Title: A Perfect Gift
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Alexander the Great (movie)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: T / FRT
Characters: Alexander, Cassander, Hephaistion, Ptolemy
Summary: Movie-fic. Hephaistion’s birthday draws near, but all is not as perfect as it should be: Alexander has a problem.
Warnings: Mentioning/hints of slash
Beta: Kitt of Lindon
2nd Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
Disclaimer: None of the characters or places belong to me, but to history and Intermedia Films.
Feedback: Yes, please, be so kind! Please review, I would love to know your opinion.
Author’s Notes: English is not my mother tongue, so it isn’t perfect. Please inform me of spelling and grammar errors, so I can correct them!
About Perfect Gift: How difficult can it be to find a birthday present? Horribly difficult. (Especially if you want to find something extremely special.) And Alexander is making his life very difficult. And for what? Ah well, we shall see…
Story and status: Here below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title name, then it is finished and checked.
A Perfect Gift (re-betaed on Jan/27/2011)
Alexander sat alone in a small backyard, leaning his chin on his hands, frown upon his face. He had a problem. One wouldn't have thought it as a grand issue like he did, but for him, it was a thing of great importance. Hephaistion's birthday was tomorrow, and Alexander had no gift for him. Not that Alexander would have forgotten –anything but that! He had been fighting with this same problem for months, trusting that something would pop into his mind. But here he sat, no idea of a present in his mind.
It should be something special, Alexander thought. Something that no other has ever given. Something very... genuine. Something that will rival all the things he may get in the future!
Alexander sighed, shaking his head. He had no idea what he would give to Hephaistion. What would Achilles give to Patroclus? Alexander thought about that for a good while, and then decided he did not know the answer. Hephaistion deserved something more than a normal present. But what that might be, Alexander didn't know.
Alexander's shoulders slumped in defeat and he let out a long, ragged sigh. Even if the day was beautiful, it seemed as if a shadow had landed upon the young prince.
Some time later another boy appeared in the backyard, noticed Alexander and ran to him. “Alexander! Here you are. We have been looking for you everywhere. What are you doing?” the boy asked, standing beside Alexander.
“Doesn't matter, Ptolemy. Go back to the others: I am not in the mood to play,” Alexander said with a low voice.
“But surely you may tell me what has caused you to be so downcast?” Ptolemy continued patiently.
Alexander looked up at his friend, wondering if he should tell the other boy. Ptolemy was a good friend of his, but this matter was very personal to Alexander. Finally he decided that Ptolemy might have some ideas that he did not, and he told the other his problem. “Hephaistion's birthday is tomorrow.”
“Yes?” Ptolemy pushed him.
“I have no present for him,” Alexander admitted.
Ptolemy looked at him for a long time, then nodded seriously. Alexander had known that Ptolemy would take him seriously: when all the other children would have laughed, Ptolemy understood the depth of his problem. Hephaistion would have understood, too, but Alexander couldn't ask his opinion this time.
“So, what do you suggest?” Alexander asked finally.
Ptolemy laughed and extended his arm, pulling Alexander up. “Even if I do not know the complete answer to your problem, I know this: you will not find a present for our dear Hephaistion while sitting here. Come! We may find something in the market place.”
Alexander also smiled, and together they ran along an alley, then to one of the bigger streets, soon reaching the market place. People were milling around, shouting at each other, vendors yelling their offers to the passers-by.
Alexander walked among the stalls, Ptolemy beside him, his eyes searching around for something suitable for a present. Now and then Ptolemy stopped Alexander, giving him an idea, but Alexander always turned those down. He needed something special.
After a while Alexander and Ptolemy pulled away from the crowd, heading towards another street where more stalls could be found. As they walked past one alley, a chorus of voices shouted after them.
“Alexander, Ptolemy! Wait!” Perdiccas came running towards them, Cassander and Nearchus behind him. “Where are you going?” the smaller boy asked, stopping before Alexander and Ptolemy. Swiftly, Perdiccas turned his head to look at the latter. “Where did you find him?”
