‘Do you have something to tell me, Alexander?’ The King twisted his head around to face the door, letting the parchment in his hand drop to the bed he was lying on.
Hephaistion was languishing in the archway, his eyebrows slightly raised and head tilted. His demeanour was one of relaxation, yet Alexander couldn’t help but feel that something was off in the strong line of his shoulders. Nonetheless, he smiled at his lover, even as his face showed his confusion, and rolled onto his back.
‘Nothing of importance,’ He said as he stretched, ‘Why do you ask?’ Hephaistion seemed to hesitate, just slightly, his white teeth digging into his lower lip.
‘I have heard rumours…’ He murmured, watching as Alexander sat up with a deep frown upon his face. It had to be something personal; Hephaistion responded to rumours about Alexander with a drawn sword, and rumours about others with varying measures of amusement and doubt. Now he was hesitant and uncharacteristically unsure.
‘Rumours about you again?’ Alexander asked. It wasn’t often that Hephaistion came to him about such things; he had learnt as a young boy that people bitten by the poisonous teeth of jealousy due to his relationship with Alexander often spewed out ridiculous rumours, and he therefore usually refused to let the acrid words affect him. But every so often a rumour would sting, and he would come to Alexander, who would faithfully offer to kiss the sting of insecurity and doubt away.
‘Hephaistion, you vowed to stop listening after last time!’
Hephaistion rolled his eyes at him, and, unwittingly amused, he half laughed through a deep sigh.
‘Of course I stopped! I have no desire to hear that you only love me for my thighs Alexander.’ He was still smiling slightly, and Alexander couldn’t help but grin widely back at him. Perhaps it had started off as a slur towards the King’s bedmate, a way to denounce his actual value, but it had become somewhat of a joke between them over the years. Hephaistion had proved himself enough times, both in battle and as Alexander’s companion, that any who still uttered the old rumour were recognised to be jealous or joking.
Alexander couldn’t help himself when his grin turned lascivious, and his eyes dragged over the form of the man stood in front of him.
‘Well… they are beautiful thighs.’ He said, voice low and appreciative. Hephaistion moved towards the bed then, not stopping until he was crawling onto it and moving closer still, until he was within reaching distance. And by the Gods, Alexander could smell him; sweet Persian oils and the honeyed hint of wine on his breath. He arched up onto his elbows, wanting to lick the taste from his mouth, but Hephaistion kept distance between their chests.
‘Perhaps,’ the brunette whispered rough, breathless already, ‘I ought to put a tax upon them?’ And Alexander could only stare, the words meaningless, until the sudden heady heat of arousal cleared and he remembered their conversation, and that his lover was a tease. A tease who had no right to look so gorgeous, so sinfully sensuous, whilst he was smirking at his King.
Alexander groaned and fell onto his back again. He reached for Hephaistion’s hand, pulling him closer and interlacing their fingers, letting his other hand rest upon the brunette’s ribs, wanting to feel him breathe.
‘Whatever it is I will pay it.’ His tone was truthful and serious, enough so that the lingering smirk Hephaistion wore so well softened into a genuine smile, and his fingers tightened on Alexander’s affectionately.
‘A kiss,’ Hephaistion said softly, moving a thigh between Alexander’s and letting his weight rest more heavily on him.
The King was not one to let such an opportunity pass, and this time Hephaistion leaned into him, opening his mouth sweetly for Alexander to lick the taste of wine from his palate. They moved together until the need for air outweighed the need for intimacy. Breathing heavily, Alexander gripped Hephaistion’s thighs and rolled them until he was the one pressing his lover down into the bed. Pushing his right palm up the outside of his lover’s leg, he steadied himself with his other hand above his shoulder.
‘Perhaps I should claim what I own then.’ Alexander said as he pressed his fingers harder into Hephaistion’s skin, the image of leaving his mark vivid in his mind.
But Hephaistion had other ideas.
He spun them, pushing hard at Alexander’s shoulder and curling one leg around him, until the blonde was wide eyed and flat on his back between one blink and the next, Hephaistion’s strong thighs straddling his waist. Somehow, even after a lifetime of grappling with each other, Alexander was still surprised to be pinned by Hephaistion. Or perhaps he was surprised by the firm determination the brunette wore on his face: the contrast from loving was as sudden as the flip.
‘You have my heart, Alexander, there is no dispute about that, but you do not own my body. I am not you wife, nor your eunuch.’
Hephaistion’s tone too was firm, though his expression softened at the edges as he talked, his eyebrows drawing in and upwards conveying his sincerity, mirrored by the look on Alexander’s face. Since a young age his companion had to prove that he was his own man; that he could stand tall and fight without Alexander protecting him, sheltering him, and yes, without him owning him.
Hephaistion gave nothing to his King that he did not choose to give, and Alexander would never begrudge him for that, for he would not be the Hephaistion he loved if he wasn’t as close to an equal as their positions allowed.
‘Nay, you are not,’ Alexander replied seriously, ‘No woman has ever held such power over me.’ He was certain no man, woman, or child ever could.
Hephaistion’s eyebrows rose in playful doubt as he hummed under his breath.
‘Not even your mother?’ He asked after a beat, smiling. Alexander’s answering smile was even wider, crinkling the corners of his eyes.
‘No. Her thighs were not nearly as strong.’ Hephaistion wore his best disapproving face in retaliation, but Alexander could see the corner of his mouth curling upwards. He settled his hands on Hephaistion’s legs again, but his touch was gentler.
