Chapter 1: Disappearance
TITLE: “Messing with Love” 1/10
PAIRING: Alexander and Hephaestion.
RATING: PG to NC-17.
CATEGORY: Historical Alternative Universe.
SUMMARY: A promise forgotten and everything goes down the hill from there …
WARNINGS: Mentions of m/m relationship, physical and mental torture, male rape, angst.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t know the people involved. Everything is the product of my imagination. Alexander and Hephaestion belong to History and to each other but I would not mind sharing my life with the blue-eyed man.
My mother tongue is Spanish and I work without a Beta so all the mistakes are mine.
FEEDBACK: Comments are love! Any kind will help me to improve my writing or leave it forever.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: First time writing a whole series from the darkest side …. Beware!
READ WARNINGS BEFORE YOU START READING!
Chapter 1: “Disappearance”.
- “Are you ready?” asked Hephaestion to his King who was still looking at the map.
- “Ready for what, Hephaestion?” asked Alexander no chattily and with his eyes still fixed on the colourful parchment.
- “To go swimming to the waterfall?” asked the General with his voice a little tinged with anger.
- “Swimming? Now? Did I agree to that today?” inquired the king and lifted his head, looking at Hephaestion for the first time since the conversation began.
“I shouldn’t have looked at him; he is a vision, a solace, an oasis for my tired eyes,” thought Alexander.
- “Yes, this morning when we woke up; in fact, it was your suggestion. You said and I quote: “Let’s go to the waterfall this afternoon, Phai, and we’ll make love till the stars appear in the sky,” said the brunette with a mischievous smile in his face.
- “By Zeus, I was really talkative this morning,” said Alexander grinning.
- “You are always like that after sex” replied Hephaestion.
- “We don’t have sex, Phai, we make love and there’s a big difference,” said Alexander smiling lovingly to his soul mate.
- “Well, don’t get sidetracked, are you coming or not?” asked Phai, whose eyes were showing an inner fire.
- “Give me some time to finish this and I’ll catch you there. Take some guards with you.”
- “I am not taking guards, Alexander. This is our “time alone” replied Hephaestion.
- “You are right; I am coming in a bit. Kiss me goodbye?” asked Alexander, pouting.
- “No, come quickly and I’ll kiss you there. See you, my King” answered Hephaestion over his shoulder, with a tiny smile on his lips.
Alexander laughed at his lover’s tricky answer and went back to his map. Hephaestion’s light footsteps and unique scent were no longer present.
**** Some hours later ****
“By Zeus’s balls, I completely forgot about Phai and the waterfall. Phai will kill me tonight” whispered Alexander when he realized that the sun had set and some stars were appearing. “Well, he will understand; he knows well how I can become so engrossed in maps and tactics designs. I will take him for a walk in the moonlight instead” thought Alexander while walking towards the dining room where his companions were gathered.
The handsome brunette was nowhere to be seen. Alexander took his usual spot on the double couch and let his eyes wander around the room.
- “Where is your pretty boy?” asked Cleitus while handing his king a goblet with red wine.
- “I hoped he would be there. We were supposed to meet at the waterfall this afternoon but time flew and I didn’t meet him” said Alexander sighing.
- “Maybe he is mad at you, my King” laughed the Black General while patting him between his shoulder blades. “Go and fetch him before the food gets cold.”
Alexander walked to their chamber but Hephaestion was not there; in fact, there was no evidence he had been there since that morning.
The young king got worried and went to look for Stephanos and Theo, their loyal pages. Both of them were eating their dinner, their heads, one blonde and one black-haired,
together, murmuring how their day had been.
Seeing the king enter the kitchen, they stood up in alert but Alexander waved them to sit down again and went on eating.
- “Have you seen Hephaestion?” Alexander asked them, showing a little hope in his two-coloured eyes.
- “No, Sire, we prepared your things for your swimming trip this afternoon but we haven’t seen him since then”
- “I cannot find him, I’ve looked everywhere” whispered Alexander with a defeated voice.
- “We’ll help you, Sire,” said Theo standing up again.
- “Finish your meal and meet me at the palace entrance with the horses,” said Alexander, who was feeling his heart beating too fast.
The three of them arrived at the waterfall and started to look for him. The full moon sent her rays to help the lover and pages in their search, even the small night animals went away from their path so they didn’t slow down the search.
In a moment, Alexander’s eyes went wide and gasped in fear.
- “No, no, no! It cannot be, it cannot be” repeated the distressed lover like a mantra.
Right there, lying on the lake bank, there was Hephaestion’s cloak, covered in blood.
Chapter 2: "Waking up in hell"
WARNINGS: Mentions of m/m relationship, physical and mental torture, insulting vocabulary male rape, angst.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: First time writing a whole series from the darkest side …. Beware!
READ WARNINGS BEFORE YOU START READING!
Hephaestion tried to open his eyes but it hurt too much, he waited for some minutes and tried again, but he saw nothing. He was accustomed to seeing in the dark, long hours of walking with the Army had trained him well, but it was pitch black inside.
Apart from that, his eyes hurt too much. Taking a trembling hand towards his face, he realized his eyes were swollen and his right one had a cut along its eyelid, which continued upwards up to his eyebrow. His throat was dry and he didn’t have enough saliva to wet it. He wanted to speak, to call for someone but his voice faltered.
Every bone in his body ached and he could feel one of his feet numb. He leaned over and touched it. A muffled cry escaped from his lips and he realized it was broken. He tried to remember when this had happened and it was when he had been dragged from the lake shore by his hair and thrown onto a horse; he fought back and jumped off the horse but his foot hit a hidden rock. This was also what helped his capture as he couldn’t stand up again.
He set his hands on both sides of the foot and tried to fix it, even though he knew he could pass out due to the pain but the fixing should be done as soon as possible before the bone found its way to start healing in an odd position.
So he grabbed the hem of his chiton, put it inside his mouth, bit it and moved his foot, by pulling the ankle downwards until he listened to a sharp sound. A shrill cry invaded the place and darkness invaded his head.
Sometime later, someone entered the place and kicked Hephaestion to wake him up. The kick connected with one of his ribs, and even in his state of numbness, he could hear the rib crack. Another kick, this one now to the pit of his stomach, made him curl up into a fetal position while listening to his captor calling him names.
