and Patrocles are buried here."
Alex nodded once. "It is. That is why I came here. Do you know if anyone ever ventured inside that hill to see if the legend is true? Is this really their last resting place?"
"It is a legend, Alex. Part of the fascination is not knowing the truth. At least, now, we can pretend this hill is their last resting place."
Alex turned his head and studied the other man. Long, auburn hair, slightly curly, cascaded down the neck and reached below Hef's shoulder blades. In an exotic way, his new companion was attractive. Alex had realized his sexual preference a long time ago and, thanks to his mother's acceptance, he had grown comfortable with being gay.
"It is special, don't you agree? That they were put to rest together. It is said that they were lovers." The azure eyes sparkled and fastened on him, making his heart beat a little faster.
"History offers enough evidence to prove they were lovers." A sad expression appeared in the blue eyes. "Achilles went mad with grief after losing Patrocles and showed Hector no mercy. In their time, it was normal to have a male lover."
"But was it also normal that such a relationship lasted a life time?" Alex had done his research. "Weren't they supposed to grow out of it and marry?"
"They were married, Alex, to each other." The soft, golden voice now possessed a dreamy tone. "They must have exchanged vows of eternal love."
Alex continued to study his new companion and wondered if he had reached the right conclusion. His instincts told him that something special was happening and that he should pay attention to it. "I can very well imagine being with one man for my entire life." He sucked in his breath. He had voiced it that way on purpose, bluntly stating he was gay with that admission. Sparkling eyes smiled at him and Alex knew he had guessed correctly.
"So can I, Alex." Hef obviously saw no reason to hide this side of his personality now that Alex had revealed something that personal about himself.
What were the odds of him meeting another gay man at Achilles' resting place? /Very slim odds indeed./ Alex became increasingly aware of the other man's scent and he inhaled the spicy fragrance. "Are you on vacation?" He cringed as his desperation to break the silence between them had resulted in something that lame.
"Yes, I am on a break," Hef replied. "I am staying in a hotel near Gülpınar. It is a small town, but the people there are friendly and it is close to Troy."
"I drove out here without thinking of securing lodging first," Alex admitted. "It happened on the spur of the moment."
That statement caused his companion to chuckle. "Impulsive character?"
Alex echoed the chuckling. "I guess so."
"There are still vacancies in the hotel I am staying in. Maybe you should try your luck there?" The idea of getting to know Alex appealed to Hef. There was something in the brown eyes filled with golden specks that attracted him.
"I will do that." Alex gave the hill one last look. "Do you want to stay here or…?"
"We can drive back to the hotel." He noticed the exhausted look on Alex's face. "You look like you would like to freshen up and get some rest." He also noticed the way Alex pressed a hand against his side.
Alex felt the inquiring blue eyes upon his form and realized he had to offer some kind of explanation. "I was injured some time ago."
"How?" Hef hadn't meant to ask Alex so directly, but the word had slipped out.
"I am a cop. It happened on the job while I was chasing a drug dealer. Unfortunately he hit target."
"I am sorry to hear that." Hef began to walk Alex back to his jeep. He would collect his own car shortly. "Where are you from?" The accent vexed him.
"Alexandria, Virginia. I was born and raised there. I joined the police force when I was twenty." Seeing the other man's interested look, he added, "I am twenty-four now."
"I am one year older than you are." Hef waited for Alex to get into his car. However, he grew concerned, seeing the pained expression on Alex's pale face. "Follow me. I will guide you."
"Thanks." Alex closed the car door and watched Hef's form until the other man disappeared from his view. A few moments later, a green Volvo appeared to his right and, after starting his car, he followed it. He was looking forward to lying down and getting some sleep. This trip had already exhausted him more that he wanted to admit. But meeting Hef had been worth the exertion.
The drive took about an hour and Alex was fighting his fatigue by the time they pulled up to the small hotel. He shut down the engine and rested his hands and forehead on the steering wheel. Pain spiraled up from his side; it hadn't been this bad in weeks! He should have listened to his doctor, but he had always been too stubborn for his own good. Unexpectedly, the door opened and Hef's concerned face appeared. "I am fine."
"No, you are not." Hef extended a hand and helped Alex to his feet. He assisted Alex when they walked into the lobby and steadied him while he talked to the receptionist. Within minutes, two keys were pressed into his hand. "You can fill in the forms later." The receptionist had seen the state his newest customer was in and had been lenient. "I will take you to your room." Which was rather conveniently located next to his. "Are you sure you are supposed to be up and walking about yet?"
"I overestimated my strength," Alex admitted in a pained tone. He stared at the floor, trying to put one foot in front of the other. Hef opened the door and guided him inside. The sun still shone and illuminated the room, which was small, but clean and comfortable. Alex felt relieved, finally being able to lie down and he stretched out onto the bed. "Thanks."
"Do you need help or…?" Not wanting to impose, Hef waited for Alex to answer.
"Thank you, but I only need to rest." The brown eyes began to close and he listened to Hef walking toward the doorway. "You have a strange name," Alexander mumbled. "I don't think I ever met someone called Hef before."
"It is short for Hephaestion."
Alex's eyes opened and he raised his head so he could look into those azure eyes. "What?"
"My father always had a great interest in Greek culture and he named me after Alexander's lover." Hef shrugged. "It is a long and awkward name, so I tell people to call me Hef instead." He wondered about the puzzled look in those hooded eyes. Was Alex feverish? Maybe he should check. His feet carried him back to the bed and he sat down on the side, placing his hand on the other man's brow. "You feel warm."
"Your father called you Hephaestion?" The moment Alex spoke the name, he quivered.
"He is a professor and obsessed with Greek history. It doesn't really surprise me that he chose that name." Hef's fingers continued to linger upon the sweaty brow, caressing the damp skin there. "I feel like I know you," he whispered in an unguarded moment.
"I feel the same way, Hephaestion." The name rolled surprisingly easy from his lips and sounded right. "I was named after Alexander the Great, you know." He grinned, wickedly, and gave Hephaestion a wink. "Maybe this is fate telling us that we were meant to be together."
"Alexander and Hephaestion were lovers, like Achilles and Patrocles." Hef hoped Alex wasn't just smooth talking to get him into bed. He wasn't like that. "I should let you rest now. Maybe you would like to join me for dinner in an hour?"
"Make that two and you have got company." Alex's eyes closed again; Hephaestion's fingers continued to brush his brow in a gentle manner and the caress was putting him to sleep, but not before whispering, "May I… call you… Hephaestion?" That name suited the other man much better than 'Hef'.
"If that is what you want." Only Hef's father called him that. His friends usually went for Hef, but he had to admit that the name sounded much better rolling from Alex's lips.
"Thanks," whispered Alex, already half asleep. He rubbed his brow against the gentle fingers, taking comfort in having the other man close. Never before had he trusted someone so easily or so completely and he simply went to sleep, knowing very well how vulnerable he was making himself.
Hephaestion found that he didn't want to leave his charge's side yet. An incredible protectiveness and worry had come over him since meeting Alex. He didn't believe in love at first sight, nor had he fooled himself into believing that. Right now, he wasn't sure of anything anymore. The only thing that remained was this urge to remain close to Alex and pull the other man into his arms.
In the end, the rational part of him got the upper hand and he pushed himself to his feet, regretting deserting Alex's side. He almost leaned down to press a kiss onto Alex's lips. It was like his hands and feet were tied to invisible ropes that controlled his every movement. His vision grew blurry and his environment changed.
He stood in the middle of a camp crowded with soldiers, merchants, and women. Shouting sounded from all over and a large horse was brought his way. Looking down at his body, he realized he was no longer wearing his shirt and jeans. Instead, he wore a tunic and armor. A sword was girded around his waist and someone placed a helmet on his head. Before he knew what he was doing, he was mounting the horse and calling out to the soldiers.
The next moment the vision was gone and he shook his head in order to clear his thoughts. He had been daydreaming. These last few days he had spent exploring Troy and today he had visited Kum tepe. His imagination had simply gotten the better of him. Maybe it was best he also rested before dinner.
Looking over his shoulder at the sleeping man on the bed, he was struck with another vision. He was walking into a tent and a fair-haired man turned to welcome him with a kiss. /My Alexander,/ he whispered in his vision and the other man smiled, kissing him even more passionately. The vision left as quickly as it had come and he shivered, wondering what was happening to him. He had never suffered from such daydreams before!
He closed the door behind him and rested his back against it. His pulse raced and he could still taste the sweetness of those lips which had been pressed against his. /My imagination is getting the better of me. We talked about Achilles and Patrocles, about their love and then he tells me that his name is Alexander. My subconscious made him into Alexander the Great and I… I was Hephaestion in that daydream just now./
Oh, great. Not only was he falling in love with Alex, but his imagination had decided to become overly active as well! "I need some sleep," he whispered, shaking his head as he entered his room. He let himself fall onto the bed, hugged a pillow, and closed his eyes. His last thought was how much he regretted that he was holding a pillow and not Alex.
Alex's sleep wasn't as peaceful as he had hoped. His dreams were filled with battle scenes, blood, and screaming, but thankfully there were also peaceful moments. Standing upon a balcony and looking out over a city, he felt movement to his left and looked up. The man who now appeared at his side wore a white and red tunic and had long, auburn hair. It was the eyes which startled Alex awake though; eyes as cool and refreshing as the sea.
His breathing came in gasps and he tried to compose himself. The dreams hadn't left. Visiting Achilles' tomb hadn't exorcised them as he had hoped and now a new element had been added to them: Hephaestion. He had instantly recognized his new companion. /What is he doing in my dreams? Did he impress me that much?/ For one short moment, it felt like fingers brushed his lips and strands of silken hair caressed his face. His visions were growing worse then. Now he was even experiencing them while he was awake!
Alex pushed himself into an upright position and concentrated on his breathing. The rest had done wonders for his side, which had stopped hurting, but now his head hurt from all the questions swirling about in it. His doctor had subscribed a mild sedative, which he could take if the dreams continued to bother him, but attending dinner in a drugged state didn't appeal to him. Not when Hephaestion was there as well.
/Hephaestion. The name suits him; feels right for him./ He raised a hand and supported his head, realizing his subconscious had been quite busy during his sleep, making his new companion into Alexander's Hephaestion. Talking about the Greek heroes had seriously affected his dreams.
He couldn't quite explain the interest in Hephaestion or the sudden attraction he felt toward the other man. Maybe it was the blue eyes in which he threatened to drown in each time he looked into them. Maybe it was the luscious lips, which he desperately wanted to kiss. /I am losing my mind./
He was twenty-four years old and in all those years he had never really been in love. Oh, he had been attracted to men: men with long, brown hair and blue eyes, but he had never made love to any of them. Something told him that he shouldn't waste such a precious gift and that he should wait for the right person to come along.
Could that person be Hephaestion? Wouldn't it be an amazing twist of fate if this Hephaestion and he ended up as lovers? /I cannot think these things. Who knows, maybe he isn't even interested in me in that way./ But he instantly realized that he was trying to fool himself. The interest was mutual; he had seen it in the way Hephaestion had looked at him and why else would the other man check his brow for fever? /My poor head is spinning… Please make it stop!/
A sudden knock on the door startled him and he checked the time. Damn, almost two hours had past by!
