Eye of the Beholder: An X-files fairy tale
Rating: Adult for m/m/m and sexual situations
Disclaimer: you know the drill. they don't belong to me. never have never will.
Happy Birthday Ursula
Notes: This is a fairytale. This is AU. I played fast and loose with anything I could think of so legends, myths and religion are a hodgepodge and not purely based on anything concrete. I used alternate spellings in hopes of not offending anyone's traditions and cultures. I'm not sure where the idea came from, I'm sure I read something similar at some time in my life. If you recognized it, let me know so I can credit accordingly. All characters should be considered OOC. Thank you Bertina, as always, my faithful beta.
Once upon a time, deep in the frozen lands to the north, beyond the great mountains and nestled in a valley unknown by the open lands lived the Rusal'naia.
King Leshii paced the floor outside his wife's bedchamber. The midwife thought it best that he not stay in the room with Larissa while she was giving birth. He paused outside the door, putting his ear against it, hoping to catch something to tell him what was happening. He was the King after all and deserved to know. Jarilo toddled up to him, blinking his sleepy eyes and sucking on his thumb.
Leshii gently scowled at his son. "What are you doing up?"
A sniffle that morphed into a yawn precipitated the icy blue eyes filling with curiosity. "Momma having a baby?"
"Yes," the King said as he picked his son up and rocked him in his arms. "Soon you will be a big brother, you'll be a good brother, won't you."
"I'll be the best brother, Father," Jarilo replied and rested his head on his father's shoulder. Soon he was fast asleep and Leshii motioned to the child's nurse to take him back to his room. He had no longer put the child in the old woman's arms when a blood-curdling scream broke through the quiet hallway.
Leshii pounded on the door, demanding the midwife to open it. He feared the worst. After Jarilo was born, they had tried for five years to have another child. Each time Larissa miscarried and the healers warned them after this they should not try again.
When the screaming had stopped the midwife opened the chamber door and motioned for the King to enter. Leshii rushed to his wife's side and Larissa threw herself into his arms, sobbing hysterically. Tears rolled down his face, devastation was etched into his fine features as he turned to hear the words he dreaded.
The midwife held a small bundle in her arms. Her mouth kept moving but no sound came out. She stared wide-eyed at the King and Queen. Finally in a broken hesitant voice she said, "Your majesty, you have a son."
"He's alive. I don't understand. What's wrong?" His voice was a mixture of anger and confusion. Why would his beloved be hysterical if their son lived?
Jarilo's nurse rushed into the room and stood beside the midwife. She lifted the blanket covering the infant's head and gasped.
"What is it? What is wrong with my son?" the King demanded.
The midwife turned to show the king his son. Larissa buried herself in her husband's arm, unable to look at the infant again. When Leshii gaze fell on the small face of his new born son, he wanted to scream and curse the gods that had done this to them, but instead quickly averted his eyes and solemnly demanded the child be removed from the room.
Twenty years passed before the King was forced to look at his son. The bandages covering the deformed features only served to emphasize his son's malady. Yet Alexander had turned out to be bright and highly intelligent. His tutors always ended their reports of his progress with what a shame it was. He also had a gift for music. Alexander would weave songs from the stories he heard, but living alone, no one but his music teacher ever heard them. All these things added to the anguish of his condition. The entire kingdom knew of Alexander, but his name was invoked in whispers for fear of his curse being visited on one of them.
Alexander stood before the King waiting for his sentence. He had not returned to the castle in all his years. The King had sent him to the far side of the kingdom to be raised by an old blind woman. She knew of his condition, but was honored the king trusted her. She had served well until she died when Alexander had turned fourteen. When Alexander turned twenty, Leshii decided the child was old enough to live on his own. It was with a grave heart that the King sent for his son. It was not the life he would have chosen to visit on his worst enemy.
"Alexander, you are to leave these hollowed lands, never to return. We have allowed you to learn and grow, but can no longer bear the reminder of what you represent. You will gather up your belongings and leave by sunrise. I wish you luck in the other world." Leshii looked at his son a moment longer, before rising and leaving the throne room. Larissa hadn't accompanied him; in fact, she refused to acknowledge she had even given birth to such a horrid creature.
