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The Jungle

Chapter Text

Sansa shuffled into the backdoor of the building, her lips chattering a bit. She held tightly to her purse and pulled her sweatshirt firmer around herself as she made her way into the dressing rooms, nodding to people as she went. She could hear the music already, even though it was fairly early into the night, just shy of midnight the building was already filling up. She had seen as she walked up the sidewalk the crowds forming outside, the smell of marijuana and expensive cologne wafting under her nose.

It was a Friday night so it was going to be busy, she only worked the weekends but she had been told that while the Weekdays could get a little busy, the weekends were where the money was at, and the business. The Nights Watch was one of the classier strip clubs, she supposed. It was why she picked it. Anyone she knew wouldn’t be able to afford to go here, therefore no one would recognize her. The owner, Mr. Baelish, had even let her use a fake name, so no one could track her to the building. He was a sweet, but odd man. Sansa only worked Friday and Saturday night and took a day off from both jobs Sunday night. During the week during her desk job she was able to forget this second life she lived, she was able to dress in her loose sweats and during the day her casual business outfits. And then on the weekends she was this. She slid past another girl and slipped into the room, the other girls were there, bustling about in various stages of nude. Sansa had grown used to it. She was naturally shy but she had to keep that part of herself at home while she was at The Nights Watch.

Girls strut around in their thongs, high heels, tiny tank tops and some of them, nothing at all. Sansa deposited her purse into the small locker that belonged to her, the one with the dark orange lock and a sticker of a pug on it. She flopped boneless into one of the spinning chairs and peered at herself in the mirror for a moment before she began to get ready. She left her clothes until the very last moment instead she took to teasing her hair, spraying it with the water bottle and scrunching it with some mousse until it waved around her shoulders. Alone in her thoughts Sansa tried not to let herself feel shame as she rubbed golden eyeshadow on her lids, because she knew this was not what anyone would want for her.

‘But I have to do what I have to do.’ She thought, with the same dwindling enthusiasm.

She wasn’t alone for long. Warm hands slid up her shoulders and into her damp hair, the person pressed a kiss into the crown of her head. “Sans my sweet.” The woman purred into the crown of her head, Sansa relaxed into the head massage.

“Hello Shae.” She said.

“Why so blue my sweet?” The woman asked in her exotic accent. Shae was a life saver for her. The woman had taken Sansa under her wing, when on the first night working she had found Sansa crying in the bathroom. She had wrapped Sansa in her robe and led her away, and Sansa had broken like a dam, telling the woman everything. Why she was taking a second job, her life outside of the club, and the shame she felt. Shae felt no shame. Shae was proud in her work and her life. Shae had escaped her abusive family and moved to the city. A woman with no diploma, or higher education, she had found the club and Petyr – and made her way. Ros’s story wasn’t much different, leaving her family farm and her abusive husband, taking her child and fleeing to the city.

“I’m just … tired.” She told Shae. Who began to sculpt Sansa’s hair into the tumbling waves that men seemed to like. Sansa knew her hair was one of her best features. Long and shiny red, like her mothers, she hid behind it during her dances and let men stroke it. When she got home she scrubbed it until it felt brittle for the next couple of hours.

“Well wake up. Big night tonight my love.” Ros said, coming down the aisle, shooing girls out the doors were the music was turning up. The first wave of girls going out to serve drinks and find themselves a perch or a lap to sit on. She went over to the little coffee machine in the corner and poured Sansa a cup, adding sugar and cream the way the two women knew she liked it. When they were alone in the room, Shae collapsed on the chair next to her and began to dig through her makeup bag, searching for the right colors. They were the artists and Sansa was the palette. “Big night?” Sansa asked, impatiently taking a sip of her coffee, warding off the steam with a lighthearted blow across the surface of the drink.

“The big families had a funeral tonight, after deaths and weddings the men tend to find themselves here, some kind of contract they have with Petyr.” Sansa wrinkled her brow.

“A funeral? Who comes to a strip club after a funeral?” She asked. The last funeral she had gone to had been her elderly grandmother, they had gone to the service where her mother had spent the whole time trying to tame her youngest brother, a wild toddler – afterwards they looked at pictures of her and told stories of good memories she featured in.

“Bad men, my baby.” Shae said. She worked the mascara wand over Sansa’s lashes as Ros held her hand fast and ran the brush with color over her nails.

“Bad men?” Sansa asked, there was more confusion than fear in her, but there was fear none the less. Sansa knew that their patrons were not the best of people, a lot of them would stroke at her leg and hair with a wedding band on, or ask her how much she cost for a night with pictures of their kids in the wallets. But ‘bad men’ sounded oddly specific.

