They say that Babylon is a whore. She will open her legs for anyone who will not rough her up too badly. She will love you and cherish you as long as you pay her. She will also give you every sickness in this world and take your last coin if you are not careful.
I don't know if that is true. Politics and philosophy are not my trade.
I do know that it is true about the whores of Babylon. I am one of them.
Babylon is my mother and father for I have known neither of them. They tell me my mother was a whore as well, one of the most beautiful women ever to ply that trade. They tell the customers that my father was a soldier from far away to explain my golden hair, though it is as fake as my smile.
The man who owns me tells me he is my uncle, my mother's brother, but he could just as well be my father as far as I can tell for lying is his trade. He makes me dye my hair to earn another coin when he sells me as an especially exotic ware.
Being a whore is neither as good nor as bad as it may sound. The high-class courtesans serving princes and kings have everything they wish for from palaces to whores of their own to cater to their every whim. They are not respected but cherished and what more can one wish for?
Me - I am just a street rat. When my uncle first sold me, I was barely in my teens. And I was lucky as he first used me to steal as long as I was small enough to squeeze through the higher windows.
I miss that.
But life moves along and these days it is rare that a customer really hurts me.
Some nights are bad but there are good times too. Like when a customer pays for me for the whole night in advance and then gets too drunk to get it up at all. When a disgusted servant then throws me out of the house and I know perfectly well that my uncle won't expect me back before the dawn.
A night like tonight...
With a small grin, Alexander picked himself off the smooth pavement in front of the rich merchant's house he had just so unceremoniously left. The servant was still standing in the doorway, glaring at him with barely veiled threat. As if he was really expecting Alexander would come back to demand something.
He had been born with more wits than that. Sketching a mocking bow towards the disgusted man he deeply breathed in the night's scent.
The heat of the day was still lingering in the streets. No wind had touched Babylon for a few days so the smell of so many humans living in one place could not quite be denied anymore. Here, in the wealthier parts of the city, it was overpowered by the scent of rich incense being burned to charm the senses and plead with the gods for cooler weather.
The night was barely an hour old but already the streets were lit with countless lanterns setting the city aglow with a warm, golden light.
The merchant quarter was built on higher ground and from here Alexander had a good view over the poorer quarters. Down there it was now the time that his uncle Cletus called 'the change of the watch'. The honest workers went to sleep after an exhausting day of labor. Now the seedier parts of the city's society took over. Down there the lanterns burned red and green and blue, tingeing the simple hovels and crumbling stone structures with an otherworldly light that was tempting as well as warning.
Ignoring the well-chosen curse the servant called after him, Alexander headed down the street towards that beckoning light.
He held no love for the well-lit, clean parts of Babylon. They made him feel wretched and exposed. He knew that many of the boys working for his uncle looked at the tall houses and artfully painted people with longing. He didn't. He had long ago realized that he would never rise above his station and that the lovely stories told by the old men in the market were just that - stories.
Accepting his lot in life had made many things easier.
And as his uncle said - those who constantly stare at the stars will fall over their own feet or end up with a dagger in their back.
Whistling softy, Alexander considered what to do with this unexpected night of freedom. Of course, the merchant had not given him a tip so the first thing to do was to find some money. Preferably some purse to acquire. But if that proved too time consuming he could always do one or two quick jobs. If he didn't ask his uncle's outrageous prices he'd find someone who appreciated his exotic looks enough to give his mouth a try in no time.
The big braziers in front of the temple of Anahita were glowing in a slightly bluish haze from the incense thrown on them by the worshippers. Whoever visited the temple left a small offering. This small temple in the poorer quarters maybe wasn't as splendid and awe inspiring as the big one in the temple quarter but it was well visited nonetheless. Where the worshippers at the big temple were rich women and men, praying for love or fertility, here whores and soldiers pleaded with the goddess for lust and strength in battle.
Alexander didn't believe in gods enough to spend his few hard earned coins on incense or other costly sacrifices. But he did believe enough not to pick any pockets inside the temple.
Instead, he had waited outside, keeping his eyes open for likely prey. He hadn't been disappointed. There always was some mercenary force in town who had just received their pay for duty in some god-forsaken corner of the empire. And they always felt a need to spend that money as quickly as possible.
Cutting an especially drunken one's purse while gifting him with a lascivious kiss had been child's play. Before the soldier could decide if he wanted some more, Alexander darted off down an alley, laughing at the drunken wooing of the man. He would realize soon enough that he hadn't just lost a potential fuck but his coins as well.
Quickly Alexander left the well-lit area around the temple behind, heading towards the harbor. It was far enough from his uncle's territory that he could be reasonably sure nobody would recognize him and tell his uncle. There would be hell to pay if old Cletus found out that his favorite boy hadn't returned straight away to spend some more hours working on his back.
In the deep shadows of a warehouse entrance, he stopped to check the contents of the purse he had carelessly stuffed into his tunic. Counting the coins and checking with a quick bite to each of them confirmed that he had chosen his prey well. He wasn't rich but the wealth he had just acquired would support more than one night of drinking.