Alexander watched solemnly as his 'father' turned his back on him once again. He would not wait until sunrise. He had little belongings, a few clothes and his lute; it would not take long to pack. Alexander turned on his heel and walked dejectedly out of the throne room, only barely glancing into the mirrored walls. He had never seen his face for fear of becoming so despondent he would kill himself. His small shack near the river had no mirrors and he closed his eyes whenever he had to remove the bandages covering his features to clean up.
But he loved his people and his parents. He saw the good works and the happiness and prosperity the kingdom enjoyed. Alexander quietly cursed the gods that had allowed him to be born to such a wonderful King and Queen. They had not deserved it. Him.
The quickest way to leave was by boat. Alexander shoved the small vessel into the water and climbed in. The mist was heavy and he could only trust the tides to take him out of the kingdom. The currents rocked the little boat, propelling it out into the ocean. Soon the mist cleared and Alexander could see shore on the horizon. He glanced back and the mist surrounding his home was gone, only the sun setting into the sea. He would never be able to return this way, which was how his people remained hidden for centuries.
For almost a year, Alex wandered the countryside, taking in the new sights, cultures and people as diverse as the colors of the rainbow. He made a modest living as a bard. No one questioned him about the bandages hiding his face; instead they applauded his deep husky voice that brought stories alive as he sang. He occasionally did odd jobs for farmers to help him through the lean times; he was always welcomed with open arms and friendliness. What was originally an exile for Alexander had become the best thing to happen to him. He still missed his people, but here the people looked him in the eyes when speaking to him and were not afraid of his presence.
It was during one of the lean times when Alex's life was changed forever.
Alex was wakened when his horse started stomping and shuffling about. He climbed out of his bedroll and looked around the surrounding forest. It was quiet, not even the birds were singing. A woman's scream broke through the silence, followed by the sound of pounding hooves.
Not stopping to take the time to properly saddle his horse, Alex leaped on the beast and galloped towards the sound. In the distance he caught a glimpse of fiery red hair on a small figure atop a runaway horse.
Alex urged his horse to go faster and he soon closed the distance. As he pulled along side, he reached out and grabbed the ornate reins of the large black mare. Pulling tightly, he managed to slowly lead the horse to a halt.
The woman quickly slipped off the heaving horse. She wrapped her arms around the sleek black neck of her horse and smiled up at Alex. "Thank you. You saved my life."
"I am Dana. My husband and I rule this small kingdom. You must return with me to my home, my husband will want to thank you." Dana held out her hand in introduction.
"My name is Alexander. At your service my Lady." Alex dismounted and started to kneel before her. Dana stopped him with a hand on his arm before his knees hit the ground.
"My sweet hero. In Cockainge, we do not stand on the stuffy formalities of court. A mere handshake is all that is required." Dana gave Alex an impish grin. The smile faded as she watched the strange young man slip from her hand and kneel on the forest floor, his head hanging in supplication.
"I am not worthy to touch someone of your beauty and grace," he replied in a quiet whisper.
"Beauty and grace?" Dana laughed. She knew she was beautiful, with her hair of fire and clear blue eyes, but she hardly considered it enough of a reason for anyone not to want to shake her hand, let alone someone as brave as Alexander.
"My dear boy. You have a brave and good heart. You saved my life, not knowing who I was. That is worth more than beauty and grace in this kingdom. If it takes an order from the Queen, me." She pointed haughtily at her chest. "Then consider it a royal proclamation that you return with me now to Cockainge."
Dana could hardly contain the laughter bubbling up inside. The treacherous ride after her horse was spooked had left her giddy. And sometimes, she just loved being Queen. John would get a big laugh out of her proclamation.
"As you wish, my Lady," Alex replied solemnly. He had spent the last year avoiding the finery of court, trying to stay in the background among the peasants and not be noticed by royalty.
John was practicing swords with his best friend Walter when Dana and a stranger came galloping into the courtyard. He and Walter stopped, bowed to each other and then stood side by side and waited for Dana to come to a halt. Fox, Walter's lover, joined them.
John helped Dana down from her mount while keeping a watchful and wary eye on the stranger whose face was hidden. Instead of setting Dana on her feet, John hugged her tightly to his chest and twirled her around. "And how was your morning ride, my love?"