“Yes, my love. That’s why I’m here to talk to you. I know you would never do this, but I need you to avoid going home with any of these men – don’t look at me like that! I know you wouldn’t. Their cash flow is good but the life style is dangerous and I don’t want you caught up in something. The last thing we need is for one of these mobsters to get his eyes on you and not let you go.” Mobsters.

That was a familiar term for Sansa. But, in her defense of her ignorance of the situation, the way these people and their families were talked about was not real life. At work they would speculate over the break room table about money and ties to foreign governments like it was a movie instead of real people being shot down in the streets. Her best friend, Jeyne, had even enjoyed the theatrics of it all, following the news and the spectatorship of it all. Sansa just tried to drown it out, because it was nonsense, and not the real world. She had real world problems to worry about, making rent, her designs at work, the health of her cat. She had no time for speculating stories in the newspaper.

“They’re here? Tonight?” She squeaked. Shae nodded at her, she saw the severity on the woman’s face and swallowed.

“I wont Shae. I promise.”

“I’m serious Sansa. If you can avoid even dancing for any of them, I would. It’s good money but it’s not worth your life.” The woman told her, tapping her on the nose with makeup brush before getting up and going over to Sansa’s wardrobe. All the girls had their own individual plastic wardrobes were their usual outfits were hung and cleaned daily, all of them, even if they weren’t used. Ros was prone to wearing nudes, roses and peaches, if she wore anything at all. Sansa was prone to looking out over the dance floor and seeing her bare naked, grinding on a man in a suit. Shae wore fiery reds and navy blues, colors that brought out her exotic features, she would often streak her features with heavy makeup and sometimes even masks, again, if she wore anything at all. Shae was prone to wearing body paint and nothing else. Sansa herself stuck to blacks, greys, and the occasional white. Sansa took the lingerie from Ros and stripped off her heavy sweater and leggings, she had since stopped being shy in front of these two women, the other women, Sansa still grew weary off, but Ros and Shae had all but beaten the shyness out of her.

She slipped off her underwear and pulled on the bottom of the body suit. It was a black lace ensemble that she had picked out at a closing sale. The bottoms looking like regular bikini’s – running a little short on her ass, causing some of it to spill out. The suit went over her stomach, the deep V exposing the insides of her breasts and navel. The straps went under the breasts and shoulders causing a bondage look that was done up in lace.

“We set you up on pole five, should still get pretty busy over there but its far enough away from those guys that all you should have to worry about are the yuppy frat guys and the occasional bachelor party, alright sweets?” Shae asked, as she was pulling her robe off. Ros had already disrobed, showing off her light pink bra and panty set.

“Alright.”

“Break at one. I’ll make you a good cup of tea for those bags under your eyes.” Ros said, kissing Sansa’s forehead and sauntering out. Holding Shae’s hand she made her way out in to the crowd, before she hit the stage she slipped on her trusty pair of black heels and tried to contort her face into the picture of serenity. She had been warned, a man didn’t want to see worry on a woman’s face while he was receiving a lap dance. The music took a darker turn that night, heavy thumping base that would be easy to swing to played, and the dance floor was mostly empty. It was mostly men in suits, taking up booths around the club. Smoke heavily permeated the air. Mr. Baelish normally didn’t allow smoking in the clubs but he probably made an exception for these men. Pole five was a bit out of the way, farther from the bar and the main stage where she could see Ros preparing for her big act. Sansa climbed the stairs quickly, up to the protection of the little rounded stage. She could already feel the eyes on her, crawling over her skin like bugs, on the stage they weren’t allowed to touch, but on the floor they were given free reign. They could grab her ask and tug her hair, she kept to the stage.

She could see more men in suits pouring into the building and finding booths. Sansa looked at the booth that was in front of her own pole, mostly empty besides two men in frat shirts nursing beers, leering at her. She could handle them. She gave a few loose swings around the pole, the music picked up as the clock struck midnight and she began her night. She allowed her body to swing around the pole in it’s normal sway, body grinding upon the unforgiving metal surface. She could hear Ros’s show going well, a crowd building up around the stage where she was gyrating upon a pole of her own, and spinning fire on lit rods. A small crowd had gathered in front of pole five, but Sansa steadily ignored them. She wouldn’t go seeking them for lap dances until after her first break. Instead, she took to dancing, swinging her hair and opening her legs teasingly. She could see money gathering on the pole, as eager as she was to count her money, she knew she would have to wait until her dancing was over.

