The day after of his quarrel with Hephaistion, Alexander has the surprise to hear the wounded man asking for an audience. Curious to learn more about his rival, Alexander agrees. The man is tall, taller than Hephaistion and well built. Despite his wound on his waist hidden by a bandage, he acts as if it was nothing, a peccadillo. It says enough about the man.
Sat at his desk, Alexander acts like if he is busy, reading a paper. But if someone asked him, he would be unable to say the subject of the letter. With a cold and nonchalant tone, he says as if it was without interest :
« What your name ? And what do you want ? »
« My name is Heracles, your Highness. »
Alexander raises a eyebrow from astonishment. Not knowing if he must laugh or cry. His Hephaistion stolen by Heracles himself.
« Heracles, really ? Continue ! »
« Hephaistion has disappeared. »
This time, Alexander feels more than concerned. He gives up the letter on the desk.
« How so ? »
« The last evening, he didn’t come back. Usually we… »
Alexander cuts him.
« I am not interested to know what you do together. Are you sure of what you advance ? »
« Yes, your Highness. After I came back from the surgery tent, I have waited him all the night in his tent thinking he must be with you. But his page said to me that he saw him left your tent early in the evening. And I have searched everywhere in the camp. It seems he has disappeared and his horse too. I ask permission to your majesty to go and search him. »
« All right, but I go with you. »
He calls a page and give his instructions. Some minutes later Cleitos enters in the tent.
« I need a light escort ready as soon as possible. Say to Crateros to take the commandment of the camp. And ask to the guards in duty yesterday evening if one of them saw Hephaistion left the camp. »
« Yes Alexander. »
Some times later, Cleitos comes back with a soldier this one tells the direction that Hephaistion took. Adding that this latter seemed really disturbed. Alexander could feel on him the questioning gaze of Heracles, but he avoids it. He knows he has his part of responsibility in Hephaistion’s disparition. But he has his pride too and he will never admit it in front of a stranger.
After hours of search they didn’t find any clue of where Hephaistion could be. The anxiety takes the two men. A silent grows between them, fulfilled of resentment for one and guilt for the second. They are now following a craggy path. And to harden the things, the signs of a tempest start from afar. A current things in this landscape of mountain. The snow didn’t ease either their way.
Even if they say nothing, the two men fear that if Hephaistion is wounded somewhere in these mountains, he will not survive the night. The difficulties of the path force them to dismount and to walk in line. As speed as a snake the tempest arrives on them obliged them to find a shelter for men and horses. The tempest worsens to a point they can’t see anything as far as half a meter. The wind so strong avoids them to communicate.
The horses feel more and more nervous. Something is wrong. Bucephalos gives a kick and escaping from the hands of Alexander, hurries to go forward, pushing Alexander to run after him and to join Heracles and his horses. Then follows a terrible sound. Alexander is pushed by a hand against the cliff that erects above them, escaping a fall of stones. By far, he seems to hear some cries of pain from his men and horses. But behind him the path now is closed.
Heracles and Alexander are separated from the others. In the tempest, they can’t wish to have some news. Heracles puts a hand on Alexander and shouts as loud as he can that they have to find a safer place. Alexander nods. He feels powerless and he doesn’t like this feeling. Looking with some anger at Heracles who leads the walk. After all it is all his fault, he thinks. Not being honest with himself. If this one didn’t come between his Phai and himself, all this situation will never happen.
For what seems hours, they continue to go forward. As quick as it came, the tempest stops. Letting behind only a heavy silence. No sound, no smell as if the altitude annihilated all around them letting only a mineral world made of water, stone and wood. Even so a feeble sound could be heard. Some cries of agony. Heracles and Alexander look at each other with some anxiety. They hurry to see from where comes from this sound. Later, they find below a horse that tries to stand up straight without success on the slope. Alexander recognizes as soon as Hephaistion’s horses. But no tracks of Hephaistion around.
The two men know they can’t count only on themselves from now to find Hephaistion. The soldiers must have returned to the camp to find some help. And then, they will come back to rescue them. But in waiting, they have to find Hephaistion and a place to stay before the night fall. Or any of them will be able to survive.
