Title: "Take Me Away"

Author: Michelle

Summary: Alexander is on his deathbed after poisoning himself with the grief of Hephaestion's death. He is a torn man, with no dream left to live, and no one to share the world he is in. This is how he suffered, and what could have happened, as he died.

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It burned, it ached, the pain would not lessen. He could hear them fighting, hear their arguments they whispered, he could hear it all as Bagoas wiped his brow with a damp cloth. What would become of him when he was gone? It had never crossed his mind. What would become of this boy, no this man, who had been so true to him. He'd never wavered, never stopped loving him when his heart could belong to no other.

"Alexander," the Persian whispered, "fight this Alexander. Fight it away. You cannot leave them like this. You cannot leave me."

It hit him then, the images. He saw his mother, her snakes, his father, himself as a boy, Bucephalus, the statue of his stallion that now stood in Bucephala. He saw hundreds of things. The images wouldn't stop. They tugged at his eyes. It hurt worse than anything he had ever felt before. Had he felt like this before he went?

Hephaestion, on the bed, weakened. Turned, gone. Alexander cried as he saw these things. Mother, father, snakes, sword, shield. Bagoas, Roxanne, why wouldn't it stop? Aristotle, just boys then, Cassander, Hephaestion's smile, Ptolemy. Darius. Persia. What was it that made him see this? Was it the poison? Was it the gods?

Crying out in pain he gripped the ring at his finger. Sun, stars, small phrases he could hear again. Those blue eyes. That smile. Never leaving, always believing. He screamed in pain again as Bagoas wiped at his brow. The others watched him. Again, he was asked, to whom should it go to?

"Hephaestion," he whispered, his thoughts blinding him. Someone said something. Hephaestion was dead. Alexander gritted his teeth. It hurt more than anything. Why hadn't he held him? Had he seen things too? He seemed so calm. There was nothing but pain, eyes burning, throat tight, too much pain. Too much pain. Then, he was silent, when he saw it. Imagination or not the sight soothed him, the pain lessened. It no longer hurt so bad.

He held the ring up. He held it up high. In doing so he pleaded for it to be taken from him. See, he was waiting still. Take the ring. A hand reached out, lightly taking the ring from his finger. Alexander smiled, yes, still there. Don't leave just yet. He watched as the ring was held in that soft hand for a moment, then placed back on his finger. Pain lessened, gone, or not noticed anymore.

Hephaestion brought Alexander's arm down, his hand holding Alexander's. He sat then, on the edge of the bed, and just stared at him. It could be no other. Those eyes gave him away. Never would the gods grant such eyes to another again. Hephaestion leaned down, brushing his lips against Alexander's forehead.

"To whom Alexander?"

He didn't listen to them. He stared at Hephaestion, who smiled softly. He wore a golden chain about his throat. He'd given it to him. He wore the finest Persian clothes, his eyes lined with black, his hair falling luxuriously over his shoulders. Beauty. His Hephaestion. He wanted him to speak, watched as his lips parted, listened to the soft words he spoke.

"Relax," Hephaestion whispered as he held his hand, brining it to his lips. Tears glistened in his eyes as he looked at Alexander. "I'm here Alexander. Be still. It won't hurt anymore."

He wanted to say something. He wanted to take him in his arms. He couldn't though. He could only stare at him. Why was he so sad? He heard again, Cassander this time, ask him to whom. He pushed it away. He didn't even feel Bagoas' hand on his cheek. Hephaestion, don't leave. Why was he crying?

"You have it," Hephaestion whispered. Tears began to fall. "The world is yours Alexander. They will write about you throughout the ages. They all will, until there is no world."

I don't have you, he wanted to tell him. There was nothing without Hephaestion. His blue eyes stared at him. He cried. He suddenly leaned down and kissed his lips, kissed his cheek, kissed his forehead. He pressed his forehead to his and breathed a sigh onto him.