Midway through an upside down spin, Sansa heard a small commotion break out in the easy corner, by pole 7. She gracefully came down to a crouch and gave the corner the eyeball, checking to see if she should go for security. Myranda was up there on the pole. Her brown hair curled up high and in a pair of gold pasties and a black thong, and she hadn’t stopped dancing but Sansa could see the shadows of a scuffle happening. But none of the girls stopped moving, so she didn’t either.

 

There were moments in Sansa’s life that she was sure she wouldn’t forget, she wouldn’t forget her first night at the club, she wouldn’t forget her last fight with her mother, and she wouldn’t forget this. As her break time came nearer and nearer Sansa began to feel the burning sensation that she had long since come to recognize as eyes upon her. But this was a special case of course, because she traditionally, in a crowd as large as this one, couldn’t normally feel eyes upon herself. Everyone’s eyes were all over her, in theory. But she knew this was a gaze. How, she didn’t know. It was during a transition, she was winding her dance down, getting ready to leave for a break and needed to leave her crowd hanging so she shimmied up the pole and flipped upside down, exposing more of her breasts to the calls of wolf whistles and vulgar promises from the men in her little audience, she happened to open her eyes and look toward pole 7, the east corner where the ruckus had broken out previously, and she met a gaze. She tended to try not to do that, but in this instance she was trapped, frozen upside down on the pole like a beckon the darkest pair of eyes she had ever seen were glowering back at her. Smoldering her. In what Sansa liked to call her previous life, her normal one, she had once felt arousal. There had been a few boys at school who had ignited the fire inside of her.

Sansa didn’t know if she could call this lust, but she didn’t know what else to call it. It bloomed up into her stomach from the pits of her core, warm and slow it set her veins on fire like lava, slowly moving up until she felt it in her throat. Spinning down and ending her dance, Sansa grabbed her money and blew kisses at her audience in a hasty manner and beat retreat for the side door that led to the dressing rooms, skin on fire the whole way there, burning black eyes tracking her movements.

In the back room, Sansa pressed her sweaty back up against the doors. Pausing to catch her breath. She didn’t know why it felt like the air had been snatched from her lungs. She felt like she had been running miles. Pole dancing was hard, and it was quite the work out, but she never felt like this afterwards. Feeling her pulse slowing down she walked over to her table, removing her shoes as she went. She sat back down in her chair, feeling like it had been a million years since she had been back here with Shae and Ros. Like the other girls Sansa took out her money and began to count it, she ran her hands over the wrinkled stack of money. She wasn’t quite at her nightly goal so she would have to either do more dancing or offer up some dances. Club nights Sansa tried to make rent and her student loan payments. She was a few hundred short. Blowing out a harsh breath she startled when someone fell into the chair beside her. Hoping it was Ros and then feeling disappointed that it was Myranda (and then feeling bad that she was disappointed by the girl because honestly Myranda was a nice enough woman.) Sansa watched her try to straighten out her pasty on her nipple.

“Sup Red?” The girl asked, popping her gum. Myranda was a nice enough girl. She was a bit vapid but most of the girls who worked here were, they were either vapid or very serious. Sansa fell into the ‘very serious’ category. Sansa shrugged.

“How about you? Was there a fight earlier?” Sansa took to fixing her makeup running a damp towel over her sweaty skin and reapplying the dusting of highlighter over cheeks.

“I don’t know what happened man, it was crazy.” She said. All of a sudden Myranda became very animated, her hands swinging in the air as she talked forgetting her pasty and letting it drop into her lap she dove into the story. “I was doing some dancing, you know, there was one guy in particular who was throwing the money at me. He looked a little crazy but his wallet was fat so I didn’t care. But I was dancing and all of a sudden this big redhead dude came up and slammed him down on the stage side. I didn’t stop dancing because these mod dudes are all crazy, you know? I kept shaking my ass but I saw him roughing the guy up, patting him down and stuff. The guy got a little miffed and started to buck up like he was going fight back but then the red head dude flashed a gun and that stopped that.”

A gun? Sansa swallowed deeply.

“That’s… insane. I’m sorry you had to see that Myranda.” She pat the other girls hand. Myranda snagged a piece of gum from Sansa’s little stash of it in front of her mirror.

“Don’t be. I’m not. It’s not often I get to see action. Many these gangsters are providing all the drama tonight!” Hyped, the brunette hopped to her feet and began trying to reapply her pasty. “You going to hop in on this action?” Myranda asked, Sansa looked over at Myranda’s table discreetly, where she had two large stacks of money on her table.