"Alex? Am I too early? I can come back later if you are not ready yet."
"No, you can come inside. I was still asleep until a moment ago." Alex ran a hand through his tangled hair. During his time with the force he had kept it short, but now he was letting it grow and it reached just below his ears.
The door opened and Hephaestion hesitantly stepped inside. "Are you still tired? Do you want me to ask the cook to have some food brought to your room?" He closed the door behind him but remained near the doorway.
Alex drew in a deep breath, looking at the heavenly vision. Hephaestion had used his time better than he had and had showered. His hair was still slightly wet and clung to the handsome face. He had changed into indigo jeans and a blue shirt, which brought out his eyes even more. Realizing he was practically drooling, Alex broke eye contact. "Give me ten and I will join you." He pushed himself to his feet and disappeared into the bathroom to splash some water onto his face. Looking into the mirror, the face that looked back at him struck him as odd. It was his face and at the same time it wasn't.
Hephaestion felt nervous. These last two hours had been unnerving. After he had gone to sleep, his daydreams had continued. He had found himself on horseback, riding next to Alex, who wore a red tunic and golden armor. White wings had been attached to the other man's helmet and Alex had continued to talk to him. Alex hadn't been speaking English and yet he had understood perfectly. Alex had spoken of wars, conquest, and expanding the empire. He still remembered the words he had heard before waking up. 'I want the world,' Alex had said, before leaning in closer and squeezing his knee. He had woken with a film of sweat covering his body. The dream had been intense.
"I am ready to go." Alex would have preferred to sleep some more, but his stomach growled, reminding him that he needed to eat. "Lead on." He walked up to Hephaestion and smiled at the other man, feeling much better and stronger now that he was back at his side again. Hephaestion unexpectedly turned and Alex's fingers brushed the other man's hand. Sparks flew and their fingers immediately curled around each other, intertwining tightly.
And suddenly they were back upon that balcony, staring at each other.
Both men shared the same vision, saw the same city at their feet, and heard the soft music of a flutist nearby.
"I love only you, Hephaestion. I trust only you. You are my heart… The guardian of my sanity. Without you, I am nothing."
In Babylon, Alexander the Great had once spoken these words and now Alex was repeating them in this hotel room. The two voices melted together and jolted the men out of their trance-like state. They stared at each other, baffled and scared.
Hephaestion moistened his lips and found strength in the fact that Alex's fingers were curled around his, even rubbing the back of his hand. "I have been daydreaming. It has been happening for some time now."
"What do you see with those incredible eyes?"
Hephaestion blushed, being complimented in such a way. "We stood upon a balcony, overlooking an ancient city and you said…" He didn't get a chance to finish as Alex interrupted him.
"I said that I loved only you and trusted only you. That you were my heart and guarded my sanity."
"You said; without you I am nothing," Hephaestion finished for him. "You experienced the exact same thing? How is that possible?"
"I called you Hephaestion and you wore a tunic… In your hand you held a goblet filled with wine." Alex swallowed, growing increasingly nervous seeing Hephaestion nod. "What is happening to us?"
"I don't know," Hephaestion whispered. "I only know that I need to touch you – to make certain that you are real."
Alex didn't object when Hephaestion pulled him into an embrace. He went willingly and rested his head against the other man's chest. He didn't know either what was happening to them, but at least it was happening to both of them.
Alex listened to Hephaestion placing their order in fluent Greek and realized how little he knew about the other man. Maybe it was time to even the odds. "Where did you learn Greek?" His right hand, hidden beneath the table, clasped Hephaestion's tightly in his. The waiter had given them an odd look and they had decided to be discreet, holding hands beneath the table.
Hephaestion placed the menu aside and gave Alex a stunning smile. "My father taught me."
"I know so little about you. Would you please tell me more? Where were you born?" Alex rubbed Hephaestion's fingers, amazed at how familiar the touch was.
"I was born in Washington, but my father moved to Britain when the University of Essex offered him a position. He still teaches History there. I followed in his footsteps and teach Philosophy. With a father who is obsessed about anything Greek I learned the language when I was still little. At the age of ten, my Greek was far better than my English." Hephaestion chuckled, seeing Alex's glittering eyes. "Does that please you?"
"You are still very young to be a professor, aren't you?"
"I am a genius," Hephaestion replied, only half joking. It was true though. He had aced every course on History, Philosophy, and Ancient Languages. He had made his father proud. "I use my vacations to explore sites of historic interests and this year I wanted to see Troy."
"I am glad you did." Alex moistened his lips. "I am glad that we met."
The waiter brought them a carafe filled with red wine and poured the potent liquid into the glasses. Hephaestion raised his glass first and Alex said, "Here is to us, Alexander and Hephaestion in ancient Greece." The moment he spoke those words his mind was whirled back in time and through his physical contact with Hephaestion, he pulled the other man into the past as well.
They were in bed… In a big, comfortable bed with silk sheets. The room was large and decorated with tapestries, golden statues, and flowers. High above their heads a fan pleated banner moved about, bringing them cool air. It was hot, in spite of the fan and the evening breeze that entered through the open windows.
"Where are we?" Hephaestion sat upright and the silk sheet slid from his body, revealing his naked form beneath it. He quickly grabbed hold of the sheet and fought the fierce blush that settled on his face. "Alex?"
Alex blinked; he was naked as well and felt hot beneath the sheet. Doing away with modesty, he kicked the sheet off and looked about. "This is different." In his past dreams, things had happened to him, but now he felt like he was in charge, like he could control the situation. Looking into Hephaestion's eyes, Alex saw unease in them. "I don't know what is happening either."
"We are not dreaming, are we?"
"I don't think so." Alex cocked his head and the evening breeze moved through his hair, toying with the strands.
"You strike me still," Hephaestion whispered, his mouth growing awfully dry, seeing Alex cock his head in such a way. "I will always love you." The words escaped him unintended and he shocked himself by addressing the other man in that way. "I love you? Why would I say that?"
Hephaestion's outcry puzzled Alex, but it also greatly pleased him that the other man would say such a thing. He crossed his legs, rested his elbows on his knees, and his chin in the palm of his hand. "I need to think."
A third person entered the room and Alex, as well as Hephaestion, sucked in his breath in surprise. The boy, hardly a man, was of exquisite beauty. Straight, raven hair danced against the small of his back, obscuring part of his chest, but not his handsome face. The boy was dressed in a black cloak, which matched the deep dark color of his hair.
"Who are you?" Alex was the first to gather his senses and to address the new arrival.
"I am Bagoas, Al'skander." The boy frowned, displeased. "Did you drink too much wine?"
The next moment their surroundings faded and changed. They sat in the dining area of the hotel once more, still holding hands and staring into each other's eyes.
"That was… scary," Hephaestion whispered, ill at ease. His daydreams had never been that real before. For one moment, he had actually been in that room. He still smelled the sweet fragrance of the flowers that had stood close to the bed.
Alex closed his eyes so he could center himself. "Did you hear what that boy said?"
"He addressed you as his King and called himself Bagoas." Hephaestion nervously sipped his wine. "I have heard that name before."
"You have?" The brown eyes opened and fastened on azure ones. "Tell me."
"It is the name of a eunuch. Most scholars think he was one of Alexander's lovers. Alexander the Great took the youth with him on most of his campaigns. It is said that he was of extraordinary beauty." Hephaestion squeezed Alex's fingers beneath the table. "He called you 'Al'skander'. I read a book once… I have forgotten who wrote it, but in that book Bagoas pronounced your name like that. He never quite mastered pronouncing it correctly."
"My name?" Alex raised an eyebrow. Yes, his name was Alexander, but he always shortened it to Alex. "Why would we dream of him?"
"I don't think it was a dream, my Alexander."
"What did you call me?" His heart had missed a beat hearing those two last words spoken in such a gentle tone. It was like he had heard them a million times before.
Hephaestion composed himself, having noticed his slip. "I don't know what made me say that."
Alex leaned in closer and searched Hephaestion's confused eyes. "We are not delusional, in case you are wondering. We are experiencing the same thing and we can actually act in our 'dreams'. Let's call them that until we know what is really happening."
Hephaestion reached for his glass and this time he emptied it. He was growing more anxious with the moment. "What if it happens again?"
"We need to find out why this is happening to us." Alex nodded his head once, thinking that it might be a good idea to question this Bagoas if they should meet him again. "In the meantime, we should stay close to each other. That way we can help snap each other out of these 'dreams'." Hephaestion gave him a shy look and Alex just knew the other man was struggling with something. It was almost bizarre the way he could read the other man. "What is it?"
"May I call you Alexander instead of Alex?"
"Why?" He blinked; he hadn't expected that request.
"Because it feels right."
He considered Hephaestion's words. "I feel the same way about calling you Hephaestion."
"Do you…" Hephaestion bit his bottom lip, but continued after receiving another squeeze from the other man's hand. "Do you believe in reincarnation? That our souls return to make peace with events left unfinished in the past? Some people even think that we reincarnate in groups. I have studied this, Alexander."
Alexander felt speechless at first. He wasn't religious and had never considered that there could be higher powers that enjoyed toying with mere mortals, but Hephaestion's theory could explain their situation. "Do you really think this is possible?"
"During my studies, I encountered many things that couldn't be explained in a normal way." Hephaestion had to briefly let go of Alexander's hand as the waiter placed their orders in front of them. The moment the waiter was gone, their fingers entwined again. "The other option is that we are experiencing group delusions, but then again, why are only *we* affected? The people around us seem undisturbed."
"Our 'dreams' intensified after we met." Alexander was also at a loss to explain this. "Do you really think we were someone else in the past? And that our souls came back?"
"Not just someone," Hephaestion whispered, careful that no one could hear them. "Bagoas called you Alexander… That would make you…"
"Alexander the Great?" Alexander shook his head. "I can't believe that, Hephaestion…" But his voice suddenly lacked conviction speaking the other man's name. "You are Hephaestion… Hephaestion…" A revelation tugged at the edges of his mind, but eluded him. "There must be another explanation."
Hephaestion leaned back in his chair, but didn't release his hold on Alexander's hand. "Just wait until the next 'dream' comes upon us."
He didn't even want to consider their next 'dream' at this point. Alexander swallowed hard. His stomach growled, reminding him it demanded food and he ate, but without much of an appetite. His thoughts worried him. Hephaestion couldn't be right, but then again… The dreams also pointed in that direction. /It is nonsense. It can't be./
Hephaestion followed Alexander's example and began to eat. His eyes had narrowed in thought. He agreed with Alexander that his theory was farfetched, but so far, it was the only explanation he could come up with.
The visions left them alone for the rest of the evening. They remained alert, ready to notice the first sign that the dream would take hold of them. But nothing happened and that only worsened the tension.
They spent their evening eating and talking, occasionally sipping their wine, but never to a point that they grew intoxicated. The last thing they wanted was to make it even easier for the visions to grab hold of them.
From where they were sitting, they looked out over part of the sea, forests, and a small village. Alexander rose from his chair, walked toward the balustrade, and placed his hands upon it. He wasn't surprised when Hephaestion immediately followed him. Hephaestion's hand came to rest against the small of his back and the intimate gesture made him smile. Butterflies did somersaults inside his stomach and one look at Hephaestion's blue eyes told him that the other man was experiencing the same magic.