"It was most adventurous." Dana excitedly recounted her experience, talking with wild gestures and elaborate sound effects. John was a practical King. He accepted a man's word as his honor, but he listened closely to his wife's story, trying to separate fact from embellishment.
Fox could not contain his mirth and soon was helping Dana with the sounds needed to tell a proper story. They had been friends for years and fed off of each other's excitement. The story soon was out of control and no one was sure what exactly had spooked her horse.
Walter smiled indulgently at the two and then winked at John. He gave John a barely perceptible nod towards the stranger, to which John shrugged. The man might be a stranger but he had saved Dana's life, for that, he would be welcome in Cockainge. Alex had remained quiet during Dana's story, his eyes focused on the ground at his feet. He looked up when he heard Dana introduce him.
"And this is Alexander, my hero." Dana reached out and grabbed Alex's hand and pulled him to her side. "Alexander, this is my husband and King, John," she said with a bit of a smirk. She knew how much John loathed the title.
John offered his hand to Alexander. Alex hesitantly took John's hand and tried to kneel before him.
"Stop. Alexander, you are a honored guest and I will not have you kneeling in the courtyard." John laughed although his words were stern. He was already warming up to the young stranger, in no short way because of his bravery in saving his lovely Dana's life. He gripped Alex's hand steadily until he was sure his point was made. He let go and introduced the others.
"These are my Captains, Walter and Fox."
The three men nodded to each other in greeting. Fox had not been able to tear his eyes from Alexander. Although his face was hidden, Fox couldn't help but admire what could be seen- Alexander's body. And it was a fine body indeed. Fox would never be unfaithful to Walter, but he liked to look. Walter was having similar thoughts about Alexander; only the dark green eyes captivated him. He only caught a glimpse beneath the lowered lashes, but they intrigued him enough to make him want to know the young man better.
The great hall was filled with laughter and the smell of the grand feast John ordered to celebrate and honor Alexander's bravery. Alex was seated alongside Walter and Fox at the head of the table. He remained quiet, unsure of how to act and quite overwhelmed. Fox kept trying to engage him in conversation, but Alex would only answer briefly pointed questions and never asked any himself.
The group was startled when Melissa, the kingdom's healer and Dana's sister, ran into the dining hall. She knelt down by Dana's side and whispered, "William is sick."
Dana grew pale and pushed back from the table. She looked at John and then ran from the room. "What is it, Melissa?" John demanded, already getting up to follow his wife.
"William is gravely ill," she replied. John rushed after Dana to William's room. Melissa looked at the remaining men. Tears filled her eyes as she told them of William's illness. "His skin is darkening and growing brittle. Any touch and the skin breaks. It is an ancient curse, one that has not happened in many years."
"Who would do this to a child? John and Dana are loved by all. We have no enemies," Fox shouted. Walter put a calming arm around his shoulders as they walked to William's nursery.
Dana stood by the crib, weeping. She could not touch her own son; even her tears upon his skin caused him pain. John wrapped his arms around her waist, trying to offer comfort even as his own heart was in anguish.
"What can we do, Melissa? How do we save my son?" John asked, his voice hoarse with emotion.
"The only thing that can cure William is for him to drink water with Dragon's Ice in it."
"Dragon's Ice? But that's a legend."
"No, it's real and only with Dragon's Ice can William be saved," Melissa replied solemnly.
"I know..." Alex started to say and then stopped, unsure if they would accept his input.
"There is a woman I spent several weeks with. She is Ojibwe. She taught me many of the stories I sing. She knows more of this land and the land beyond than anyone. If Dragon's Ice is real, she will be able to tell us how to find it."
"Where is this woman? She must come here immediately," John demanded.
"She cannot. But I can go to her. And then go and retrieve the Dragon's Ice," Alex suggested.
"You won't go alone. Fox and I will accompany you." Walter placed a reassuring hand on the young man's shoulder.
Fox nodded his acceptance and kissed the top of Dana's head. "Everything will be all right. In no time at all we will return with the Dragon's Ice and William will be all better and once again annoying the hell out of you about a getting him a sister."