“No. I think I’ll keep my distance.” Sansa said, as she thought back to the warning the women had given her. Myranda shrugged, unbothered, “more for me then.” And then she flounced away.

Sansa cherished her break, sipping the tea that had been left on her table and scrolling her phone. She sent Jeyne a funny picture she had found online before getting up. She straightened her outfit and made sure to re-apply her deodorant before putting the shoes back on. Knowing she would have to ice her shins tonight with the stiffness she felt there she slipped back into the club. The night had picked up a bit in the half hour she had been away. More people joined the dance floor, there were some bodies grinding on the floor and the bar seemed to pick up. The bartenders darting back and forth to fulfil drink orders. She made her way back to pole 5. Back to the fraternity half she knew was waiting for her there. She was hoping to push another couple of hundred from them. But as she approached her booth she noticed that there had been a scene change around her booth. Gone were the men in salmon colored shorts and white polo’s.

Replaced by men in dark suits, flanked by men in dark suits. Four men sat in the booth, the other stood about, with their backs to the four men - even though there was plenty of room on the bench for them to sit. There was a tall redhead, and for a moment Sansa flashed back to Myranda’s story. He had a wild mane of hair and an even wilder beard. Next to him was a chubbier man, in a dark suit and coat and his cheeks flushed a little red Sansa for a moment thought of what a cute picture he made.

His eyes were wide as they looked about. She watched his eyes fly down to her legs and then his blush intensify. 'You don't belong here.'

The man on the end shifted aggressively, spreading his legs in his suit. Sansa’s eyes flashed to him. He had sleek silver-white hair that was pulled back into a pony tail and oddest color eyes she had ever seen on a human being. He arrogantly eyed her, so different from the sweet chubbier man. She instantly disliked him. She went back to scrolling with her eyes, taking in the fine material that their clothing was made out, the professional shine of their shoes. As her eyes pursued at the man in the middle she froze. Sitting, calm as a cucumber, was the darkest pair of eyes she had ever seen. They were set in a pale face, rough eyebrows and stubble marred. His hair dusted his shoulders, a silky river of loose curls and waves. His suit was dark black, with a dark black undershirt that had the first couple of buttons open, showing his chest. A cord of black leather hung a pendent over the bare part of his chest. He eyed her up and down, his eyes much like the heat he started in her, slow and burning. From the bottoms of her feet, pink painted toes peeking out of the open toes to the top of her shiny head.

He gave her a smirk, the edges of his mouth curling up, exposing no teeth, but felt no less threatening. He was holding a glass between his legs with a large hand. She could see the glimmer of no ring, but the dark markings of tattoo’s upon his fingers and the palm of his hand, the dark liquor swirled in his glass. He shifts his posture suddenly, startling her a bit as he smoothly sat up. Elbows on his knees, smirk still in place he asked in the smoothest purr, and though his tone was nice, and it was very much a question, Sansa knew an order when she heard one:

 

“Are you going to dance for me, love?”

Chapter Text

There was no romance in Sansa’s childhood.

Sansa grew up in the suburbs under the shadow of a larger metro city. Her father is Ned Stark, a man who became the youngest captain of the police force and then became one of the city’s top law officials, an assistant district attorney. A man who had to answer only to the mayor and his ‘brother’ Jon Arryn, the District Attorney. Ned was a good man, an honorable man, he came home for dinner every night. Sansa didn’t imagine Catelyn pulling her hair out if her husband didn’t call her back, or worry that he was off somewhere with another woman. Catelyn herself had been a woman of strict vow and honor, she had spent her early days as a journalist, and then became a stay at home Mother when Robb was born. She spent her days cooking meals for the homeless, running charities, and chasing her children around. Ned and Catelyn were the perfect couple. They gently held hands at gala’s, in photo’s they would be staring deep into each other’s eyes. But there was no romance to be had.

At least, not the kind that Aunt Lysa told her about. Every first Sunday of the month, Catelyn would pack Sansa up – while being run ragged, because it wasn’t a coincidence that Sansa was sent away during the monthly Stark barbeque – Sansa would put on her favorite dress of the month, slip on some dainty shoes and join her aunt for a tea party in her sun room. In the beginning, it was time well spent for Sansa. Arya hadn’t wanted to come, she wasn’t a huge fan of aunt Lysa and her day dreams, or aunt Lysa’s son, who suffered through fits. He was either a very sweet and loving boy, or a screaming demon. There was no in-between. Sansa spent most of her day up underneath her siblings, it was stifling.

