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Title: Feet of Clay
Fandom: Watchmen
Pairing: Adrian Veidt/Alexander the Great/Hephaistion
Summary: Adrian goes back in time to Libya, 331 BC in order to meet the one man who’s ever truly meant anything to him.
Rating: R
Word count: 4643
Notes: This was written in response to Someone’s prompt at watchmenkink, which asked for Adrian/Alexander. Er, not much kink here (mindfuck, maybe, but of the academic kind) so I decided it didn’t really belong over there.

I dragged out my copy of Arrian’s Anabasis along with Robin Lane-Fox’s book Alexander the Great for this. Arrian often explains Alexander’s actions by using the word pothos, which is usually translated as ‘longing, yearning, burning desire’, though in certain contexts it can also mean ‘regret’.

Feet of Clay

When he dematerialises in the desert outside Paraetonium, the Macedonians fall to their knees and call him Apollo.

Adrian squints in the sun and shades his eyes with a hand. He’s an unlikely god, dressed in his purple suit. Whenever he’d dreamed of this moment, he’d seen himself in a different outfit, one more befitting the time: bronze cuirass, linen tunic, leather over-skirt.

He glances about. The desert burns, heat pulsing from the white sands and the patches of gravel. He’d made his calculations carefully, wanting no margin of error. His project director had warned him that time travel was unstable. It was impossible to guarantee the date. Even with Dr Manhattan’s assistance, time fluctuated so much he might arrive ten hours too soon or ten years too late.

But Adrian believed. He knew he’d join Alexander’s party on the way to the oracle at Siwa. He looks at the Macedonians, half of their number grovelling in the sand before him and the others seated on camels, staring at him with suspicion and awe. By the way they regard him, it seems he’s arrived at the most opportune time.

“Mighty Apollo, have we angered you?” One of the Macedonians touches his nose to the dust as he bows. “We have stumbled from our path into this wilderness. Tell us the way to reach the oracle of Ammon.”

“Callisthenes, be silent.” A man taps his camel’s shoulders until the animal kneels. He dismounts and approaches Adrian, his gaze open and assessing. “I promise you, we have not angered the Sun.”

Adrian feels his heart stop. He forgets how to breathe. A wave of heat rises through him that puts the sun to shame, a trembling mix of excitement, fear, and desire. For the first time in his adult life, he blushes. He clenches his hands to stop them shaking.

Alexander of Macedon stands in front of him. Alexander the Great, the conqueror of the known world and beyond. The man for whom one kingdom was never enough. A man driven by longing, who wanted to match wits with the gods and stamp his presence upon the face of the earth forever.

The moment passes. Adrian stares down at Alexander, seeing him now without the lustre of history. He’s conscious of the smallest twinge of disappointment. Somehow, he’d imagined his hero taller.

Alexander is short and stocky, his face deeply tanned. The fierce sun of Libya glitters through his leonine hair, bleached almost white on top with glints of red and dark blond beneath. He’s handsome in a rough, unmade way, his nose crooked and his eyes dark, laughter lines around his mouth.

He’s dressed like a cavalryman. Only his cloak indicates his rank amongst his group of companions, wine-dark velvet fastened with golden fibulae, wholly extravagant and unnecessary for a journey into the desert.

Adrian approves of the cloak. He will have a copy made for himself when he returns to his own time. While Adrian studies him, Alexander returns the examination with interest, paying particular attention to the gloss-polished leather shoes and the gold pin on his lapel.

“Where did you come from?” Alexander’s Greek is unmusical, his accent flat.

“I was sent here.” Adrian’s Greek is superb, his diction perfect.

The Macedonians nudge one another and venture nearer. Alexander walks around him, puts out a hand to touch the fabric of his suit. His interest seems idle, but Adrian catches a deeper curiosity. “The gods speak like Attic orators?”

“But not like Demosthenes.”

The reference to Alexander’s bitter-tongued Athenian opponent wins a chuckle. “If you spoke like Demosthenes, I would cut out your tongue.”

“Highness, you shouldn’t address a god with such disrespect!” Callisthenes protests.

“He is not a god.”

Silence spreads across the desert until, eyes bulging, Callisthenes squeaks, “Highness?”

Alexander points at Adrian’s suit. “Gods do not sweat.”

Adrian laughs. “I am not a god. I am... a watcher.”

“Are you here to judge me?” Alexander asks, his eyes narrowing. “Are you sent by the demons of Egypt to weigh my soul in the balance?”

“I do not judge. I merely observe.”

“You watch.” Contempt tinges Alexander’s voice. He lifts his chin and stares at Adrian, and in that moment Adrian feels the pull of a charisma greater than his own.

Alexander releases him from his gaze and walks away. When he reaches his camel, he calls, “What did you come here to watch, false Apollo?”

“My name is Adrian.” The meeting isn’t going the way he’d planned. He puts aside his sense of unease and violates the first rule of time travel. “I came here to set you on the road to the oracle and to tell you that tonight, there will be a rainstorm. You may replenish your water-skins then.”