Ptolemy glanced at Alexander. “I found him,” he stated. “And as to where we are going...”
“It is not really important,” Alexander continued. “We are just walking around the market, seeing if we might find something.”
“Something?” Cassander raised a doubting eyebrow.
“Then we can come with you,” Perdiccas chided, already walking ahead. “Come on you!”
The other boys followed, catching up with the smaller one when they again emerged to the crowd.
“So, what are you looking for?” Nearchus asked of Alexander.
“A... something,” Alexander said haltingly, looking troubled.
“Something...” Nearchus repeated, smiling. “I suppose it is something important, because you are blushing, Alexander.”
Grinding his teeth together, Alexander continued forward, his head turning this way and that while he scanned the booths. The others kept questioning him about the subject of his search, and finally Alexander gave in and revealed his secret. Cassander laughed, Nearchus looked disappointed - he had expected some kind of grand thing - and Perdiccas was beside himself with helpfulness, promising to aid Alexander. So the five boys continued on, wading through the people.
While they were standing before a stall of jewels and necklaces, some of the boys very excited about the beautiful, shining jewellery, a familiar voice called them from behind.
The prince whipped around, his eyes widening as he noticed Hephaistion standing behind him. Alexander forced a smile on his face, the other boys also turning to see the new arrival.
“Hello, Hephaistion. How are you?” Perdiccas asked with a smile.
“I am fine, thank you,” Hephaistion said, his eyes turning to Alexander's. “What are you doing?”
“We are... umm...” Alexander looked helplessly around, trying to make up a believable answer.
“We are shopping,” Ptolemy offered, gesturing with his hand around them. “Just walking around the market.”
Hephaistion looked at them doubtingly, but then shrugged, shifting a bag of dried fruits in his hands. “You are looking for something special?” he asked, taking a step closer to them.
“We would like to tell you, but it is a secret,” Perdiccas said, earning a horrified glance from Alexander. Perdiccas winked at Alexander and went to stand beside Hephaistion. “Alexander is looking for a present for some girl, and he is a little ashamed about it,” he whispered at Hephaistion's ear.
Hephaistion's head shot up, his eyes widening as he looked at Alexander. Then he glanced at the other members of the group, and understood that he wasn't welcome in their presence today. The others usually came to seek him out when something was going on, but today he had been completely ignored. “Well, I will see you all later, then,” he finally said, seeing the other five let out a relieved sigh. “Good luck on your hunt,” he said at Alexander and then turned away, soon disappearing into the crowd.
“Whoa, that was close,” Ptolemy whispered. Alexander nodded, feeling a pang of guilt about the way they had treated Hephaistion. “Well, let's keep going: we still must find that present,” Ptolemy continued.
“What did you say to him, Perdiccas?” Nearchus asked when they started walking again.
Perdiccas giggled, throwing a look at Alexander. “I told him something he certainly didn’t expect. And something that he will not suspect anything of us, anymore.”
The others looked at him, puzzled, but didn't ask more, knowing that Perdiccas wouldn't tell them.
The five boys slumped down onto the cool grass, their feet aching and stomachs growling. They all were tired to the bone after walking all day. And yet they were still at square one: Alexander hadn't yet found what he had been looking for.
“You are too demanding, Alexander,” Cassander finally gasped out. “I no longer wonder that you haven't found anything during these months.”
“I am hungry and tired,” Perdiccas moaned. “Can we go home?”
“Yes, let's go home,” Alexander said, defeat in his voice.
They got up, slowly walking back to their homes. After quick goodbyes they all parted ways, Alexander reaching his room long after leaving the others. He wasn't hungry, only dead tired. Crawling onto his bed, Alexander lay awake for a moment, cursing his bitter fate. How could he go to the celebration tomorrow, and face Hephaistion with nothing to give to him?
Falling into uneasy sleep, Alexander hoped the morning would never come.
The celebration was going on, wine flowing and voices filling the air. The children were gathered in a small extension of the main hall, staying away from the drunken men's feet. Hephaistion sat alone, staring at the crowd around him. It was his tenth birthday, but he didn't feel like celebrating. Someone very important to him was missing: Alexander wasn't here.