Heracles takes a rope on his horse. They try to find a way to go down. Slowly they find their way. Close to the horse, they can see the problem. Hephaistion’s horse has a broken leg and some deep injuries on his flank. The horse is agonizing. The two men look the animal with sadness. They know that in this case there is only one solution. Heracles bends down, strokes the animal and whispers him soft words. Then taking his dagger he slices the throat of the horse with a sure move. His throat is tight, Heracles has always loved this beautiful horse. Standing up and without looking at Alexander, he states with a mixing of anger and sadness :
« It is all your fault. »
In front of this accusing tone and despite the guilt who invades him, Alexander feels his anger is growing up.
« My fault ? my fault ? You have some nerve. If YOU didn’t come between Hephaistion and me, all this would never happen. »
« YOU gave him up. YOU ! Not me ! He would never accept to take me in his bed if you… »
But before he has time to finish his sentence Alexander hits him. The simple fact to imagine the two men together is unbearable. The two men fight. Heracles can be tall but Alexander is stronger and lively. Alexander takes the advantage a moment before to lost his balance cause of a rock hidden by the snow. Alexander finds himself falling on the ground then turning over to stand, he sees Heracles his dagger in his hand. During a moment Alexander didn’t know what to think, so with some provocation he asks :
« Do you intend to kill me ? »
« And to lost the trust of Hephaistion ? Certainly not ! I am not stupid. »
Placing his dagger in his belt, he holds out his hand to Alexander. After some tiny instant of hesitation, this one takes it and lets Heracles helps him to be up. Not so far a color mark on the ground attracts the attention of Alexander. He recognizes the coat of Phai.
« Here ! — He shouts — He is here. »
He runs in hurry to the form half hidden by the snow, following by Heracles. Some blood on the snow. He has a cut on the head and bleeds. His lips are blue, he must be frozen. Alexander fears that even if the fall has not kill him, the cold will surely finish the work. They try to wake him up without success. When all of sudden a howl is heard. The two men look at each other thinking the same : wild beasts. They have to find a safe place quickly. Looking at the cliff around, they finally find what they search : a cave. Heracles takes Hephaistion while Alexander on the way bring woods for fire.
With difficulties they arrive to their aim. Inside the cave is big enough to let pass the horses. While Alexander prepares the fire, Heracles returns to search the horses. With some fur covers they prepare a bed for Hephaistion. Between the heat of the horse and the one of the fire, soon the temperature become more bearable.
« How is he ? »
Heracles asks to Alexander.
« He has a cut on the head not really serious and his ankle too is wounded. » »
« So why he doesn’t wake up. »
« The knock on the head must have been hard, and he stayed in the cold too long. We have to warm him. Help me to undress him and undress yourself too. »
« What ? »
« With this coldness the only way to warm him is to be be skin against skin. And our clothes are wet. »
Alexander undresses too and lays against Hephaistion. Heracles does the same and adds on them a fur cover.
« Rub him ! That will help too ! »
After a long moment, where they rub and massage the body of Hephaistion, this one seems less cold. The blue of the lips has disappeared. During hours Heracles and Alexander watch over him. Bond by their worry towards Phai, they talk long time. And all naturally the topic was what they love and share : Hephaistion. The two men realizes that despite their first argument, they have a lot in common. Looking at and listening to Heracles, Alexander must recognize that Phai has good taste. He discovers the unconditional love that the warrior has for his officer. He is not surprised. After all, HE too is Alexander and can inspire such a devotion. On these minds, Morpheus comes and closes their eyes on this exhausting day…
On the morning, outside the snow falls, spreading a veil of silence on this world. The only sounds are the one of the fire and from time to time the horses who snorts. Leaning on his elbow, Alexander looks at Heracles asleep close to Hephaistion. What he said is true, he is the only responsible of this whole situation. How could he deny it ? He sighs.
His gaze crosses open blue eyes.
« Alexander ? What is it happened ? »
The young officer seems dazed and confused.
« Do you remember ? You fell with your horse after you left the camp. »
« Oh ! »
Then feeling another body against him. He looks at the warrior asleep beside him.
