written for Goldenlake's (fiefgoldenlake dot proboards dot com) Peculiar Pairings Ficathon

It was Alex who intrigued him at first, lithe, feline Alex, dark eyes and wonderfully grey soul just waiting for someone more influential to shape it. Beautiful catlike Alex, dark-eyed and low-voiced, just waiting for Roger to come along and pluck him from the rest.

Alex is willing, Alex plans carefully, Alex follows commands.

Alex is perfect: the perfect squire, the perfect accomplice, the perfect man. Roger is angry, flushed with illogical heat, because there are no faults for him to pick at. Alex will never crack.

The other squires are inconsequential. It is all too easy to break them down into their simplest parts: Raoul of Goldenlake is large, Gary of Naxen is his father's son, and Jonathan is nothing more than a stone in his boot to be flicked out, just another disposable nuisance in the path to his rightful place on the throne.

It is Alan of Trebond, with his watching eyes and oddly-shaped edges who cannot be so easily and thoughtlessly dismissed.

Alan of Trebond, hiding things behind blank violet eyes and a mind smooth and unshaped as glass, hiding secrets, hiding lies. Alan of Trebond, surrounded and supported by some of the more powerful men at court. Jonathan's squire (and he has to wonder once it springs to his mind: are they sleeping together, the perfect princeling and his loyal boy?)

Close to the source, Roger observes. He sees past the awkwardness and the introverted nature: on the battlefield, the squire is looser and freer than he is in the palace. Away from social expectations and given a sword, he is practically poetry given body and voice. He is someone to watch, not just for potential but for aesthetic reasons as well. (The Duke is concerned with both, of course.)

Roger thinks of what it would be like to kiss Alan. What it would be like to corrupt Jonathan's boy, touch the skin Jonathan touches, take the body and mind of the one person who is firmly on his cousin's side? Roger could do it. He wouldn't need to bewitch or bewilder the boy. The squire is suspicious, but if there is anything he has learned, in Tortall, in Carthak, in everywhere he's been and in everyone he's seen, it is that anyone can be won.

And if they can't be won, generally they can be bought.

Delia, silly girl that she is, acting as the silly child she aspires not to be, pouts at the fascination with Alan of Trebond, that skinny little weed of a thing, not worthy of Jonathan's attention, that man who won't pay her heed and kiss her palms like all the others at court.

Roger will not comfort her, not because he is above matters as such, but because he understands the appeal. He sees what everyone else cannot.

He wonders about Alan of Trebond, dark at night while Alex is beside him in bed. He would never say he pictures something different- let Alex believe that he is the only one to garner the Duke's attentions.

Roger knows that he will have the squire soon enough.