I own no part of the characters as you well know.
When Alexander awoke several hours later, he knew that Hephaestion would already be up and someplace in the large city. Alexander could only hope that he might have told somebody where he might be. Cleitus's idea of a bell was sounding better and better. Alexander had wanted to make things right with his lover before the large celebration later that evening. His thoughts were disturbed by Bagoas entering his room by way of the bathroom.
"Your bath is ready, Sire." He spoke softly, with his eyes downcast. Even though Alexander had taken him to his bed the night before, there was no intimacy between them. After he and Hephaestion had made love for the first time all those years ago, they had been shy, a little playful, and they couldn't keep their hands off each other. Alexander realized that he hadn't really thought of the young pleasure slave as anything other then what he saw on the surface. Not a young man with feelings and dreams of his own.
A bath did sound good, before he set off to do the hundred things he would have to see to before he could bask in his triumph. He walked naked to the bathing area, unmindful of his nudity.
Bagoas watched the young king, noticed the scars that adorned his body. He wondered what it would be like to love this god-like man. A thankless task, he thought. For one such as he, there would always be something more around the next bend. Look how he had forgotten his love because of the allure of Babylon.
Alexander sank into the deep warm bath, leaning his head back against the sloped marble. A comfort he wished he could share with Hephaestion. His lover could be stubborn and put up a token resistance, but Alexander wouldn't be denied for long.
Alexander enjoyed the boys administrations. He was washed gently and impersonally from head to toe. Even his private parts were washed meticulously. He was a little surprised to feel the boys hand back on his awakening cock. He was handled expertly. When Alexander looked up at the slave, he saw that this was just as impersonal as the cleansing of his body. A daily ritual maybe. It felt good and meant nothing. Who was Alexander to refuse the catering of his body's needs. Naturally it was how Hephaestion found him. His general had started speaking from the bedroom.
"Alexander, you summoned me? Aren't you out of the bath yet? Is Babylon making you lazy? I just thought I should tell you where I am.........." Hephaestion stopped speaking.
Except for the brief flash of pain in Hephaestion's amazing blue eyes, his expression was stoic.
"I am sorry for intruding, King Alexander. It will not happen again." Hephaestion couldn't help the small amount of bitterness to seep into his voice. The sight of seeing his lover being attended to was disconcerting. "I see you have not yet finished your evening."
Bagoas never faltered. He continued as if there had been no intrusion. Alexander unfortunately was in the throes of orgasm. His eyes flew alarmingly to Hephaestion. He noted the fleeting look of pain, but was unable to stop his body's response. He heard as if from a distance Hephaestion's stilted words, as he came into Bagoas's governing hand. When he again came to his senses a moment later, the doorway was empty.
Alexander looked at Bagoas. He couldn't understand how a boy of his young age could be so nonchalant. Alexander didn't feel any better after the hand job. His body had found it's release. He felt a fear that was unknown to him. A feeling he hardly recognized. Like most things in Alexander's life, he would bully himself through it.
"Do you know who I am meeting today?"
"Abdul Mazoi is arranging your celebration. There will be the governing heads of the immediate provinces. Local dignitaries and current Persian court advisers. They have not yet been dismissed of duty, Sire. They await your command. My lord Mazoi has informed me that there will be a luncheon for you to attend to meet these people before your actual festivities tonight."
"How do you know of these things?"
"You told the steward to talk to your general Eumennes, and to inform you in the morning."
Alexander did remember the conversation. Already he was letting this city sway his reasoning's. He would have to be more alert. If Hephaestion had been with him as he usually was, Alexander would be his confident self. When his first general, diplomat, and friend was not by his side, Alexander found it difficult to function. It did not matter if Hephaestion wasn't actually close to him, there was a bond that linked them together. Today he felt the distance. He remembered the flash of pain he saw in Hephaestion's eyes. He realized that Hephaestion was not so understanding as he led Alexander to believe.
"How do you know so much of the kings daily routines?" Alexander was intrigued of the daily workings of the Persian court. He would worry about his lover later. He knew by experience that Hephaestion would be long gone into the inner mechanisms of Babylon. Alexander would use his time wisely.
"I often helped the old king. I am more then just a pleasure slave, Sire. I can keep facts in my head, and I am trained in protocol. I stood by my old masters back and observed his needs, watched his court, and often advised."
"A heavy load for one so young."
"I am nineteen, Sire."
Older then Alexander had first thought.
"How loyal are you still to King Darius?"
"If I say I have no loyalty to the old king, you might think I can not be trusted. Darius did not treat me well. I was loyal to him, now I am loyal to you."
"what did he do to you?"
"He would use me roughly. Sometimes he gave me to his friends, like the other slaves."
"So none of you have free will in your life? I do not like this."
"Oh no, Sire. Most of the harem are there by choice. They are taken care of and they like it here. There are many who are captured. Eunuchs, like me. Even most of them are agreeable to their life."
"Yet you are not. Why have you come to my bed, if you were not consenting?" Alexander had risked his relationship for this boy. This boy had caught his eye if he were honest. He let his lust rule his head, and he ignored his heart.