"Do you think this magic will continue or shall it be gone after tonight?" It was beautiful here, no, Hephaestion *was* beautiful.
Hephaestion leaned against Alexander and pulled him closer. "This baffles me too, Alexander. We only met a few hours ago, but I am not certain I can live without you. That thought scares me. You call it magic and maybe that is what it is. I never believed in magic, though."
"What do you feel? Right now, Hephaestion?" Alexander cocked his head in order to study Hephaestion's eyes and caught the admiration in them. But there was more than just admiration in those pools of blue. Could it be love?
"I feel like I have been here before. Like I have done this before. We stood on a balcony before and we talked." Hephaestion drew in a deep breath and stared at the midnight sky, the stars, and the full moon. "What do you feel, Alexander?"
"I feel need. I feel the need to hold you close and to never let you go again. I hope you don't think me forward, but… but would you stay with me tonight? I don't want to be alone." Alexander placed his hands on Hephaestion's shoulders and turned the other man around until they were face to face. "I want to fall asleep holding you in my arms. This is not a trick to get you into my bed, Hephaestion. I really need to feel you close."
"How can I possibly deny you?" Hephaestion's eyes swam with unshed tears. "I want to be close to you tonight, but I am not ready…"
"Neither am I. Nothing intimate will take place. I merely want to hold you, Hephaestion. Inhale your scent, feel your hair move against my face, and your skin beneath my fingertips." Alexander leaned in closer, uncaring if anyone was watching and judging them. "I need you, Hephaestion. I always did." He didn't know what had made him add that last part, but it was true.
Hephaestion folded an arm around Alexander's waist and rested his cheek against the other man's shoulder. "I feel like I have been in your arms a million times before. You feel so familiar, Alexander."
A soft smile played on Alexander's face. "Maybe you are right and our souls have been reincarnated. But what are the odds of us finding each other?"
"Alexander, it took us over two thousand years to find each other…" Looking into Alexander's eyes, Hephaestion saw acceptance in them.
"I don't care why we are having these visions, Hephaestion." Alexander couldn't get enough of pronouncing that name. "The only thing that matters is that I am falling in love with you and that you return my feelings. If I have to thank our visions for that, I will. I don't care."
Hephaestion chuckled. "I never met anyone like you before, my Alexander." He realized he had said it again and blushed. "It comes naturally."
"My room or yours?" Alexander asked his question in a playful, teasing tone.
"Mine," Hephaestion decided. He had already unpacked while Alexander's luggage was still in the car.
"I can't believe you agreed to that!" Alexander embraced Hephaestion and held him close. "The brightest star in the sky pales in comparison to your eyes, Hephaestion. I will never tire of looking into them." The compliment made Hephaestion blush and Alexander took a step away from the other man, gently pulling him back inside. "We should rest while we can. Who knows when the dreams will return."
"That is *if* they return. They left us alone so far."
Alexander shook his head. "This is the calm before the storm, Hephaestion. This is merely the beginning."
"How can you be so certain of that?" Hephaestion fell into step next to Alexander now that they were on the way back to his room.
"I can feel it," Alexander stated in an ominous voice. "The worst is yet to come."
Once they were in Hephaestion's room, they faced some minor problems.
"I usually sleep naked." Hephaestion's features revealed uncertainty. Alexander and he had met this very day and it wasn't like him to slip into bed naked on the first night with someone. But did that also apply here? Looking into Alexander's eyes, he realized they looked incredibly familiar. Everything about Alexander felt familiar and sleeping close to the other man would feel familiar as well, but still he remained hesitant.
"So do I." Alexander gave Hephaestion a lopsided grin. "I don't mind getting naked, do you?" The truth was that he couldn't wait to pull Hephaestion close and to feel the other man's warm body pressed against his.
Hephaestion made his decision and began to remove his clothes. "It's much too warm to sleep with clothes on." Even the night's air felt hot and stifling. He felt Alexander's eyes on him as he dropped his jeans onto the floor.
Alexander gave Hephaestion a wicked grin. "Do you always go commando?"
"Only when it is hot." Hephaestion fought down a blush and slipped between the sheets. Had he been alone, he would have lain down atop of them, but right now, he felt too vulnerable. This was still new.
Alexander followed Hephaestion's example and shrugged out of his shirt. Next were the jeans and underwear. He heard how Hephaestion drew in a sharp breath and, following the direction of the other man's eyes, he found it rested on the scar which disfigured his side. "The surgeon said the scar would continue to improve. It takes time."
Images from the past returned to Hephaestion and his eyes widened. "You were wounded before…"
Seeing the startled look on the other man's face, Alexander quickly covered the distance to the bed and stretched out beside Hephaestion. "What are you remembering?" He cupped Hephaestion's cheek in the palm of his hand and rubbed the skin. The eyes remained wide and Alexander could only guess what images were flooding Hephaestion's mind. "Talk to me!"
Hephaestion blinked and swallowed hard. Blindly, he reached for Alexander's hand and curled his fingers around it. By establishing this connection, he allowed Alexander to share his vision.
Alexander hissed in surprise as his mind was catapulted back into a life he had once lived, millennia ago.
"Look what I removed from the wound." Alexander raised a hand, showing Bagoas and Hephaestion a remnant of the arrow that had buried itself in his side during battle. "Maybe now the wound will stop hindering me."
"You should remain off your feet," Hephaestion whispered, signaling Bagoas that he should dispose of the splinter. "Lie down and rest."
Alexander gave both men a fond smile. "The two of you spoil me."
"If we don't no one will." Hephaestion leaned in closer and pressed a kiss onto Alexander's hair. "You need to recover, my Alexander."
The vision suddenly deserted them and thrust them back into the present. Alexander trembled against Hephaestion and the other man instantly wrapped his arms around him, pulling Alexander closer.
"Can it be that history is repeating itself?" Alexander closed his eyes, fighting down the memories of a pain he had suffered long ago. The discomfort in his side which he was experiencing now didn't compare to the agony he had been in millennia ago. He deeply inhaled Hephaestion's familiar scent and let go of the tension that had been building inside him. Resting in Hephaestion's arms felt like coming home.
"I don't hope so," Hephaestion replied eventually. "Hephaestion died when he was a little over thirty. Alexander only lived a few months longer than Hephaestion did. Books state that he went mad after losing his lover." Holding Alexander in his arms felt natural, like the other man was supposed to be in them. Did he stand a chance fighting this? Did he want to fight this? Why would he?
"But I sustained a wound similar to which he did." Alexander felt like he was losing his mind. Was he actually accepting these dreams as real?
"But many other things which happened to Alexander the Great didn't happen to you." Hephaestion tucked Alexander's golden head beneath his chin and tightened his hold on him. "We make our own destiny, Alexander."
Alexander smiled against Hephaestion's chest. Although the vision had upset him, Hephaestion's presence was already helping him to calm down. He focused on the feel of Hephaestion's warm body pressed against his and sighed. "You should have said that over two thousand years ago, Hephaestion. Maybe you even did."
Hephaestion rubbed Alexander's back, making certain he stayed clear of the other man's side. "Fate has thrust us together, hasn't it? I can feel it, Alexander. My body recognizes yours. My fingertips mapped your skin a long time ago."
Alexander raised his head to look into Hephaestion's eyes. "I have no lover, Hephaestion. I never had one. Something told me to wait."
Hephaestion moistened his lips. Desire rose in his groin, but he also knew it was still too early. These visions were unbalancing them and they needed more time to deal with these revelations. "Does this mean we will be lovers then?"
"If you are still single, I would love to have you." Alexander's heart missed a beat, realizing he didn't know if Hephaestion had left a lover behind in Britain.
"You already have me." Hephaestion drew a deep breath and nodded his head once determinedly. "I feel lost looking into your eyes."
"That is my line." Alexander smiled, wickedly. "In my dreams, your eyes are as blue as they are now."
"And you look the same as well." Hephaestion's fingers moved through Alexander's hair and traveled downward to massage the tense shoulder muscles. "I feel drained, though." The visions brought tension with them and even fear; they were wearing him down. The expression in Alexander's eyes told him that the other man was also affected.
"We should try to rest." Alexander enjoyed being held in such an intimate way.
"You are right of course." Hephaestion surprised himself by kissing the crown of Alexander's hair. "I have done this before. I know that! Your scent is so familiar…"
"I know what you are trying to say," Alexander whispered, slowly dozing off. "I never want to let go again either." He hadn't known just how incomplete he had been – not until now.
"Who do you pray to?" Hephaestion came upon Alexander at the outskirts of the camp, staring at the face of a wooden god.
Alexander's eyes opened and his first look was for Hephaestion, who was still asleep next to him. A deep frown was etched onto the auburn-haired man's brow and Alexander raised his hand to soothe him. "I am here, Hephaestion." Although he had returned to the present, the image in his head was still rather vivid. He clearly remembered the way Hephaestion had looked, still young and with a naive kind of love in his eyes. "You always were the more compassionate of the two of us."
Hephaestion's eyes opened and the striking blue pools of water filled with awareness. "I had another dream."
"You shared that dream with me." Hephaestion couldn't get enough of looking at Alexander. Tears lurked in his eyes and he valiantly tried to fight them back, but to no avail. A single tear escaped his eyes and Alexander caught it upon a fingertip.
"Maybe you are right," Alexander offered. "Maybe we are remembering our past lives." He was beginning to warm up to that suggestion.
"Do you really think we were Hephaestion and Alexander in another life?" Hephaestion watched how Alexander licked the salty tear from his fingertip, tasting the liquid.
"I can't be sure," Alexander replied in a thoughtful voice. "But what other option do we have?"
"There might be more memories then… More frightening ones."
"Maybe there will also be pleasant ones." Alexander pressed as close as possible to Hephaestion and brushed the other man's trembling lips with his. "I know your taste, Hephaestion. I have kissed you before."
Hephaestion moaned when Alexander's lips returned to caress his. His lips parted first and then his teeth, allowing the exploring tongue inside. The kiss was deep and tender and rocked his world. Alexander taking control felt good, felt familiar. There was that word again; everything felt familiar.
Even the scent of sweat, horses, and blood which now invaded his nostrils felt familiar. Hephaestion blinked; they were back in the camp and in the distance he saw the face of the god, Phobos, staring back at them. They stood in front of a tent and Alexander's arms were tightly wrapped around his shoulders.
"Don't worry, Hephaestion. This isn't the end. It is the beginning."
Alexander's lips, still touched to Hephaestion's, delivered the words into the other man's mouth.
"I heard those words before." Hephaestion sighed and brushed Alexander's lips with his.
Alexander tried to shake off the vision that plagued him and forced himself to concentrate on Hephaestion. "We were lovers once."
"And now we are about to become lovers again?" Breathless, Hephaestion waited for Alexander to answer his question.
"I think so." Alexander twirled a strand of Hephaestion's long hair around a fingertip. "Actually, we already are lovers, don't you agree? The only thing lacking is consummating this attraction."
"I am not ready yet for that," Hephaestion replied, honestly. "My head still spins with all these dreams and I feel like we can be catapulted back into one of those visions any moment."