- “So you are not dead, lapdog. Do you think your king is already missing you?” he said laughing and kicking him once more. “The rats ate your tongue? You aren’t so willing to speak and shout now, you big mouthed brat!”
- “Water, please” whispered Hephaestion while his tongue travelled over his cracked lips.
- “Ah, his Majesty’s whore wants some water; of course Sire, wait there” the man mocked him but went out of the cell.
The man returned with a pitcher full of fresh water, took a goblet and filled it up to the brim. Hephaestion lifted his hand to take the goblet and the man threw the full content on the dirty and muddy floor.
- “Oh, my mistake General, but here you are again,” the man said.
The tormentor repeated the action three more times and so Hephaestion realized he was being played.
- “What will you do for a glass of water, slut?” asked the man but Hephaestion just turned his body around and faced the wall.
- “More days with the rats in here will change your mind” threatened the man while taking his leave.
Hephaestion sighed deeply and tears ran along his bruised cheeks.
- “I don’t have to crack, I am a Macedonian General; my men need me, my King needs me, we haven’t reached our dreams yet,” he thought, trying to give himself hope.
Hephaestion breathed deeply but the musty smell of stale air made him sick; however, he couldn’t throw up; his last meal had been a very light lunch the day before. “Was it yesterday or today morning? My mind is so confused that I cannot remember clearly and this cell is too dark so I cannot see the outside world”
The brunette looked around again and tried to make a thorough recognition of the place. After a minute or two, he could discover that the cell was really small; he could reach both walls if he stretched his arms wide open and if he lay down, he was sure that his feet would be near to the front door. Being a tall and well-built man, he could barely move that’s why his tormentor was able to catch and hit him so easily.
Hephaestion lay down onto the opposite side of his cracked rib and tried to relax; he knew he would need all his strength to fight his captors, survive this torture and go back to his King.
- “Please Alexander, don’t forget me … again” whispered the exhausted man before sleep claimed him.
Chapter 3: "Another day in hell"
WARNING: Mentions of m/m relationship, physical and mental torture, insulting vocabulary, male rape, angst.
NO BETA so all mistakes are mine.
READ WARNINGS BEFORE YOU START READING!
Chapter 3: “Another day in hell.”
A strong pain in his groins woke Hephaestion up. His tormentor was back with his kicks and beating.
- “Wake up, slut, time for breakfast,” the man said while throwing a chunk of stale bread onto his lap.
Hephaestion caught it and bit it desperately. He was about to swallow it when a strong and heavy hand slapped his right cheek.
- “Have I told you to eat?” asked the man with anger in his eyes.
Hephaestion lifted his gaze and looked into his captor’s eyes. Once again, his face was covered with a kind of mask so only his eyes could be seen. His voice was a bit muffled due to the cloth but Hephaestion could identify a northern accent.
- “Answer me, have I told you to eat?” he asked again kicking the General’s ribcage.
- “No” answered Hephaestion.
- “No, sire is the correct answer” the man replied spitting his answer and kicking him again.
- “I only recognize as Sire to my King” answered the brunette back.
- “Still feeling cocky, slut?” asked the man slapping him with the back of his hand. A split lip was the result now.
Hephaestion was wise enough to remain silent. He knew that things could get worse if he continued challenging his captor.
- “So you don’t need that bread, you still have the strength to answer back; spit it out!” ordered the man and took the bread and water away.
- “You. Will. Only .Do. What. I. Say” each word was said accompanied by a kick to his already battered upper body.
The last kick was so hard that the brunette listened to his cracked rib break and a massive pang of pain travelled along his bruised frame. The man left the tiny place as soon as Hephaestion collapsed to the floor and curled up with his arms around his body in pain.
“Alexander will come soon to rescue me, looking like a dashing Achilles and we will laugh at this when we remember this experience in our old age” Hephaestion voiced his feelings and thought aloud because he knew how poisonous silence could be.
He fell asleep for a while, his body was really weak and the pain was giving him no rest. When he woke up, he realized he could see through a tiny window near the ceiling, that the sky was turning dark blue; a clear hint that night was coming.
Suddenly the door was kicked open and a new captor entered. Hephaestion could see that this man was even taller than the other and his frame was bulkier, it reminded him of Cleitus’s heavy body.
- “So my friend told me you had been an insolent bastard even though you are our prisoner,” he said with a wicked smirk on his face.
Hephaestion looked at him and knew that more suffering and torture was on its way.
A big fist crashed against the brunette’s nose and it immediately started to bleed. His entrance of air was drastically reduced when his septum was broken by the blow and Hephaestion was now swallowing his own blood. The guard, towering him, laughed at him madly and punched him again; breaking almost every bone and cartilage in his former turn-up nose.
Several strong and heavy punches followed that but Hephaestion was not feeling them anymore, he had passed out after the fifth one. The guard left a bloodied Hephaestion on the floor after shoving his wrists into shackles.
Hephaestion woke up some hours later, spewing saliva smeared with blood and cried hopelessly.
“I don’t have to cry, this pain will fade away and Alex will come to me” he tried to dry his eyes and at that moment, he realized his hands had been restricted by those shackles which were attached to the wall above his shoulders level. He knew he had to move his fingers and wrists as much as possible because blood would be soon abandoning them and pooling in his shoulders. As a consequence, he’d slowly lose the control of his upper limbs as it was still difficult for him to stand up due to his broken ankle.
His tormentors didn’t come back and the blue-eyed man felt relieved, at least he could try to recover a bit to face the new beating. He also realized that his torture would be a long one so he should be prepared in body and mind to survive it.
“My king will come soon, won’t he?” thought the Macedonian General while trying to get his body into a less painful position.
A tiny doubt started to grow in his already weak mind.
Chapter 4: "The search continued"
WARNING: Mentions of m/m relationship, physical and mental torture, insulting vocabulary, male rape, angst.
NO BETA so all mistakes are mine.
READ WARNINGS BEFORE READING.
- “I want all the available men to join me for a meeting,” said Alexander who was organizing another search party.
The first men to arrive were Hephaestion’s, no one stood behind, even the youngest soldiers and some of the followers’ children wanted to take part in the search. Alexander smiled due to the loyalty to their commander but he could also see that many of them showed deep concern in their eyes. Not only the men were worried but also the women as Hephaestion had always shown them highly respect.