He had just securely stowed the purse away in the sash he wore as a belt when a noise from a dark narrow alley between the warehouses drew his attention. First a slightly muffled yelp of pain, then a low laugh.
While he was still sternly telling himself that it was none of his business his feet were already carrying him closer. As his uncle had told him more times than he could count: his endless curiosity would one day kill him. But Alexander couldn't help it. Soundlessly he crept closer.
"Now come on, pretty, stop it, we just want to buy what you are selling!" a rough voice growled, followed by chuckles from at least two more men.
"Let go!" another voice answered, a lot louder and in an angry hiss that made Alexander's skin crawl. He knew this mix of anger and fear, had heard it in his own voice often enough. "I am no whore!"
"Oh, how lucky for us. Then we can keep our coins, can't we, boys?"
There were sounds of shuffling and Alexander could well imagine how the men wrestled down their prey. It had happened to him. It happened every night. This was Babylon after all.
"Shut him up!"
The sound of a hard slap.
"Hold that bitch still!"
And then Alexander could see them. Two boorish men holding down a slender figure bent over a crate, a third just stepping in, dodging the helpless kicks of his intended victim.
"Ah, I love a pretty bitch who fights back! Makes for a much better ride." He announced, pushing up his tunic and exposing his hard member.
That would have been the moment to turn, run away and forget about the scene as quickly as possible. After all, it was none of Alexander's business. So, he told himself sternly as he closed the distance between himself and the men with a few wide strides, barreling into one of the men holding down the boy shoulder first, knocking both of them off their feet.
Trying to use his advantage of surprise he hit the man he had landed on top of as hard as he could, fist impacting with flesh. It was more satisfying than he would have believed possible. All the times he had been at the receiving end of such men's attention came rushing back to him and revenge was as sweet as the gods' grace.
The man beneath him went slack as he managed to hit him really hard but the glorious feeling of victory was cut short as he was grabbed by the hair and pulled backward. Crying out in pain as much as in rage he tried to get at the man behind him but the air was knocked out of him as the man's knee impacted with his back. Groaning he hung limp for a moment.
His captor grinned at him widely. Blinking against the pain, he saw what happened next only as a blur of motion. A sandal clad feet entered his field of vision from the left hitting the man's temple with almost eerie precision. The man's eyes crossed and then closed as he collapsed to the ground, letting go of Alexander's hair.
Down on his knees he fought hard to regain his breath as silence returned to the alley. He looked up when the other boy crouched down in front of him. And nearly lost his breath again when he looked into the most startling, beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen in his life. He thought his heart must stop when the other boy smiled widely, his eyes sparkling.
"Thank you," the boy said, "are you all right?"
Alexander managed a nod. He quickly scanned the 'battlefield' and found all three of their foes out cold on the ground. They had been really lucky.
The other boy followed his glance. "We better get away before they wake up." He suggested with a merry grin, offered Alexander his hand and drew him back to his feet.
"Yeah," Alexander answered, now with a grin of his own, "but first they have to pay for the entertainment."
Quickly he checked the men for money or other valuables while the other boy watched, somewhat surprised at first and then grinning again.
The first of the men was starting to groan when they darted out of the alley and then ran down the street between the warehouses.
About fifteen minutes later Alexander helped his new friend onto the roof of one of the warehouses lining the harbor. Originally, they had gone straight to the closest wine house to rinse down the feeling of shock that made their hearts race. But when they had heard angry voices from the front of the place asking about two boys with their looks they had grabbed the wineskins they had just bought and made another quick escape through a rear window.
Alexander had suggested taking refuge on a roof. From his time as a thief, he knew that it was a place overlooked in most searches. People just didn't look up. And it presented a rather pretty view of the river lapping against the docks.
They sat down facing the river, legs dangling over the edge of the roof and both uncorked their wineskins to take a hearty drag.
"That was close." Alexander commented, settling the wineskin in his lap.
"They sounded pretty angry." His companion answered, grinning merrily.
Alexander couldn't help but grin back. "Poor guys. I guess we ruined their night out."
They both laughed at that.
With a soft sigh, the other boy leaned back on his elbows, closing his eyes. "I really have to thank you.,” he then said much more seriously. "It was very brave of you to help me against those bastards."
It had been utterly stupid to interfere, Alexander thought, but he didn't regret it one bit. "I'd do it again." He said, looking down at his companion with admiration. He had seen his share of pretty looking boys, after all that was a prerequisite of his trade. He thought of himself as rather good looking as well. But none of them could match the raw beauty the young man next to him possessed. That he didn't seem to be aware of it just heightened the impact.
"What's your name?" he asked curiously.
"Hephaistion." He companion answered without opening his eyes, obviously relaxing more and more. "And yours?"
For a while Alexander managed to tear his eyes from Hephaistion but soon enough his eyes were drawn back to him.