They traveled fast, choosing only to stop when the horses needed rest and then for sleep once the sun had set. They built a small fire for warmth and ate dried meats and biscuits for a meal.
Walter laid the blankets out near the fire and settled in for the night. Fox crawled in next to him. Alex looked longingly at the two lovers wrapped around each other drifting off to sleep. He had been stunned by his feeling for the two men. Walter was so strong and handsome; his rich brown eyes were warm and inviting. Fox was like no other Alex had seen. He was lovelier than even Dana, his eyes a mixture of golds and greens, changing with his mood. And the way they looked at each other spoke volumes of their love.
Fox's hand snaked it's way down Walter's body and rested comfortably on Walter's thickening cock, merely cupping the large bulge in his lover's breeches. A whispered sigh escaped his lips and Fox nuzzled deeper into Walter's arm.
"Fox, not now."
"Why not?" he whined and then gave his lover a playful squeeze.
"We are not alone and besides the fact we should be resting. Tomorrow we will have to get an early start."
"I know, I know," Fox whispered. He gave Walter one last squeeze before moving his hand up to rest on Walter's massive chest. "What do you think of Alexander?"
"He is a mystery, for sure. But I trust him. Something about him is so pure and innocent, yet to look into his eyes is to see wisdom beyond his years," Walter replied.
"I wonder what hides beneath those bandages?"
"You will not ask," Walter said sternly and placed a small swat on Fox's leg.
"I won't, I promise." Fox pouted and then brightened. "He has a nice body."
"Indeed he does."
"Do you think Alex is cold over there by himself?" Fox asked mischievously.
"Fox, leave him alone," Walter warned.
Fox snorted and buried his nose into Walter's chest. He wasn't planning anything and resented Walter's implication. Now if a situation presented itself, he planned to take full advantage of it. It was with those lusty thoughts of a green-eyed stranger that lulled Fox to sleep.
The storm came upon them suddenly, so they were drenched by the time they found shelter under a thick canvas of trees. Alex unsaddled the horses while Fox and Walter attempted to find enough dry wood to build a fire. He joined the two and handed them their packs. Luckily their blankets had been protected and were still dry, unlike their clothes.
Fox thought nothing of stripping out of his sodden clothes. He draped them on some low hanging branches before wrapping a blanket around his nude body. He gave Alex a lopsided grin before he helped Walter with his wet clothing. Alex blinked and shook himself out of his trance and averted his eyes. This saddened Walter. He had not planned on seducing the young man, but after watching his eyes smolder when Fox was parading around nude, he was sure Alex was interested.
Dropping his blanket on the ground, Fox bent over to make them a bed. Once again Alex could not help but watch the firm white buttocks as they moved sensually as Fox dropped to his knees. He jumped when he felt two large hands move across his chest, but he didn't pull away. Fox stretched out on the makeshift bed and watched Walter slowly remove Alex's wet jacket and shirt.
When Walter reached for Alex's trousers, the young man suddenly gasped. Alex felt all of the blood rush to his groin as Walter's large fingers traced the bulge between his legs.
"Sh...we won't do anything you don't want us too," Walter whispered in Alex's delicate ear.
"I...I don't know what you want with me," Alex said. Alex was starting to feel dizzy and he swayed just a little until Walter wrapped his arms around his waist and slowly moved towards the blankets and Fox.
Fox reached up and guided Alex down to the bed. "We want to make love to you, Alexander." Fox captured Alex's lips in a heated kiss, stopping all further questions Alex might have had.
Fox's lips trailed down past the bandages to the alabaster neck, licking and nipping the skin, causing Alex to gasp with pleasure. Fox's hands caressed the sexy chest, plucking the hardening nipples under his fingers. His mouth teased and nipped the skin to take over where his fingers left off. Alex arched his back under the oral assault.
Walter kept himself busy by removing Alex's trousers and stroking the tender white skin of Alex's full bottom. Walter slipped a small vial of oil from his pack that was lying on the side of the bed. He slicked up his finger and gently probed what he figured was virgin territory. Alex hadn't said it, but his reactions spoke of someone who had never experienced the touch of another.