"I serve the king. It is my duty."
"Well, you now have a new duty. You can be my adviser in Persian protocol.You may wake me up, and ready a bath, but you will not initiate anything more. Sex is no longer a duty. You can be a free man and work for me if you prefer."
"My king, I never imagined......Thank you...I...."
"Yes, yes, I know. We don't have time for thanks. Dress me. I must see if any of my men are around before I see the Persians."
"Some of them are breaking their fast in the east room, Sire.......My king, won't the one who was just here be angry if I am always around you?"
"His name is Hephaestion, and I will explain it to him. He is smart and kind. Why are you concerned now, Bagoas?"
"It wasn't my place to be concerned before. But if I am to care for you, then I can tell this man is important to you."
"Don't worry about it, Bagoas. Hephaestion has always been amiable to whatever I say. He has always been supportive to my wishes."
Bagoas doubted it. He liked his new master, but the arrogance of kings never surprised him.
"What's wrong?" Cassander noticed the closed look upon Hephaestion's face. He gave no hint of irritation. That was how Cassander knew something indeed bothered his friend. Hephaestion was usually very upbeat, and sometimes annoyingly cheerful.
"Nothing, let's go."
"He was still with him, wasn't he?"
"By Zeus," Cleitus yelled. "Do you want me to go hit him upside his stupid head? I diapered his behind. I'm not above paddling it if I have to."
Both Hephaestion and Cassander giggled at this thought. It helped relieve the tension.
"If you two are coming with me, let's leave. I have a lot of ground to cover. And I don't want to talk about this."
Hephaestion first took them to the granaries. They both protested, but soon were very surprised at what went into the feeding of an empire. Hephaestion talked of the wealth of the last harvest, how much grains were in stock, what could be transported without hindering the people left behind. He planned supply lines to places they had not yet been. He anticipated where they might go, and how many people would follow. It was just an initial meeting, but by the time they left, he had respect from the Persians, and a better understanding from two of his men.
They followed him to the temporary homes of their soldiers, who they found had been treated well. They had been given housing that had belonged to the fallen persian soldiers. As well as the men who had followed Darius and Bessos. Even the Egyptians who had joined their army had been treated well. The threat of Alexander's wrath had followed them from Tyre.
The Medical staff and cooks were happily ensconced with their own kind conferring with their counterparts.
Hours later, when they finally found where the camp followers were located, Hephaestion was livid. They had been allowed in the city. Barely. They were told to set up on the outskirts of town and threatened not to leave. They had no help with water for cooking or bathing. They didn't know where to go for food, or to take care of any wastes. Most of the whores serviced the foot soldiers. Cassander and Cleitus were hardly aware of their existence. They had women from conquered countries or their own pages to take care of their needs.
They watched and even helped Hephaestion find the right stewards, and demand proper care for their people. He threatened with the name of Alexander.
By days end the the three soldiers actually sat down with the whores to eat the evening meal. They were supposed to be at Alexander's banquet an hour ago, but since Hephaestion was in no hurry Ceitus and Cassander found themselves enjoying the simple repast with their fellow Macedonians. At that particular table, status and job description did not matter. Hephaestion and Cassander found themselves amused when Cleitus took a shine to Darlas, the mother of Vonna. He was appalled when he found out she was the widow of a young soldier who had died in Egypt. She had no way of supporting herself or her daughter. Cleitus was smitten and made plans to visit the two girls the next day. Vonna had slept on his lap, in his strong arms, the entire evening. Hephaestion was relieved. He worried about the mother and daughter and often helped when he could.
It was time to leave. Past time. The kings generals walked through the city, enjoying the sights of its bizarres and the people selling their wares. Most of them were closing down for the day. But all three stopped and looked at items that were still available. All three men bought beautiful robes. Cleitus bought one for Darlas, and a little one for Vonna. Hephaestion and Cassander helped with the selection and Cleitus didn't feel foolish because of it. Hephaestion even went so far as to buy trousers and a vest that he had seen the Persian men wearing all day. He good naturedly took his friends jokes and picking about his choices all the way back to the palace.
The large banquet room was filled to capacity. People roamed the hallways and the four balcony's that were outside the open glass doors. Braziers were used on the balconies, and hundreds of candles and oil lamps adorned tables, safely set inside large pots. Sconces were all over the walls and all four sides of every pole in the large room and hallways. Slaves refilled them constantly. Also the food and wine, which there was an abundance of.
Alexander proudly watched his men mingle with the Persians. Macedon could stand with pride among their new people. He had been busy the moment he had left his room that morning. There was no end to Persian dignitaries. He had put off any decision for power change. Although he had assigned his own people to oversee certain aspects of the court. Such as the treasury. Alexander had found that men did foolish things in adverse times. He had also learned the his extensive harem were part of the all night entertainment. Bagoas had informed him that two other eunuchs, one slave, and two harem girls hated the tradition of being the personal entertainment of the men's desires. He sent the girls back to the harem. The others he deemed unavailable by simply dressing them in his royal colors that marked them as the kings private property.