"You don't feel safe – yet." Alexander understood Hephaestion well. "If only these visions would show us all there is to know or left us completely alone. But showing us these glimpses makes me uncomfortable as well." Alexander wanted to take the next step, wanted to put his hands on Hephaestion and claim what had always belonged to him, but Hephaestion was right; the visions needed to be complete before they could become intimate. They needed *all* their memories back.
"Do you want to go back to sleep?" Hephaestion's head ached from these visions and he closed his eyes. Alexander's hands stole up his back and one large hand cupped the back of his neck, massaging the muscles. The other hand settled on the small of his back, rubbing the area there. "Feels good," Hephaestion whispered, growing calm and relaxed. "I don't want this to end."
"It won't," Alexander promised. "This time we will grow old together."
"I will hold you to that promise." Hephaestion released a deep sigh and surrendered to sleep. Alexander continued to soothe him even long after Hephaestion was soundly asleep.
"I don't know if we are really reincarnated souls, Hephaestion. When I think about it, it seems absurd and yet it is the only explanation which makes sense." Alexander pressed a chaste kiss onto the auburn hair. "I really don't care if we are the people we see in our visions. I am content holding you – looking at you. I could remain like this forever and I would never tire of watching you."
It was the face of love he was looking at and his eyes remained fastened on Hephaestion's for most of the night, watching over his beloved's sleep, and keeping the visions away for now.
Alexander felt refreshed the next morning, in spite of not having gotten much sleep. Guarding Hephaestion's dreams had been more important than getting rest. The man in his arms had slept peacefully and was still snuggled up to him. Hephaestion felt right in his arms and Alexander wished this morning would never end. But the sun was rising, warming the air in the room, and causing Hephaestion to wake up and open his eyes.
"Good morning," Alexander whispered, pressing his lips upon Hephaestion's. "I trust you slept well?"
Hephaestion blinked and yawned. "I did. Alexander, did you get any sleep?" Waking up in Alexander's arms felt blissful and he even pressed closer, rubbing his cheek against the other man's chest. There was no denying it: he loved Alexander.
"Not much, but I don't mind. I love looking at you when you sleep." Alexander's stomach growled, reminding them it was time to eat breakfast. "We should freshen up and eat something."
"You can use the bathroom first." Hephaestion regretted rolling away from Alexander, but he needed to stretch his limbs. He wasn't used to sleeping in such close quarters. "Feel free to use my toiletries. We will get your things from the car after breakfast." He held his breath, seeing Alexander hover above him. The fair-haired man leaned in closer and gave him a kiss full of desire and passion. /It is only a matter of time before we will make love. His fire will burn me./ Had it also burned him in the past?
"I will be quick." Alexander pulled away from Hephaestion and rose from the bed. The sheet slipped from his body, revealing his naked form. Unable to resist temptation, he looked at Hephaestion from over his shoulder and saw a hungry expression in the cloudy eyes. He gave Hephaestion a wink and disappeared into the bathroom.
Hephaestion rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. Was it only yesterday that his life had been upended? He had never believed people when they told him that their lover was the other half of his soul, but he now knew what they meant by that. Alexander *was* the other half of his soul. He just knew it!
"Ready!" Ten minutes later, Alexander emerged from the bathroom. He had showered, washed his hair, and slipped into the clothes he had worn yesterday. "Bathroom is all yours!" He felt better today. The visions had left them alone for a few hours and he no longer felt so extremely drained. "I am going to fetch my stuff from the car. Do you want me to put them here or in my room?" He gave Hephaestion a pleading look.
"You can put your things in here." He wanted Alexander here! Hephaestion pushed himself to his feet and let his hair fall in front of his face as he passed by Alexander on his way to the bathroom. Alexander's hand suddenly brushed against his hip and a moment later the other man forcefully pulled him close. Surprised, Hephaestion met Alexander's eyes, which held a smug and pleased expression.
"I like the way you smell," Alexander declared, brushing his lips against Hephaestion's throat. "You don't have to shower, you know."
Amused, Hephaestion chuckled. "Oh, trust me, I need to shower!" The night had been hot and he felt sticky all over. "Now release me, you brute." Even their verbal bantering felt familiar.
"We have done this before," Alexander commented, musing about their current situation.
"I think you are right." Hephaestion's throat felt dry, seeing Alexander lean in closer to kiss him again. He met Alexander's lips and took control of the kiss, tasting and exploring Alexander's mouth.
"Oh…" Alexander whimpered, finally breaking them apart. Kissing Hephaestion had sparked a certain reaction in his groin. /I might like it should you take control./
Hephaestion freed himself of Alexander's hold and stepped into the bathroom, his heart pounding and the blood that ran through his veins burning him. No one had ever impressed him the way Alexander had. /I already lost my heart to him,/ he realized. /I never stood a chance fighting this./
Alexander placed his suit case next to the bed and peeked into the bathroom. Hephaestion had finished showering and had dressed in faded jeans and a white shirt. The hair was still damp and resembled a tangled mess. He watched, rather mesmerized, how Hephaestion combed his hair and smoothed it away from his face.
"Hungry?" Hephaestion inquired as he closed the bathroom door behind him. He was relieved that the visions hadn't returned this morning; he needed time to gather his strength.
Alexander's stomach replied for him, growling hard. He took hold of Hephaestion's hand and rubbed the skin. "Please stay close?" He had felt strangely abandoned while fetching his belongings from his car. For some reason he *needed* Hephaestion close and not just today but forever.
Hephaestion easily read those emotions in Alexander's brown eyes. "I will stay close." He had no desire to leave Alexander's side.
They made their way into the room where breakfast was being served. They seated themselves and nodded gratefully when the waiter poured them black coffee. The waiter said something in Greek and Alexander gave Hephaestion a questioning look.
"He says that he will bring breakfast in a moment," Hephaestion said, translating the Greek into English. "What do you want to do today, Alexander?"
"I originally intended to explore Troy today, but I don't think that is a good idea. It is more than a one hour's drive and I am worried what will happen if a vision surprises us while we are driving." Alexander smiled at the waiter, who was now placing the food onto their table. Their plates contained several sorts of bread, accompanied by cheese, marmalade, and honey.
Hephaestion thanked the waiter and dug in. He was surprisingly hungry and Alexander was starving as well.
"I feel better," Alexander announced after wolfing down most of the food. The waiter refilled his coffee cup and he sipped the black liquid, enjoying the peace and quiet of the moment as they seemed to be the only guests. Alexander recalled Hephaestion's question and shrugged his shoulders. "We should do something. I don't want to stay inside all day. I would feel… cornered."
Hephaestion nodded and rose from the table. He stepped out onto the balcony and settled down onto a comfortable chair, savoring the golden sight of the sun bathing the land in a soft glow. He smiled, seeing Alexander sit down beside him. "It is beautiful here. I considered buying a house here before… I might actually do it."
They nursed their coffee, sipping occasionally, and finding pleasure in each other's company. Almost an hour passed by and the visions kept their distance, giving them this undisturbed moment.
Their hands had long made contact and their fingers had twined tightly. They didn't pay attention to the reactions of the staff members who might see them and for a long time no one approached them. But then an old man, bent with age and supporting himself with a cane, advanced on them.
Alexander noticed him first and noted the long, grey beard, wrinkled eyes, and the lines deeply etched onto the man's brow. He wore old, almost threadbare clothes, but the eyes were alert. "Hephaestion…" Alexander murmured, drawing his friend's attention to the old man. It was a pity that he didn't speak Greek. He would have liked to talk to the old man.
The old man's voice was deep and raw, but still carried a tender tone when he spoke.
"What is he saying?" Alexander asked, curiously inching closer.
Hephaestion translated what was being said for Alexander. "He wants to know why we are still here when we should be exploring the land."
Alexander listened to the reply Hephaestion gave, desperately trying to make sense of the strange language. "What did you say?"
"That we don't feel well and would rather not spend the day in a car." Hephaestion's eyes narrowed as he listened to the old man, who was suddenly becoming rather talkative.
Alexander's curiosity was piqued, seeing the old man gesture wildly. "Now what?"
"He says that we could visit a nearby shrine dedicated to Aphrodite. We wouldn't need to drive; he is offering us his horse, which he keeps behind the hotel. He says it is strong enough to carry the two of us."
The offer sounded tempting. "Have you ever ridden a horse?" Alexander inquired.
Hephaestion nodded his head. "I have. How about you?"
"No, I haven't." Alexander shook his head. "Do you think it would be safe for us to accept his offer?"
"As long as we don't drive we should be fine. A horse will be careful should we fall into a trance-like state. They are sensible creatures." Hephaestion searched Alexander's eyes. "Do you want to accept his offer?"
"I would like to do some exploring." Alexander squeezed Hephaestion's hand, ignoring the odd look the old man gave him. "We should pay him for this information."
Hephaestion offered the old man money, but the Greek raised his hand and shook his head. "He doesn't want any." The old man gestured for them to rise from their chairs and Hephaestion got to his feet first, pulling Alexander along. "He wants us to see his horse."
Alexander followed, feeling curious and alert. The thought of exploring the lands with Hephaestion at his side excited him. They had finally reached the meadow the horse was grazing in and Alexander halted abruptly. The black stallion raised his broad, powerful head and their gazes met.
The old man suddenly spoke – rather loudly – and shook Alexander from his stupor.
Hephaestion swallowed, nervously, now that he had to translate the other man's words. "He says his name is Bouke…"
"Boukephalos," Alexander finished. The old man grinned a toothless smile and gestured for him to approach the stallion, which Alexander promptly did. The stallion's ears showed alertness and warm breath escaped the trembling nostrils. Alexander raised his right hand and placed it onto the warm nose. The stallion wasn't nervous and pushed against the limb. "It is him."
Hephaestion's thoughts raced. He had read books about Alexander, the man's life and his adventures and he recognized the name Alexander the Great had given his horse after taming it. He felt dizzy all of a sudden and closed his eyes. Opening them, he found that their surroundings had changed. The old man was gone and they stood inside an arena. The black stallion passed him by with a small boy on his back – a boy, who he recognized to be Alexander. Another blink of his eyes and he was back in the present. One look at Alexander told him that his friend had also revisited the past.
"How can this be?" Alexander questioned while rubbing the stallion's warm nose.
"Maybe fate is trying to tell us something." Hephaestion placed his hand over Alexander's and rubbed the stallion's head. In the meantime, the old man continued to talk and Hephaestion translated his words once more. "He is giving us directions so we can find the shrine later." Hephaestion asked the old man a few more questions and, once he knew for certain what way to go, he thanked their inadvertent guide. The Greek gave them a pleased look and then walked away, returning to the hotel.
Hephaestion let go of Alexander's hand and twined his fingers in the stallion's mane. With one fluent movement, he mounted the horse and extended his hand to assist Alexander.
Alexander whispered into Boukephalos' ear in a language he had never spoken before and yet, the words had their desired effect. The stallion remained calm when a second rider slipped onto his back. The powerful muscles contracted beneath their bodies and he released a whinny. "Run," Alexander whispered. "Stretch your legs, my friend." Alexander wrapped his arms around Hephaestion's waist and rested his head on his friend's shoulder. "Run like the wind."
Boukephalos stretched his long, elegant legs and needed no directions as he took off like the wind, galloping toward a forest to their right.