- “Alexander, you cannot take all these men, you will leave the palace unguarded, be reasonable!” said Cassander while playing with a dagger.
- “I have been reasonable these last five days, Cassander, and my patience is now wearing thin,” said the king looking into another pair of blue eyes, which held not even the smallest speck of beauty of his beloved’s ones.
- “Maybe he has just stained his cloak with some blood of a prey on purpose to punish you and he is hidden somewhere, having fun and waiting for you to go to him,” said the companion.
- “Don’t be stupid Cassander, Hephaestion is not like that, not even being mad he would dare to do something so mean to me or to anyone. But you are right in one thing, I cannot take so many men with me; if his captors are hidden watching our moves, we will alert them” said Alexander.
He turned around and addressed the men gathered in front of the royal stables:
- “I can’t take you all” He saw some men protesting.
- “I know how much you all want to find your General so we will split into several groups to cover different territories and three shifts; it is useless if we get tired all together. Moreover, I will have to explain to your dear General why I have been tiring “his” men” "joked Alexander trying to raise the men’s moral.
Most men dared to smile with their king, sending him comfort through that little gesture.
Never had an Army organized so quickly; Hephaestion’s men were so accustomed to his General’s neatness and order that, within an hour, five search parties were organized, the first group already lined up at the palace gates, with their horses ready as well as their provision saddle bags and warm clothes, in case the bad weather caught them.
Alexander prepared himself and took Bucephalus out of the stable after petting and promising Auburn that he’d get her master back. The brunette mare neighed as if she understood him and nuzzled his neck.
- “Wait for me, Phai, I am on my way to bring you back to me, love” whispered the young king and burnt the liver of a young goat to Zeus, imploring the god to help him find his beloved before it was too late.
The whole group rode back again to the lake in search of new hints but nothing came out. Some men decided to look for animals’ dens, traps or holes in the rocky terrain while others followed the lake bank and the waterfall and looked for the birth of the water current.
After long hours of unsuccessful search, a really tired and sad group returned to the palace, in silence, lost in their thoughts and weighing all the possibilities, trying not to think about the worst one.
No light was thrown onto this search and a very sad and hopeless king made his way towards their chamber, where the smell of his beloved was becoming to fade.
- “Come back to me Phai, I am nothing without you” whispered the king to the moon, wishing the night star could take his love message to his Phai as well as his kiss. “I love you, My Moon,” said the king before falling in a heap outside in the balcony.
Miraculously, Hephaestion was able to see the full moon that same night and he suddenly felt the warmth growing in his heart and a phantom kiss caressing his lips.
- “I love you too, My Sun” whispered Hephaestion before Morpheus cradled him in his arms.
Chapter 5: "Becoming nothing"
RAPE SCENE DESCRIBED IN THIS CHAPTER, CONSIDERED YOURSELF WARNED!
In spite of his injuries and broken bones, Hephaestion had a good night sleep but his peace was shortened suddenly. His two captors entered the cell; Hephaestion saw them weaving towards him and a strong smell of alcohol and bad breath hit his bloody nostrils and he threw up.
- “Oh, his majesty’s whore is a delicate one; he cannot tolerate our manly scent,” said one drunkard to the other.
- “So we must teach him a lesson he could never forget,” said the bigger man while walking towards their prisoner.
He released one of Hephaestion’s arms and let it fall down quickly. Hephaestion cried when he felt like a strong sensation of pins and needles all along his limb when his blood started to circulate again and reached his fingertips.
The big man, whose name was Ox, stood behind Hephaestion and taking the brunette’s chiton - from its bottom hem - he ripped it up to the neck, leaving Hephaestion’s back bare.
Hephaestion started to tremble, he knew what he was about to suffer and pleaded Zeus to strike him with his thunderbolt before suffering this humiliation.
Ox grabbed his hips with his fat and strong fingers and brought them near his already naked lower body; he spanked strongly Hephaestion’s buttocks until they were deep red. He leaned over his back, bit his nape and pulled Hephaestion’s head backwards by his hair. Ox whispered into his ear:
- “I am neither tender nor small as your King is; you will truly know now what to be with a real man is”
He rubbed his hard erected length between Hephaestion’s arse cheeks, smearing his pre-cum over them. Hephaestion tried to get away but his broken ankle didn’t allow him too much movement. He was also tied up again, but this time, facing the wall.
- “Stay still, slut, or it will be worse,” Ox said while he continued with his rubbing.
- “I won’t surrender to you, you will have to force me or kill me but I will never accept this willingly” answered Hephaestion, trying to get himself free.
Ox hit his head against the wall to weaken his fight; a big bump appeared immediately on his forehead and so the captor pushed his knee between Hephaestion’s legs to open them wider, while one of his hands kept his head smash to the wall.
Ox shoved roughly his manhood without any preparation and Hephaestion cried out in pain loudly; he felt as if he had been ripped in the middle. Ox continued thrusting mercilessly into him biting his back and nape.
Hephaestion thought the rape was over when he felt his rapist’s cock leaving his already battered body but it wasn’t. Ox shoved it again, even harder if that was possible, and hit the brunette’s prostate every time he thrust in.
Hephaestion hated the whole situation but he hated his body even more because it firstly reacted to his rapist’s ministrations.
- “See, you like being fucked well and hard, slut,” said the man while pumping the brunette’s cock in sync with his thrusts.
At that moment Hephaestion’s body went limp and lost consciousness. Ox finished sometime later when he was totally spent and hit his victim viciously.
Hephaestion woke up later, cum and blood trickling down his legs; his body completed covered in bruises and bites. His anger was reborn and a feeling of revenge invaded his heart and his mind.
“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” thought the brunette, trying to remember better moments.
Later that day, the smaller captor, called Aetos, went back and gave him some water in a pitcher and a piece of cloth.
- “Drink some and use the rest to wash yourself,” he said with that northern accent that intrigued Hephaestion so much.
- “Why? Don’t you want to smell your friend on my body before you rape me?” Hephaestion asked with so much anger in his voice that it could kill.
- “No, but you must feel uncomfortable,” Aetos said.
- “Why do you care?”
