A/N: I promised an Alain/Susan fic to some friends of mine. It came out so easily that now I really DO ship Alain with everybody. Dang.
Anyway, this is what you're getting. It's my first fic in months, so I'm getting back into the swing of it. Concrit, as always, is valued and loved.
Dedicated to the DT cast at CFUD. I love you guys!

Don't Touch

I'm not in love with her.

He lies awake at night, desperately trying to convince himself of that, while next to him, his friends snore and shuffle in their sleep. Desperately trying to think of something, anything, that isn't blonde hair and grey eyes, or slightly parted lips in a perfect face.

I'm not in love with her. I'm not.

It's hard to shake. Impossible, even. Or at least, it seems like it. The touch, which is such a blessing for their ka-tet, is a curse for its holder. How is he supposed to stop thinking of her, when she's all Roland dreams about at night? How is he supposed to stop fantasising about her, when he can't close his eyes without picking up an echo of Cuthbert's dreams? She hangs in the air of their quarters, like some exotic perfume, and he can't ignore it.

It's not that he doesn't want to ignore it. More than anything, he wants to ignore it. She's Roland's, he knows that better than most - maybe even better than the two lovers know it themselves - and it's bad enough that she's distracting Roland, without ripping their tet apart from all corners. Alain knows he can't have her, and he never will. He's resigned himself to it, in a way that Bert never will... but that doesn't mean it's easy. And no matter how he tells himself that the feeling, like the images, is only reflections of his comrades' minds, it doesn't help. Reflection or not, she's still dazzling.

In the day, there's enough else to distract him. He can turn his touch elsewhere, focus on this farmer, this ranchman, this housewife. He can throw himself heart and mind into their work, however menial, however frustrating, and be grateful for the distraction. He can even talk to Roland and to Bert, and barely feel it at all, only the love and lust baking off Roland's entire self, not its object.

But the nights - ah, the nights are a different matter. Under the Huntress' light, in the cracked darkness of their cabin, he lies there, listening to his ka-mates breathe in and out, listening to snuffles and snores and occasional mumbled words, and he tries to sleep. But there is no distraction at night, no work, no other minds, and the touch is not something to be turned on and off at will. Sometimes it roves like a searchlight, and he sees this and that, sometimes even as far away as Gilead and home. But more often than not it is drawn, like a moth to a flame, to the baking heat of Roland's mind.

Night after night, Alain lies there, breathless and guilty, and in his mind watches Roland dream of her. Night after night, he feels his body bead with sweat as his touch leads him to intrude into parts of Roland's mind that could hardly be more private. He feels almost as though he has made love to her more times than Roland himself, locked in Roland's memories of the feel of her skin, the smell of her hair, the look of abandon in her eyes.

And day after day, he must look his dinh in the eyes, force down the guilt in the pit of his stomach, and go on with his life.

The worst part is that he won't allow himself to touch it. Bad enough that he can't stop himself from seeing - the touch has a mind of its own, sometimes, and he is too young to get full control of it, if indeed such a thing is possible - but he won't allow himself to act on it. So, at night, Alain lies there, sweating and tortured and keeping himself still. Perfectly still. Some day, he prays, some day he will be able to pull himself away. But a part of him, guilty and self-hating though it makes him, wants nothing more than to linger. To touch with his mind what he will never touch with his body.

So he lingers, and he watches, and he dreams. And as he reaches out, he reaches in, and repeats it over and over again in his head.

I'm not in love with her.

I'm not in love with her.

I'm not in love.

And every night, he burns.