He couldn’t do it. He simply couldn’t do it.
Daniel moved away from the bed, careful not to disturb its sleeping occupant. Eighteen years old, he was of an age to get married but it was never what he wanted. Since he was thirteen, all he had wanted was his father’s second-in-command, a young man by the name of Jack. Sure, Jack was much older than him but that didn’t mean anything in Greece - his current situation was proof of that. Until last night, he had only ever wanted Jack.
Truth be told, Jack was still the only man he wanted. But he wasn’t allowed to be with him. Daniel’s father - the leader of the army - had given him to Alexander, the warrior who had conquered many other nations. However, he would never conquer Daniel’s heart; that belonged to Jack.
He didn’t want this life. He wasn’t a soldier, though he had studied military tactics so that he could be of assistance, and he didn’t like what war turned men into. Alexander, he had observed, was often suspicious and paranoid - which, Daniel supposed, was fair enough considering how the man had become King of Macedon. Treachery and murder was commonplace in Greek society as well as many others around the world. His own father was a hard man, toughened by years of fighting and not giving in to the terrible sights he had seen. Jack wasn’t quite there yet though Daniel rarely saw him without a frown on his face. What he wouldn’t give to take Jack away and make him smile.
Not that that was realistic. Jack had been imprisoned on a false charge of conspiracy and therefore could never be with Daniel even if he wasn’t now Alexander’s lover.
Warm hands slid around his waist. Daniel started, surprised, and then forced himself to relax; he wasn’t used to intimacy.
“What are you doing up at this hour?” Alexander asked. He wasn’t quite as tall as Daniel, partly because of his slightly curved spine, but he was stocky and strong.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Daniel replied honestly. He turned around so that he could look into the mismatched gaze of the older man. One blue eye, one brown eye - he often wondered whether that was because Alexander had been touched by the gods.
Alexander’s hands shifted to Daniel’s hips, holding them firm. “I know this is new to you. And I know that I’m not the man you wanted to introduce you to shared pleasures - yes, I know about your infatuation with Jack,” he continued, seeing Daniel’s startled look. “Your father knows too, which is why he allowed me to have you. He wants only what is best for you and Jack is not as high-born as your family.”
Daniel wanted to say that he didn’t care but he had seen Alexander angry and did not wish to incite that. The older man’s confession that he knew about Daniel’s liking of Jack indicated the true reason the other man had been arrested.
“But you will learn to love me in time,” Alexander continued, convinced that this was true. How could Daniel want someone else that wasn’t him? “Come back to bed.”
The order was clear. Reluctantly, Daniel followed him back to the bed but his mind was elsewhere.
Jack couldn’t sleep. He knew why too. He shouldn’t be concerned with it but he was and he didn’t know how to stop it. He didn’t know why it had started in the first place.
Somewhere, in the palace, his young friend Daniel was lying with a man for the first time. And it wasn’t with him.
Jack was man enough to admit that he was jealous. It should have been him. It would have been him if he had been brave enough to say something to Daniel about it. For five years now, they had been friends though many had wondered why Jack had taken such an interest in the boy. He knew what they were thinking and that was why he had kept their friendship as just that. Lately though, it had been growing harder not to see Daniel as a beautiful young man, and Jack wanted nothing more than to be with him. Instead, he couldn’t even watch from his cell as Alexander had led Daniel away and he hated it.
He couldn’t touch Daniel now. To do so would be treason, even if he weren’t imprisoned already. He suspected that might have been why Alexander had put him here, to keep him away from Daniel; the young man couldn’t hide his emotions well. But there was nothing he could do about it and all he could hope was that one day he would be free - one way or another.
Daniel found life quite different as Alexander’s lover. The servants were more deferential towards him while the soldiers ignored him. He was nothing more than a catamite now, albeit an intelligent and important one, and he resented that. And he couldn’t bring himself to love Alexander no matter how much he tried. Lying with the king was pleasurable most of the time but it didn’t satisfy him completely.
He still wanted Jack.
He hated the thought of Jack sitting in that lonely cell, in the dark most of the day, with no-one but the guards to keep him company. Many times he wanted to go down there and visit but he had been ordered not to by Alexander. If he disobeyed that… he didn’t know what would happen.