- “I don’t approve Ox’s methods”
- “But you beat me badly”
- “Yes, but beating is quite different from raping. Apart from that, I treasure my life” he said whispering.
Hephaestion did the best he could to clean himself. Aetos had released one of his hands from the shackles before the cleaning process but he had tied him up again later when it was over.
“Alexander, please come to me; I don’t know how much I can last before cracking totally” whispered Hephaestion before his exhaustion took him to a rest full of nightmares.
Chapter 6: "Another torture begins"
WARNING: Mentions of m/m relationship, physical and mental torture, insulting vocabulary, male rape, angst.
Hephaestion was brutally raped for the following five days. His body didn’t look like a body anymore; it was a mass of swollen flesh and blood, bruises and cum, pain and angst.
His body, badly nurtured for a fortnight, had started to show severe damages; his broken ribs and nose were giving him serious breathing difficulties; his broken ankle was healing, apparently in the right position, but it was so stiff that he doubted he’d be able to walk again properly.
Most of his cuts were showing signs of infection and he could realize he was running a constant and rising fever. Only his bruises were getting better, changing from black to bluish the more recent ones, and from purple to yellow the older ones.
His skin was so dry due to the dehydration that every now and then tiny cracks appeared and they stung badly.
Ox, the rapist, realized that if he wanted to get any piece of information from the stubborn kidnapped General, he’d have to stop with the physical abuse. The man’s body couldn’t take anything else. So he decided on a new way to get him crack.
Ox entered the cell and found Hephaestion curled into a ball of limbs, talking to the air, his eyes lifeless. He realized the General was delirious and calling for someone “my sun” and he supposed he was calling for one of his gods.
He approached the prisoner, put a finger under his chin and looked at the once handsome face, and cursed. The man was nearly broken; his mind and his sanity were slowly abandoning him; he had to push him a bit further and he would have him where he wanted: a malleable mass to play with; then he’d ask for the ransom to the Macedonian King, not because he was in need of the money, but because he was looking for revenge. He would let the king get his lover back but he’d never be again the man he had been.
Ox knelt beside Hephaestion and the brunette flinched with his proximity and wound his arms tightly around his body. The rapist whispered into his ear:
- “It’s clear that your king does not want you back. It has been fifteen days since your kidnapping. We also sent a messenger ten days ago and he came back without an answer for us. He knows you are now my slut and he doesn’t want any scum near him”
Hephaestion felt his heart break, that couldn’t be possible, Alexander loved him and cared about his well-being.
Later that evening, Aetos gave Hephaestion a piece of bread and some fresh water. He also left nearby a piece of cloth to clean himself. One of the brunette’s arms had been set free from the shackles but Hephaestion hadn’t realized of all these things because his mind was still processing the information Ox had told him.
Another night went by and there was no news from Alexander; what Hephaestion didn’t know was that their kidnappers had never sent any messenger at all. Ox entered the cell again, very early this time, and told him that a new messenger had been sent and that he had just arrived with a letter from his king. A tiny hope appeared in Hephaestion’s eyes. Seeing that, Ox told him he’d read to him Alexander’s reply to their ransom request.
The rapist cleared his voice and started to read:
“From the Great King Alexander,
We won’t pay any ransom to you; my soldiers know very well that if they are caught, their fate should be accepted and tolerated as Macedonian soldiers. Moreover, General Amyntoros won’t be reliable to us as he had surely revealed our tactics, projects and position.
Do with him as you wish, we do not expect him to come back.”
- “And here is the royal seal” the man added.
Ox finished reading the letter and looked at Hephaestion, his face had a stony expression and his eyes were more lifeless if that was possible. Ox was hopeful; he was about to break the mind of one of the most important soldiers of the Macedonian Army any moment soon and then the real revenge would begin; that had been assured by the person who had betrayed the brunette General.
Hephaestion didn’t move for hours, Aetos spied on him through a peeping hole in the door and he saw how Hephaestion was grieving. In a moment his sobs were so strangled and low that he thought he had stopped breathing, but then a muffled cry broke the spell and Hephaestion’s head fell onto his chest and he didn’t lift it again.
Aetos knew he shouldn’t be doing that but as days went by, he had fallen for the broken soldier; he was mesmerized by his strong will and his loyalty. In fact, Aetos was envious because he’d never had that kind of loyalty from any of his men and Ox …., well Ox was just an animal, too difficult to tame.
He entered the cell again, carrying a bowl of warm soup; he stood next to the fallen Hephaestion and touched him gently on his shoulder.
- “Wake up, here you have some soup, you need it” he added.
Hephaestion opened his eyes slowly and tried to focus his eyes on his captor. He didn’t understand how he should react. Would Aetos slap him as before when he tried to eat the bread or was he allowing him to eat something more than his daily chunk of stale bread?
Hephaestion decided to leave the soup there, just in case; he didn’t need more punishment, his body wouldn’t tolerate any more pain.
Memories of the letter came back to Hephaestion’s clouded mind; his weakened will and strength gave way to doubts and more fear. He had to accept that his King had abandoned him; he was just a spoil of war and the quickest he accepted that fact, the sooner he would be able to go on … alone.
In the meantime, Alexander was going insane; it seemed as if the ground had opened her mouth and dragged his Phai into her guts. He had been going out every single day, twice a day, but no tracks had been found and nobody had seen his gorgeous brunette.
The Army was getting nervous, some of the King’s Companions understood the situation but tried to convince him to move on; some others were secretly enjoying Hephaestion’s misfortune and some of the king’s recently defeated enemies had started to build up their strength back when they realized the powerful King hadn’t moved for the last twenty days.
Ox entered the cell for the second time that day, kicked the bowl of soup, spilling it all over the floor. He grabbed Hephaestion’s hair, hand-combed it all together near his nape into a low ponytail and cut it to the scalp level. Fat tears fell from the cerulean eyes while Ox laughed like a madman.
Hephaestion knew his sanity was abandoning him, he knew that they might crack him under torture. He had resisted for so many days but now his strong body was covered in multiple bruises and deep cuts; his hair had been cropped and his handsome faced marred, his ribs broken; his whole body sullied.
But he preferred to die first than to betray his King, his Lover, his Soul mate.
At the crack of dawn, a rider threw a bag at the entrance gate of the palace. One of the guards took it to the dining room, where the King was holding a meeting with his Generals.