Walter was surprised when Alex's hole fluttered and opened eagerly for his questioning finger. Alex was tight, though, and Walter was very sure they were dealing with a virgin now. But Alex's body accepted his finger and then opened wider when Walter added a second finger. When Alex was moaning desperately into Fox's mouth, Walter quickly slicked his large penis and entered Alex in one gentle push.
Alex's reaction was immediate and splendid. After an initial wince from the intrusion, he arched back into Walter's arms and let out a breathless purr. Fox followed him up and caught the lush mouth once more in a kiss. He reached between their bodies and aligned their cocks up and started to stroke.
The storm still raged outside the small enclosure, but the heat between the three men had caused them to start sweating. Walter pounded against Alex's prostate, causing stars to blind the young man. All too soon he exploded with a yell and collapsed weakly into Fox's arms with Walter's hand on his hips to keep him from crushing Fox completely.
Walter lifted Alex and rolled him over until he was lying on top of Walter's heaving chest. Alex's eyes were closed and his mouth was parted letting out little pants. Walter could feel the aftershocks running through Alex's body. It was too much temptation. Walter wanted to taste Alex's plump mouth too. He angled the exhausted head until he could plunder Alex's lips comfortably with his tongue.
Fox had not come yet and the sight of Alex and Walter together made his throbbing cock ache more. Using Alex's come, he generously coated his penis and moved in behind Alex. Even after Walter, Alex was tight and gripped Fox willingly, drawing him in like a hungry beast.
Alex was sure all of it was a dream. A dream unlike any he had ever had. The sensations the men were causing in him were too pleasurable and unreal. He started to burn and ached again as Fox thrust in and out of his entrance. The same stars as before, exploded behind his eyes and he shouted into Walter's mouth before fainting.
Fox finished thrusting and spilled his seed into Alex. He gently withdrew and flopped down beside Walter. Turning his head he looked at his life partner. "So I guess you're okay with this."
"It's a little late to be asking that," Walter said dryly. He stroked one hand up and down Alex's back, the other he used to capture Fox's hand and bring it to his lips. He placed a gentle kiss on Fox's palm. "I think the question is more, what are we going to do now?"
The next morning, Alex was up before the others. He had cleaned up and saddled the horses. Walter and Fox woke slowly; they were still wrapped around each other when the realized Alex was no longer lying with them. Walter looked around until he spied Alex over by their mounts.
"Alex?" Walter asked, afraid they had scared the young man.
Alex looked at Walter before smiling shyly and dropping his eyes. "Good morning," he whispered. Fox stood up and stretched, the blanket covering him falling to the ground. He scratched his butt as he walked over and placed a kiss on Alex's mouth.
"'morning," Fox said sleepily before walking over and checking to see if his clothes were dry. He started to get dressed and was entertained by the standoff between Walter and Alex. Finally Walter strolled over and kissed Alex too. When he came up for breath, Alex was smiling so wide, his lips had disappeared behind the bandages.
After a quick breakfast they continued on their journey. Alex directed them to follow a small narrow path barely visible among the thick brush. Suddenly, three large dogs greeted them on the path, barking and wagging their tales as they herded the three weary travelers down the path towards a small rustic cottage. Alex called each of them by name eliciting a bright doggy smile from them.
An older woman burst out the door of the cottage. In a blink of an eye, Alex had dismounted and was in her arms. The dogs were dancing happily around their feet, wanting to properly greet Alex too. Walter and Fox watched in amusement. This was the most animated they had seen their quiet companion and now lover.
Although quite vocal during sex, Alex had remained quiet throughout the rest of their journey. Only answering questions when asked and occasionally telling them about the region they were entering.
When the happy reunion had calmed down, Alex turned to his lovers. His arm gently circling the woman's waist, he introduced her. "This is Yona. Yona this is Walter and Fox." Alex was practically glowing. His green eyes were sparkling and his smile was wide enough you could see his even white teeth.
Walter offered his hand and Yona reached out in a firm grip and pulled him into a tight embrace. Fox was also drawn into the circle of her arms. He wasn't sure how such a small woman could hold two full-grown men so completely.
"It is a pleasure to meet the men who have given my Alexander a place in their hearts," she whispered in their ears. "And their bed." She gave them a knowing wink before she released them to take her place beside Alex.