"No offense..." he began cautiously, unable to reign in his curiosity, "but are you really not a whore? You certainly could earn a fortune working on your back."
At that his new friend opened his eyes, looking more startled than offended. "You think so?" he asked, sitting up again and taking another drag from his wineskin. "Never considered that. But no, I'm really not a whore."
"So what do you do for a living?"
"I am servant to a travelling lord from Egypt." Hephaistion explained. "I sneaked out of his quarters tonight to check out the city on my own. I guess I underestimated how dangerous it can be."
Alexander snorted softly. That really had not been the brightest idea. But on the other hand - if Hephaistion had stayed put they wouldn't have met so Alexander wouldn't complain. Then the other part of what he had said caught his attention. He had heard that a prince from Egypt had arrived a few days earlier but he had been asleep when the noble guest had been welcomed with a parade. Now he looked at Hephaistion with big, pleading eyes.
"Egypt? You are from Egypt? Will you tell me about it?" He gestured at the city behind them. "I have never been anywhere but here."
Again that adorable smile lit up his companion's face. "You want to hear of Egypt?" he said, his voice taking on the soft singsong tone of a storyteller, "I will gladly tell you of my home, of great father Nile and of the beauty of Theben's palaces, of the splendor of the great Pharaoh and the grace of his wife..."
To Alexander it seemed as if time had been suspended while he listened to Hephaistion, the other boy's clear voice weaving sweeping pictures before Alexander's mind's eye. The Egyptian's words spoke of love for his home and Alexander felt a deep longing to share that love. He had often heard it said that Babylon was the queen of all cities, that there was none to rival her beauty. But to him she was a place of filth and degradation. To see other places was a thought that had never crossed his mind but now a hunger was awakened in him.
When the first light of day suddenly crept over the horizon, both boys blinked at it in surprise.
Hephaistion picked up his wineskin again and drained the last of it's content. Then he smiled at Alexander again. "Seems I have to go back to my master." He said, sounding none too happy about it. "I'll be lucky, if I haven't been missed already."
His smile had lost none of its sweetness and presented with it Alexander felt another hunger stir. "I'd better get going too." He said, grinning back at Hephaistion. "My uncle will have kittens if he ever learns what I did tonight."
Thinking of the men who had nearly raped him brought back a serious expression to Hephaistion's face. "I don't know how I can ever repay you for your help." He said, bowing his head slightly in acknowledgement of his debt.
"Don't worry about it. You'd have done the same." Alexander answered quickly, uncomfortable with such honorable words.
For a moment, they both sat in silence, knowing full well that they should get going but unwilling to part company just yet.
"A pity you aren't a whore." The words were out of his mouth before Alexander could stop them and it took him a moment to realize he had said and not just thought them.
Hephaistion blinked at him in surprise. "What?"
Alexander blushed furiously. "I mean... I... well." He looked anywhere but at Hephaistion when he finally managed to get out his answer. "If you were, I'd pay you for a kiss." He whispered, feeling ridiculous at the fact that it was true. After all, he was a whore himself and never did anything for anybody without getting paid himself.
Hephaistion laughed and for a painful moment Alexander was sure he was laughing at him. But then the other boy reached out and turned Alexander face so they were looking at each other again. And before Alexander could react in any way to the warmth he found in those incredibly blue eyes Hephaistion leaned forward and gently kissed him on the lips, sending a wave of feathery excitement rushing through Alexander's veins.
"You're lucky I'm not a whore," Hephaistion said with a cheeky grin, "or you'd not have been able to afford that kiss."
Then he jumped off the roof to the alley below. "I really must go." He said, looking up at Alexander who felt like he had been struck by the softest and most sweet lightning possible. "If I manage to sneak away again, is there anywhere I can meet you?"
The mere thought was exhilarating and Alexander had already opened his mouth to give Hephaistion the address of his uncle's house when his brain kicked in again and he realized what would happen, if Hephaistion came there. Best case - he would learn what Alexander really was, a filthy street whore, not even able to chose his own customers but being sold like his uncle pleased. Worst case - his uncle would decide to keep Hephaistion, feeding him opium till he was just a pretty shell, doing whatever Cletus wanted.
"No..." he said slowly, feeling like his heart would break even though he couldn't possibly have fallen in love over night, could he? "It's hard to say where I'll be."
Even though the alley was still mostly in darkness he could see the disappointment in Hephaistion's face. "Well then," he said slowly, as if he was still hoping for some kind of chance for them to meet again, "it was a wonderful night." Realizing that Alexander wouldn't offer that chance he drew himself up straighter. "It was nice meeting you." He said, his voice sounding a lot colder now. "Have a good day."
"You too." Alexander answered, trying to keep his voice as cool. "Thanks for the beautiful stories."
He so wanted to say more but there really was no way they could even be friends. After all Hephaistion would be going back to Egypt sooner or later. So probably it was for the better if they didn't get too attached to one another.
Still when he watched Hephaistion walk away, he wished nothing more than to jump off the roof as well, run after him and tell him to stay.