The men shift, murmuring to one another.

Alexander settles himself onto the high wooden seat and digs his heel into the camel’s shoulder to make her rise. “For four days we’ve wandered this desert, scoured by sandstorms and parched by the sun. There’s not a cloud in the sky. How do you know the rain will come?”

“It will.” Adrian is confident. He knows the rain will break tonight. History tells him so.

“The Cyreneans must have sent him,” says one of the companions.

“No, Hephaistion.” Alexander walks his grumbling camel around Adrian. His gaze is sharp, as if he sees too much and knows everything. “His purpose here is nothing political, nor is it religious. Nor is it altruistic. I see something else.”

Adrian tilts back his head, looking up in challenge. “What do you see?”

Alexander smiles. “Longing.”

* * * *

The rainstorm swoops in from the north, a blustering gale that blackens the sky and diminishes the stars. As soon as the wind veers and the first touch of moisture is felt, the Macedonians make ready to catch the rain in their water-skins.

Adrian stands apart from the companions, watching. His feet sink into the dune as the rain begins to fall. The storm growls over him, the wind tearing at his jacket and raking through his hair. Sand clings to the line of his trousers and stings the back of his hands and across his cheekbones. He tastes salt on his lips, the tang of the sea brought into the desert.

The rain lashes him, soaking him to the skin. The Macedonians take shelter together, their camels couched in a half-circle and the men pressed hard against them, clutching their water-skins. Only Alexander braves the storm, striding towards Adrian with the uneven gait of a horseman.

They stand together on the dune, drenched and bedraggled. It’s a moment of kinship, man against nature, and Adrian laughs. He’s surprised to find that he’s enjoying himself.

As soon as the storm passes, Alexander gives the order to move out. The companions tread warily around Adrian. Half of them still believe he’s a god. He doesn’t correct their thinking.

Callisthenes offers him his own camel as a mount. Adrian feels pleased. Even superheroes get tired; even gods need their rest. Besides, the desert has scuffed the gloss from his shoes and he doesn’t want to expose them to the elements any more for fear of cracking the expensive leather.

Adrian spends an hour in silence, riding alone to one side of the companions. He watches Alexander in the moonlight, studying his interactions with his men. There’s no trace of the effeminate about him. He seems what he is, a king with an extraordinary gift for leadership and a boundless curiosity. He shines as if blessed by the gods, but Adrian sees the darkness in him, veiled from sight beneath the surface. He remembers history: Alexander the fickle, Alexander the drunk, Alexander the violent-tempered.

He’s surprised by how human Alexander seems. Adrian grips his camel-whip and feels inferior. He wishes he could be so human and so beloved. His gaze lingers on Hephaistion, who is not the beautiful boy of his imaginings but a plain, almost ugly man a few years Alexander’s senior. Adrian can’t believe this is Alexander’s lover, the man who shared his godhead.

As the dawn pulls itself from the horizon, Adrian buries his expectations and preconceptions and leaves them to rot beneath the desert sun.

Callisthenes borrows a camel from the baggage train and rides alongside Adrian. He asks questions that receive no replies. Adrian is careful not to interfere with history. He’s already broken the rules by foretelling the rainstorm last night. He can’t risk making any more predictions. The limitation chafes at him, as irritating as the rub of the wooden saddle between his thighs.

The desert changes. Rocks cluster, breaking up the sand. The land narrows. Red cliffs streaked white surround them. The camels crunch across thousands of dried shells. Adrian turns in his seat to look at the scatter of smashed shells in their wake glittering in the daylight like diamonds.

He recognises this place. It’s changed little in two millennia. The shells roll away to a dark gorge rising steeply on either side, the rocks twisted into weird shapes. Here Alexander stops and confers with the companions.

Adrian nudges his camel closer. “You’re lost again.”

“Will the gods give me a sign?” Alexander looks at him with a half-smile.

“You can see signs everywhere.” His answer is deliberately vague. Historical accounts record two versions of what happens next. Adrian wants to know which is true: Ptolemy’s snakes or Aristobolus’ crows.

“Indeed.” Alexander turns and scans the ground, his gaze sharp as it moves over the litter of broken rocks and dust. He indicates with the whip. “There. The tracks of a snake.”

Adrian jumps down from his camel and kneels beside the slight wavy indentation left in the sand. He traces through the dust, feeling the heat of the earth. Beneath the shadow of a rock, he sees reptilian eyes gleam. He stares at the snake in challenge. It creeps out of its hole and slides towards him. A second serpent follows it.

The companions gather round. “A sign,” Callisthenes says, his voice high with excitement. “Follow the snakes.”

The serpents continue towards Adrian. He doesn’t move. The first snake glides to him, tongue flicking against his hand before it twines itself up his forearm. It coils around him, its underbelly cool as it slips over his bare skin and clutches at the sleeve of his jacket. The second snake tangles around his other arm.