BY the time Cleitus and Cassander showed up without Hephaestion, Alexander was very angry at their lateness. Alexander knew the necessity of establishing control over the defeated city, but Hephaestion knew the importance of this dinner. He felt sure his lover had prolonged his duties. Alexander realized that a simple sorry might not appease his stubborn lover. Summoning Hephaestion and having him walk in at the inopportune moment of seeing Alexander in the midst of orgasm had made his lover beyond angry.
When Alexander had listened to Cassander exuberantly telling him of their day, Alexander felt envious. Not of a jealous sexual nature. But just the camaraderie of his friends. Once upon a time before the sometimes monotonous duties of his kingdom took over his life, Alexander would sometimes accompany Hephaestion on his duties. Tasks, not necessarily his, but taken over when there was no one else able to do the job. At least one good thing had come of all this. Two of his battle hardened generals had a new respect for just a small part of Hephaestion's daily routine.
When his lover finally arrived, bathed, shaven, and his long hair braided, Alexander felt a release of tension. Until he saw what Hephaestion was wearing. Alexander himself had decided to wear Persian robes to honor his new people. He was glad when Cleitus and Cassander had shown up wearing the lovely garments also. He was not prepared for the vision of his lover, who had gone all Persian and wore white diaphanous pants and a jeweled vest. The vest showed his smooth, almost hairless chest. It ended an inch above the pants, showing a hint of Hephaestion's skin when he moved. It was the trousers that held Alexander's attention. They were almost the same as every Persian in the room. except Hephaestion's were a little thinner material. On Hephaestion the look was devastating. Pure seduction. Alexander could see the outline of his lovers ample cock, and when he turned around the king could see the shadowed cleft of Hephaestion's small muscled bottom. Alexander was almost salivating.
Hephaestion made his way over to his lover. He would take this step, like every other. Plus he had missed Alexander desperately. He was hoping to lay with his lover that night, but he had just learned of Ptolemy's food sickness. Hephaestion had volunteered to take his place for perimeter patrol. There were larger troop units searching for Darius, however Alexander wanted the safety of patrols around the city.
"Joy to you, Alexander," Hephaestion said. He bowed low and kissed Alexander's ring. A sign of respect and subservience that Alexander felt uncomfortable receiving from Hephaestion.
"I trust last night went well?" There was no sign of mockery. Just one friend discussing the sexual night of another friend.
Alexander knew better.
"No, my beloved. It was not as I envisioned. Hephaestion, I....."
Bagoas had come up behind the king whispering about a honored guest that had to take his leave. Alexander had not yet met him.
Hephaestion noticed the intimacy of his lover and the man that now shared his bed. His eyes widened when he recognized the clothes the eunuch was wearing. Glancing around the room he saw three other boys in the same dress. The kings colors that marked them as personal royal property.
When Alexander again turned back to his lover, he was met with raging blue eyes.
"I see you have made a new life for yourself, Alexander."
Alexander looked at his lover in confusion, and was dismayed when he saw Hephaestion look to the boys wearing the kings colors.
"No! Hephaestion, it's not what you think. I only...."
Hephaestion was spared listening to his lovers excuses, by the arrival of Persian hierarchy. With another bow to a stuttering Alexander he left his side, toured the room and left the banquet hall.
Hephaestion, for a second night did not want to sleep alone in his room. Eunuchs! How many did he need? How would Hephaestion compete with that? For the first time in his life, Hephaestion's confidence was shaken.
He changed out of his Persian clothes and again donned his Macedonian. He carried his armor, and made his way to his soldiers housing, where he would spend the night. He and ten of his men would switch shifts with Nearchus for patrol at first light.
Hephaestion and his men had stopped for lunch at a shady patch of trees and rocks that Nearchus had deemed safe. It was a quiet afternoon, yet Hephaestion sensed a danger that he could not yet see. He urged his men to mount up. He glanced up at the rocks that could be used for an ambush, and he felt nervous. The horses gave the first sign of distress for which Hephaestion felt grateful. He was prepared for the attack. He counted at least twenty-five men. In just a few minutes he saw eight of his men fall. He was taking out the attackers, but not fast enough. There was just Hephaestion and two other soldiers left against five men, and Hephaestion saw one of his soldiers go down.
From out of no where a tall warrior had joined the fight with Hephaestion. He took on three of the remaining five. Together they made quick work of the job. Hephaestion watched the soldier battle his last man. He had never been turned on by battle as some men were. However, watching this tall muscular warrior was causing him to feel a lust he had only ever felt with Alexander.
When the two faced each other, they both took off their helmets and stared at the others beauty. The man stole Hephaestion's breath. Hephaestion didn't know if his heart would stop or just pound out of his chest. They took a step towards each other, when three more men jumped down from the rocks. One of them knocked Hephaestion off the high cliff and into the raging river below. When he surfaced a short ways down before going under again and swallowing the murky water, he saw the tall beauty battling all three men. Hephaestion hoped he did not die. A fate he was certain would be his own.