One day, however, he found out.
There was a fever sweeping through the dungeons and several prisoners had died already. As soon as Daniel heard the news, he rushed straight to Jack’s side and charmed the guards to let him into the cell, heedless of the fact that Alexander could easily discover where he had gone.
“Jack, can you hear me?” Daniel asked as he knelt by the straw bed.
“Daniel?” Jack slowly opened his eyes to see the man he loved. “What are you doing here?”
“What do you think? You’re sick,” Daniel pointed out.
Jack weakly shook his head, the illness making him lethargic. “You shouldn’t be here. People will talk.”
“Let them,” Daniel said defiantly. He didn’t care about that, only that Jack was sick and he couldn’t do anything to help him. He took Jack’s hand and squeezed it, wanting to show his love. “It doesn’t matter.”
“It does,” Jack insisted though he didn’t draw his hand away. Touching Daniel helped to drive some of the pain away and even though they might both pay for it later, Jack couldn’t bring himself to let go. “You belong to Alexander.”
“Only my body does,” Daniel countered, too distressed to care who might overhear his words. “He doesn’t own my soul.”
“Daniel,” Jack tried to reprimand him despite his heart pounding with joy. Daniel always found it hard to hide his emotions when upset and now was no exception. Jack realised that Daniel loved him and he was ecstatic that his love was returned.
“I love you,” Daniel whispered as if he had heard Jack’s thoughts. He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to the older man’s lips.
Jack was about to reply when a shadow fell across the bed. He looked up. “My king…”
Alexander’s expression was blank and his gaze cold. He had know that Daniel still loved Jack but hadn’t thought his lover would flaunt it so publicly. The action made him angry, as did the knowledge that Daniel would never love him, Alexander, who had given his heart to the beautiful young man. “Daniel, go to my chambers immediately.”
“Now.” The word was all the more authoritative because it was spoken in a low voice.
Daniel got to his feet and hurried out of the room, knowing that he was in trouble. He had kissed Jack - their first kiss - but Alexander had seen it. The only question would be exactly how much trouble he was in.
As Daniel left, Jack struggled to sit up, wanting to face this like the soldier he was. Alexander put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him down again, so Jack stayed down. “We’ve never--”
“I know.” But he couldn’t let this go unpunished. “Daniel will be imprisoned and if you survive your sickness, you will both be exiled.” It broke his heart to announce that but he couldn’t let Daniel stay in the city knowing that the younger man wanted another. And he could not be seen to be cuckolded either. “Unless he decides to stay with me.”
Jack nodded, accepting his fate; after all, it could have been a lot worse. “I’m sorry.” He would have been blind not to notice that Alexander cared very much about Daniel. “I will take care of him,” he said in a quieter voice that wouldn’t carry to the people around them.
Alexander didn’t reply, simply offering Jack his own nod. Then he turned on his heel and left to confront the man he loved.
Daniel was pacing the bedroom when Alexander arrived. When he heard footsteps, he spun around, a contrite expression his face. “I’m so sorry, my king, I--”
Alexander cut him off with a passionate kiss. He continued it long enough for Daniel to relax and then he drew back. “How could you?” he asked.
“I wasn’t thinking,” Daniel stated. “It was all my fault, if you have to punish someone, punish me.” He didn’t want Jack to suffer for his inability to keep his emotions to himself; he refused to think that Jack might not survive long enough to be executed for treason.
“You will be punished,” Alexander agreed. “You have embarrassed me in front of others.” He paused for a moment and then struck Daniel across the face.
The younger man went flying, stunned by the blow. It was the first time that Alexander had ever used violence against him. He stared up at his king and lover, his right cheek throbbing.
“I had hoped that you would love me, Daniel,” Alexander continued, the only hint of the anger he felt showing in his tightly-controlled voice. “But it is obvious that that has not happened. And you were foolish enough to show it where others could see. For that, you must be imprisoned in the dungeon.”
Daniel hung his head; that, for the moment, was better than death.
Alexander’s anger started to fade at the contrite act. He never could stay mad at Daniel for long. “If your time there does not persuade you otherwise, you may leave the city and never return, and you may go with Jack, providing he recovers.”