A hush falls over the gorge as Adrian raises his hands. The snakes cling to his arms like living bracelets. He looks at the Macedonians.

Alexander stands expressionless. His eyes are almost black with some emotion rigidly held in check. “My mother is fond of serpents.”

Adrian wants to ask about Olympias. He longs to know the truth of the wild, unpredictable queen and her Bacchant revelries. Instead, he lowers his arms and stares at the snakes.

The croak of a bird pulls him from his confusion. Glancing up, he sees a pair of crows black against the endless blue of the sky. “The crows,” he says. “Follow the crows.”

Alexander gives him another hard look before tapping his camel. “We do as Adrian suggests. He has not led us astray yet.”

The snakes loosen their grip on him and slide away, vanishing back into their dark crevice. Adrian can still feel the muscles of their bodies rippling around him. He remains kneeling in the sand until Hephaistion calls to him.

Adrian gets to his feet and climbs up onto the camel. As he rejoins the tail of their little caravan, he looks back over his shoulder at the empty shadows of the gorge. He knows the snakes still watch him.

* * * *

They spend the night in the house of the ruling family of Garah. The oasis is only a day’s hard ride from Siwa, and the companions are in buoyant mood. Yesterday they thought they’d die lost in the desert; today they’re thankful for life and the continued favour the gods show to Alexander.

Adrian overhears the conversations between the Macedonians and their Libyan hosts. They look at him sidelong and speak of how he appeared from nowhere, how he foretold the rainstorm that saved them from dying of thirst. They lower their voices and describe the behaviour of the serpents in the Pass of Crows. No normal man can tame snakes from the wilderness, they say. The snake is a creature of the deepest earth, a messenger of Death.

The companions draw away from Adrian and the Libyans make the sign against the evil eye. Adrian sits alone and picks at the roasted quail set in front of him. His head spins as he tries to process the experience. Already his mind has fractured, splitting into the Adrian of Veidt Enterprises and the Adrian of this moment in Garah. He struggles to recall the future as he mires himself in a past that doesn’t belong to him.

He wonders if this is why the snakes came to him. He recalls the slide of their smooth, sinuous bodies as they wrapped around his wrists, their flickering tongues tasting his scent as they climbed higher, the dull glitter of their emotionless black eyes. Images come to him of Minoan snake-priestesses on frescos, Bacchants revelling naked with their hair streaming and wild animals torn apart at their feet. Snake-worshippers in the ancient world are almost predominantly female. Adrian struggles to make a connection. Sex and death, the way of the world.

Alexander interrupts his thoughts. His face flushed with wine, his eyes shining with wickedness, he approaches Adrian’s table. Behind him is Hephaistion, just as drunk but not as certain as his lover.

“Join us,” Alexander says, and the look in his eyes makes it clear what will happen.

Adrian swallows, excitement tearing at him. He wipes his hands of the grease from the quail and follows Alexander and Hephaistion to the chieftain’s personal chambers. It’s a poor bedroom compared to the luxuries he’s used to, but he can ignore the uneven floor and the textile curtains and the slippery stink of burning olive oil.

He watches Alexander kiss Hephaistion. It’s not a flamboyant kiss but one born of long affection. Passion flares between them. Hephaistion runs a hand through Alexander’s hair and grips it at the back of his head. Alexander moans against Hephaistion’s mouth, and suddenly Adrian is hard.

He flattens himself against the wall, wetting dry lips with the tip of his tongue as he watches. The companions wore Greek dress to dine with their host; there are no cuirasses to unbuckle, no leather kilts to snap to the floor. Alexander pulls out the fibulae clasped over Hephaistion’s shoulders. His cloak and tunic fall, baring him to the waist.

Adrian knows they’re ignoring him but for now he doesn’t mind. He unbuttons his jacket and allows himself the briefest brush of his hand over his swollen cock. A shudder of pleasure goes through him and he does it again, this time sliding his hand inside his trousers to grasp his erection. His breath comes short, rasping in his throat as he swallows a groan.

Alexander undresses with impatient haste. His body is pale, his brick-red face and the tan of his legs and arms creating a ridiculous contrast. He’s wiry rather than muscled, his chest and biceps strong from wielding the long Macedonian sarissa and the heavy chopping blades of the north. His arse is round and firm, and his thighs and calves are magnificent, pure corded strength.

Adrian stills his hand, feeling the ooze of pre-cum over his palm. He resists the urge to masturbate and forces himself to be motionless, to watch. His favourite image of Alexander is not from the sarcophagus or the portraits by Lysippus but the pebble mosaic from Pella showing Craterus rescuing Alexander from a lion. The Alexander of the Pella mosaic is naked but for his cloak and defends himself with a short sword. His body is open and vulnerable but his expression is one of annoyed contempt.

Adrian always wondered if the contempt was for the lion or for Craterus. He wonders which of them he is now.