The dogs helped her herd the three men into the cottage. Yona directed them to sit at the table while she poured them tea. Fox shrugged at Walter's puzzled expression. Fox had no idea how the woman knew them, or how she could know about them taking Alex as their lover. Fox had always believed in magic and things that couldn't be easily explained, so he took Yona's knowledge of them in stride.
"Yona, we are on an important quest to find the Dragon's Ice. I hoped you would know of a story that might lead to a clue as to where it is."
"And you would help these people?" Yona knew Alexander had a good and pure heart, but she liked to hear him state his good intentions aloud, to reassure himself and build his confidence. She knew he did not blame his parents for his exile, but she cursed their cold hearts that would turn away from a child for any reason.
"William is but a child and deserves to live a full and happy life. The King and Queen worship him. They welcomed me into their kingdom with open arms. It is an honor to serve them." Yona nodded.
"The Dragon's Ice is not a legend. It is real. I cannot tell you how to find it though."
Alex was crushed. Yona had been their only hope into finding the illusive Dragon's Ice, but she surprised him with her next words.
"Alexander, the knowledge is within you."
"Long ago a beautiful white dragon was born. So beautiful, it hurt the eyes of everyone who looked upon her. Because of this, the dragon left her people to hide out in the mountains. The loneliness overwhelmed her and she cried many tears. The tears formed a lush green valley with a lake of crystal water. In the lake are an abundance of stones, pure unmarred stones of pale blue. This is the Dragon's Ice. The valley has remained hidden from the outside world for centuries, only someone who has been there can find it."
Alex knew right away what she was talking about. His heart sank. He did not want to go back to his people. He wasn't sure he could face their scorn again. William's little face flashed before his eyes. Alex couldn't bear the thought of William sharing a similar fate as he, so Alex pulled himself together. He could do this. He could go to his people's land and get the Dragon's Ice to take back and cure the little boy.
Alex stopped before mounting his horse to give Yona once last hug. She took his bandaged face in her hands and looked hard into his eyes.
"May the spirit of the white dragon grant you the wisdom to walk in beauty upon her sacred land." Alex placed a light kiss on the woman's cheek and then mounted up. Yona was always saying a strange blessing he didn't understand, but they made him feel special anyway.
The mountain pass was treacherous and the snow was coming down hard enough to sting the parts of their faces left uncovered. They had left the horses running free in the valley below to travel the mountain on foot. Walter wondered briefly if they would get lost amidst the sea of blinding white. But Alex seemed sure they were not lost and that he knew where he was leading them.
As the sun began to set, making the journey more difficult, Alex led them into a cave for the night. With no wood to build a fire, they laid their blankets down and crawled into each other's arms for warmth, Alex taking the middle and Walter and Fox snuggling close in on each side.
Alex feared the worst for tomorrow. When his lovers found out about his people and why he was exiled, they would surely leave him. This might be their last night together. Surprising Fox and Walter, Alex rolled over until he was lying on his stomach. He then knelt up and kissed first Walter and then Fox. The kisses soon grew more heated and they made love deep into the night.
Finally collapsing in an exhausted heap the three lovers clung to each other. The wind was loud outside the cave and as they cooled off from their lovemaking, the cave seemed even colder. Fox, unable to sleep, finally asked the question that was on his and Walter's mind.
"Alex, where are we going? What could possibly be on the other side of this mountain?"
"We are not going across the mountain. In the morning we will go into the mountain and enter Rusal'naia."
"But the Rusal'naia is a legend," Walter said.
"You always say that, Walter." Mulder's remark was met with a smack on his hip. They all shared a laugh, more to cover up their worry than in amusement. Then snuggled close together for warmth and to gain a little sleep before they had to continue.
Walter, although prepared from Alex's description, was still awed when the walked through the opening into the valley of the Rusal'naia. He had a hard time wrapping his mind around the fact that there were fertile green fields and lush forests nestled inside a frozen wasteland. Fox took it all in stride, it was just more proof that magic was real. Fox grabbed his two lovers, as he watched a bird as white as the snow they had so recently left, circle and dive into the fields below.