A stunned expression on his face, Daniel looked up at his king. Was he hearing that correctly? Was Alexander really giving him the opportunity to be with Jack? “My king?”
Alexander crouched down in front of his young lover. He was not the heartless man that he liked to present himself at court as. “You don’t love me, much as I wish that were not true. And if I keep you from Jack, if he is who you wish to be with, you will just end up finding ways to be with him. So I will save myself from further trouble by sending you both away.”
“Thank you!” Daniel surged to his feet and embraced Alexander. Then he realised that he shouldn’t be so happy about leaving and moved back, his head once again lowered. “I mean--”
“I know what you mean.” Though he was heartbroken, he understood that Daniel had meant no offence. Alexander stepped close and kissed his young lover for the last time. “Be safe, Daniel.”
A knock at the door signalled that the guards were there. Alexander let them in, his childhood friend and bodyguard Hephaestion at the fore, and stated, “Take him to the dungeon. Make sure he is comfortable.”
Hephaestion nodded and gestured to the two guards behind him. Daniel was led away, head bowed in contrition. Hephaestion turned to his friend. He had loved Alexander for so long but had not wanted to impose on their friendship by wanting more. “I’m sorry,” he said, not knowing what else to say.
“So am I.” Alexander went over to his bed and flopped on it in an un-kingly fashion. “What did I do wrong?”
“Nothing.” Hephaestion joined his friend on the bed, lying on his side so that he could see Alexander’s face.
“I tried so hard,” Alexander continued, staring up at the ornate ceiling. “I put Jack out of sight, I tried to please Daniel in and out of bed, and yet he still does not love me.”
“He does love you,” Hephaestion countered, wishing he could kiss the disappointment from the other man’s face.
Alexander sighed. “But not the way I love him.” The knowledge physically hurt him and it was all he could do to keep the tears from his eyes. “Why?”
“I don’t know.” Hephaestion risked putting his hand on Alexander’s chest, drawing his friend’s gaze towards him. “But there are many who do love you as you deserve. You shouldn’t forget that.”
Eyes filled with confusion and a dawning awareness stared up at him. “Are you saying…?” Alexander trailed off, incredulous that he had not even noticed Hephaestion’s love for him.
“Yes,” was all Hephaestion would say. Then he took the biggest gamble of his life, all the while knowing that this was not good timing, and leaned down to kiss Alexander.
It was a chaste kiss and though it didn’t stir him as passionately as Daniel’s kisses, Alexander realised that he was attracted to his best friend. More than attracted, he thought as the hurt inside him started to fade slightly. When they parted, he commented, “You will be my general one day.”
“I think we can still work together,” Hephaestion said confidently. “But if you don’t want this, I won’t say another word about it. Do you?”
Alexander could hear the vulnerability in his friend’s voice and he reached a hand up to stroke Hephaestion’s cheek in reassurance. How could he not have seen what was right in front of him? “So long as you promise not to treat me any differently outside our bed chamber.”
Hephaestion grinned. “I’ll take that as a yes.” He leaned in for another kiss; he finally had what he wanted.
Daniel waited impatiently in his cell for four days. He barely noticed his miserable surroundings as he waited for news about Jack. Daniel was being kept away from the sick prisoners and therefore didn’t know what was going on, whether more of them had died. He barely slept or ate, knowing that if Jack died, he would die too. It might have been melodramatic to think so but he felt it was true.
When footsteps approached his, Daniel looked up even though he knew it was probably one of the guards with his next meal. To his surprise, it was Alexander. He hadn’t seen the older man since his imprisonment. “My king.” He bowed his head to show his respect.
“Daniel.” Alexander nodded to Hephaestion, who had accompanied him, to open the cell door. He was saddened by how unkempt the younger man was, his appearance dirty and wan. He must really have been worried about Jack, Alexander thought. “How are you faring?”
“I am well,” Daniel replied, his voice cracking slightly from lack of moisture; he had forgotten to drink sometimes as well. “How is Jack?”
Alexander hid the disappointment he felt at the question; he had hoped that Daniel’s time in the cell would persuade him to come back. “He is still ill. The physician says that if he does recover, it will still be at least a week before he has the strength to travel.”
Daniel nodded. Another week in this cell - he could do that.