He wants to join in but doesn’t know how to do it. This is the first threesome he’s been involved in where he wasn’t the main attraction. He hesitates, pulling his hand from his trousers and closing it into a fist. Desire sickens him, making him want something he can’t have. His anger snaps and he crosses the floor, pushing Hephaistion aside to sprawl over Alexander on the bed.

Alexander looks at him. “You’re a watcher. So watch.”

Humiliation creeps in to join desire. Adrian has never allowed anyone to dismiss him before. He fights the urge to take, to unleash the violence inside him. No matter how great a conqueror Alexander is, he’s no match for Adrian. It would be easy to break him – but Adrian can’t do it.

He backs down. He retreats from the bed, straightening the dusty, crumpled linen-silk mix of his suit. “I’ll watch,” he says, buttoning the jacket.

Hephaistion curls a hand over Alexander’s wrist. “You’re cruel.”

Alexander smiles at his lover. “Sometimes,” he says, and turns his gaze on Adrian, sharp and challenging. “Sometimes.”

Adrian watches them fuck in the approved manner, Alexander’s cock thrusting between Hephaistion’s thighs. The simplicity of the act brings Adrian to his knees. Heat consumes him, his longing not for either man but for a touch to acknowledge his presence. Alexander seems to forget him so easily, and Adrian suffers agonies until Hephaistion holds out a hand and calls to him.

“Adrian is a god,” Hephaistion says to Alexander.

“I tell you, he is not.” Alexander pulls out the gold pin from Adrian’s lapel and examines it. His lip curls and he throws it to the floor.

“He spoke prophecies and they came true.” Hephaistion fumbles with the buttons on Adrian’s jacket. He has even more problems with the shirt and exclaims at the zipper on his trousers. Once Adrian is naked, Hephaistion touches him with awe. “He has the body of a god. Look.”

Alexander growls and kisses Hephaistion across Adrian’s thighs.

“If you won’t worship him, I will.” Hephaistion bends to take Adrian’s cock in his mouth.

Adrian closes his eyes. He hears Alexander laugh, then feels himself turned onto his belly. Like a snake he writhes face-down on linen sheets. Someone leans over his back, mouthing at the nape of his neck. Teeth sink into his shoulder. Fingers breach him, slick with warm olive oil. While Alexander fucks him, it’s Hephaistion who whispers words of adoration in his ear.

* * * *

“Sex and sleep remind me I’m human,” Alexander says the next morning as their camels pick a delicate path across a gravel plateau.

In the distance, white sand folds into flat salt-fields. The air is hot and dry, and the breeze leaves the taste of ozone at the back of Adrian’s throat. The saltiness reminds him of semen. He presses his tongue against the roof of his mouth, remembering last night’s acrid leavings.

He’s not sure what’s happened between them. Things have changed: a subtle variance in the balance of power. This morning, Hephaistion ignored Alexander and offered his attentions to Adrian alone. Alexander was silent, watching them fuck on the other side of the bed. He watched with an expression of longing, yet made no effort to join them.

Adrian almost feels guilty. It’s a strange sensation and one he doesn’t like. It makes him uncomfortable. Shaking it free, he narrows his gaze against the glare of the salt-fields. “Pain reminds me I’m human,” he says. “But like everything else, responses to pain can be controlled by an effort of will.”

Alexander glances at him. “You sound like my father.”

“Philip?” The name is startled out of him. Adrian has never measured himself against Philip, never found his brutish personality intriguing or admirable.

“He had a complex relationship with all kinds of pain.” Alexander says this without any trace of irony. “When he lost his eye at Methone, his men mourned. But he just laughed. ‘Pain is the measure of our lives,’ he said. ‘What is sight? The best prophets are blind. Let them take both my eyes – they still won’t defeat me.’”

“Your father was no prophet,” Adrian says. “He was murdered.”

“According to my mother, he knew he would die that day.” Alexander flashes him another glance, this time unreadable. He points ahead with his whip then taps smartly at his camel. She swings out, striding towards the promise of green oasis.

Siwa emerges from the bubble of mirage. Salt gives way to a stinking marsh, then a line of date palms. A falcon hangs above them, sweeping across the path of the sun until it folds its wings and dives. It’s too fast for Adrian to track, but he thinks it dropped behind the citadel perched above the plain. If he were a superstitious man, he’d say it was a sign.

The companions are met at the entrance to the city by the priests of Ammon. Siwa’s nobles come to pay court, accompanying Alexander to the temple. They pause at the sacred spring and its rock-cut pool. Adrian watches as Hephaistion opens his camel-bags and presents offerings of Macedonian gold, Greek silver, Tyrian purple. The priests bathe each gift into the pool then carry them dripping to the steps of the altar.

Alexander walks past his gifts and faces the high priest of Ammon. Adrian joins him, ignoring the muted warnings of the companions. This is why he’s here – to witness for himself the oracle of Ammon delivering its acknowledgement of divinity.

Behind the priest, the sacred boat of the god emerges from the temple. It sways and shakes, its bearers expressionless as they lurch to the right. The priest lifts a hand, almost touching Alexander’s forehead. “Greetings, son of Zeus.”

