"Perception"

Author's Note: This came to my mind the last time I read The Woman Who Rides Like a Man and I thought I'd do a little filler scene. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: These characters aren't even remotely mine. I'm just playing with them for amusement.

No matter how perceptive you are, you can't see everything coming.

George glanced up as a tankard of ale slid across the table towards him.

"Jon. What brings you to my humble abode this evening?"

The blue-eyed, black-haired heir to the kingdom slouched into the seat across from the King of the Thieves. "Can't I simply want a drink with an old friend."

"You could." George sat up a little straighter. "But you've a look in your eyes tonight that speaks of trouble."

"Hmm. You're a perceptive man, George." George smiled to himself. His perception had kept him alive through many tight spots over the years. Jon continued, "I've been a touch restless lately and I thought an evening not away from court would be good for me."

There was still something more, but George wouldn't push him. Jon would bring it out in his own time. The two men sipped their ale and waited for the bubble to burst.

"My mother thinks it's time for me to marry."

There it was. Jon was feeling the noose tightening around his neck and it was making him fidgety. George couldn't blame him. If he was being forced to marry one of the over-perfumed shrews at court, he'd be much more than fidgety.

"That's understandable." George sympathized. "With Duke Roger gone and King Roald not getting any younger, the sooner you get an heir the better."

Jon rolled his eyes, "Don't you start on me, George. You sound just like my mother."

George raised an eyebrow at him.

"In substance. Not in tone, clearly."

George smirked.

Solom turned up then with two more tankards of ale for the pair. Jon seemed overly occupied with the contents of his cup when he said, "I'm thinking of making a trip South."

George's head snapped up and his famous perception kicked in. A twisting sensation took hold of his stomach. Oh, Mithros, he couldn't be thinking of—

"South?"

Jon cleared his throat. "Yes. My lady knight has been wandering long enough, don't you think?" His eyes flicked to George's face and back to his beverage once more.

George thought nothing of the sort, but Jon was clearly lost in his own thoughts so George kept his mouth shut.

If Jon proposed to Alanna would she say yes? George didn't know. He knew Jon had been her first love, but would that be enough to make her agree to be Jon's wife? If she did, she'd be queen! That didn't seem like the kind of life Alanna wanted for herself, but she had told him once that "like should wed like."

Jon stood up and pulled George out of his maudlin thoughts. "Well… goodnight, George."

"'Night, Jon," he muttered.

George ran a hand over his tired face and pushed his mug away from him. He loved Alanna enough to wish for her happiness, but he wished to preserve his own sanity too. He wasn't sure he could sit meekly by (well, maybe not meekly) while she wed Jonathan. He shook his head. He was getting ahead of himself. Maybe she'd turn Jon down. And turn down a throne?

Thank God he had his trip to Port Caynn to distract him from these fruitless thoughts. He'd just have to wait and see.