In a house as large as theirs it was a wonder why she felt like she was always buried underneath the weight of her siblings. She didn’t have anything in common with them; she didn’t want to play cops and robbers with Arya or go shoot toy guys with Robb or cook meals for the firefighters with her mother. She didn’t want to go to monthly support meetings and police banquets. All she wanted was to sit in her room and read, but that wasn’t permitted. She had been babysitter, bystander and buffer to her siblings. They all ran hotheaded. Robb and Theon would fight each other, Bran and Arya, and Catelyn was so wound up in her daily work that oftentimes Sansa was left as referee between them. At Aunt Lysa’s house it was different. Lysa made it no secret that Sansa was her favorite. Over Christmas showering her in gifts and trinkets that she didn’t need, finding unique hair pins and brushes for her to add to her gentle collection of fragile belongings that she hid to keep them from being destroyed by Rickon.

They would sit in wire backed chairs, on cushions and talk. Drinking warm sugary sweet cups of tea and eating little cucumber sandwiches and cakes that Lysa catered in. On Sunday’s her mother would drop her off, she would scamper out of the SUV and wave goodbye at Uncle Jon, who would be carrying a silver tray of his famous baked beans to her mother’s SUV, they would stand there and talk at the window as Aunt Lysa, who never came outside to say hello to mother, would be in the sun room setting up. Little cupcake trays and a kettle, set to boiling, little lemon cakes dusted in powdered sugar and cute fancy china cups. Uncle Jon and Catelyn would stare, bemused, as Lysa and Sansa greeted each other, excitedly hugging each other and sharing kisses. Well, Jon was bemused. Mother was always frowning.

After snacking and talking about recent life developments (which, for Sansa was boys in her class, the torment she faces at home and recent books she had read.) they would sit back and drink tea, and Lysa would read from her book. The leather bound book was full of fairy tales and stories depicting age old romances. Of Knights and ladies, and they would sit well after the story was finished, talking about the love and romance of the story. How the man’s eyes would burn into the woman’s skin, making her feel like she was the only woman alive. When Sansa returned home, after dark, after removing her dress and cuddling on the couch with Aunt Lysa, she got to eat pizza with just cheese like she liked and watched Disney movies. Her mother would come get her. She would sleepily get in the car and on the ride home tell her mother about what she did that day.

Her mother’s hands would tighten into fists over the drivers wheel but she would listen dutifully, never interrupting even though Sansa knew she wanted to, her mouth would pinch together and frown lines would appear by her eyes. The house would be put back together, like it didn’t see over a hundred people in her backyard and sitting room. And Sansa could pretend that it hadn’t been happening, that her family wasn’t having fun without her about stuff that she couldn’t understand.

As she got older, the tea parties got fewer, her mother forcing her to go to some of the barbeques, even if she spent the whole time with the kids next to the pool making sure they wouldn’t drown. She would be permitted to leave after a few hours, her Aunt Lysa would take a rare trip away from the house to pick Sansa up and they would lay in the guest bedroom at Lysa’s house and paint their nails and aunt Lysa let Sansa rant, petting her hair over the few tears she leaked about frustration over her family. But nonetheless, her mother persisted. Her constant stream of romance novels came to a halt, and she was given text books on law, biology and English. She was mostly confined to Fiction books if her mother was buying them.

‘I’m not trying to break your heart Sansa, but real life isn’t like that.’

 

 

 

 

 

And Sansa was finding, at that moment, as she stood in front of the man, poised forward in his chair, looking at her like the cat that got the canary, his partners leaned back, arms draped across the back of the booth.

“Are you going to dance for me, love?” And Sansa really didn’t have an answer for him. But he was looking at her all the while like he expected one.

“Well, love? Cat got your tongue? I thought it was an easy question.” His accent is a purring, dragging thing. She fumbled for an answer. “Up there?” She juts a thumb toward the stage. Because lap dances were extra and she was going to make sure he had the money before she dug her dignity in the dirty a little bit more and climbed half naked upon his lap. “How about you choose?” He asked her.

The man with the silvery hair smirked. The dark haired man speaking brought his hand up to his lips, in it, a strangely rolled cigarette. ‘That’s a joint, stupid.’ – she berated herself. She knew that.

She turned to go to the stage. Because she wasn’t so sure of herself down here. Standing in front of them she lost the little confidence she had in herself in the building, it fled to the backroom where the safety of her phone and the coffee machine was. Where Shae and Ros undoubtedly were.

“Ah, ah” He called. Her blood froze in her veins. Something about him made her feel like she was being tested, if she picked the wrong answer everything that she didn’t know was going to happen was going to go wrong. “Choose wisely, pussy cat.” He said to her, at the smirk of the red-headed man.

