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Author: Regret
Rating: PG
Story: Radial: Unravel AU (In Need Of A Name)
Challenge: Blueberry Yoghurt #30 - The Last Time; Fudge Ripple #12 - Temptation
Extras: Banana
Word Count: 2,355
Summary: Sir Alexander has terrible luck with servants and has a habit of them dying—not a habit his King is pleased with. It'd seem that when it comes to choosing his own, his taste might just be as bad as his luck...
Notes: Alternate Universe. It was either high fantasy, sci fi or gakuen insanity again and fantasy won out, because my brain took one look at Japanese schoolboy!Alex and Milos and froze up entirely. *cough*Although I may have to draw it.*cough* So with this eating my inspiration, this is likely to turn into AU month for me... (And yes I'm sure there'll still be sex. This is Alex we're talking about.) Also, inked drawing in a different style that took me far longer than it should've done.


Resting his chin on his steepled fingers, the heavyset man stared down at the sorry excuse for a knight standing before him with a cocky smile and let out a deep, long-suffering sigh. “Another one? Again?”

The depth of the sigh was clearly lost on him: he shrugged and smiled prettily up at his king, picking at what looked depressingly like dried blood on his left spaulder. “I’m sorry. It was a wolf, and probably not what you’d call a normal one. There was nothing I could do.”

In the brilliant shafts of light cast from the massive arched windows, Sir Alexander looked a picture of innocence as well as handsome, boyish charm, as befit one of the youngest knights of the order. It was also a look that completely belied the carelessness with which he treated his servants. “And what were you doing near that kind of wolf?”

Alex shrugged again and folded his arms, a guarded look flicking through his dark eyes even as his expression remained open and improbably honest. “We were skirting past a forest and it came out of nowhere. It went for him first. He must have looked easier.” He shrugged a third time, this time defensively and with enough force to make the scabbard strapped across his back clatter against his armour. “By the time I’d dismounted and drawn my sword he’d already been mauled.” Unfolding his arms again, he smiled and turned his hands palm-upwards in an apologetic there was nothing I could do pose.

High King Nazarian wondered if it was unkingly to grab the decanter of wine from the low table beside his throne and pitch it at the irritating little shit’s head. “Did you bring his body back?” He didn’t know why he was asking. He was already sure he knew the answer and, judging from Sir Alex’s arched eyebrow, it was going to exasperate him as much as he expected.

“I brought his arm back.” Alex dragged his fingernails along his shadowed jaw line and grimaced at the audible rasp of stubble. “I knew you’d want something. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s not in the best state...” He let the sentence trail off with an unpleasant smile.

Nazarian pressed his thumb to his temple, fingers hard against his forehead, and swore to the gods that he’d visit a shrine just as soon as this troublesome knight had gone. He must have done something to offend them: why else was he stuck with him? Despite the high, vaulted ceiling the throne room seemed stuffy and hooking two fingers into his collar did nothing to alleviate the suffocating sensation.

If Alex noticed anything of his Majesty’s discomfort he made no mention of it. Instead his gaze slid away to the crimson cloths hanging between the windows, a faint smile playing over his lips. “I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll make sure the next servant I’m given is more capable of defending himself—”

“No.” Alex visibly started. Even Nazarian himself was shocked with the force his voice rang out with. “No, Alexander, you’ll have no more servants. You’re far too dangerous a man to allow any more to go with you.” Taking a savage pleasure in the expression of shock written plainly across the other man’s suddenly pale face, he added, “if you want another servant you’ll have to pay for one yourself. Do you understand me?”

Alex nodded once, sharply, his lips a thin line and his eyes narrowed. Someone was going to get the full force of Sir Alex’s temper and Nazarian didn’t envy them. He was sure the only thing that stopped him from shouting and throwing things here in the Grand Throne Room was his plainly visible suspicion Nazarian would have no qualms in finally having him arrested.

He should’ve done it years ago... And yet he wouldn’t. Troublesome favours aside, the gods only knew why he hadn’t, because he was sure he didn’t. But he suspected that somewhere, deep inside, Alex might actually have a spark of decent, common humanity.

He just wasn’t sure they’d actually ever find it.

Seeing that Sir Alexander had nothing more to say on the subject—thank the Gods—he waved a hand in the direction of the door. “You may go.”