Alexander opened the bag, peeped inside t and gasped in anger while taking out the content of the bag. Long brunette tresses covered the table and the king shouted hysterically, and looking at his Companions, he hissed through his teeth:
- “For every time they molested him, for every single time that they hurt who is mine, I am going to make them regret and curse the day they were born”
He was now not only a king on a mission but also a lover looking for revenge.
Chapter 7: "I will never say goodbye to you"
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The words in italics belong to the song “I will not say goodbye” by Danny Gokey.
Alexander put his beloved’s tresses inside the bag again and fled to their chamber. On reaching the bed, he crumbled on the floor, next to Hephaestion’s side, and cried bitter tears of pain, sorrow and wrath.
“Who was responsible for his pain? Who were the ones who kept captive the only owner of his heart? Who wanted so badly to hurt such a good man as his Phai? ”
The young king was so sad and in need of his beloved so badly that he knelt opposite his Phai’s marble bust, the one that had been with him since they became lovers. The marble was cold to his touch and he didn’t want to think that it could be a bad omen.
Looking into those soft and gorgeous features, a broken-heart king started to speak:
Sometimes your world just ends when Love is not by your side; it changes everything you've been because He is the one that shapes your life. And all that's left to be is empty, broken, lonely, hoping for you to come back to me and make things better again.
I'm supposed to be strong, I am the king and leader of this Army; I'm supposed to find a way to carry on but they always forget that I am also just a man in love. And I don't wanna feel better, I want to feel my pain because it keeps me in the move and I don't wanna not remember, how can I forget the man who makes me feel complete?.
I will always see your face in the shadows of this haunted place, that lake that took you away from me, hiding you in its guts. I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky cursing my bad luck and asking the gods for their help.
But I will not say goodbye because this is not over until I find you and bring you back to my side.
They keep saying time will heal and I know this is not true, but the pain just gets more real every day we are apart. The sun comes up each day, finds me waiting, fading, hating, praying for your soon coming back because I am desperate and for the first time in many years, I am terrified, I fear a life without you.
If I can keep on holding on this agony and be strong for you; maybe I can keep my heart from knowing that you're gone just for a while, because I swear to the gods that I will find you, no matter how long it takes.
I will curse the men who took you away from me, I will pray to your sweet Aphrodite for her help because she treasures you as much as I do, I will re-live every day, all our moments together and take the strength from them to go on.
I will show through the blame and let the world know that I am in pain; I'll shout out your name and it will be heard in the face of the world and in the underworld as well.
I will laugh remembering our banters, I will cry deep tears of lost time with you, shake my fist at the sky, my revenge ready to be taken on the guilty ones.
But I will not say it because it can’t be true; I will not say goodbye because it can’t happen, I will not say goodbye because this is not the end, just a painful pause between now and the moment we reunite.
I will not say... anything because I know that you know I will always find you!
The King fell finally asleep due to his deep exhaustion and sorrow. Ptolemy found him on the floor and, with Perdicas’s help, laid him on the bed.
A muffled “Phai” escaped from Alexander’s lips and both friends looked at each other and had the same idea, “How long would Alexander last without his Phai by his side?”
Both men promised to the sleeping king that they would do up to the impossible to find their missing friend.
Chapter 8: "Memories: when hate began"
Ox entered the cell and looked at Hephaestion, who was still curled. His cuts and bruises were getting better, even the ones marring his face. He saw the man’s chest rise and fall smoothly and he realized he was sleeping deeply, maybe for the very first time since he had been kidnapped.
Ox’s heart was heavy and he didn’t want to fall in his memories, but he lost the battle against them. His mind took him twenty years ago when he was a page and living in Mieza. He had just joined other pages to serve under King Philip and, since the moment he met the heir to the Macedonian throne, he knew he had found his life partner.
Alexander was seven years old by that time but he was as intelligent as any other older boy. Ox admired him and he was naturally driven to the golden boy’s orbit. Months went by and Ox won Alexander’s trust and so the brunette big boy had only one goal in his mind: become Alexander’s erastes. Ox had been born in a humble Macedonian family but his father and two elder brothers had served and died for Philip with honour, that’s why the King had accepted him as a page, as fair retribution for the widow, who had still three little girls to bring up.
Alexander spent long hours with Ox; the small boy was amazed by Ox’s bulky muscles and his strength, but when he was nearly eight, Alexander started to spend less and less time with Ox. When the elder boy asked him why, Alexander, with all his innocence, said that he enjoyed his company but that he had also discovered that he loved reading and writing a lot, and as Ox couldn’t do any of them, he had looked for someone who could. Children didn’t lie and the Macedonians, especially, were quite blunt on speaking their minds.
So Ox secretly began to learn how to write and read but his mind was not prepared for such sensitive and sensible activities so he felt frustrated. He knew that he had to do something before he lost his chance with Alexander. In the meantime, he was approached by one of Alexander’s future companions, who little by little, threw poison in his brute ears. That would bring Ox’s doom later.
A newcomer arrived and turned everybody’s world upside-down. The new student was a Macedonian boy, brought up in Athens; his family roots could be tracked as far as the first ancestors of Macedon and many people thought the boy was a gift by the very same Aphrodite to that important family.
Shoulder-length brunette hair, sky blue eyes, velvety lips and a body, still slender but promising a strong one, were some of the characteristic features of the new boy.
And Ox felt how his dreams shatter to pieces when he saw Alexander’s face; the golden heir had found his silver soul mate and vice versa. A strong bond was born that day when both boys locked dark and clear eyes. And that bond grew stronger day after day until there was no moment in which you could see the “sun and moon” apart.
Hephaestion was not only handsome but also kind, intelligent and quiet; the opposite pole of Ox, who had his left cheek marred by fire; he was rude, with a tiny intelligence and too noisy. Ox hated Hephaestion since the moment he met him and hated him, even more, when he saw, one summer afternoon, the silver boy reading from an old scroll in a soft and clear voice to his golden friend, who had his head resting on the brunette’s shoulder, both resting their backs on an old apple tree.
Ox’s behaviour became darker and darker; his bitter remarks brought him only punishments. His bitterness was also fed by another outcast, who had lost his position of power since the arrival of Hephaestion.