With a heavy heart, Alexander moved to crouch in front of Daniel. He reached out and cupped the younger man’s face with both hands. “Please don’t do this to yourself, Daniel. Come back with me.”
The idea was tempting and Daniel hated himself for even considering it. If he went back with Alexander, he would live in luxury for possibly the remainder of his life. If he stayed here, waiting for Jack, he could die. Did he want to do that? Daniel’s eyes flicked to Hephaestion, who was still standing at the cell door, and knew what his answer would be. He shifted his gaze back to Alexander and stated, “Hephaestion loves you, more than I could. He deserves the chance to have your love too.”
Alexander’s head dropped; that was a refusal. “I just wish I had your love too, Daniel.” He withdrew and headed out of the cell, leaving the younger man alone once again.
Two tears fell down Daniel’s cheeks as he watched Alexander leave, knowing it could be the last time he saw his former lover. Then he curled up on the floor, resigned to a long wait to hear Jack’s fate.
Twice more, Alexander came down to attempt to convince Daniel to stay but the younger man didn’t give in and each time he urged the sovereign to love Hephaestion instead. Finally, a week after the first visit, Alexander came for the last time.
“Jack is well,” Alexander reported without preamble, trying not to let his heart soften at seeing Daniel’s condition. His young love was covered in dirt now, and quite thin. “You will both be escorted out of the city tonight with enough money to last for two months.” He kept his tone impersonal to hide the fact that he didn’t want Daniel to leave.
The younger man stared at him, unable to believe the generosity being given to him. He unsteadily got to his feet, the lack of food and sleep taking their toll, and moved to embrace Alexander. “Thank you.” He was lucky, he knew that.
Alexander held the young man close to him for a long moment, savouring the last chance to feel Daniel’s body against his. “I love you,” he whispered before kissing Daniel’s cheek and then stepping back.
“I love you too,” Daniel replied. “Just…”
Alexander nodded, knowing what the younger man wanted to say: ‘just not as much as Jack’. “Be safe, Daniel.”
“I will.” One final smile and then Daniel was gone, following two guards out of the dungeon.
Hephaestion waited for a few moments and then put his arms around Alexander. “He’ll be fine. Jack will look after him.”
A sigh escaped Alexander’s lips. “I know.” Pain tugged at his heart, knowing he would never see Daniel again. Then the moment passed and he moved away from his new lover; he couldn’t show any weaknesses where people could see him. “We had better get back.”
Hephaestion followed Alexander silently, his own heart aching at the knowledge that Daniel was currently first in his king’s affections. Hopefully, he could now get that to change.
Daniel was allowed to have a bath and change into a new tunic before he was led outside. There, two horses were waiting and atop one of them was Jack. Though he wanted to run over to the man he loved, Daniel only allowed himself to smile at Jack as he walked over to the second horse; he would not embarrass Alexander any further with his actions.
The two men rode out of the city, saying nothing to each other until they had reached the woods one league distant. Then they dismounted, and Daniel ran over to Jack and into his arms. They kissed passionately for several minutes before surfacing for air; neither of them were in good condition at the moment.
“I can’t believe we’re here,” Daniel murmured, resting his head on Jack’s shoulder. The last few days had felt so unreal.
“I know.” Jack had thought he was going to die but the thought of being with Daniel had kept him fighting. He lifted one hand to run it through Daniel’s hair. He felt the dirt and grime from being in prison but conversely, it was the best thing he had ever touched. Daniel was his. “This isn’t an hallucination, is it?”
“Not unless we’re sharing it,” Daniel replied. This wasn’t exactly how he had imagined them being together but he wasn’t going to complain.
“Do you want to camp here tonight or go to the nearest village?” Jack asked.
Much as Daniel wanted to say ‘anywhere’, he liked the idea of having a roof over his head. “The village.”
Jack nodded; he liked the sounds of that too. Reluctantly, the two men parted and mounted their respective horses. Then they rode off through the woods towards the start of their life together.
|Category:||Jack/Daniel, Daniel/Other Male|
|Genres:||Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama|
|Summary:||Alexander the Great had several lovers but what if he wanted one whose heart belonged to another?|
This was written for Will as a thank you for his lovely feedback on my other AU stories :)