“Until next week, your Majesty.” The words were snapped out with bad grace, as was the bow. Nazarian thought suddenly he could detect some matted blood, or something worse, in Alex’s filthy black hair; mercifully he rose again before he could take a closer look. The chances of it being Alex’s own were slim to nonexistent.

He watched the young man turn on his heel and stalk the length of the room, his footsteps loud despite the muffling effects of the woven carpet that ran from the throne to the massive door that was flung open and slammed shut again, and winced at the crashing sound from the corridor, one which was followed by a loud shout. Another unfortunate servant no doubt only just narrowly missing a pewter vase to the head.

Why didn’t he just have him thrown into the cells for a few nights? Oh, yes, Sir Alexander’s father...

Nazarian rubbed the skin between his eyes with his first two fingers, willing away the budding headache, and decided that the next time any old friends asked him to school their youngest sons, the answer would categorically be no.


* * *


Sir Alexander’s spaulders hit the wall before thumping onto the bed. The leather breastplate skittered across the floor. It was only a minor miracle that one of his boots didn’t break the glass decanter on the bedside table. Who was he to say that Alex couldn’t have another servant?!

Well, he was the king. But aside from that. Alex scratched the back of his head, scowling both at the thought of having to actually pay for someone’s services and the unpleasant sensation of hair in desperate need of a wash. That really did need attending to, he’d put too much effort into getting back to the castle to think about taking the time to wash along the way. And his armour—he cast another scowl at the troublesome items now scattered around the small room—needed as good a clean as he did, covered in blood, mud and things he didn’t want to spend the time trying to identify.

Stripped down to his trousers, the chill air of the room raising gooseflesh across his bare chest and pale arms, he dropped onto the bed and gave the floor between his knees a look of impotent fury. Cleaning armour was a servant’s job.


* * *


Which was how Alex came to find himself washed, brushed and in light armour, leaving his horse at an inn and making his way along a winding dirt track in the spring sunshine towards the slave yard. If he was going to have to have a servant he had to pay for with his own money, he’d be damned if it was one that took a regular wage as well as travel costs and still require board and food. Better to pay more outright and have someone who couldn’t just quit when they inevitably decided they didn’t like him.

The golden sunlight and the admirable, if misguided, attempts to cheer up the fencing around the entry archway did nothing to disguise the generally cheap and run-down demeanour of the place. The grass around the compound slowly changed from lush green to sickly yellow before giving in entirely at the perimeter, and the sandy yard beyond the wooden fences was only clean because a woman on the painfully wrong side of slender was giving it a half-hearted attack with a broom, her main success being in surrounding herself in a filthy yellow cloud.

The man dozing on the stool beside the entrance snapped to attention as Alex’s shadow fell over him, gaze turning from grumpily cautious to far too cheerful at the sight of the polished brass and buffed leather. If he thought Alex was there to lavish money around he was in for a sore disappointment—but there was no need for him to know that quite yet. “Can I help you, my lord?” The man struggled to his feet, offering a sweaty palm to Alex.

Alex accepted it and shook, trying to ignore the clammy sensation on his skin. ‘Lord’ was strictly inaccurate too, without even stopping to address the question of which self-respecting lord would stop here, but he had no intention of correcting him. “I’m just...” He groped to find the right word—how did one say they wanted to pick out a slave like a horse from a market, anyway?—and settled lamely on, “browsing. I’m only browsing.”

The man nodded vigorously, smiling with such force that Alex’s own jaw started to ache in sympathy. “Well, if you’ll come this way with me, my lord, I’m sure we can find something that takes your fancy.” He looked him up and down, from his glossy black hair to the leather trousers Alex knew were too tight but didn’t seem able to stop himself from wearing, and his smile grew, turning the knight’s stomach. “I’m sure indeed, my lord.”

Suddenly convinced he was making a horrible mistake, Alex nodded and fell into step behind the man as he waddled across the dusty yard, barking unintelligible commands until a variety of men and women—and a few children—in collars assembled themselves into a ragged row. Once they were arranged to their owner’s satisfaction, in some arbitrary order that made no sense to Alex, the man took a deep bow and gestured to the motley line. “Please, my lord, browse as you see fit.”

What did that even mean? Aside from the nonsense, it was hardly a vast selection and they hardly looked in sterling condition. He’d already known this to be one of the cheapest flea-pits in the area, it was the whole reason he was here, but the dejected and emaciated slaves didn’t fill him with confidence in his choice. He glanced from one gaunt figure to another and wondered if he was better simply paying a monthly wage for someone who looked like they could pick up a cloth without breaking their wrist. Still, since he was here...