The wind let strands of Hephaestion's hair dance against his face and Alexander closed his eyes in bliss. The more time he spent in Hephaestion's company, the more comfortable he felt around the other man. He loved him; there was no doubt about that. The intensity of his feelings took him aback and he clutched Hephaestion to him with a vice-like hold.
"Alexander… I need to breathe…" Hephaestion blinked, recalling a similar situation in a distant past. "Alexander…"
Hephaestion's thoughts pulled Alexander into the vortex of time and he traveled along-side his companion and ended up in the past. They sat close to each other and the dark-haired boy, Hephaestion, had wrapped his arms around his waist. Alexander, still young and not as muscular as Hephaestion, whispered similar words. "Can't breathe." The other boy's hold on him kept him from drawing in his next breath.
The scene faded and Alexander was catapulted back into the present. "I love you," Alexander whispered into Hephaestion's ear. "I will love you forever."
Hephaestion's heart beat sped up, hearing the undying devotion in Alexander's voice.
Boukephalos came to a standstill and scraped a hoof over the ground, lowering his head as if indicating the direction they needed to walk in. Alexander dismounted first and caught Hephaestion, who easily slipped from the stallion's back. "Thank you, my friend." Alexander pressed a kiss on Boukephalos' head and then pulled Hephaestion toward the small building to their right. "That must be it."
The stones were eroded, but the building itself looked solid. They cleared away the branches that blocked their way and eventually entered the small shrine. "Look!" Alexander raised a hand, pointing at the small statue standing at the center of the shrine. "It is not Aphrodite!" The statue had a male's form. "There is an inscription here. Can you decipher it?"
Hephaestion lowered himself onto his heels and cocked his head. "It an ancient form of Greek and not easy to decipher."
"Try." Alexander sat on his heels next to Hephaestion and studied the strange writing. He desperately wanted to know what the inscription said! Hephaestion's lips formed alien words as he spoke in an ancient accent. Suddenly, Hephaestion grew silent and Alexander felt the tremors that coursed through his friend's form. "What is it? What does it say?" Hephaestion had grown pale, which worried him further.
Hephaestion's voice shook when he spoke again. "This shrine is dedicated to Hephaestion, Divine Hero and beloved of Alexander."
Alexander gasped and swayed, landing flat on his butt. Vertigo had hit him and he grabbed hold of Hephaestion, dragging him down with him as another vision assailed them.
The act of dying was painful, excruciatingly painful and yet Hephaestion had no choice but to surrender to it. He was alone in his room as Alexander was attending the Games. His beloved had left his side after the physician had assured Alexander that their patient was recovering. But chicken and wine had been brought and, since he was hungry, he had devoured the food.
Hephaestion's body convulsed with pain and his eyes grew big, feeling life leave him. His only regret was that Alexander wasn't at his side to hold his hand and comfort him. He died alone.
"No!" Alexander's cry, filled with rage and devastation, echoed through the shrine and made the very stones tremble on their foundation. Pain, horror, loneliness, and, above all fury, could be heard – and felt – in that feral scream. "You died!" Shocked, Alexander cupped Hephaestion's face, forcing his friend to look him in the eye. "You died on me! You left me!"
Hephaestion, also shaky from having just relived through his demise, didn't know what to say and allowed Alexander to shake him. Alexander's voice, expression, and movements were uncontrolled and spoke of a great pain.
"I wasn't at your side when you died!" Guilt flooded Alexander's soul – guilt and self-loathing. "Why wasn't I there to hold you?" Hephaestion moistened his dry lips and attempted to speak, but his vocal cords refused to comply. "Don't you know how much I needed you? I was lost without you!" This time, it was Alexander who dragged them into their past.
He felt devastated and clung to Hephaestion's corpse with a vengeance. His Companions allowed him to stay like that for some time, but then began to pry his hands loose from Hephaestion's robes. Infuriated, Alexander fought them, unwilling to let go of his beloved Hephaestion. It took several of the strongest men to finally pull him away from the corpse.
Bagoas approached, took his hand, and managed to calm him enough to guide him to his rooms. In a trance, he cut off his mane, making a complete mess of his hair and it was only due to Bagoas' tender assistance that he didn't pull at his hair in pure frustration. Hephaestion was dead – his soul gone – and his lover had taken his sanity with him. "He left me," Alexander whispered in a crushed voice. "He left me."
"Alexander, I am sorry I died." Hephaestion embraced Alexander and pulled him close. Alexander shook in his hold and sobbed, while all Hephaestion could do was to rock him until the emotional storm would fade. "I didn't die on purpose," he added, trying to defend himself. "I didn't want to leave you behind. I wanted to fight at your side when you conquered Arabia."
Alexander suddenly pulled away and hit Hephaestion's chest. His anger needed a way out and the one he loved the most was the one he would vent his anger on. "You weren't supposed to die! You were supposed to be at my side always!"
Hephaestion flinched when another blow hit him, but he didn't try to stop Alexander. His flashes into the past had given him a new insight and he understood how deep their love had been. "What happened after I died?"
"I don't want to discuss your death any longer!" Alexander stared, defiantly, at Hephaestion. "You left me!"
"What happened?" Hephaestion caught Alexander's wrist, stopping him from delivering another blow to his chest. "What did you do?" He had seen Alexander cut off his hair, but what else had happened? Really happened?
"I wanted to die," Alexander admitted in a heavy tone. He crumbled against Hephaestion's muscular force and trembled, reliving the past.
He *did* lose his mind for three days. He fasted, refusing to eat and drink, and nearly drove Bagoas insane with worry. Bagoas looked after him while he remained in that catatonic state and saw to his every need. When Alexander finally raised his eyes to meet Bagoas', his first order was for the tails of the military horses to be clipped. Then he focused on giving Hephaestion the funeral Games he so rightly deserved and organized the journey back to Babylon where he would built a pyre that rivaled the highest building in that city.
Despair continued to gnaw at him. He was divine, a god, at least his mother had always maintained so, and the fear of losing Hephaestion in the afterlife drove him insane. In the end, he sent a delegation to Siwa to ask Zeus Ammon to proclaim Hephaestion divine as well. Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, he was determined to keep his promise and to follow his beloved to the House of Death, but not before Hephaestion had received the funeral he deserved.
"Oh, Alexander… I was so afraid to leave you behind – to leave you alone." Hephaestion rocked Alexander as both men swayed under the intensity of Alexander's memories. In his mind, images swirled with a blinding speed, showing him the pyre Alexander had erected and how his beloved had started the fire that would devour his corpse.
"You were my sanity, Hephaestion. You always were the strong one and I was lost without you. My mind deteriorated, no matter how hard I tried to find my way back to life. I failed. I followed you into death months later. At least I kept my promise." Alexander hung motionlessly in Hephaestion's arms and his voice was quickly becoming emotionless.
"My love… I am so sorry I hurt you. I never wanted to hurt you."
Hephaestion was calming down and his serenity helped Alexander to compose himself in turn. Alexander maintained his tight hold on Hephaestion and tears continued to drip from his face. "The truth was that I no longer wanted to live. I couldn't live without you. I had lost my reason to live. Bagoas tried to support me, to love me like you did, but it wasn't enough. I needed you." Alexander raised his swimming, red-rimmed eyes and pleadingly looked into Hephaestion's. "I will never let go of you again."
Hephaestion drew in a deep, steadying breath and wiped Alexander's tears – such precious tears – away with his fingertips. "I love you, my Alexander."
Alexander forced a shy smile onto his face. "Maybe it was your love that cast our souls into the future so we found each other again."
Hephaestion shook his head. "It was *your* love, Alexander. A fire burns deep inside your soul. It still burns. You always were the one I drew my strength from."
Alexander's smile brightened and he allowed Hephaestion to fool himself, knowing better. Hephaestion had been his rock, the foundation upon which he had built his life and his empire. Without Hephaestion at his side, he would have failed and the world would have never heard of Alexander the Great.
"I want to take another vow now," Alexander announced in a steady voice. "I love you and I will be with you, even in death. We belong together for all eternity."
"How right you are, my love." Hephaestion hugged Alexander close to him. Now that the past was growing distant, he looked up at the statue, which was supposed to be him. He waited a little longer, until he was absolutely certain that Alexander was calm and rational again and then said, "I wonder why that old man sent us here. This is no shrine dedicated to Aphrodite."
"He also showed us Boukephalos," Alexander added. "He guided us."
Hephaestion read suspicion in Alexander's misty eyes. "Do you think he knows something?"
"He might know who we are and why we are here. Hephaestion, I refuse to believe in another coincidental meeting. He sent us here for a reason."
"For us to relive my death?" Hephaestion shivered violently and promptly felt Alexander rub his back through the fabric of his shirt. "I was terrified to leave you alone. I knew you would not cope alone."
"You know me so well, Hephaestion." Alexander had grown somewhat calm again and succeeded in capturing and holding Hephaestion's gaze. "Can we stop discussing this now? It makes me uncomfortable. I don't think I am ready yet to deal with your death."
Hephaestion nodded his head once. "You can have all the time you need."
"I am sorry," Alexander whispered. "I am thinking of how your death affected me while I should be thinking of what it did to you to re-experience your death."
Hephaestion gave him a smile, a very rare, very warm, very loving smile. "Maybe you are right, my Alexander. Maybe I am the strong one. I can only think of how to be there for you at this time."
Alexander's heart beat with love for Hephaestion and he gently claimed the other man's lips, delivering a slow and sensual kiss to the soft flesh. Hephaestion's moans echoed through the shrine and Alexander pulled back quite breathlessly. "I don't know how much longer I can control myself. I feel this overwhelming urge to make you mine." He wanted to crawl inside Hephaestion, to claim and possess him. The intensity of that need scared him.
"I feel the same way," Hephaestion admitted in a hoarse voice. "But we shouldn't. Not here…" Not where the memories of his death surrounded them.
"You are right." Alexander held Hephaestion close and guided his lover's head onto his shoulder. Looking up at the statue, he realized it did little justice to his lover's beauty – a beauty which shone from within and gave Hephaestion that strength which Alexander needed so much. "We should return to the hotel." The need to claim Hephaestion and confirm their bond consumed him and he needed to quench this sexual thirst.
Hephaestion lifted his head from Alexander's shoulder and looked at him. Alexander saw the raw need in the azure eyes. Hephaestion needed him as much as he needed Hephaestion.
Alexander settled behind Hephaestion on Boukephalos' back. The stallion had been grazing while awaiting their return. Alexander wrapped his arms around Hephaestion and nuzzled the other man's neck. Naughty locks caressed his facial skin and made him smile.
Hephaestion savored the feel of Alexander pressed against him. The fact that Alexander was hard didn't surprise him as he was hard himself. The memories which had been returned to him only strengthened him in his belief that they were meant to be together and he let go of any doubts he might have had. Alexander would be his first lover – his only lover. It had always been meant to be like that.
Boukephalos started his way back to the hotel, but wasn't in a hurry. He trod slowly, occasionally nibbling on grass or luscious leaves. The two riders on his back didn't seem to mind, as they were focused on each other.
"Hephaestion?" Alexander pushed the auburn hair out of the way and pressed a kiss onto the column of Hephaestion's neck. "I feel the need to have you – to crawl into you and possess you."