Callisthenes gasps, turning to share his wonder with Hephaistion and the rest of the companions. Adrian glances at Alexander and sees absolute certainty.

The priest nods, indicating Alexander should come with him. They climb the steps and enter the darkness of the temple. Adrian wants to follow them, but Callisthenes grabs his arm, pulling him back and babbling about the priest’s greeting.

Adrian shakes him off. He wants to hear the private questions Alexander puts to the god. Every biographer from Callisthenes to Arrian to the medieval authors of the Alexander romance have wondered what Alexander asked of Ammon, and now Adrian is determined to find out.

He moves swiftly to reach the inner sanctum, darting past priests and keeping a shadow behind Alexander. They enter the holy of holies, but Alexander doesn’t notice Adrian’s presence and the high priest leaves and draws the curtain across the doorway without a word of rebuke. Incense clouds the room, the heaviness of frankincense and the earthy notes of myrrh mixed with spikenard. Pomegranates lie on the floor close to the back wall, the fruit halved to spill their seeds, jewel-bright, plump and glistening.

Adrian waits by the door. The incense smarts; his eyes gutter with unshed tears and his throat tightens to an ache as he inhales the rich, acrid smoke. He watches Alexander sway in front of the back wall, where a series of holes cut into the bricks allow the limited circulation of air. From these same holes the voice of Ammon now issues. Weirdly amplified and filtered through the incense, the god’s voice startles both Adrian and Alexander.

“You have questions for the god? Speak.”

Alexander utters a sharp laugh. He tosses his head, his leonine hair brushing his shoulders as he moves – an arrogant gesture for an arrogant question. “How far will my glory spread?”

“Endlessly,” the god replies, his voice deep and sonorous.

“And when I reach the Outer Ocean, to whom should I make sacrifice?”

The oracle considers before answering, “Poseidon and Thetis.”

Alexander nods. He takes a step back, beginning to turn away, and then he stops and looks through the fog of incense at the wall. “Have I punished all of my father’s murderers?”

This time the god doesn’t hesitate. “You are no longer the child of Philip of Macedon. You are my own offspring now. Alexander, son of Ammon. Alexander, son of Amun. Be content with this.”

Adrian watches Alexander crumple with relief, his shoulders sagging as a shaky exhalation is torn from him. “I need do no more,” he whispers. “Thank you, Father.”

A strange silence descends on the room. Adrian pushes himself forward, brushing aside the glittering particles that hang in heavy clouds around him. He ignores Alexander’s exclamation of surprise and approaches the wall. “Great Ammon, I have a question.”

“You do not belong here.”

The reply startles him until he decides the oracle simply means he shouldn’t be in the inner sanctum. He goes closer to the wall, his gaze flicking from one hole to the next as he wonders where the priest is hiding.

“You must answer me.” Adrian touches the wall and feels a shiver of power, like a surge of electricity, run through his body. A buzz of static crackles over his skin. “In the future... will I prevail?”

The god is silent for a long time. “No,” says the oracle at last. “You will fail because you are human.”

“What do you mean?”

Ammon sounds amused. “You may rule the world, as Alexander will, but there is one enemy you cannot defeat.”

“Death,” Alexander suggests softly.

“No.” Adrian turns to face him. “You defeat death. The oracle told you – your glory is endless. While your name lives, so Alexander lives.” He swings back to the wall, his hands splaying over the bricks, almost clawing at them. “My enemy. Tell me, Ammon. Who is the enemy I cannot defeat?”

“The answer is within you.”

Adrian leans against the wall and thinks. He’s conscious of his breath, of the saturating heat and the curling, cloying incense. His mind seems slow. He can’t decide the identity of his greatest enemy. He shakes his head. “Tell me, oracle. Who is it?”

When Ammon refuses to speak, Alexander answers for the god, his father. “Your greatest enemy is yourself,” he says into the silence. “You will never conquer yourself. No matter what you do, you will always long for more.”

Anger goads him. Adrian shoves away from the wall and stands over Alexander, looking down on him from his full height, infinitely more godlike. “I can control myself.”

“But not your longing.” Alexander smiles, the certainty back in his eyes. “We are the same, Adrian. Neither of us will be a god. Even when the world is at our feet and we drown in the adulation of millions, there will be something we still long for – and we will never know what it is or how to get it.”

Adrian lifts his chin, meeting the certainty with contempt. “I will get it. I will tame my longing. I will be greater than you!”

Alexander just smiles. “Are you sure?”

Before Adrian can reply, the room fades like the dimming of a light, then he’s plunged into dark, intense cold.

* * * *

Adrian finds himself returned to his office, sand in his hair and the stink of incense clinging to his suit. He springs from his seat, smashing his fists across his desk, spilling books and diskettes onto the floor. The destruction is not enough. He stalks over to the shelves and takes down the bust of Alexander. The marble is cold in his hands. Alexander’s parted lips and upraised eyes seem omnipotent and knowing, the bland expression mocking him.