All the others had told him “happy birthday”, some had even given him small gifts, but it all seemed to shrink before the feeling that Alexander wasn't present. Maybe he is with that girl, Hephaistion thought. Maybe she has a birthday too, or something. Sighing, Hephaistion watched as Cleitus, one of the adult warriors, drew another young man against himself, making them both laugh breathlessly.
Forcing his eyes elsewhere, Hephaistion again stared at the door on the other side of the room. He tried to will the door to open, making Alexander enter, but probably the other had something more important to do…
As if some higher power had heard Hephaistion's wish, the door opened and Alexander slipped inside, looking around uncertainly. Hephaistion was on his feet before he knew it, rushing towards Alexander with a shining smile.
“Alexander!” he breathed when he reached the other boy. Alexander smiled at him shyly, shifting uncomfortably. “I thought you wouldn't come at all,” Hephaistion continued, drawing them over to an alcove to let the other people pass them.
“Well, I thought first that I wouldn't come,” Alexander admitted slowly, averting his eyes from Hephaistion's.
“Why?!” Hephaistion exclaimed.
“Because...” Alexander began, finally daring to look at Hephaistion. “I do not have anything to give to you. For a present. I tried to get you one, but every idea that came to my mind was too... ordinary.”
Hephaistion blinked, and then smiled, squeezing Alexander's hand quickly. “It doesn't matter, Alexander,” he whispered. “All that matters is that you came: that is the best gift I could have ever hoped for.”
Alexander looked at his friend, a smile rising to his face slowly. “Truly?”
“Yes,” Hephaistion replied. “I am always happy when you are with me, present or no.” Hephaistion turned to look back to the celebration, the voices of the people getting louder. On one side of the room Cleitus was still hugging his young companion close. As Hephaistion watched, the two kissed each other, then laughed again.
Blushing slightly, Hephaistion turned back to Alexander, meeting the other's eyes carefully. Would he dare to ask something from Alexander? It was something that would be better than any other present he could get, but there were so many risks... “There is something you could give me...” and then he fell silent again, shaking his head. What a fool he was!
“What?” Alexander asked immediately, taking a step closer. “Tell me, Hephaistion. It is your birthday, after all.”
“Oh, forget it, Alexander. It is nothing important,” Hephaistion said quickly, turning away slightly.
“But I want to know,” Alexander insisted, his tone telling Hephaistion that the other boy wasn't going to give up before he had told him.
Swallowing, Hephaistion decided he did dare, and turned back to Alexander. “Close your eyes.” Alexander looked as if he was about to protest, but finally he did as requested, closing his eyes. Hephaistion took a deep breath, gathering his courage, and then leaned forward to brush his lips against Alexander's quickly. Then he drew away, turning around, ready to escape into the crowd.
But Alexander was faster, even surprised as he was. Grabbing Hephaistion's arm firmly he pulled the other boy back, forcing the other to turn around. Hephaistion did so, resisting only slightly, keeping his eyes lowered. “Hephaistion, look at me,” Alexander commanded, his voice low but strong, demanding obedience. Hephaistion didn't move, but Alexander kept him in place, his eyes never leaving Hephaistion.
After a long moment Hephaistion finally surrendered, lifting his eyes to meet Alexander's brown eyes. There was apology in the blue depths, and a kind of fear Alexander didn't wish to witness ever again.
Alexander smiled, raising his other hand to caress Hephaistion's hair, and stepping forward a little, kissed Hephaistion. He was able to feel it as Hephaistion gasped, first tensing and then relaxing. After a moment Alexander drew away, resting his forehead against Hephaistion's.
“Happy birthday, Hephaistion,” Alexander whispered slowly, then stepped back.
Hephaistion smiled hesitantly at Alexander, not knowing what to expect from his best friend, but when Alexander only smiled at him, his fear vanished. “Thank you, Alexander,” he whispered back. “This was my best present ever.”
Alexander laughed and together they joined the others.