Alexander's words made Hephaestion feel light-headed. "I expected as much." He felt the need to be possessed, to be held, and to belong.
"This primal feeling, this feral need demands to be satisfied first." Maybe then, after he had satisfied his lust, they would make love and then Hephaestion would take him in turn. "I think our first time will be different from all the other times we will make love."
Hephaestion swallowed hard, his mouth growing dry. Alexander would stake his claim, making it very clear who belonged to whom.
"And after we make love, we need to discuss our future. I will never let you go again. We must find a way to always be together."
"I am certain we will find a way." Hephaestion leaned against Alexander and threw back his head, allowing his lover to lick his throat. "I have never been with a man before, Alexander. Not in this lifetime."
"Neither have I." Alexander deeply inhaled the familiar scent. "Don't you think our bodies will remember what to do? We made love before."
"In another lifetime." Hephaestion turned his head and caught Alexander's gaze. "Does this mean that you believe my reincarnation theory is correct?"
"What choice do I have?" Alexander pulled Hephaestion even closer and whispered, "We just relived your death. How can I deny that ever happened?"
"Do you think more memories will follow? Or that have we seen them all?"
Alexander considered Hephaestion's question. "I believe more will come."
Hephaestion hoped not. Experiencing his death all over again had already been more than painful.
One of the employees offered to look after the stallion. Hephaestion inquired about the old man who had told them about the shrine, but the employee didn't know the man's identity and, in the end, Hephaestion stopped his questioning. Alexander gave him an odd look and Hephaestion explained that the old man was a stranger.
"What about Boukephalos?" Alexander wanted to make certain that they looked after the stallion.
"They will bring him back to his meadow. Apparently he is for sale." Hephaestion already knew what Alexander was thinking and nodded his head once. "I already told him that we want to buy him."
Alexander sighed, relieved. "Life will never be the same again. We will settle down here, won't we?" He looked on as the employee led the horse away.
Hephaestion nodded his head once. "We might." He stood no chance fighting their fate. "We can buy a house here… Houses aren't that expensive over here."
"I get a small pension because I had to retire due to my injury. We won't live a life of luxury, but it pays the rent." Alexander claimed Hephaestion's hand and pulled his lover into the main building. "But what about you? You would have to give up teaching." Hephaestion had sounded passionate when he had spoken of his profession. "Would you give up your life in England in order to be with me?"
Hephaestion stopped walking and grabbed Alexander's wrists. "I would give it all up to be with you. Don't you know that?" He cocked his head and searched Alexander's eyes.
A lump of emotions formed in Alexander's throat. "You would," Alexander realized with startling certainty.
"I couldn't deny you two millennia ago. How could I deny you now, my Alexander?"
Alexander was about to stutter a confession of his love when another employee approached them, addressing them. "What is he saying?"
"He is offering us some light refreshments as it is close to lunch. He is sending the food to my room because it is too warm to eat on the balcony." Hephaestion nodded once, indicating he agreed and the employee left.
With his fingers tightly curled around Hephaestion's, Alexander began to pull his lover toward the corridor where their rooms were located in. He walked slowly though, giving the employee a chance to deliver the food to Hephaestion's room before they arrived. Once they were inside, he wanted Hephaestion to himself. "I need you."
Growing nervous, Hephaestion moistened his lips. He *knew* they had made love in another lifetime, but this body had never been intimately touched.
"Don't worry, Hephaestion. I am as inexperienced as you are," Alexander said in a comforting, but also teasing tone. "We will learn together."
The moment they rounded the corner, an employee left Hephaestion's room and disappeared down the stairs.
"Now we won't be disturbed." Feeling excited, Alexander opened the door to Hephaestion's room and pulled the other man inside.
"Alexander, I am nervous." It was more than just being nervous. Hephaestion felt shy and incredibly anxious. What if he disappointed Alexander?
"I am nervous too," Alexander replied, trying to comfort his lover. He kicked the door shut behind them and let his gaze sweep across the room. The employee had left a tray on the table and it contained a large bowl filled with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables, all tossed into a big salad. Next to the bowl stood two glass bottles, one filled with vinegar and the other with olive oil. "Are you hungry?"
Hephaestion swallowed nervously and shook his head. "I couldn't eat even if I wanted to." He was too nervous to think of food. He allowed Alexander to guide him over to the bed and entrusted himself to his lover. "I don't know what to expect," Hephaestion admitted. "I know about the mechanics and have read about the theory, but…"
"You think too much." Alexander drew in a deep breath, realizing he had to take the lead. "Trust me."
"I will always trust you."
Hephaestion's voice, full of love and devotion, made Alexander quiver with desire. He released Hephaestion's hand and unbuttoned his lover's shirt, slowly sliding it down the tanned muscular shoulders. "You work out."
"I try my best." Hephaestion's heart thundered in his chest and he felt frozen to the spot now that Alexander was undoing the zipper so he could push down his jeans. "Kiss me?" Maybe kissing would calm him down.
Alexander took a step closer to Hephaestion and drew him into an embrace. One hand settled on the small of his lover's back, while the other continued to push down the jeans until Hephaestion could step out of the constricting fabric. Hephaestion didn't wear any underwear and his erection bobbed free. Alexander kissed Hephaestion, gently at first, but once his tongue had invaded his lover's mouth, the kiss deepened and became more forceful.
Realizing that he should remove Alexander's clothes in turn, Hephaestion's trembling fingers unbuttoned his lover's shirt. Contrary to Alexander, he didn't go for the jeans right away, but allowed his hands to roam the chest, which sported soft, golden hairs. Their tongues twined and dueled. Hephaestion easily awarded Alexander victory, yielding to his lover's passion.
Alexander unbuttoned his jeans, eager to free himself and to bring their hard flesh into contact. "The bed," Alexander whispered, pulling Hephaestion along with him. He lowered Hephaestion onto his back without breaking their kiss.
Hephaestion's skin tingled all over and his toes had long curled as he felt Alexander's skin against his. He sighed, appreciatively, seeing Alexander's bare torso.
Alexander took a step away from the bed and quickly removed his jeans and briefs. He was hard and eager to claim his prize. "I love you." Alexander lowered himself onto Hephaestion, blanketing his lover. Their erections brushed and the slick flesh rubbed against each other. Hephaestion raised his hips and Alexander reacted at once, thrusting against him. "I need you."
Passion had taken hold of them, but now that Alexander was rubbing himself against his lower body, Hephaestion grew nervous once more. "Alexander, I…" He was afraid of the unknown. "Will it hurt?"
"No, it won't." Alexander licked down Hephaestion's throat and his hands roamed the muscular chest. He wanted to take his time with his lover and would not rush things. Hephaestion deserved to be worshipped – nothing less. Moving down his lover's chest, Alexander bestowed licks and kisses onto the flat abdomen before reaching the slick erection between Hephaestion's legs. "Will you allow me to take you?" He looked at his lover, studying the dazed eyes. "I will be careful."
"Don't we need a lubricant?" Hephaestion trembled over his entire body. Alexander's caresses, his licks and kisses had only increased his need to make love, but his worries still remained. He had never envisioned himself on the bottom.
Alexander blinked and momentarily stopped his caresses, which made Hephaestion whimper in need. "The oil," Alexander suggested, nodding once. "I will be right back, Hephaestion." He didn't want to break bodily contact, but needed to fetch the olive oil. "Hephaestion, there is something else we forgot to discuss." He pushed himself off of Hephaestion and got to his feet. Alexander walked over to the table and collected the oil. "I have never been with a man before and got tested on a regular basis when I was still with the police force. I am clean."
Hephaestion pushed himself up onto one elbow, considering Alexander's unspoken question. "I never had a lover either… I should be clean as well and… I didn't bring any condoms, did you?"
Alexander shook his head once. "We would still be taking a risk, doing this now and in this way. But I am willing to take it."
This was the age of safe sex and, had they been in a city, they would have had condoms and proper lubrication at hand, but this wasn't the city. They were in a remote village in the middle of nowhere.
"Do it," Hephaestion ordered, his voice firm and determined.
Alexander's heart missed a beat now that he had gotten Hephaestion's explicit permission. He took the oil with him and knelt on the bed.
Hephaestion slowly parted his legs, allowing Alexander to settle between his thighs. "I am nervous." Yes, he was nervous, but he didn't feel tense. Looking into Alexander's eyes and seeing the echo of the other man's unconditional love, he knew that his lover would never willingly hurt him. He could bear the discomfort for making love would unite them. "Take me."
Alexander uncapped the bottle and poured a generous amount of oil onto his hands. "I need you to guide me, Hephaestion. I have never done this before…in this life time."
Hephaestion lay down on his back and watched Alexander lean in closer. The blond man claimed his lips and one slick finger parted his buttocks, already searching for the entrance to his body. "Go slowly with me."
Alexander kissed Hephaestion, determined to make this as pleasurable as possible for his lover. A fingertip massaged the outer ring, but didn't try to enter yet. He was a healthy, curious gay man and had watched his share of adult movies. He knew what to do… He just needed to be patient. Hephaestion arched toward him and that first fingertip slid inside. He sucked in his breath in surprise. "You feel soft and warm in there." The oiled finger slid in deeper, exploring in a gentle and slow manner.
The invasion felt like nothing he had thought it would and Hephaestion pressed back in welcome.
Encouraged, Alexander removed his digit and carefully returned with two. Hephaestion's eyes now widened and Alexander quickly soothed him by licking the skin of his lover's throat. Hephaestion raised his hands and they settled around his neck, making certain he stayed close. "How does this feel?" Alexander's fingers encountered a small nub inside his lover's passage and rubbed the prostate, knowing being touched in that way would bring Hephaestion pleasure.
"Good." Hephaestion moistened his lips and looked Alexander in the eye. His surroundings began to fade and another vision approached. "Alexander…"
"I feel it too." Alexander found it hard to concentrate on loosening Hephaestion's passage now they were back in that bedroom in Babylon. Bagoas wasn't close this time around and he relaxed. It was just the two of them. Looking at Hephaestion's face, Alexander frowned, seeing the scars that marred the face he loved so much. Scars which his 'new' Hephaestion didn't carry.
Hephaestion squirmed beneath him, arching his back and pressing back, impatiently taking himself on his lover's fingers. Alexander reacted to his lover's need by rubbing Hephaestion's prostate more firmly, eager to increase the other man's desire. "Are you ready for me?"
Silk moved beneath him, caressing his back and Hephaestion buried his fingers in the sensual material. Silver moonlight floated into the room through the open windows and sounds from the city reached them.
"We are in Babylon," Alexander whispered, able to identity this moment in time. Hephaestion nodded his consent and Alexander rubbed a liberal amount of oil onto his twitching shaft. "We are back in Babylon."
Hephaestion raised his legs and rested them on Alexander's shoulders, trusting himself to his lover like he had done a hundred times before. "Take me. Make us one again."
Alexander, always considerate of his lover's needs, ran his fingers down the powerful legs until they caressed the muscular thighs. "You mastered me a long time ago, Hephaestion." Hephaestion might think he belonged to Alexander and, in a way he did, but Alexander knew the ultimate truth, namely that he was nothing without Hephaestion. Absolutely nothing!