‘Relax my beauty,’ Alexander murmured to the man above him, pleased when he seemed to listen and settled more comfortably on Alexander’s hips, managing only to keep the position from being pleasant torture by a few scant inches. ‘We share a soul. Not even the Gods can come between that.’
‘Could a eunuch?’ Hephaistion asked, his tone artfully dry. Alexander couldn’t help but laugh.
‘The only way a eunuch, could come between us is if we invited him into our bed!’
‘Alexander!’ At the scandalized look on Hephaistion’s face, he only laughed harder, wrapping his arms around his companion’s legs to keep from unseating him. He sobered quickly however, when Hephaistion stayed silent. This, he realised, must be why Hephaistion had sought him out today. He was worried about Bagoas. Not for the first time did Alexander regret that his love did not seek his pleasure elsewhere like he did. It wasn’t for lack of trying to convince him on Alexander’s part, nor on the part of the pretty young men and women he sporadically pushed into Hephaistion’s path.
Hephaistion had beauty that mortal men rarely possessed, and Alexander was certain even some of the Gods would envy. Many lusted after him, including many of the generals, a fact that he was always contemptuous to acknowledge. They, after all, never made a secret of their appreciation, and some had even had the audacity to make offers, when they believed his own attention had strayed from Hephaistion a little too long. He would never stop him if he were to accept one of these offers, but Alexander knew himself well enough to know that he could not be responsible for ripping one of the generals apart for ever touching the man who held his heart.
Alexander wanted Hephaistion to seek pleasure, but not in men who he could find love with. He couldn’t lose him.
The King had too considered giving up the occasional boy like Bagoas that found their way into his bed, but he couldn’t do that either. Oh, it wasn’t for any special love for the boy, though he was fond of him in a way, it was because he couldn’t make Hephaistion weak. Alexander had a legendary temper, and Bagoas could take the brunt of it, enjoyed it even. Bedding Bagoas was about the release of anger and having something to dominate completely, someone to hurt and something to own.
Hephaistion himself had said that he was not to be owned. He was Alexander too after all; his equal. There was nothing but passionate love and gentle respect when they joined, and he wouldn’t let that change.
They’d discussed this of course; in the bright warm heat of outside, under the crisp shade of citrus trees, and in hushed whispers before they slept. Alexander shared his every thought and reason on this matter because it was what Hephaistion deserved. The generals might not understand it, but he made sure Hephaistion did, and because of this Hephaistion was never bitter about the King’s actions.
Or at least, he wasn’t usually, Alexander reminded himself. Hephaistion had moved out of his lap so that he could lazily sprawl across his chest without crushing him whilst Alexander had been deep in his thoughts. He ran his fingers through his lovers long brown hair as he gathered him closer, pressing his forehead to the top of Hephaistion’s hair.
‘What have you heard?’ Alexander asked softly, not willing to break their tender moment, but needing to know.
‘What I have heard for a decade already.’ Hephaistion murmured into his chest, whilst his long fingers danced lightly across his ribs. It was just enough to tickle but not make him squirm, so Alexander allowed it. He could always make him pay for the teasing later on.
‘Then what has changed?’
Hephaistion’s hand stilled, and he was silent.
‘Phai, my love, talk to me.’ Alexander pleaded, tilting the other man’s chin up with his fingers so that he was staring into clear blue eyes. He could still see the hesitation, but before he had to prompt him again Hephaistion spoke.
‘Now I fear there may be truth to them.’
Alexander was stunned. Hephaistion believed that he loved Bagoas. That he loved Bagoas, when he had all he had ever desired held against his chest.
‘You know my feelings as well as I Hephaistion, for I share all of them with you.’ Alexander gripped his lover around the waist desperately. He had to make him understand. He had to.
‘I love you Hephaistion, only you . My heart is yours, I promise.’
He could feel Hephaistion sigh as much as he could hear him. Alexander cradled the back of his head, anxious and unsure of what the sigh meant until blue eyes met his own. Hephaistion simply looked relieved. Hephaistion still trusted him.
He rewarded the faith with a deep kiss.
'Show me,’ Hephaistion ordered between demanding, breathless kisses, ‘Show me, Alexander.’
The King complied, pushing at the man above him until he lay on his back, and then slowly sliding up his tunic, taking time to appreciate his famous thighs until there was an impatient kick to his side. Alexander grunted and nipped at Hephaistion’s stomach in playful retaliation. By the time he had reverently kissed up his chest to his lips, the brunette was impatiently pulling him up with supple strength and whispered words.
Alexander didn’t make him wait after that, using oil by the bed to carefully and lovingly prepare Hephaistion, all the while telling him just how important he was, how much he needed him, how he could never love anyone else, for they would not be Hephaistion. He was half tempted to keep going, using his fingers and words to take the man underneath him apart and worship every piece, but Hephaistion was like sweet wine; he was intoxicating and addictive, and the more Alexander had, the harder it was for him to control himself.
He pushed into him gently until Hephaistion began rocking and meeting him half way. After that they were both frantic, spurred on by passionate cries and choked off moans, kissing and biting any skin they could reach. Alexander stroked the other man to completion, following not long after, biting into the skin of Hephaistion’s neck hard enough to leave a bruise, and smiling in satisfaction against it afterwards.
He’d show Hephaistion as many times as he needed to that there was no truth in any of the rumours. Truth basked in the uninhibited words they shared and these secluded moments of sweat and skin, where all was bared, and they found Elysium in the eternal communion between their souls.