"It's beautiful, Alex. How did you know it was here?" Fox asked.
"Because I was born here." Alex took off down the path, his haunting words leaving Walter and Fox stunned.
They were greeted on the path by two large men. The men looked them over and glared at Alex. "What are you doing here, Alexander?"
"We need to speak with the King." Alex head dropped, unable to meet the men's eyes.
"The King will not want to see you. You are dead to us, Alexander. Your name is only whispered to frighten young children."
Walter stepped forward to Alex's side. He met the men's faces and drew himself up to his full height. "I don't know what is exactly going on here, but I won't let you speak to Alex that way. We asked to see the King. You will take us to him right now. Do you understand?"
"Who are you to order us? We don't like your kind around here. Alexander knows that. He has broken our laws by returning and bringing you," the man's voice was dripping with disgust, "with him."
"Gentlemen, if you will escort us to the King, we will finish our business as quickly as possible and leave. We want nothing more than to return to our home, but our business here is of vital importance." Fox tried to reason with them.
The men looked reluctant, but motioned for them to follow. The path they took avoided most of the populace, but a few curious faces sought them out and spread the word of Alexander's return with outsiders.
They entered the great hall before King Leshii's throne, a large group of people had gathered quickly to see what the king would do with his son's return. Larissa had fainted upon the news and Leshii had ordered Jarilo to carry his mother to her bedchamber and wait there.
"Alexander. You were never to return to Rusal'naia. Why have you? And why have you brought these...men, these outlanders...with you?"
"King Leshii, this is Walter and Fox of the kingdom of Cockainge. We are here to find the Dragon's Ice, to save the life of Prince William. He is a child with a grave illness that can only be cured by drinking water mixed with the stones from the great lake. I beg you, we will leave as soon as we have the cure."
"Then so be it. Gather the Dragon's Ice quickly and depart." The king waved his hand dismissively at the three men. Alexander rose to his feet, ready to leave when Jarilo returned to his father's side.
"Alexander," he shouted, making everyone turn and face him. "Why would you bring more shame on our family by bringing these hideous creatures to our kingdom? Do you not know what stain on our family you mere existence is? And yet you bring others like you here, for the life of an inconsequential outlander child."
"I have no quarrel with you, Jarilo. But I will ask you not to speak of Walter and Fox that way. And as for William, no child, outlander or Rusal'naia is inconsequential."
"Alexander, you forget yourself. Have you been gone so long? Gods, it makes me ill just to look at the two of them."
"Wait a minute," Fox said as he looked around. The Rusal'naia were beautiful. The silver hair, almost translucent skin and eyes nearly white except for a slight hint of blue. But amidst the sea of silver, there was much diversity. Short, tall, fat, thin, close set eyes and large noses. Some were, in his opinion, very unattractive, once you got past the startling color; most of the Rusal'naia were average. He let it sink in and then turned to address Alex.
"Take off the bandages." Alex eyes grew wide and fearful.
"Fox," Walter warned.
"No, listen to me," Fox replied to Walter's warning, but his eyes never left Alex's. "Trust me, Alex. Trust our love for you. You trusted us with your body, now trust us with your heart." Walter looked deep into Fox's eyes and saw the truth of his words.
Alex's hands were trembling so hard he could not get a firm grip on the edge of the bandage, so Walter moved Alex's shaking fingers out of the way and started the unraveling himself. Fox moved in front of Alex and took his hands, to hold him steady. He held Alex's eyes, not blinking, but letting the trust lock them in place. Time stood still as the last of the dressing fell away. A tear broke free from Fox's eye and rolled down his cheek. His tongue sneaked out and swiped it away.
Walter stood behind them, the strips of cloth dangling from his fingers. He waited for Fox to react. He could see the tears brimming in his hazel eyes and feared the worst. No longer able to wait, he walked around Alex and turned to face him.
"Oh my god," Walter gasped. Alex quickly ducked his head and tried to pull his hands free from Fox's firm grasp. He wanted to cover his face, to block his lovers from seeing him. It was too late. Walter's exclamation had sealed his fate. Just like his parents, his lovers would turn from him too.
"You're beautiful," Walter whispered in awe. The words didn't register at first; Alex was too consumed with grief. "I've never...that is...Alex."