« Heracles ? »
« Yes. He was worried, because you disappeared, so he came to me. »
After an instant he whispers :
« I am sorry. I was rude and unfair with you. I know that it was all my fault. But please don’t play this game again. Do you realize how we were worried Heracles and myself ? »
With a smile Hephaistion repeats :
« Heracles and myself ! »
« What ? »
« Nothing ! I am just surprised. Some hours ago you wanted to throw him out of the army and now it is « Heracles and me ». Have I to be jealous ? »
Hephaistion teases. Alexander rolls his eyes.
« Hilarious ! Really ! It seems the knock on your head was not hard enough to bring some wisdom in this pretty head. »
Hephaistion bursts out laughing, but as soon as holds his head in his hand.
« Oh by Zeus, my head ! I have such a headache. »
« Thank you Father ! You avenge me. » — Mocks Alex.
They heard Heracles laughs behind them. Alexander smiles and thinks that, after all, the situation could have been worse. He could have lost Hephaistion. Some shivers run through him in retrospect. Yes, the Gods sent him a warning. What will he become without Phai ? Would his dreams have any sense without him ? Would his life have any sense without him ? At this thought, looking at Phai, his eyes become teary. With deference, he bows and puts a kiss on the shoulder of Hephaistion, shivering. He closes his eyes and lets there his head. To feel the warm and living skin under him makes him want to cry.
Feeling the distress of his lover against him, all mockery disappears. Without a word, he looks at Heracles who nods in response. Being up and dressing he goes out a moment. Letting Phai and Alexander alone.Taking in his arms Alexander, Phai whispers in his ear some soft words.
From where he is, Heracles observes Alex and Phai talking. He knows his place beside Hephaistion is nothing compared to the relationship he has with Alexander. He accepts that. He is ready to endure all to stay by his side. He loves him so much. He looks and sees Alexander to kiss on the lips Phai who responds with such passion. He can’t help himself to continue to watch, despite the pain who tightens his heart. When the kiss ends, Heracles crosses the gaze of Alexander. Finally sighing, he looks away and shivers. But it is not the cold the culprit. What will be his future now ?
Alexander leaves hephaistion’s lips with regret. Raising his head, he crosses the gaze of Heracles.
« You chose well. »
Then he looks at his Phai with adoration, caressing absently the body of his lover. Phai is puzzled.
« Chose what ? »
« Your Heracles. He is a good guy. I allow him to stay by your side. »
« You allow him ! You allow him ! »
Hephaistion exclaims with a feeling rocking between exasperation and amusement.
« Alexander you are the most arrogant person I never met. »
« And proud to be ! »
Alexander adds with a big smile and continues :
« But I have some conditions. »
« Why am I not astonished ? »
« He will become your official bodyguard. »
Hephaistion looks at Alexander with some kind of surprise and contentment mixed. But knowing well Alexander, he wonders where is the trap.
« That’s all ? »
« No. My second condition is… That you allow me to share your bed with both of you from time to time. »
Hephaistion blushes open mouth and exclaims with surprise.
« Alexander ! »
« What ? »
« Who are you and what have you done to my Alex ? »
« I was thinking that some spicy moments could be nice to keep going the flame of love. »
« You call that « spicy moment ». Alexander you are such a pervert. I call that lust. »
« I am sure Heracles will not mind. And don’t say me this idea didn’t cross your mind. »
Hephaistion blushes even more.
« You are… You are… »
Alexander bursts out laughing in front of the expression of his lover.
Heracles calls them at this moment, the rescue was there…
After this episode, from time to time, people could see in the morning their King and the bodyguard of Hephaistion leaving together like accomplice the tent of this latter with a satisfied smile. The guards outside the tent sharing a knowing gaze at their passage. These mornings, Hephaistion skipping the breakfast, would leave his tent very late. And if someone asked to the Guards outside the tent what they did behind the curtain during these nights, they just answered with faces growing red, not letting any doubt of what happened inside.
« They talk »
« Really, they talk ? All night ? »
« Yes, sadly all night long ! »