Worshipping his lover's body, Alexander kissed the firm flesh and massaged the long legs. "I am going to claim you now, my Hephaestion." And by doing so, they would confirm this ancient bond that connected their souls through time and space.
Hephaestion closed his eyes in bliss, feeling Alexander press inside. The head pushed inside and then his lover stilled in his movements, giving him a chance to sort out his breathing and grow accustomed to the increasing bulk inside him. Now that there was no pain, Hephaestion groaned and pressed closer, needing to take in more. He needed to feel all of Alexander inside him! Alexander undulated his hips and Hephaestion's eyes opened. His lips released another passionate moan and he shivered, feeling Alexander slide in the rest of the way. His lover was firmly rooted inside his body and Hephaestion felt the connection slam back in place, tying them together for the rest of their mortal life. He had never felt anything this intimate before and he wasn't thinking about the physical contact they were in – this was a connection between souls.
"I am inside of you," Alexander whispered, impressed that Hephaestion had so easily taken him. Respect, unconditional love, and undying devotion echoed in his voice and he proceeded to kiss first one and then the other of Hephaestion's hard nipples. "I have come home."
Tremors coursed through Hephaestion's body and he moved his arms until he tightly embraced his lover. He needed to feel Alexander as close and as deep as possible, locked inside him. This moment changed everything.
Alexander lowered himself onto his lover, completing the embrace. Hephaestion's long muscular legs wrapped around his waist and that was his sign to begin thrusting. The world, all sounds, colors, scents, and doubts, were stripped away during their lovemaking. Hephaestion fervently met each of Alexander's thrusts, making it clear how much he needed this.
Groans filled with need and pleasure tumbled from his lips and hearing them only encouraged Alexander to make love more forcefully. He wanted Hephaestion to *feel* their connection!
Their lovemaking, which had started slow and sensual, now grew frantic and Alexander grunted, as he continued to bury himself inside Hephaestion's body. Need overwhelmed him and his thrusts became possessive. Hephaestion surrendered to Alexander, like he had done many times before and they moved like one.
Bliss didn't last long enough for Hephaestion, who screamed out and climaxed first. Enraptured, he clung to Alexander, trembling in his lover's tight embrace.
Alexander was on the brink of fainting, feeling Hephaestion's inner muscles contract around him. With his remaining strength, he managed to shallowly bite Hephaestion's shoulder, marking the other man as his. Orgasm washed over him, making him bite down harder in reaction. Buried inside Hephaestion's contracting passage, he growled against the trembling body.
Memories, thousands of memories, washed through them, showing them their past lives. Alexander whimpered, reliving battle after battle, losing Hephaestion to death and dying himself. Hephaestion witnessed every scene and held him close, supporting him. Their true personalities surfaced and became a solid part of them. Every desire, thought, and doubts the two men had ever shared returned to them and their former identities merged with their ancient ones. Thoughts, memories and personalities, all shifted until a perfect merger was achieved.
Their surroundings changed again and this time they returned to the present – to their reality. Tears streamed down their faces as they finally remembered who they truly were and what they had been through together in the past. Hephaestion looked into Alexander's eyes and saw his lover's soul reflected there. Alexander the Great had returned and was now a very solid part of his lover's personality.
Alexander cried tears of happiness as he held the great love of his life in his arms once more. "I followed you to the House of Death and yet we are here – alive and well." He had spoken in an old dialect, his native tongue. Until a moment ago, he'd had no idea how to speak that language! Looking into Hephaestion's eyes, he knew his lover had understood.
"It is you," Hephaestion replied in a form of ancient Greek. "It is you, my Alexander."
Sensing Hephaestion's confusion and needing to feel his lover as close as possible, Alexander embraced him tightly. They cried softly, whispered words of love and undying devotion, and clung to one another.
Two ancient souls, which had shared an amazing life over two millennia ago, had returned to Earth. Alexander the Great had been reunited with his beloved Hephaestion.
Hephaestion had drifted off into sleep after their lovemaking. The return of the memories regarding his first life had, for some reason, exhausted him more than Alexander, who continued to hold him close. Hephaestion had fallen asleep facing Alexander and the former ruler had wrapped his arms around his beloved, tucking Hephaestion's head beneath his chin. Hephaestion was blissfully unaware of Alexander's emotional turmoil.
Alexander had fought back his tears until the very moment that Hephaestion had succumbed to sleep. Now that his tears couldn't burden his beloved, he allowed for them to fall. He wept for the terrible loss he had suffered in his first life, wept for Hephaestion and himself, but foremost, he wept because he had never truly seen the real treasure he should have protected and cherished. His ambition had ruined a perfect love, but back then, he hadn't realized that.
He held Hephaestion close for the remaining day, but when evening fell, he gently pried Hephaestion's hands loose and left the bed. After pressing a tender kiss onto Hephaestion's brow, he entered the bathroom to relieve himself and to freshen up. He splashed cool water onto his heated brow and stared at his reflection. The eyes that looked back at him were haunted. Suddenly feeling cornered, he left the bathroom, crossed the room, pulled his jeans on, and stepped onto the balcony. Looking out over the land, he realized it had belonged to him once. He had ruled Greece and a large part of the world, but he didn't any more.
Placing his hands on the balustrade, he bowed his head. He hadn't known about his arrogance and stupidity until he had seen the expression of pure pleasure in those azure eyes hours ago. /And I threw it all away./ But at the time he hadn't seen it that way.
After casting a look at the sleeping Hephaestion, Alexander jumped over the balustrade and started toward the meadow where he would find Boukephalos. He needed a moment alone.
The old man seemed to be waiting for him. Alexander found him petting Boukephalos, stroking the stallion's flanks with caring hands. This time, he possessed knowledge of the ancient language and addressed the old man in fluent Greek. "Who are you?"
The old man gave him a conspiring smile and didn't seem surprised to hear him speak Greek all of a sudden. "You know me, Alexander," the man replied in his native tongue. "Think."
And Alexander considered the old man, who *did* seem familiar, but he couldn't have reached the right conclusion, could he? "Kalanos?"
"Well done!" The old man smiled, pleased. "You remembered me."
Kalanos had been a visionary and philosopher who had chosen to accompany him during his first life. The philosopher had tried to guide Alexander the Great, but had been bound to fail.
Alexander coughed, trying to rid himself of the emotions that blocked his throat. Kalanos had died on a pyre. The old man had wanted it that way and the images were still very clear in his mind as they had just returned to him that day. "You were reborn as well?"
"Yes, to finish what I started in the past." Kalanos gestured for Alexander to follow him and sat down beneath the strong branches of a firmly rooted tree. Alexander followed and seated himself next to the old man. Kalanos studied Alexander and saw new understanding in the eyes. "What have you learned so far?"
Alexander moistened his lips, recalling all the time they had talked in the distant past. He knew that Kalanos had always tried to warn him, to show him the 'true' way for him to find happiness, but… "My ambition blinded me."
Kalanos cocked his head, not yet impressed. "Continue."
"Hephaestion once asked me if I was running away from my mother and now I can admit that he was right. This crazed quest to conquer the world… It was my way of getting away from my mother and to prove my father wrong - that I was a better King than he was. I conquered a large part of the world and no longer stood in his shadow."
Kalanos encouragingly nodded his head. "What else did you learn?"
Alexander wrung his hands. The 'old' Alexander would never have admitted any of this, but he had changed. This second life had taught him a few things and being reunited with Hephaestion had shown him the foolishness of his past ways. "That I didn't love Hephaestion the way he deserved."
"Explain," Kalanos demanded. "In what way did you fail him?"
Alexander blinked. "My dream consumed me and I forced him to be a part of it." He laughed in a mirthless way. "Hephaestion made my dream his. He was always so eager to please… He would never have tried to stop me from conquering the world."
"But?" Kalanos asked, urging Alexander on.
"I failed to see that I already had the world in the palm of my hand. I was too blind to see that Hephaestion was my treasure. I should have loved him and made him happy. Instead, I dragged him all over the world with me. Hephaestion died because of his desire to please me. If I had stayed in Macedon to rule my father's empire, we might have grown old together."
"Achilles faced that choice as well and you know what way he chose."
Alexander nodded his head once. "He chose an early death for himself."
"And for Patrocles."
Another nod. "I don't want to repeat my past mistakes. Kalanos, what do I do?" Coming upon Hephaestion's corpse still haunted him, even two millennia later. "How do I prevent repeating my past mistakes? I want Hephaestion to be happy." His first life had been about him, about his problems, his ambitions. He wanted to do things differently this time.
"Why don't you ask him?" Kalanos suggested with a smile curling his lips.
Alexander's eyes brightened. "You are right, of course." He pushed himself to his feet and looked at Kalanos, really looked, and saw the mirth in the old eyes. "You knew we were heading this way. How?"
Kalanos smiled. "Who knows these things? I don't. We merely accept what we are given, Alexander. And you should be especially thankful. Use your second chance well."
Alexander drew in a deep breath and nodded one last time. "I will." He started his way back to the hotel, eager to talk to Hephaestion about the revelation he'd had.
Alexander had grown worried he might arrive after Hephaestion had already woken, but his beloved was still asleep. He removed his jeans and joined Hephaestion in bed once more. His lover immediately moved toward him and rested his head against his shoulder. Tears gathered in Alexander's eyes and he sobbed softly, rubbing Hephaestion's back and wishing he hadn't made certain choices in his first life.
The sounds of distress from Alexander woke Hephaestion. His eyes opened, blinked, and tried to focus on Alexander. His sleep had been filled with memories and it took him a moment to adjust to the present. "What is wrong, Alexander?" Why was his lover crying? What had happened? He had never seen Alexander sob before!
"Don't worry," Alexander managed in between sobs. "I am crying because I am so happy to have you back in my arms again!" He pulled Hephaestion close and crushed him against his chest. "Don't ever die on me again, Hephaestion!"
Hephaestion held Alexander close and made soothing sounds, rubbing the trembling back and kissing Alexander's face. "I will always be with you." Alexander made needy sounds he couldn't remember ever hearing before. "What is upsetting you?" He had always known the great value of communication and tried to coax Alexander into revealing what was troubling him. "You can tell me."
"Not now…" Alexander raised his head and looked into Hephaestion's loving eyes. "I need something from you…if you are willing to give it to me."
Hephaestion arched an eyebrow in surprise, recalling Alexander making this request in the past as well, but receiving this request had been rare. "Do you mean…?"
"Take me, Hephaestion. Make me feel you… Make me feel our love." Alexander's big eyes pleaded with Hephaestion's caring ones. "Like you did in the past." This was another aspect of their relationship he had neglected. Instead of attending to *all* of his lover's needs – and by doing so to his own – he had focused on conquering more countries. He had been such a fool back then!
Alexander freed himself of Hephaestion's embrace and pushed himself onto his hands and knees. "Take me, Hephaestion!" His voice now possessed a sense of urgency and he looked expectantly at Hephaestion. "Please don't make me beg."
Hephaestion's mouth went dry. He remembered their first lives and the way Alexander had wanted to be taken back then. This mood hadn't often taken Alexander, but when it did, he wanted to be taken hard. "Are you certain?" He hadn't expected Alexander to react in this way. Most of the time, his lover had been content to take him and that had been it.