"He is stunning," Fox said. He let go of one hand and reached up to tilt Alex's face towards them. Alex's dropped his lashes and refused to look at them. "Alex, you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen."
Finally the words broke through and Alex looked at his lovers in shock. "Wha..?"
Walter and Fox guided Alex to one of the grand hall mirrors and turned him to face it. "What do you see, Alex?"
Alex looked for the first time at the face he had hidden for more that twenty years. With trembling fingers, he reached out and touched the mirror. "I don't understand. I'm not...deformed. I look like everyone else?"
"Not quite. Alex, you don't look like the Rusal'naia," Walter said.
They climbed in the small boat with the precious Dragon's Ice. Alex gave his homeland one last look. He was not sad leaving this time and Walter hoped there would never be a reason to return. Fox had been interested with how the Rusal'naia's culture and society had developed they way it had. Prejudice was almost unheard of anymore and to face it for the first time was fascinating. But no one would talk to him, and so Fox decided to wait and get as much out of Alexander about his homeland later. One thing was certain; the legend of the Rusal'naia was going to change radically upon their return.
The route across the sea, took days off their trip. They would send scouts back to the bottom of the mountain range to retrieve their mount, right now they didn't have the time. They bought horses from a farmer at a hefty price, not wanting to take the time to haggle. The mounts were of good quality and soon they were galloping towards Cockainge.
Their arrival was met with great joy. Melissa took the Dragon's Ice and rushed to William's room. Everyone was so relieved at their return; they had not noticed Alex's face was no longer swathed in bandages. The three men waited in the hall, taking comfort from each other. Hopefully they had found the cure in time.
An hour later, Melissa opened the bedchamber door and motioned them inside. Dana and John were huddled over William's bed crying and kissing each other and showering a sleepy William with kisses as well. Dana looked up at the three men.
"Thank you all for giving me back my son." Dana stood up and walked over to Alexander. She took his face in her tiny hands and pulled it down. She rose up on her toes and kissed Alex full on the lips. "My hero once more."
John noticed the strange young man with Fox and Walter for the first time. He shook his head. The young man looked familiar and then when Dana kissed him, it finally registered that it was Alexander. "You must tell us what happened on your quest, to bring about this change? Dana," he said looking at his wife, "how did you know it was Alexander?"
"His eyes, my sweet John," Dana replied. "The bandages might have covered this handsome face, but the eyes haven't changed."
"Let's adjourn to the dining hall and celebrate. William needs his rest," Melissa suggested.
They gathered around the table and John ordered a feast to be served. Everyone enjoyed hearing Fox recount their adventures. He left out the juicy details, preferring to tell Dana in private. She always enjoyed hearing little tidbits of his time with Walter and Fox was sure she would get a thrill out of hearing about the newest addition. He didn't mention that the three were together, but Dana's knowing smile let Fox know his best friend had once again deduced the obvious.
"So my friends," John stood up and held a glass for a toast. "Whatever you want is yours."
"Thank you, old friend," Walter raised his glass, "There is no need for a reward, it was an honor to serve you." He paused and winked at Fox and Alex. "But if you must, I think Fox and I are through dancing around the issue. We, the three of us, would like to be married, officially."
"That's it? That's all you want? You could have land, horses, a kingdom of your own and all you want is to be married? You could do that anyway." John laughed and then declared, "So be it. Tomorrow we celebrate the marriage of Walter, Fox and Alexander. Spread the word throughout the kingdom."
The wedding was huge. People came from miles around to join the celebration. The three men stood before John and Dana while the priest said their vows. When they joined together in a threeway kiss to seal the vows, Dana was captivated momentarily. She could never get enough of Walter and Fox, but with the addition of Alexander, it was too perfect. She looked over at John. He was watching the three men intently. Dana elbowed him in the ribs.
"What?" John asked sheepishly.
"You are only supposed to have eyes for me." Dana pouted mischievously.
"Oh, so it's all right for you to look, but not me," he scolded.
"Absolutely. Now take me upstairs and ravish me." Dana gathered her skirts and ran up the stairs. John took one last look before following his wife, a huge smile gracing his rugged features.