Months of bad attitudes and intolerance made him reckless and careless and he was finally obliged to leave the Army.
Being only 13, he left and exiled himself up there, in the cold north, where no one could find him, not even his poor mother. Everybody forgot about the brute Ox but he had a good memory and he didn’t want to forget.
He kept in contact with one of the companions and was continually fed with news and anger against the heir and lately, the King.
When the relationship between Alexander and Hephaestion got firm, after their show of loyalty and love to each other at Troy, Ox knew that the best moment had arrived. He took some months to study his victim’s routine, prepare the place to keep him and decide on what to do to him.
When his ideas were clear and everything was decided, he hit the King on what he treasured most; his gorgeous and faithful Phai.
And Ox had succeeded; his revenge took nearly twenty years but he was enjoying it … and he had enjoyed it a lot by now.
Aetos looked at Ox’s facial expression and couldn’t read it, he only wished the torture was over now that the king had a proof of his lover was alive, except the King, in his rage, had read that sign as one of death due to the fact that both men were so immersed in the Iliad universe.
Ox left the cell without looking back at the still form, and Aetos hid; he had easily convinced the former brute soldier earlier to let him take care of Hephaestion because if he didn’t, his wounds would take him to the underworld soon. Aetos approached Hephaestion, woke him up gently and made him drink a concoction made of chamomile as he had discovered the General was slightly feverish.
Hephaestion set cloudy blue eyes on him and whispered his thanks, falling in a deep slumber sometime later.
Aetos took advantage of his sleep and redressed the few cuts on his wrists and ankles and smeared an odorous cream on his face. He knew that cream would help in healing his skin, and maybe, it could be as smooth as it used to be.
Aetos gave a final look at the prisoner and said a prayer to the gods asking for Alexander to find his lover soon.
Chapter 9: "Tying loose knots"
Alexander woke up from his agitated rest, turned around and his hand instantly looked for the warm body next to him. Finding the spot cold and empty brought the King back to his misery and new tears were shed from his royal eyes. When he could focus his eyes again, he saw the bag containing Hephaestion’s tresses and a low moan got trapped in his throat.
Suddenly, he noticed something interesting in it, the design was quite original, nothing that could be seen in Babylon, and there was a painted drawing on the bottom part. Alexander knew he had seen it before but he couldn’t remember where. If his Phai were there, he’d tell him because the brunette had an extraordinary memory, especially for tiny details. If his Phai were there, that question wouldn’t need to be asked at all. He sighed and continued staring at it.
A sudden realization came to him and it struck like a lightning; he had seen that design in Mieza when he was a child. There was a page who wore it on his clothes; it was his mother’s family emblem. He cracked his head trying to remember the page’s name but he couldn’t.
He knew who also had as a good memory for details as his Phai. Leaving his chamber, he started his search for Ptolemy. The companion was walking towards the king’s chamber with a tray with a light meal in that precise moment. Alexander also realized that night had come and cursed himself because it was too dark to go and look for his Phai again.
- “Come on, my king, back to your chamber to eat something.”
- “I don’t feel like eating”
- “You should or you won’t have the strength to look for your lover”
- “If I hadn’t been so trapped with that map, nothing of this nightmare would have happened,” said Alexander, regretting and blaming himself for this entire ongoing situation.
- “Come on, let’s have something to eat and then we can decide what we are doing tomorrow.”
- “Ptolemy, have a look at that design, doesn’t it look familiar?”
- “Yes, there was a page, a bulky one, he served under your father and his name was … was … something connected to an animal ….. Oh! I remember, he was Ox, son of Minos.” Do you think there is a connection between them?
- “Maybe, what happened to him?”
- “He was discharged of his service because he hit an officer and he was forced into exile somewhere out of Mieza.”
- “That’s a long way from here”
- “Maybe someone bought it or stolen it; we haven’t seen him for nearly twenty years.”
- “It is the only hint I have, Ptolemy,” said Alexander sighing.
- “I know, my brother, but it is a real weak one”
- “I’d take a search party up north and send another looking for merchants, maybe one of them had seen other pieces with this design”
- “All right, now go back to sleep Alexander; gain your strength back and rest.”
- “I can’t, I dreamt about Phai calling me and when I was about to grab him, he ran away from me, shouting.”
- “Well, some of the companions are still having their dinner in the dining room; maybe the conversation will distract you for a while.”
Both men walked towards the room, which was alive with laughter and bickering. On seeing Alexander entering, some of the companions went silent; it looked as if Alexander had grown older from that very morning, and no one had to be very intelligent to notice the pain in his two-coloured eyes. Perdicas offered him a goblet with wine while Cleitus patted his back gently.
- “Look who brought the tides, Alexander,” said Cassander.
A bulky dark-haired man appeared from behind a column and hugged his King tightly.
- “Nearchos, what are you doing here, my friend?” asked Alexander smiling to the captain of his fleet.
- “I came as soon as I had news about what happened to Hephaestion, Sire,” said Nearchos looking sad.
- “Thanks for your concern, my brother.”
- “He has always had a big crush on Hephaestion, Alexander. Perhaps, he has him hidden in one of his boats” said Cassander.
- “Since Hephaestion disappeared, let me rephrase that, since Hephaestion had been kidnapped, you have had and said the weirdest and most stupid ideas, Cassander. Thanks to the gods I have Ptolemy to bring some hope in this time of despair”
- “Why? What have you discovered Ptolemy, and why weren’t we informed?” asked Cassander with his eyes wide open.
- “It is a very weak clue but Alexander recognized an emblem in the bag and I know who it belonged to”
- “And whose is it?”
- “Ox, son of Minos, a former page of Philip who was sent into exile when we were kids.”
- “But it can’t be him, he should be dead after 22 years in Illyria,” said Cassander.
- “And I thought that my Phai and Ptolemy were the two only ones with a good memory in my Army,” said Alexander, scrutinizing Cassander.
- “He was a good friend of yours, wasn’t he, Cassander?” asked Ptolemy, facing the man with a serious expression on his face.
- “Well, no more than the rest” defended Cassander himself.
- “But I remember you two playing pranks on Hephaestion,” said Nearchos.
- “I don’t recall that,” said Cassander, his voice faltering a bit. “Well, I am sorry to say, but I have a warm lady waiting for me in my chamber. Health to you!”