"I am certain!" Alexander grabbed hold of the bottle with olive oil and offered it to Hephaestion. "Complete the circle, Hephaestion." Looking at his lover from over his shoulder, he saw the surprise and uncertainty in the blue eyes. "Take me whatever way pleases you." He moistened his lips, growing a bit nervous. "I know you didn't like taking me hard in the past but you did so because I wanted that… Take me your way, Hephaestion." This was the first change he was making in their relationship and he saw the surprise in the azure eyes. Alexander swallowed nervously and moved back into a kneeling position. He turned around and faced Hephaestion, who was kneeling next to him. "What do *you* want, Hephaestion?"
Breathless, Hephaestion could only stare at his beloved Alexander. "I always wanted to hear you say that." The words left his lips unintentionally and he grew flustered, realizing he had actually spoken them aloud. He welcomed this change in Alexander and his reaction was to kiss his lover passionately. Alexander returned the kiss, but Hephaestion stayed in control, loving the way Alexander squirmed in his arms. It was in his nature to please and he knew from prior experiences how Alexander preferred to be taken, but, he reminded himself sharply, Alexander also wanted him to do as he pleased. Maybe he could come up with a compromise. "Stretch out on your stomach," Hephaestion whispered into Alexander's ear, sensing the tremors that now shook his lover's body.
Alexander quickly complied and laid face down. He even wiggled his backside in a playful way and turned his head so he could still watch Hephaestion. His lover taking charge in this way was new and excited him more than he had thought. He was already hard and his arousal rubbed against the sheet, creating a lovely friction.
Hephaestion considered his lover, seeing Alexander squirm in need. He poured the oil onto his hands and straddled Alexander's lower back. Putting his hands on his lover, Hephaestion massaged the shoulders and let his hands slide down the elegant spine.
Alexander's breathing came in gasps now that Hephaestion's hands settled on his backside, massaging the firm mounds of flesh. Not knowing Hephaestion's plans excited him further, and he moaned, trying to tell his lover to hurry up.
Hephaestion smiled, sensing the need in Alexander, and he parted the pert buttocks. One oiled finger slid down the cleft and encountered the ring of twitching muscle, which he massaged. Alexander went quiet, but pressed back, almost as though he was trying to lure Hephaestion's finger inside. "I love you," he whispered, leaning in closer to press kisses along Alexander's spine. The fact that Alexander surrendered so willingly to his caresses stunned him. He couldn't remember ever holding such power over Alexander.
Alexander's head was still turned and he managed to lock gazes with Hephaestion. His beloved was truly beautiful and a new light shone from those pools of blue now that he had been given this measure of control. /I was a fool not to do so before!/
Alexander groaned pitifully, feeling the first finger slip inside. Hephaestion had always been tender and careful with him, even when he had demanded his beloved took him hard. It simply wasn't in Hephaestion's nature to conquer him. Hephaestion would make sweet, slow love to him and his groin tightened, realizing he really wanted that.
Hephaestion was surprised to find Alexander already relaxed and fairly loose so he added a second finger. Thrusting lightly inside the channel, he felt Alexander loosen further and he kissed the back of his lover's neck, sucking the skin there. Alexander squirmed, telling him his lover was ready, but he took another moment to lubricate the passage with more oil. The last thing he wanted was to hurt his lover during their lovemaking.
"I am ready for you," Alexander whispered, desperately pushing back to feel more of Hephaestion's fingers moving inside him. His movement caused Hephaestion to rub his prostate and ecstasy exploded in his groin, almost making him come. "I am too close…"
Hephaestion immediately withdrew his fingers and considered his lover. "Alexander…"
"Take me the way *you* want!" Alexander insisted firmly. He *knew* that pleading tone in Hephaestion's voice.
Hephaestion drew in a deep breath and moved about until he was kneeling next to Alexander. "Get up," he instructed, reaching for the oil and handing it to Alexander once his lover sat face to face with him. "Rub it on."
Alexander's hands trembled as they coated Hephaestion's erection with the oil. He took great care to make certain that his every touch pleased his lover. "How will you take me?" Alexander moved closer, purred, and stole a kiss from Hephaestion's lips. Hephaestion had always been more muscular than him, stronger, but his beloved had never used that to his advantage. Something told him, however, that Hephaestion might do that now.
Hephaestion's heart thundered as he slid his hands beneath Alexander's buttocks. Pulling Alexander closer, he raised him and gave his lover a probing look. "Like this." Keeping in mind that Alexander liked their love play to be a bit rough, Hephaestion positioned his lover above his erection. He was also more endowed than Alexander in that department and he saw the rapture in Alexander's eyes when his intentions finally registered.
Alexander eagerly placed his hands on Hephaestion's shoulders and climbed onto his beloved's lap. With Hephaestion's help, he lowered himself onto the shaft, taking it in bit by bit. Alexander bit on his bottom lip when Hephaestion unexpectedly lowered him further onto the hard flesh, forcing him to take in the rest of his lover. He threw back his head and yelped, pain and pleasure battling in his lower body. But it was a sweet pain, and, once he was firmly seated upon his lover's shaft, he opened his eyes and swallowed hard, seeing the predatory expression in the normally gentle eyes. The balance of power between them shifted and reached a new status quo.
Hephaestion folded his arms around Alexander and held him close and motionless, forcing his lover to *really* feel him, like Alexander had asked him to.
Sweat formed on Alexander's brow now that Hephaestion was keeping him still and in place. Hephaestion felt huge inside him and he realized he loved that feeling. Being held in this way, being in this position, felt even more intimate than being thrust into. "Hephaestion," he whispered, fighting to bring his erratic breathing back into control. "You have all that strength inside you and…" And his lover never used it in the bedroom.
Hephaestion drew in another deep breath, trying to keep himself from reaching climax just yet. Alexander felt incredibly tight around him and he fought the urge to simply thrust upward and to pound away inside Alexander. Sliding his hands down Alexander's back, they settled against the small of his lover's back. "Let go of me," he commanded and Alexander's eyes widened.
Alexander did as he was told and, now that he lost his last means of supporting himself, it was only Hephaestion's erection which kept him in place. He truly felt at Hephaestion's mercy and his shaft twitched with anticipation. What were Hephaestion's plans for him?
Hephaestion began to lower Alexander onto the bed, but stopped just before his lover's back made contact with the mattress. Alexander arched his back in response, staring wide-eyed at Hephaestion. "Hephaestion… please…" The angle had changed and now Hephaestion's hard flesh rubbed against his prostate, sending sparks of pleasure through his body.
"I always wanted to see you like that." Hephaestion held Alexander firmly in place, savoring seeing the surrender in the brown eyes. It took most of his discipline not to thrust yet, but he controlled his instincts. "Do you know what other way I want to see you?"
Alexander whimpered, suddenly experiencing a most divine sensation. Hephaestion finally used that strength and turned him around, always making certain his shaft remained in place. Alexander suddenly found himself on his stomach, the position he had originally wanted Hephaestion to claim him in, but not on his hands and feet. Hephaestion blanketed him and, feeling that heavy body pressing him down, almost made Alexander come that moment.
Hephaestion pushed his arms beneath Alexander's chest and tightly embraced him. At the same time, he performed his first thrust, burying himself deeper than ever before.
All Alexander could do was surrender to the deep, slow strokes. He was quite helpless, lying underneath Hephaestion's bulk and he accepted what his lover was giving him. Hephaestion's thrusts remained slow, but went deep and he whimpered into the mattress, abandoning himself to his beloved Hephaestion, who rubbed his prostate with each stroke. Alexander was catapulted into orgasm and bit into Hephaestion's forearm, trying to stop himself from screaming out.
Hephaestion didn't notice the bite. He whipped his hips forward and nuzzled Alexander's hair, inhaling his lover's musky scent. A moment later contractions formed around his member, but he ignored the sensation and continued to bury himself inside his lover's body over and over again.
Alexander had never experienced anything like it before. Yes, Hephaestion had taken him in the past, but never in such an intense way. He had never belonged to Hephaestion so completely – one of them had always been holding back and that had been Hephaestion. In their first life, Hephaestion had never taken him in such a masterly way; his beloved would never have dared possessing him like that and his tears surfaced once more. Alexander cried softly, making certain Hephaestion didn't notice that he regretted smothering his lover's strength in the past.
Hephaestion collapsed atop of Alexander and wondered… "Alexander, do you want me to remain inside or…?" During their first life, Alexander had preferred for him to pull out before he reached orgasm and, as he had been eager to please, he had always complied.
"Don't you dare pull out!" Alexander wanted to feel Hephaestion come inside him and he managed to look at his beloved from over his shoulder. "Come for me."
Alexander's words pushed Hephaestion over the edge and he growled, finding release inside the still contracting passage. "This feels…" He wanted to tell Alexander what he was experiencing, but the words wouldn't come to him. Instead, he kissed Alexander's shoulder and clung to his lover in the throes of passion and ecstasy.
Alexander remained motionless beneath Hephaestion's bulk and experienced, for the very first time, what it felt like to have his lover come inside of him. Warmth filled him and Hephaestion thrust another time, almost causing Alexander to pass out from the sensation alone.
Hephaestion finally stilled, having spent himself inside his lover's body. Exhausted, he realized he should roll off of Alexander, but he didn't yet have the energy to move.
"Don't move," Alexander whispered, loving the way Hephaestion felt atop him. Why hadn't he given this to Hephaestion – and to himself – in the past? Letting go and entrusting himself to his beloved had upended his world and only made him love Hephaestion more.
"I am crushing you," Hephaestion objected in a weak voice. His body still tingled with pleasure and, although his member was softening, he was still inside Alexander's warm body.
"I love that feeling," Alexander confessed. Still maintaining eye contact with Hephaestion, he added, "Promise me something?"
Hephaestion licked Alexander's bottom lip, tasting the echo of blood as Alexander had bit into that lip during his ecstasy. "What?"
"Promise to tell me when you want to take me again. I don't want to wait another lifetime before you claim me again like that. I made that mistake in the past and I refuse to make it again." He blushed, but continued, "I love the way you feel inside of me."
"You never admitted that before." Hephaestion finally found the strength to roll off of Alexander, but maintained his hold on his lover. They ended up resting on their sides with Hephaestion spooned behind Alexander. "Did you really like that?"
"My sweet Hephaestion… Would I lie to you?" His body hummed with the pleasant after effects of bliss and Alexander was determined to experience it again.
"No, you wouldn't. You never lied to me." Hephaestion's member slipped out of Alexander's body and both men whimpered now that the connection was broken. "I will tell you," Hephaestion agreed in the end.
"And you will act upon it," Alexander added, closing his eyes and beginning to doze off. Now he understood why Hephaestion had so quickly fallen asleep after they had made love that first time. He felt exhausted, but in a good way.
"I might," Hephaestion whispered, pressing kisses against Alexander's neck. He heard his lover's breathing deepen and slow down, a sure sign that Alexander had fallen asleep. "I love you so much, my Alexander… So much…"
A moment later, he followed Alexander into sleep. The two lovers had finally been reunited and their bond was firmly in place. Only death could separate them again, and this time, they knew the separation would only be temporary. Their souls *would* find each other again.