Adrian hurls the bust through the window. He hates not having the last word.



( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
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<<[1] [2] >>
Mar. 19th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
Fuck. Ohmygod.
I am just speechless. When I saw "Adrian/Alexander" I didn't expect this - but then again I don't really know what to expect from you I suppose, it's always a shocker of some sort.

I'm trying to wrap my head around this fic, because seriously.. wow. I mean, like, now when I think of the scene in the movie when Adrian waxes lyrical about Alexander and then he pauses for a moment, now the only thing I can think of is longing. Of him recalling this moment - the moment when he was transported back into the past to witness the rise of his most beloved hero, and of the question he's asked at the oracle, and of everything that has happened... I bet he thinks he's gonna beat the oracle at his game. ;)

Anyway. As for the fic, I really love how this offers an insight into pre-movieera!Adrian, into one that is on his way up. Just like Alexander. I love that parallel. And of how Alexander sees through him from the start. I suppose he knew Adrian's just like him in a certain way.

And I love how you humanise Alexander and Hephaestion by making them 'normal-looking' (or at least flawed) in Adrian's eyes. *grins* I laughed at how petulant he sounded when he assessed Hephaestion and go "...meh!". :P And ironically it was Hephaestion who openly adored him at the end, not Alexander. Brilliant. I love how you kept Alexander in charge and distant (comparatively) to Adrian. That is so much more believable than the 'omg love at first sight' shit (because it's Alexander the Great, LMAO). ...unless of course they're SQ/ZL. *coughs* :P

I really love this, it's so... how to you put this, sweeping. Poignant. Very Adrian. This fic humanises him. For some reason I think of comicverse!Adrian as opposed to movieverse!Adrian - like, the scenes set out in this fic breaks him a little, and makes him resolve to be stronger than what was predicted of him.

+mem *squees* <3
Mar. 20th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Thank you! This was fairly difficult to put together because so much symbolism went into it that probably only a Classics geek would spot everything o_O I did a course on Philip, Alexander and the Hellenistic Kingdoms in my final year of undergrad so I retained just enough knowledge for this LOL.

Originally what I was aiming to do was to have Adrian usurp Alexander without realising it, but Alexander wasn't that daft. So I made Adrian the anti-Alexander, which is why Alexander likens him indirectly to Olympias and directly to Philip - in a way Alexander is as much a creation of Adrian's preconceptions as Alexander was the creation of Olympias and Philip.

Hephaistion's getting it while he can. Bagaos lurks! XD
Mar. 19th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
Oh! This is really intriguing! The pairing kind of made me go o.O for a second, but you managed to make it work perfectly. Your characterization of Adrian in particular is fascinating: I love how human you made him with all his flaws, his vanity, his longing, his aspiration for greatness, and how he still seemed, in a way, just as detatched as he did in the movie.

I also liked your Hephaistion a lot, who seemed so much more real and three-dimensional than what the Alexander movie made of him (a movie which I hated, but apparently it still left more of an impact than I though, despite my falling asleep halfway through, because I couldn't stop picturing Colin Farrell here, LMAO!).

And the sex was very hot, with Alexander being all dismissive and Adrian barely being able to hold back!
Mar. 20th, 2009 06:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! It's funny, I was thinking a lot about Ally's insistence that she never wanted to meet Jenson because it would ruin her fantasies about him... and of course it's always a danger, meeting someone you idolise. So should Adrian risk meeting Alexander? He probably shouldn't have done it, but...

We walked out of Alexander about a third of the way through if I recall correctly. I had period pain exacerbated by the sheer crapness on the screen :/ I did wonder if anyone would imagine Colin Farrell though!
(no subject) - sandrine - Mar. 20th, 2009 09:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 20th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
*chews fist* I've just come back from seeing the movie a second time and my brain has just been split open by this.

I like how Adrian isn't all-conquering or in charge, he seems far more human here than he does in the film. Alexander's partial dismissal of him, mixed in with Hephaistion shifting the dynamic by accepting Adrian is pretty mind-bending really. Adrian's thoughts whilst watching A & H were a delight to read, and rather hot too.

Adrian's loss of control, which builds wonderfully from his description of his hero and Alexander's aloofness towards him, is very well handed and I could *hear* it happening. The little bit of bitchiness right at the end is superb as well, Queen Ozy strike again.

There are some glorious descriptions in this, I could feel the dry heat and almost smell the camels. Very easy to become absorbed in.

*hugs fic* Fucked up, but gloriously so.
Mar. 20th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading!

I'm sort of tempted to watch it again too, after having Adrian in my head since Sunday @@

I was thinking his detachment in the movie could partially stem from massive disappointment (as well as massive over-thinking LOL), and what could be more disappointing than meeting your hero and finding him lacking? Especially if you've built him up so much and modelled yourself on him - does it mean you're lacking, too?