Even under the best of circumstances Alexander would have had trouble simultaneously balancing the various parcels, bags and the big wine amphora on top he was laden with and not lose the hideous red and yellow striped robe of his aunt in the throng of Babylon's biggest marketplace in the busiest hours of the morning.
And he was definitely not in the best condition with his eyes constantly threatening to drift shut from exhaustion. He had made it back to his uncle's house about an hour after dawn, quietly slipping inside and curling up on his pallet in the attic. The other boys he shared the room with had all already been asleep. And even though he was tired he had still been tossing and turning when his uncle had showed up merely an hour later to kick him awake.
If there was one thing that did convince him that he was indeed somehow related to Cletus it was the fact that he was treated worse than any of the other boys. They were just expected to whore and keep their mouths shut. He was always the one pressed into service when his aunt or uncle needed a helping hand with something.
Like today where they basically needed a pack mule.
Alexander had no idea how his aunt had managed to force Cletus to accompany her on her shopping trip but their constant arguing all morning was a good sign that he was not here off his free will.
Those who had never met Alexander's aunt often wondered why Cletus did not sell her in the street like he did with all his other boys and girls. As soon as they met her their question was answered. There simply was no way anybody would pay even the smallest coin for a woman as plain and mean as Stateira. The natural follow up question then was why Cletus had married her in the first place and there was no easy answer to that. Alexander's pet theory was that he had only married her, because he was a suspicious bastard and she was the only woman available at the time he could be sure would neither leave nor betray him. After all she had nowhere else to go.
Whatever the reasons there might be - fact of the moment was that they were both in an especially foul mood and definitely not willing to wait for their exhausted nephew.
Hoping fervently that Stateira had finally spent enough of her husband's money and that they would head home soon, Alexander dodged a dirty child crossing his path at top speed. Just as he had expected there were a fat woman and a member of the city guard hot on the young thief's heels, shouting angry curses. Alexander waited till they had passed as well and then tried to make out where his aunt and uncle had gotten to, balancing his precarious load.
He caught a glimpse of Stateira's robe a few stalls ahead and silently thanked the gods for her lack of taste in clothing. He was just taking the first step to close the distance between them, when someone bumped into him from behind violently.
For a small moment Alexander managed to keep his balance but than he tumbled to the ground together with the stranger, both of them getting buried under a heap of wares and then showered by the wine from the broken amphora.
Alexander shoved against the man who had landed on top of him, showering the clumsy idiot with some choice curses as well. But suddenly there were men around him, helping the stranger to his feet, fawning over him like he was some precious noble, while a huge guy who looked like a bodyguard grabbed Alexander by the neck and nearly lifted him off the ground, pulling him up.
Alexander quickly shut his mouth. One glance at the man who had run into him, showed him exactly what he had feared to find: fine robes, jewelry, an entourage - this really WAS a noble. Probably even a foreign one by the strange cut of his clothing and his exotic looks. And he didn't look happy at all the mess.
"You little rat!" the man still holding Alexander by the neck barked. "Has no one told you to get out of the way of your betters? Look at what you have done to Lord Cassander!"
If I had seen him, I'd certainly had gotten out of the way, Alexander thought but knew that there was no use arguing. Still he couldn't fight his natural reaction of trying to squirm out of the man's grasp. That only resulted in being lifted off the ground and shaken like he was no more than a kitten.
"I'm sorry!" he quickly whimpered.
The noble hissed at his servants fussing over him and angrily turned to Alexander now. "Who is your master, you insolent brat?!" he demanded, obviously assuming that Alexander was a slave. Which - apart from his legal status - wasn't that far from the truth.
Alexander would have expected his uncle to make a quick escape so he was quite surprised when Cletus waded into the mess to shout at Alexander as well. Obviously his anger over losing all the money he had just spent for his wife's shopping lust outweighed his sense of survival.
"Useless little bastard!" There was no way Alexander could dug the hard slap of his uncle, still caught in the grasp of the huge guard. Again he started to struggle, panic now drowning his last bits of calm.
"Is that yours?!" the noble addressed Cletus, pointing at Alexander.
For a moment both men stared at one another in an almost comical display of rage barely held in check. Then Cletus seemed to realized who exactly he faced and after a quick glance around showed him that his route of escape was blocked by the noble's servants did the most sensible thing - he threw himself to the ground.
"Mercy, great lord!" he started whining.
"Mercy?! Have you seen what the brat has done to my robes?!" the noble hissed, stepping closer to Cletus, looking like he was seriously going to kill the groveling man.
"Forgiveness, my lord!" Cletus kept pleading. "He is an insolent brat, you are so right, master." Then he glanced up at the noble, a sly smile on his lips. "But he's also a pretty faced slut, if my lord cares to look."
That calmed the noble considerably and some part of Alexander that was watching calmly wondered how his uncle managed to always recognize a potential customer. The rest of his was desperately pleading with the gods. Not this, he prayed, as the noble stepped closer and the guard changed his grip on Alexander, holding his arms on his back with one large hand and holding his head still by the hair so the noble could get a good look.