He folded his hands behind his back and strolled down the line, trying to look every inch the lord the owner seemed to think he was without letting his expression falter at the state of the slaves or, worse, at their expressions of hope as his eyes landed on them. The idea that he could be someone’s escape was more mortifying than the condition they were in now, but the idea of standing there and shouting at them that he’d be the death of them seemed even more so.

This was a mistake. He knew it. He’d never find a servant here, there was no-one that caught his attention—

He froze, eyes wide. A hostile hazel gaze glared back. He took a step back, the better to take a good look at the owner of the vicious stare and nothing to do with the blazing hatred contained within. Nothing at all.

The fury belonged, in Alex’s opinion, to a much older man than the narrow, angular blond in front of him, who couldn’t have been more than twenty five. Perhaps it came from his dusky lavender-grey skin, or maybe the pointed ears that blushed a deep red at their tips with force of his anger. More likely it came from the obvious malnutrition and the way his half-shirt displayed to perfection his prominent ribs, how his rough cloth trousers hung from the angular points of his hips. How the owner thought he was going to sell something in such a sorry state was a mystery.

The elf was skinny and angry and liable to die in the first hard frost, and Alex had never wanted something so much in his life. Without hesitation he said, “I’ll take this one.”

“Really?” The slave owner and slave spoke in unison, with matching incredulous tones. Instinctively the elf flinched away, but the owner was too busy staring at the knight like he’d sprouted another head to deal out any retribution for insolence. “You’re sure, sir?”

“Of course I’m sure,” Alex snapped, fixing the owner with a stare that made the man quail in his boots lest he insult a potentially lucrative noble. “I wouldn’t specify if I wasn’t sure.”

His gaze flicking from the knight to the elf, whose expression had resumed its previous furious state, he tried again. “But sir, this one has what you might call, ah,” he tugged Alex’s elbow and drew him to one side, as if his voice didn’t carry clearly in the silent yard, “a bit of an attitude problem. I don’t think he’d make a suitable pet for a man such as yourself. If you’d care to come with me, further along there are some ladies who might—”

“I said this one,” Alex ground out, each word a dagger of ice that, judging from the man’s shock, struck perfectly home, “and I meant it. How much?”

Hand still on Alex’s arm as if the touch conferred some kind of status he drew the short-tempered knight away from the line to discuss the painful issue of prices and, after five minutes of bartering far too easy for comfort, Alex found himself the legal owner of a dark elf slave.

From the way the other man’s green-brown eyes locked onto his the moment he stepped from the tumbledown shack insultingly referred to as an office, it might be a choice he’d regret, and sooner rather than later at that. What it did also promise, he thought as he approached him slowly, holding a length of rope that he hoped he’d been given to attach to his collar and not to his wrists, was a damn sight more interesting time than he’d get with a regular servant.

And judging from the flare of loathing in the elf’s eyes as Alex stepped towards him, he promised to provide it.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
theun4givables
Apr. 2nd, 2013 01:22 am (UTC)
You know, I had to stop by and read this even though I know nothing about the characters just from the "This is Alex we're talking about." Ah, I know what it's like to have one of those characters, lololol.

I highly enjoyed this and I have a feeling I'm gonna both love and hate Alex. Just a little. :)
nothingtoregret
Apr. 22nd, 2013 11:52 am (UTC)
I have a love-hate relationship with him myself, which is a bit of a problem since he's my character. He's a wilful little swine. :p
roisin_farrell
Apr. 2nd, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
Oh this will be an interesting AU. And a fun one.

And that drawing is beautiful!
nothingtoregret
Apr. 22nd, 2013 11:52 am (UTC)
It's certainly proving... interesting to write.

Thank you! :)
ichthusfish
Apr. 19th, 2013 03:35 am (UTC)
Had to laugh at poor King Nazarian. Alex sounds just as much a nightmare as ever. Milos seems to have a bit more spunk and attitude in this AU somehow. Looks inetersting :)
nothingtoregret
Apr. 22nd, 2013 11:54 am (UTC)
It doesn't matter whether he's a king or their real-world supervisor, Alex just knows how to push all the wrong buttons. :3

This is how Milos would be if Robin hadn't thrashed the attitude out of him for three years - perfectly fine by himself, utter nightmare for anyone he doesn't get on with. ;)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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