I'm intrigued by Adrian's choice of Egyptian artefacts. Something needs to be done with those XD
Mar. 20th, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
I've been wanting to leave a proper review of this that isn't just me squeeing, but it's proving to be really hard! Thanks for writing the prompt! XD

I am so in awe of what you've done with this. I love how the themes and metaphors from both comic and movie are blended with the ancient setting. It's obvious Alan Moore used a lot of Classical themes in the comic and it's wonderful how you combine Alexander's thirst for world conquest with Adrian's quest to know everything.

From the start, the fact that Adrian is disappointed that Alexander isn't as beautiful as he was hoping for is a hint of how, even though he admires Alexander, he's subconsciously trying to usurp him. I love it. Even if Adrian's not aware of it he's constantly comparing himself to Alexander and finding him lacking. I was really taken with the dynamics of the sex scene and how the balance shifts to Adrian being the centre of attention and Alexander being the watcher while Adrian has Hephastion.

And then there's Adrian's need to be adored. Whilst everyone else is happy to see him as a god, Alexander is the only one who sees him as he really is - as a man. An extremely ambitious man, but a man nonetheless, and one who will never be truly satisfied.

I agree with what Emma has said about the loss of control too - that last scene with him hurling the bust out of the window was wonderfully done.

Ohh and that scene with the snakes twining themselves around Adrian's arms? You probably didn't intend this but I pictured it as being a foreboding sign of how Adrian becomes the dealer of death at the end of the comic/movie, but also someone who recreates (and then I thought of the ouroboros!) the world after its destruction. Actually that's the image that really stuck with me, for whatever reason.

Guh. You should post this at one of the comms. It's so beautifully tragic.

Eeeeeee. Thank you!!!!!!! *squees*
Mar. 20th, 2009 07:15 am (UTC)
Thank you!

What I find interesting is that Adrian doesn't rate Julius Caesar (who famously wept over a statue of Alexander from jealousy at achieving so little in comparison by the time he was 30), but he's named for arguably the greatest Roman emperor, Hadrian, who ruled when Rome was at its peak in terms of empire (and who also had a male lover). Adrian only goes for winners.

Yes!! The usurption thing - originally that was the point of the fic but it kind of swung in a slightly different direction. I'm so glad it still came across that way :D

When diagon read it through I was worried that it'd be too, uh, complicated so I'm glad it was a smooth ride. As I said to aitakute, I spent a long time sticking all kinds of Deep and Meaningful stuff in there to please feed my inner squeeing Classicist. I was kinda hinting at the destruction of the world thing with the snakes, as snakes were more than messengers of death, to the Greeks they were the actual embodiment of a dead person. I forgot the ourobouros though, that's a good point!

And the whole question of 'should you meet your hero' is ripe for exploration, since (ironically) Adrian is more than happy for people to meet him as a superhero XDD

I was a bit nervous of posting in a comm but I will now ^^ Thank you!
(no subject) - dislex1a - Mar. 20th, 2009 08:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 20th, 2009 07:34 am (UTC)
Oh my, I adore Alexander here...
*temporarily speechless because it's so... filling... for the mind...*

I am in absolute awe with Alexander. what come to mind is challenge and learning... it's not even as much about ruling, as learning, spreading, becoming bigger and filling yourself, filling the void in yourself that KNOWS there is MORE... you can DO more, LEARN more, GIVE more...
And his soft humor and charisma a dash of sadness and comprehension - the perfect character, so complete.
(is it ok that I thought a bit of Mansai... you know you just pinpointed this feeling, which I think... is the seed of creativity - a kind of love, just it is expressed in various ways, and in Alexanders, he just went the way of Alexander... because he seems more of a creator than destroyer to me, even if he ... well... history is not to be judged)

Hephaestion is love too^^ I really love the style of the narration, your soft slight humor adds to the *lifelike* feeling of the story.

i wonder why Alexander actually buggered him, did he want to rise above Adrian, or divinity is not to be bothered by acts that can mean demasculinization. it adds so good to the overall mood and point of this all... ahhh...

OK now allow me a bit of SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! gosh it is so good, so so goood!

well, now I have to see the movie... *toes ground* who wanna come with me?
Mar. 20th, 2009 07:58 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Alexander's only error was the burning of Persepolis. He probably didn't have a great deal of choice by that point but still, not the best move. There's probably a good comparison to be made between the destruction of Persepolis and the events of the end of the movie - if you see it, you will know what I mean.

Alexander's an interesting man - not really a ruler but definitely a leader. His gift was in finding satraps and whatnot who could govern because he couldn't. It's probably a good thing he died so young, he's definitely one of those 'the world is not enough' men. Imagine if he'd got through India @@

Yep, Alexander buggered Adrian to make him a lesser man. During the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC the Greeks put about a lot of propaganda about how they were Manly Men and the Persians were Girly Men who liked to take it up the arse. And so considering that Alexander is about to go to Persia and take Bagaos as his other long-term lover, the whole Greek/Macedonian vs Persian/Other did a dance in my brain and so I made Adrian the Bagaos figure.
(no subject) - aoi_shu - Mar. 20th, 2009 08:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - glitterburn - Mar. 20th, 2009 08:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aoi_shu - Mar. 20th, 2009 08:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aoi_shu - Mar. 20th, 2009 08:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 20th, 2009 08:26 am (UTC)
Words cannot describe how much I adore you for writing this. The sheer amount of detail is staggering, and the way you portrayed such mythical, historical figures so naturally is nothing short of brilliant. I just. ;alksdjf speechless.