There was a cool glint in the noble's eyes that Alexander knew. This was the kind of customer he avoided at all costs. Those who took their pleasure from hurting others. The noble reached out and slowly trailed one finger down Alexander's cheek, a smile spreading on his lips. Obviously he liked what he saw.
He turned back to Cletus. "You are right, man, he has a pretty face."
"He's all yours." Cletus replied eagerly.
Alexander could hardly believe his ears. He knew full well his uncle was a hard man but still he wouldn't have thought that Cletus would just give him away like that. Even though he had never felt close to his aunt or uncle he now felt tears prick his eyes. They were the only kind of family he had ever known.
"Agreed." The noble said, waving Cletus away, his attention already returning to Alexander. "You are lucky, boy," he said, a cruel smile forming on his lips. "I will not only teach you some manners, you will also have the honor of serving my amusement."
To see the legendary splendor of the palace from the inside was a dream every street whore Alexander had ever met harbored. To be picked by some rich, generous patron, to be heaped with presents, bathed in milk and honey, treated like a prince. Those were the dreams of boys and girls who knew nothing but poverty and brutality. The palace to them was a distant dream.
Even Alexander had shared that dream sometimes, watching when some noble procession passed through the city, wondering what it would be like to be part of that life.
Now he was and it was nothing like he had imagined. In his fantasies there had been no hard hand dragging him along by the neck, rushing him past all the glorious luxury to a fate he knew all too well. Nothing had changed for the better. In fact, everything was much worse.
In a matter of a few moments any freedom he had ever had had been stripped from him. A few words had turned him from a whore into a slave. The mere thought still had him reeling. He just couldn't believe that Cletus had done this to him, had discarded him like a broken toy. Never before had he felt as keenly how worthless and insignificant he truly was.
He was roughly yanked from these thoughts as the guard dragging him along propelled him forward through an arched doorway. Instinct took over and he rolled with the momentum and automatically curled into a ball, prepared to be kicked.
But he was only addressed coldly by the noble. "Kneel for me, pretty boy!"
Alexander was used to obeying to buy time, to appearing meek and pliant. But the key word was 'appearing'. How ever bad his customers might have been - he had always known that they were just that - customers. That he would spend a disgusting few hours or at most a couple of days and then go home again. Being a whore in many was pretending to be a slave. Being a slave in earnest was something entirely different. There was no going home. This was his life now.
And for some reason that made it so much harder so be a good little whore.
Of course there was no point in fighting so Alexander quickly got to his knees, keeping his head down, trying to concentrate on the beautifully inlaid pattern of the mosaic floor underneath him instead of the shadow of the lord who now was his master looming above him.
"Considering the filth you come from you're a surprisingly pretty thing." the noble drawled, nudging Alexander with a sandal clad foot.
The sandals straps looked like genuine gold, Alexander noted absentmindedly. If the noble had been a customer he would now have wondered how to take those sandals with him unnoticed when he left. But there was no leaving.
"I would have you washed," the noble continued, "but what's the use when I intend to thoroughly soil you anyway?"
The guards that had accompanied the noble the whole time laughed merrily at the crude joke and something told Alexander that they were not only there to watch that he wouldn't make trouble. They would probably be part of the show.
"Show us what you have, pretty boy!" the noble commanded.
Still keeping his eyes to the floor Alexander pulled his tunic over his head. He wasn't wearing anything else. The hooting of the guards told him that his assessment of the situation had sadly been correct. It would be a long morning.
His head was pulled up by the hair and he found himself presented with the crotch of his new master.
"And now show us how you worship your master, slave!" the noble sneered.
Again Alexander obeyed without hesitation. There was no point in fighting; he told himself again, nothing to be gained. He sucked on the rapidly hardening cock and quickly swallowed it when it was at full attention.
The noble shuddered and then snickered with satisfaction. "Such a good little slut..." he muttered almost tenderly.
Alexander tried to block out his voice as well as his smell, the feel of the cock thrusting inside his mouth and into his throat. Try to make it quick, he told himself, his throat constricting around the invading cock as he swallowed again, knowing perfectly well what would drive the man wild.
He was not disappointed as hands gripped his hair firmly, holding him in place, the cock moving faster, thrusting into him hard and carelessly. Only a few minutes pasted before the noble buried himself fully, Alexander's face pressed firmly into his crotch, his throat filled with cock, cutting of all air.
Alexander knew better then to struggle as hot semen spilled deep inside him, the noble's fingers tearing at his hair as he tried to somehow yank his new toy even closer, to force more of himself into the unresisting boy.
Panting happily he kept still while Alexander felt familiar panic rise, his chest growing tighter and tighter with the desperate need for air. He knew struggling was futile, had been in this position often enough to have learned there was no getting away until the man above him decided to let go. But his body still refused to learn the lesson, his heart beating faster and faster, as he started to see bright blotches of color behind his tightly closed eyes.