- “Go quickly and have fun, Cassander,” said Alexander with a tiny smile, which disappeared as soon as the brunette crossed the door.
Alexander looked at Ptolemy and Perdicas and making a subtle nod, he transmitted his orders.
Sometime later, two dark cloaked figures followed a third hooded person who had left the Palace by the back gate. A horse was waiting for him and he ran away, galloping fast towards the north, heading to the lake.
Ptolemy and Perdicas went back running to the stables, took the first two horses that were ready and followed him. In a moment, the first rider slowed down his pace and stopped outside an abandoned mine. Cassander dismounted and entered the fake hidden door to disappear in the night.
The two companions were following him at a prudent distance. On seeing Cassander’s mysterious attitude, both men confirmed their suspicion.
Meanwhile, Ox was teasing Hephaestion and playing with his nearly broken mind. He had been mentally torturing him since very early this morning. He had been playing again with his psyche, making Hephaestion believe, once more, that another fortnight had gone by and his King had really forgotten about him. He had kept Hephaestion awake for the last two days, filling his ears with lies and showing him another fake letter in which Alexander confessed his desire of not getting his General back. Hephaestion couldn’t feel worst; his mind was so clouded that he couldn’t realize how strange the supposed attitude of his King was.
Ox didn’t dare to touch him again; Aetos had been extremely firm against the raping sessions he had inflicted on Hephaestion. Aetos had continued looking after Hephaestion’s wounds and his body had started to heal well; the brunette could barely now tolerate the touch of Aetos, who treated him gently. The former torturer found himself caressing, more than once, Hephaestion’s hair and temples while the blue-eyed man was trying to sleep; as if he could chase away the demons in his nightmares.
Even though Hephaestion was practically mute, Aetos could see a tiny thanking look in his eyes; he also had the feeling that Hephaestion trusted he’d not hurt him anymore. Hephaestion didn’t flinch away when he entered the tiny cell but he still did that whenever Ox was near.
Ox was ready to let his prisoner rest for a while when he listened to an unusual noise near the hidden entrance. He thought for a while if he had forgotten any meeting with his inner ally but he didn’t. Undoing his walk to the door, he saw the familiar hooded figure. He walked towards him and whispered:
- “What are you doing here?”
- “Alexander recognized your mother’s family emblem and bloody Ptolemy remembered your name and genealogy. Nearchos, who is also here now, remembered about our jokes on Hephaestion”
- “So, what have you said?”
- “I tried to take their attention away from me but I don’t think I could distract them forever.”
- “Alright, keep us inform, if they get near, we will move forward”
- “How long will you keep him here? Hasn’t he cracked yet?”
- “Nearly but he is really stubborn and I have to recognize that I am envious about his love and loyalty to your King.”
- “Well, he had always been a lapdog,” said the brunette through clenched teeth.
- “Yes. Are you sure nobody has seen you?”
- “No, I let them believe I was getting laid. But I’ll come back, in case someone looks for me”
- “Do you want to see him?” asked Ox smirking.
- “Please. I’ll really enjoy seeing him turn into nothing; he who is always so self-confident”
- “Well, he is not like that anymore, he is afraid of his own shadow now, he is just a broken and frightened to death man”
The brunette laughed at Hephaestion loudly when he saw him curled into a tight ball, moving back and forwards, murmuring intelligible words with a muffled voice. He greeted Ox and left.
Ptolemy and Perdicas stayed there for a while doing a clear and deep recognition of the area and went back to the palace to inform Alexander what they had discovered.
When Alexander knew about Cassander’s help in the plot for kidnapping and raping Hephaestion, his blood boiled in his veins, and only the gods and his two strong companions could stop him from going to look for Antipater’s son and kill him right there in the spot.
That night, the rescue mission was carefully planned and a King and Lover was a step nearer to achieve his revenge.
Chapter 10: "Finding you"
Alexander woke up with the first rays of the morning sun. Helios was showing him the beginning of the end of his agony. Today was the day when his Phai was coming back home.
He washed and dressed up; he couldn’t stop smiling and wishing the moment they could go on his search and have his beloved once more between his arms. He also knew he couldn’t rush; the rescue mission had been carefully planned the night before. Alexander, Ptolemy, Perdicas and Cleitus had covered up to the most minimum details. They couldn’t let Cassander know about this because he might alert the kidnappers.
They had planned some fake search parties and they would send Cassander with some men in the opposite direction, pretending he was looking for some merchants.
Alexander entered the dining room and saw Ptolemy and Perdicas already there; both lovers knew well how Alexander might be feeling and wanted to be there just in case Cassander showed up early.
The king hugged his friends and took a seat while he was served his morning meal. A moment later, Cassander entered and greeted the present companions and he was greeted back.
Alexander had to put a lot of effort into masking his disgust. He couldn’t believe that one of his childhood friends could have been so mean to plan his beloved’s downfall. Alexander knew about Cassander’s crush on him, but as it had been clearly stated who the only owner of his heart was – back in their teen years- the king never thought that Cassander would still have feelings for him.
Ptolemy and Perdicas gave Alexander worried looks; they thought he’d jump and stab Cassander right in his chest.
When breakfast was over, Alexander announced the day activities; Cassander showed relief in his face when he realized that any of the search parties were directed to the exact place where Hephaestion was hidden.
Alexander saw the departure of his traitorous companion with relief and he immediately sprung into action. Hephaestion’s men had been secretly informed of his General’s rescue and none of them was absent when the king asked for their help.
Small groups of soldiers were sent within minutes between the parties to surround all the possible escape routes. When they were all in their exact position, Alexander appeared suddenly at the hidden entrance of the fake mine.
Ox had been more alert than ever; a feeling of restlessness had been running along his guts and made him feel nervous since the early morning. Aetos noticed his companion’s nervousness but he remained silent. He could feel the end was near. Alexander was intelligent enough to decipher a way of getting his lover back and now he feared for his life; Alexander would not forgive them for their sin.
The sound of heavy footsteps was heard very clearly and suddenly the blocked door was slammed against the wall. Ox ran to the back room to get his sword and asked Aetos to go with Hephaestion; he also ordered him to kill the brunette as soon as Alexander entered the place and then escaped. Aetos nodded and did as he was told.