“I think it would be best if you tell me what you want.” She told him. She was starting to feel naked, exposed in a way that made her want to peel her skin off. She meant for her voice to come off as the soft seductive purr, the way that Shae did effortlessly, the way it did on its own when she was on stage – instead, it was meek and small. Because she was unsure. Cursing her inability to get it together, her lack of confidence in herself and the dangerous situation she was clearly putting herself in, she discreetly reached down and went to pinch her leg. She had been pinching the same spot on her leg for the last ten years, in an effort to control herself. She watched his face as she did it, hoping his eyes wouldn’t wander. Of course they did, tracing her pale arm down to where it was pinching the fleshy part of the outside of her thigh, where the gentle indent of a scar lived. He leaned back again, the movement so fluid that it seemed to be a practiced dance. Sliding back and slinging his arm over the back of the booth.

“Why don’t you just come sit with me?” He asked. Condescendingly patting the seat next to him. She stumbled forward, lingerie feeling sweltering and heels feeling suddenly sore she worked to make sure she didn’t flush, because if she started blushing, that also meant she would start sweating. The “seat” that was given to her, was no seat at all. Too narrow for her wide behind to actually sit comfortably without parts of her splaying out. She was quite built like her mother in the way that she was curvy. Her hips flared and her butt rounded, her breasts sagged a little bit. Without the help of the bra’s and lifts she wouldn’t be as attractive as half these men thought she was. But, not willing to anger the man, she slid in the small spot that was offered to her. The chubbier man was on her other side, he slid over a bit, but not enough that either of them could be comfortable.

Either way she plastered to the side of the pale dark haired man. Up close, he was even more beautiful than he was far away. His pale skin was flawless, except a little mole that was under his eye. His nose was long and straight, except a small bump that probably meant it had been broken in the past. He had puffy, pouty lips, the bottom one just a bit darker than the top. His jaw was strong and covered in a light dusting of hair. And his hair. It was inky black up close, not a hint of brown or blonde to be seen. The ringlets were loosely wound and danced down to his shoulders, the front of it lightly slicked back away from his face. She found that the first thing she noticed when she sat down was the abundance of some strong-smelling cologne. It wasn’t bad, but it was overwhelming swimming it her nose and her brain, making her feel a bit dizzy.

“Where’s my manners, Sam?” The man asked. The chubby man next to her (Sam?) responded.

“I don’t know, sir.” He responded immediately.

“I didn’t even tell the lovely young lady my name. It’s quite rude of me, don’t you think?” He asked. No one responded this time, with her eye facing forward she could feel that he was staring at her, possibly waiting for her to reply.

“My name’s Jon. What’s your name sweet girl?” He asked her, the low rumble of his voice made tremors in her arm where it brushed the soft fabric of his suit.

“What’s your name?” He asked again, more demand in his voice.

“Alayne.” She whispered. The name sounded wrong coming off her lips, it always did. It never sounded natural, and she always had to fight the urge not to just say her real name. But too much was at risk.

“Alayne… I don’t think that’s her name. Tor, do you think that’s her name?” He asked. The redhead giant of a man at the end of the booth answered. “No, I don’t think so boss.” He replied, much more jovial than the Sam character. He was busy at the end of the booth, working on rolling some paper on his knee, filling the paper with some sort of filial green product. ‘Marijuana, stupid Sansa.’ She berated herself.

“That’s alright, sweet girl. Keep your secrets. I’ll figure them out soon enough.” It dawned on Sansa at that moment, that the more she sat there the less she was getting paid. She wasn’t giving him a lap dance, he wasn’t putting money in her underthings, she was just sitting there, having a chat – when she was supposed to be making money! Feeling a bit frantic, Sansa knotted her hands in front of her.

“S-Sir .. were you wanting me to dance?” She asked him, hating the stutter in her voice. The shyness that naturally belonged to her coming out in her voice.

“Do you want to dance for me? It’s okay you be honest with me.” He leaned in, his nose brushing the shell of her ear, lighting that side of her face to a molten fire. “I won’t tell.” He promised. His nose rubbing the shell of ear. She knew that her face must be an awful shade of scarlet.

“I-I just want to do what you tell me to do.” She told him, and it was the gods honest truth. She just wanted him to give her instructions, stop the game and tell her what the hell she was supposed to do. “I want you to sit with me. Do you smoke?” He offered her the joint, still smoldering in his left hand. She shook her head.