Just a little longer, he prayed fervently. A little longer and bright colors would change to choking darkness and then to nothing when he lost consciousness. Then they could do with him what they pleased. He'd only have to deal with the soreness when he woke up again.
But his prayers went unheard as the noble let go of his hair, pushing him back and Alexander's traitorous body gulped in air. Kneeling on the ground in front of the noble, he tried to breathe and cough at once as his throat protested the rough treatment.
"What a tasty appetizer." the Lord commented, that cruel amusement in his voice again that made Alexander shiver.
Again he tried to concentrate on the mosaic of the floor. Soft blue and green, depicting the sea, he realized. Seaweed and fishes endlessly woven around themselves. Beautiful. Meaningless. Just like himself.
The noble moved away and Alexander could hear the rustling of his robes as he sat down on some close by divan.
"Amuse me!" he then commanded, now addressing the guards more than Alexander. "Open him up for me so I won't scrap my tool. But make sure he is still tight when I take him!"
Alexander just had the time to draw in another breath, to close his eyes and lock away his conscious thought into that tiny room where nothing could touch him before they were over upon him like a pack of hungry lions.
A cool hand against his neck was the first sensation that found its way into Alexander's mind when consciousness returned to his aching body. For a long moment he had no idea where he was, his thoughts moving sluggishly, the only clear thing the fact that he hurt all over.
But then memories resurfaced, pictures popping into his mind like stinking bubbles rising in a slowly rotting swamp. It had been a long morning indeed. Not an enlightening one, though. None of the many men who had used him had tried anything that hadn't been done to him before. In fact he had been through worse.
The thing that was sorely missing was the knowledge that he had earned good hard coins for the disgusting experience. And even more the knowledge that he could go home now to a long soak in the bathtub Cletus kept for occasions like this.
It seemed impossible to even gather the energy to open his eyes when he knew perfectly well that it would probably be his new master or some other noble waking him now, demanding his services. After all he was a slave now. And there was no rest for a slave.
Pain shot through his lower back as he was turned over. He was pretty sure that he had been bleeding when the Lord had been done with taking him. After that things had blurred into a meaningless procession of various cocks filling his holes. Nothing that wouldn't heal in a few days. If he was given a few days before he'd be used again.
Then a soft gasp from above him caught his attention. Whoever had turned him over was now able to see his face. He expected disgust at the mess of blood and dried semen covering him. Maybe a hard slap for not having cleaned up already.
What he certainly not expected was to hear his name. "Alexander..." whispered by a voice he recognized. Hephaistion.
No, he thought desolately. Not him. Let it not be him. Don't let him see me like this. Begging with whatever gods might hear he screwed his eyes shut more tightly, trying to block out reality.
But again no gods seemed to be listening.
"Sweet mother Isis, what has happened to you?" he heard Hephastion, accompanied by that cool hand gently caressing his cheek, brushing hair out of Alexander's face that had been stuck to dried filth. There was no disgust in Hephaistion's voice, only deepest pity.
But that didn't make it one bit easier to open his eyes. He had not wanted Hephaistion to ever learn that he was just a street whore. Now he was even less and it seemed there was no way of keeping the ugly facts secret from the Egyptian. Now that he thought about it - there was a good chance that the master Hephaistion served was the same who now owned him as well. So he would do well to tell Hephaistion the truth now and be done with it.
Slowly he opened his eyes, his lashes sticking to his cheeks with dried tears and less savory stuff. Above him Hephaistion's face loomed - slightly out of focus as Alexander's eyes slowly adjusted to the warm light of the afternoon sun shining through the high windows. Alexander realized that his head was resting in Hephaistion's lap now.
He had expected to see disgust in the Egyptian's bright blue eyes, that and maybe some pity. What he had definitely not expected was a strange mix of surprise, deepest sympathy and smoldering rage. Hephaistion's hand still lay against Alexander's cheek and continued caressing him, ignoring his soiled state.
"Who did this to you?" Hephaistion asked, his voice now showing a hint of aggression that was clearly not directed at Alexander.
With a wince Alexander realized a danger he had so far completely overlooked. That Hephaistion might try to protect him and therefore get in trouble himself. That mustn't happen. He wouldn't allow Hephaistion to ruin his life over a worthless whore.
Somehow he managed to gather the energy to sit up straighter and free himself from the Egyptian's gentle embrace. "It's... nothing..." he muttered, raking his fingers through his hair, tearing at the places were it was stuck together with dried semen. Disgusting. He felt disgusting and must look even more disgusting.
Hephaistion snorted, not amused at all. Of course he didn't believe that, Alexander thought. He could see clearly enough what had happened. He would have to come up with something else to get him out of the line of trouble.
"Really... I'm fine." he grumbled, trying to sound us brusque as he could. Hephaistion had left him alone the previous night, maybe it would work again if he tried hard enough to appear like a bastard.