Reading it was incredibly satisfying just because the amount of research/knowledge in this was so evident and because it was so masterfully put together. I'm actually more impressed with the way you handled Alexander and Hephaistion rather than Adrian (though you wrote him incredibly well too!) because they're historical figures. Adrian fit in seamlessly. Fucking. Glorious.
Mar. 20th, 2009 08:33 am (UTC)
Thank you very much :D I studied Alexander as part of my undergrad degree many years ago and had some of ye olde textbooks still lying around, so it was very enjoyable to write this and give a different spin on Alexander and Hephaistion through Adrian's eyes. I'm glad it worked for you!
Mar. 20th, 2009 08:43 am (UTC)
As a Classics student, I fully approve of this story. And since Adrien is my current obsession, you also win. Who knew education could be so fun.... :p

Arrian's History was the most interesting books I read in the study of Alexander. It was awesome to see all that almost-implied smut turned into a reality.
Mar. 20th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)
Yay a fellow Classicist! My first degree was in ancient history and then I went into classical archaeology. I kept all my old textbooks though, so good to know they come in useful years later when writing Watchmen fic! Thank you so much for your comment :)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 20th, 2009 11:36 am (UTC)
Thank you very much :)
Mar. 20th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
The end just left me breathless...I think you really had Adrian's character pegged, especially with this bit:

When Ammon refuses to speak, Alexander answers for the god, his father. “Your greatest enemy is yourself,” he says into the silence. “You will never conquer yourself. No matter what you do, you will always long for more.”

Well done. :) Hope you don't mind if I recommend this in my own journal.

Mar. 29th, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, glad you liked it :)
Mar. 20th, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
This is an absolute gem, the sort of fic you hope to stumble across but rarely do. The concept is fantastic - I was intrigued as soon as I saw the header. And now I'm not quite sure where to start.

The language you use is beautiful - vivid, simple, stark. I could practically feel the desert heat coming in waves in the first scene. I love seeing Adrian in awe, and faltering - he's perfectly portrayed, but suddenly vulnerable. I love the touch that he's wearing his own suit, and the detail about his shoes - it shows us how out of place he is.

I love the awkward, emotional tangle of the sex, and how very human all three of the characters are. I love the physical descriptions of both Alexander and Hephaistion - they feel so real, and as large as life. Not paragons, but so very there - I love the line about Adrian feeling the pull of charisma greater than his own.

All in all, words are rather failing me. What I tend to do with fics like these is absorb them for a few hours and then come blundering back going "Oh, and another thing!" - so um, I'll see ya later :P
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for your comment. It was one of those fics that just wanted to be written, even though I was flipping back and forth through Arrian most of the time!
(no subject) - smirnoffmule - Mar. 31st, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 20th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
I really feel in capable of leaving an adequate coment to this. It draws Adrian so clearly -- afrightened child, a lonel child, a greedy child. It made me think of the first time I was taught about Alexander in grade school history. I didn't know enough about anything to know his empire would end, and we folowed his adventures for weeks, until it was no more and we went on to the next unit. It was a strange feeling of loss, one I'll always remember, and I see it here in this. I'm deeply charmed.
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comment, and the rec. Seeing the movie reminded me of how much I enjoyed my undergrad course on Alexander and the Hellenistic kingdoms so it was wonderful to go back to the textbooks and put them to good, alternative use.
Mar. 20th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
Whoaaaaa. That was wonderful. I'm not a student of history or anything so I feel like I'm probably missing a lot of nuance, but I really loved it nonetheless. You conveyed an amazing sense of the time period, but my favorite part was the exploration of Adrian's psyche. The moments when he broke his cool facade were the best - of course it's fitting that Alexander's the one who can manage that. This was just gorgeous.

(Also, I appreciate your Matthew Goode icon very much :D)
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I was worried that it'd end up too academic but I'm glad it worked for you!
Mar. 20th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
I could feel the burning all through this story, from the sand to Alexander to Adrian to the gods. I commend you and your rogalian tale.
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you - and thanks for teaching me a new word, I had to look up 'rogalian' LOL!
Mar. 20th, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
Here on rm's rec. This is fantastic.
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
Mar. 20th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
OH!!! This was wonderful! I come back after spending a few days away with family and this is just....*dies*. So much detail and imagery in this, it really gets me. I simple adore this. I really like the awkwardness that you've implemented and the characters that you established. The conflict between god/human persona is nicely done too. OH! And the ending was perfect. ^___^

Heh. Now my mythology class will be amusing.
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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