“Tell me, what’s a girl like you doing in a club like this?” He asked her. He wasn’t looking at her this time, so she observed him out of the corner of her eye. He was looking straight out into the crowd. She knew what he saw, she looked at it every night. The dance floor swallowing bodies, the gathering of dancers on the stage and the scattered about girls rotating on poles or hoops. It was lively in spirit, and desolate in soul. “I’m a dancer.” She answered him.

“Yes. You’re a beautiful dance, quite talented. I spotted you. I wanted to know though, why you dance here.” He asked her. So sudden, she didn’t have time to turn away he turned and looked at her. His eyes burning into hers, dark and endless she began to forget about the people around them, the men sitting in the same booth with her. She knew her face was beet red under the makeup, and she was beginning to sweat across her neck and forehead. As she shifted uncomfortably her hip met something hard. First, she flushed, and then she berated herself. Shifting a bit more, the hard object she met was unmoving and cold. A cold sweat broke across her skin. Feeling the chilling feeling crawling up her spine. She had felt that before. When she would hug her father when he got home from work. A gun. A gun strapped in belt. A gun was pressed into her leg.

“I-I-I-…”

“Alayne.” Like cool water washing over her skin Shae’s voice appeared in front of her. Shae stood in front of her, in a sleek leather body suit and a stoic expression on. But Sansa could read her eyes. They were worried, swirled with anxiety.

“It’s time for your lunch dear.” She said, her words were calculated. And a lie. Strippers didn’t take lunches, they didn’t want to risk being bloated or water logged. Jon, she remember his name, shifted beside her. Pressing her hips firmly against the weapon that was strapped at his hip. His right hand tightened on his drink. Sansa wished she had gotten a better look at the tattoo’s on his fingers.

“But we weren’t done playing.” He said to Shae, who tucked her hands into her hips. He pouted condescendingly at her.

“Strippers still gotta eat honey.” She said and walked forward, her hand outstretched. Sansa grasped it and stood. Feeling the ache of tension in her body, she had been sitting too stiff after being so active. It was like waking up after a long nap, joints cracking. The tension was palpable.

“She can come back and play later, I promise.” Shae said, steering Sansa away. Sansa gave a wave and walked away. Shae led her to the backroom stiffly, holding her hand tightly as if she was afraid that if she let go – Sansa would float away up into the rafters. As soon as they got to the backroom, dodging dancers and tray holders alike, Shae released her hand and spun her around in a hug. “What did I tell you, stupid girl?” She berated softly. Sansa held her back gently. Inhaling her soft citrus scent.

“You stay away from them.” They broke apart, and Shae smoothed Sansa’s hair down, no doubt the humidity in the room was doing something to her hair.

“I’m going to have to go back out there Shae.” She said. “You told him I was on a lunch.”

“It’s 2 a.m. – just go home.” Shae said. Feeling shame, and like she was being punished. Sansa protested.

“I can’t I didn’t make enough – “

“We will take care of it. Please, I’m so worried about you around these men. I just want them gone. You’re not safe until they’re gone. You can make up for it tomorrow. I’ll even give you some of my cut tonight but I can’t worry about you and everyone else at the same time. When I saw you sitting beside that man… I thought the worst.” Sansa felt distressed at Shae’s confession. She didn’t want to worry her, she was just doing as he asked. She relayed that.

“Sansa … that man … he is a bad man. He is one of the worst men out there. I know him, I know of him, please, just go. If you go out there he’s going to want to see you again.”

“Is he so bad Shae?” Sansa asked, creeping toward the lockers. Shae gave her a look like one she hadn’t seen before, the emotions flashing across her face. First sadness, then regret, and then something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

“The last girl he left this club with was found on the shore, face down, with a bullet in her head the next day. Don’t be that girl. Don’t put us through that again. Go home Sansa.”

 

 

 

 

Sansa spent most of the night thinking about that. She had splurged and taken a taxi home, normally she would hitch a ride with Ros or take the night bus – but feeling like she was being watched she hopped in one of the cabs that were parked outside and let the cabbie take her home. She had darted around her apartment, putting her dirty clothes in the hamper and scrubbing her skin and hair. She didn’t fall into her bed until about 3:30 and by then her head was spinning. Who was the girl? And why had she been killed the way she had? Was it Jon? The soft spoken chubby man Sam?