For a moment it seemed to work as anger flared in the Egyptian's eyes. But then his eyes narrowed and a calculating look entered them. He reached out and when his fingertips again gently brushed Alexander's face and it took all his strength of will not to lean into the touch, not to snuggle back into Hephaistion's lap and seek solace from the ugly memories of the morning.
"Tell me who did this to you." Hephaistion asked again, this time almost pleading.
Too sweet, too caring for Alexander to keep up his tough mask. "Please..." he answered just as pleadingly, "you'll just get into trouble. I'm not worth that. I'm just a whore... a slave..."
Again Hephaistion didn't react at all in the way Alexander had anticipated. Instead of either trying to convince Alexander or at last showing the repulsion he must be feeling he blinked in genuine surprise and confusion.
"I..." he began, only to stop himself. His fingers gently traced Alexander's jaw, soothing a bruise. "You are worth any trouble to me," he then continued softly, "you saved me from those thugs. Don't you think I should do the same for you?"
Of course he was right in a way, Alexander thought. Only there was nothing he could do to help. So he just closed his eyes in defeat, his mind still muddled with dull pain and unable to come up with anything that would deter Hephaistion.
He was surprised when Hephaistion didn't push him any further but instead got up from the floor where he had been kneeling opposite Alexander.
Only now did Alexander notice that instead of the simple linen tunic he had been wearing the night before his only piece of clothing now was a white skirt in typical Egyptian style. There was fine embroidery on the hem, combined with the softly falling fabric it had a look of luxurious simplicity that would have been lost on most Persians but even in Alexander's sorry state he was able to appreciate how good Hephaistion looked in it, his lean body showing only firm muscles and not an ounce of fat.
For a moment he was caught with the sight, not really noticing what Hephaistion was up to, but when the Egyptian stepped out of the room and shouted a name he realized that he was going to involve someone else in the matter.
It took him to tries to make it to his feet and he wasn't very stable but he somehow managed to stumble over to the arched doorway, ignoring the pain shooting through his guts. "Hephaistion... don't..." he got out before a young man, wearing a skirt similar to Hephaistion's came running down the corridor outside. Alexander vaguely remembered him as being in the entourage of the Lord who had brought him here.
What really startled him was when the young man dropped to his knees in front of Hephaistion, touching the floor with his forehead. "Yes, my prince?" his slightly muffled voice asked politely.
Alexander stared at Hephaistion with his mouth gapping open but the Egyptian ignored him studiously. "I'm sure there is a good reason why I found this boy here in my antechamber." Hephaistion addressed the kneeling servant. "Who left him there?"
"Lord Cassander got him on the market, my prince." the servant explained with a hint of nervousness.
"Is that so?" Now the boiling rage Alexander had seen in Hephaistion's eyes when he had first looked at him was evident in the Egyptian's voice.
The servant seemed to notice as well as Alexander could see him tremble. Prince... Alexander's mind tried to process the title but something inside of him just refused to believe that the boy he had saved from some street thugs was not just a servant but a noble. A powerful noble who made a servant tremble with nothing more than a trace of anger in his voice. But Hephaistion's stance now was one Alexander was familiar with, the stance of someone used to power. And under any other circumstance he would have done the same as the servant did right now: kneel and tremble.
His mind reeling and his body still extremely un-amused by his mistreatment Alexander had to take hold on the archway not to fall. Prince...
His stumble caught Hephaistion's attention and suddenly the Egyptian's arm was wrapped around him, keeping him stable, ignoring the fact that he was smearing his precious skirt with the filth still covering Alexander's body. All anger had left Hephaistion's face when Alexander looked at him, replaced by worry and care.
"Xander? Are you seriously hurt?" Hephaistion asked, the endearment slamming home the fact that he might be a prince but that this didn't change the fact that Alexander had saved him, that they had spent a wonderful night together, that they had kissed, that Hephaistion cared for him - and obviously didn't care at all who or what Alexander was.
The servant seemed to realize the same as he softly coughed to catch his master's attention and then asked: "Should I get a healer, my prince?"
"I... I'll be okay," Alexander choked out, "I've been through worse." Still he held on to Hephaistion for support, suddenly not caring anymore who he was or who Hephaistion was. Something told him that right now he was in the safest place he had been in a long time. And he was bright enough not to give it up.
Hephaistion eyed him suspiciously but then seemed satisfied with Alexander's answer. "No." he told the servant. "But do get Cassander." he commanded, a malicious note entering his voice that would have made Alexander shudder had he not known that it wasn't directed at him.
The servant quickly jumped to his feed and bowed again. "Yes, my prince." Then he hurried away, leaving Alexander alone with Hephaistion.
"Prince...?" Alexander repeated, looking at the Egyptian questioningly. There where signs of his nobility, now that Alexander was looking for them. His skin was too clean, too smooth, he held his head too high and his body showed not signs of hard work, his hands not smooth but now that Alexander paid attention he realized it were calluses of swordsmanship, not of craftsmanship he had felt on them.