"I worried for you without me. Now you've come to find me. Alexander, you are too brave I think."

Hephaestion looked up, looked away. Alexander tried to follow his eyes. Cassander and Ptolemy fought. They pushed and shoved. They screamed. Alexander couldn't hear him. Finally he was glad. Nothing to hear. He gripped Hephaestion's hand tighter. Hephaestion looked back at him. He seemed to listen to something, to see something to the right of them. Alexander looked. Saw only the wall. Hephaestion looked back at him and began to release his hand. Alexander panicked.

No, he screamed in his head, Hephaestion don't leave!

He took the ring from his finger again. He tried to hand it to Hephaestion as he stood. He planned to place it on his finger. He wanted him to know he was only his. Only his. Hephaestion! No, where are you going, why aren't you taking it? Hephaestion!

"To whom Alexander," a far off voice asked.

"To the strongest," he said faintly. Now they would leave him alone. But Hephaestion still was leaving. Why? Alexander knew he'd wronged him before. Could he not forgive him? Hephaestion, it was all he wanted, he felt a twinge of pain again. But Hephaestion turned, smiled even though it pained him, and it was gone.

"Come," Hephaestion said, still backing away but holding his hand out. "Come with me Alexander. I have another world for you to conquer."

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They watched as the king wreathed in pain. They were silenced by this. They watched as he arched up in bed. He held out a ring. They knew not why he did this. Then, there was something in his eyes. As quickly as it had come it was gone. Alexander, the Greatest of them all, fell back against the pillows. The ring fell from his hand and the breath left his body.

There was silence. Then, there was fighting. Cassander was the first to argue. Then they all were. Bagoas looked at Alexander for some time. He then protected him as things turned into chaos. He made sure that they did not harm his body as they fought over him. They even fought, throwing one another onto the bed, onto Alexander.

Anarchy.

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Alexander reached out and this time grabbed his hand. As he held Hephaestion's hand, feeling it as he remembered for the first time, he felt something. He wrapped his arms around Hephaestion, kissing away his tears. He then paused. The truth was revealed in Hephaestion's eyes. Slowly, Alexander turned. He saw them fighting, saw himself lying there, and turned back to Hephaestion.

"Close your eyes," Hephaestion whispered. Alexander trusted him but he couldn't do it. He only stared at Hephaestion, remembering everything, knowing what this meant. Hephaestion smiled softly and put a hand to his cheek. "Close your eyes Alexander, I won't leave you."

"I know," Alexander whispered as he closed his eyes. "Take me away with you Hephaestion."

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"There were many things that happened that day, after Alexander the Great left his empire behind to join Hephaestion. Without Hephaestion, Alexander had been nothing, and the same was to be said about his empire. Without Alexander there was no empire," he said quietly as he turned. "We broke it up. Ptolemy has Egypt, I have this."

Cassander turned. It was hard to think of what he had become. He'd killed Roxanne, killed the child. He had killed most of them. He had but one descendant of Alexander to kill. In doing so he would destroy the bloodline that had haunted him so. He held the sword in his hand, listened to the soft tears of the one before him, and waited for eyes to meet with his.

"I hope that you can understand why I do this. I think you do," he said with a laugh. "When I die, and meet Alexander again, he will hate me. Do you know what I'll say? I will say, 'You were Alexander the Great. What was I?'. He will know after this though. They all will know."

Cassander in a swift motion swung the blade through the air. Blood hit his face in a diagonal line as it cut through bone and flesh. He opened his eyes and watched as the body slumped to the ground. He then stepped forward and removed the golden bracelet from her arm. He would send it to Ptolemy, warn him as he had warned the rest. He would never be Alexander but he would not give away his land, he would not give away the glory that was his.

As he stood he began to walk away. But something stopped him, a gust of wind. He turned and watched as blood poured from Olympias' neck. He then looked down at the bracelet. Alexander would hate him for what he had done. They would all hate him. Yet none of them could hate him more than he hated himself.