A second later, Ox was face to face with his crush of twenty years; his love – pure and sincere at the beginning – had turned into the most selfish and dark feeling after the rejection.
Both warriors were standing facing and measuring each other: one dark warrior representing all those ill feelings and vengeance; one fair warrior with enough light and love in his body, able to make things better.
Alexander looked at Ox with cold eyes and asked calmly,
- “Take me to Hephaestion and I promise you a fair death”
- “I can’t do that; my partner should have killed him by now, that was his order”
- “That’s a lie! I won’t fall under your deceits” Alexander was losing the little calmness he had been able to get along the ride there.
- “It’s true, what are you going to do now, lover boy?” said Ox, laughing at him; seeing how a pang of deep pain appeared in the King’s eyes.
Alexander didn’t say anything, he just entered into motion and baring his sword, he threw himself towards his enemy. Ox was surprised; the weak and short boy had turned into a strong and good swordsman.
They danced in circles around each other, throwing blows in every direction. Ox, being older and not as fit as he used to be, started to show his tiredness and his movements were slow and clumsy.
Alexander didn’t give him a break, he pushed him backwards, and with a swift movement, he delivered a hard blow on his shoulder, cutting the flesh deep up to the bone. Ox shouted in pain and the situation enraged him deeply. He went forwards and caught Alexander in his forearm, cutting him slightly, a mere scratch.
The fight between them went on for more minutes; in the meantime, Ptolemy, Perdicas and Hephaestion’s men got the place secure and started their search for Hephaestion.
Suddenly, a loud cry of pain filled the small place and everybody froze. That clearly was Alexander’s voice and that was not a good sign.
The Companions ran towards the place where the cry had been heard and found Alexander covered in thick red blood. He was motionless, with Ox leaning over him.
Alexander had his eyes closed, clear signs of distress and pain could be seen in his face. Suddenly, a gasp was heard and the royal face paled dramatically.
Nobody dared to move and suddenly Ox fell backwards with Alexander’s sword stabbed in his stomach. Life and movement came back to the King.
He kicked the corpse, bent over, cleaned his sword on the dead man’s clothes and began walking, without looking back once.
His revenge had been quick but quite satisfactory. He would not spend another moment of his life thinking about someone who did not deserve any thought at all.
Running footsteps could be heard and suddenly, Stephanos, Hephaestion’s loyal page, started to call for the others. The page was standing in front of a closed door. He heard someone unlock the door and a short but stocky man appeared on its frame. He had a sword in one hand and a serious expression on his face.
Stephanos took Aetos’s sword from his hand and pushed him inside with the point of his own sword resting on the kidnapper’s chest. And at that moment, the page saw his master there, all curled up in the corner, dirty, dressed in his chiton, which practically couldn’t cover the former muscled and unmarred body, and Stephanos wept.
Hephaestion was a shadow of the former General. He walked towards him, speaking in his gentle and low voice; telling him that Alexander was in the next room, coming to take him home.
Hephaestion flinched at the sound of his lover’s name and he lifted his head, setting his blurry and feverish eyes on Stephanos. The page couldn’t believe the image in front of him.
Suddenly, the door slammed once again and its frame was blocked by a shiny shape. Alexander had taken the bloodied chiton off and covered himself with his cloak. He looked at Hephaestion and had to muffle his rage and pain. He entered the cell slowly and walked towards his beloved. The brunette winced and retreated more against the wall.
- “It is me, Phai, your Alexander,” the king said, trying to sound calm but he was really breaking apart in his heart.
- “Aetos, Aetos, where are you?” asked Hephaestion turning his head.
His clouded eyes opened a bit more when he saw Aetos against a wall with a dagger against his throat.
- “Leave him alone, young man” pleaded Hephaestion to Theo, Alexander’s page, who he didn’t recognize.
- “But Sire, he is one of your captors,” said Theo while Stephanos and Alexander tried to approach to the curled body.
- “He cares about me, please, let him come to me” pleaded Hephaestion.
- “I am here, Phai,” said Alexander; masking the pain Hephaestion’s rejection had inflected him.
- “Let me take you home,” he told him, trying to calm him down.
- “I have nowhere to go, Sire. My friends abandoned me and my King thinks I am a traitor. I don’t have anything to live for” whispered Hephaestion.
- “I don’t think that, love. I have never said such a lie”
- “Who are you?” asked Hephaestion focusing his nearly blind eyes onto Alexander.
- “Phai, it is me,” said Alexander while tears ran along his still bloodied cheeks.
- “Sire, he hasn’t been able to see very well since last week, when Ox hit his head hard against the wall. He sometimes loses the notion of time, place and people.”
- “But he recognizes you, why doesn’t he remember me? We have known each other for twenty years and been lovers for nearly fifteen” Alexander said anxiously.
- “Ox poisoned his mind against you, Sire, and I think he blocks your memory because it is very painful for him” explained Aetos.
- “Alright, you can come back with us but listen to me well, don’t think you will escape punishment. As soon as my Phai is better, you will get what you deserve” Alexander sentenced.
- “Your wish is my command, Sire, I feel so ashamed of what I did that I’d do anything to see your General recover.”
- “I can see that you are already doing it; my Phai doesn’t trust people very easily. Let's get him up, I have brought some of his clothes with me” asked Alexander.
Alexander got closer and brushed one brunette tress out of his lover’s face but his hand was slapped.
- “Don’t touch me! Where are you, Aetos? I cannot see you today” said Hephaestion with desperation in his weak voice.
- “I am here, by your side, Hephaestion. Let me cover you with your cloak”
- “I don’t have a cloak, Aetos, just this ragged chiton”
- “Yes, Sire, you have. Your lover has brought a fur one; you will feel better and warmer while wearing it” explained Aetos.
- “I don’t have a lover anymore. I am the scum of the earth. Who would want me after been raped and tortured? I am half a man, Aetos, I am nothing” murmured Hephaestion sadly.
- “You are my everything, Phai and you will always be,” said Alexander, kneeling next to his cracked lover.
- “Alex, is that you?” asked Hephaestion with love in his voice.
- “Yes, love, it is me”
- “You came for me” murmured Hephaestion, letting a shaking hand cup Alexander’s face.
- “Always” whispered Alexander back while setting his hand on his beloved’s one.