Hephaistion had the grace to blush slightly at Alexander's question. "Well... yes..." he said, "not an important one, though, just a minor cousin to great Pharaoh."
Alexander slowly shook his head, trying to clear it from the still lingering mist of exhaustion as much to try to comprehend that this boy would most certainly not get into trouble for trying to protect him. That in fact this prince was quite able to protect him. That just maybe - if the care and genuine affection he saw in Hephaistion's eyes wasn't just his wishful thinking - there was a chance that his whoring days could be over.
"Cassander did this to you, didn't he?" Hephaistion asked, his eyes again taking on that unholy light of fury.
Only now did Alexander remember that he was still naked and covered with the residue of the entertainment of the morning. That he was still leaning on Hephaistion and soiling him as well. Quickly he looked away, shame again rising inside him that this boy he would so have liked to call his friend had seen what he was.
"Yes." he admitted slowly, unable to face Hephaistion.
The prince's reaction was a snarl of primal rage. "He will regret it." Then he reached out and took Alexander's chin, turning his face back to look at him. "Xander..." Again the endearment managed to force Alexander out of his dark thoughts and he looked up to find Hephaistion looking at him with warmth.
"I am sorry I wasn't able to save you like you saved me. But I am glad nonetheless to see you here." Again he blushed slightly, looking so much like the boy on the roof that Alexander again felt that feathery excitement run through his aching body.
And then Hephaistion asked a question Alexander hadn't even realized he had been hoping for. "When I have dealt with Cassander, will you stay? With me?"
His heart shouted the answer but somehow he managed to keep a hint of decorum, casting his eyes down meekly. "If you want me to..."
Hephaistion opened his mouth to answer, that familiar merry sparkle back in his eyes when he was cut short as the Lord Cassander entered the room again. His mere presence made Alexander shudder and wish he could just fold in on himself and disappear. Just looking at him he could again taste the noble on his tongue, feel him buried deep enough that Alexander thought his cock split his guts. The urge to drop to his knees was overwhelming but Hephaistion kept a form arm around his hips, keeping him upright. So he could just study his own feet to escape the confrontation.
"My prince." Lord Cassander greeted Hephaistion, his voice now oily and submissive, not sneering and dripping malice.
"My dear Cassander." Hephaistion answered, his voice having taken on both the sneering and the malice that had been missing with Cassander. "I have to say I was rather surprised to find the gift you left for me."
Alexander wasn't sure what Hephaistion was referring to but when he glanced up he realized that both Lord Cassander and Hephaistion were now looking at him, Cassander clearly shocked.
"My prince?" he asked, sounding none to sure what his prince was hinting at either but rather sure that it wouldn't be pleasant.
"To leave a broken and soiled toy... I wonder what you could possibly be trying to tell me with a gift like that..." Hephaistion continued and even Alexander was able to deduce that the way Hephaistion was phrasing it, it meant an incredible insult to him.
"I..." Lord Cassander stammered, sounding accordingly shocked. "My prince, it certainly wasn't my intention..."
"Cassander!" he was cut short, the anger in Hephaistion's voice now obvious. "I would expect you to at least show the guts to stand by your insult to my person! You add cowardice to insolence!"
Even Alexander with his rudimentary political knowledge realized that Hephaistion had managed to maneuver the Lord into a highly uncomfortable position with his well placed words. Especially as Alexander now noticed that they were not alone anymore. Guards had come in. Not those of Lord Cassander but tall grim Nubians who obviously served the prince. And his senses told Alexander that there were more people lurking close enough to observe every word spoken. Lord Cassander was in definite trouble.
Hephaistion's next words caught the noble off guard as much as Alexander. "You have also made the mistake of picking the worst possible victim as your gift." Hephaistion hissed, his voice brimming with rage barely held in check. "This boy you have so carelessly raped and brutalized happens to be dear to my heart. He is my friend. For this offense you will pay."
Both Lord Cassander and Alexander stared at Hephaistion open mouthed. If there was one thing Alexander would never have expected it would have been to hear a prince call him - a street whore - his friend. Especially not publicly.
But Hephaistion was not done with showing why one should never mess with someone higher up in the food chain. "Guards, take Cassander outside and have him beheaded!" Hephaistion ordered coldly.
The noble Lord was halfway down the corridor, being dragged by the huge Nubians before his mind came alive again and he started to beg for his life. Hephaistion turned away from the sight, still supporting Alexander who could hardly believe what he had just witnessed.
His attention was riveted from the Lord who had raped him to the prince next to him, when Hephaistion addressed him, his voice soft and caring again. "I hope this will repay some of the debt I owe you, Xander." he said, smiling at the startled Alexander. "I hope this will repay some more of it." he then added, drawing Alexander closer and again kissed him, gently, lightly and utterly lovely.
And then Hephaistion was leading him deeper into his suite of rooms, telling him about a warm bath, new clothes, food and all the precious gifts every street whore of Babylon had ever dreamt about and all Alexander could think was that obviously the tales of the old men at the bazaar did have a kernel of truth to them.