Feeling out of her depth she kept herself from calling Shae and pressing for more information and instead tried to clear her mind. She tried to forget about her family, and the voicemail from her mother that she would no doubt have to check when she woke up. She tried to forget about dancing the chilly pole pressing against her skin and the dirty money that was wadded up in the cookie jar in her kitchen and her day job. With the help of a natural sleep aid she fell into a light and fleeting sleep. When her eyes closed, she dreamed of the ocean. Of hair tangled in the sand, a bullet in her head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon Targaryen

Friday Night

Midnight

The Nights Watch Adult Club & Bar

 

“This is what I want you to do when I die.” Sam shook his head at Tor, who had been on this same tangent since being told that they were going to a strip club. One of his favorite places to be.

“No, aye – listen to me you fucks. When I die, put my body on a boat, push it into the ocean and then come plant your face in some tits. That’s what I say!” He said. Jon smiled, Tormund had been his friend since their high school years. He had watched the man during rugby pull another boys ear off with his teeth. Tormund got suspended and almost arrested and Jon had gotten a best friend.

“I didn’t like the fucker in real life but I like the lad more and more in death.” Tormund said, rubbing his hand together as they approached the entrance to the club. Domeric Bolton had met his early end with a bullet to his temple in the back of an SUV parked in an alley way. The official story was that it was a police bullet, a shootout between the Bolton boy and the police, but Jon knew the truth. The set-up had been his idea after all. Jon was unlike his late father, and even his older brother. They were observers. Rhaegar had spent many a night watching footage or leant over a map. Jon didn’t mind getting his hands dirty, liked it even.

The Bolton’s had it coming. If he was any other man he would have gone after Ramsay, the squirrely deranged man was long in need of an early grave but Jon knew that wouldn’t hit the Bolton’s where it heart. Ramsay wasn’t the brains of the operation. Domeric was. And Roose was getting old, just like all of the other old masterminds, they were slowly trying to ease the power off their shoulders and into the hands of their heirs. The Bolton’s wouldn’t be able to do that so easy with Ramsay. Jon knew Roose didn’t trust his bastard. So Jon had planted himself on the roof of the opposing building and when the police came blaring doing upon the Bolton boy and his body guards for fleeing the scene of a crime ( a crime Sam had painstakingly set up.) he let his bullet fly. He wanted to know that the life left Domeric by his hands.

The funeral had been a morose affair. A flashy affair, a motorcade of Cadillac’s and his mother throwing herself over his casket and crying crocodile tears in an original Dolce and Gabbana. The women wore the large and flashy hats and the men their dark tuxedos. But no one was fooled it was all show. Baelish had some sort of deal with the Bolton’s – which was how they ended up in the entry way into the cesspool that was The Nights Watch. It was a typical strip join, girls dancing upon stages swinging their hips to and fro to the sound of the music, giving flirty little smiles. Jon watched in disgust as some of his more respected colleagues tossed money onto stages and took shots at the seedy bar. Baelish was nowhere in sight which Jon counted as a good thing. They had only been in the building for five minutes max and Jon already wanted to go. His skin was itching with the need to do something, anything, to get the hell out of that place, he hated places like this. Full of pretenses and falseness.

As they approached a booth, Jon noticed a familiar tuft of hair. Ramsay Bolton stood, in his typical swagger he was leant over a booth, staring up the flared miniskirt of the dancer with gold pasties on her breasts.

“Well, would you look at that.” Aegon whispered in his ear. It was true that this was the perfect opportunity. Ramsay needed to know that he, and the rest of the Bolton’s, were out of fuck-ups. There were rumors, bad ones, that the Bolton’s were leaned toward the Lannister’s, and that was something that Jon couldn’t have. The Bolton’s had always been flighty. Flitting from side to side, much like the Frey’s and the Karstarks. The Targaryen’s had less allies than ever before. Leaning heavily on their old friends. The new generation had no loyalty, Jon surmised. There were many things he accepted about his allies that he didn’t question, because they were his allies. These newfangled heirs had no sense of loyalty or monogamy.

“Why don’t we tell Bolton that we know his little secret.” This was a job that was reserved for Tormund, who had a bit of a reputation of a nasty bastard. And while Ramsay had his own reputation, he was also a sniveling coward in the face of true aggression. Ramsay was one of those new generational kids who thought that name alone would get them were they needed to be. Jon would kindly disagree with this. He didn’t give a damn about someone’s last name, did they have balls? Could they make the cut? Fire the shot? Ramsay couldn’t. Tormund crept forward, the menacing grin on his face giving Jon a form of acute joy. Ramsay hadn’t expected it. Tormund had him pinned and Jon approached, Tormund ran his hands up and down Ramsay’s side feeling for weapons no doubt.

“Hello pretty boy.” Tormund breathed into Ramsay's ear.

“Hello Ramsay.” Jon, feeling the eyes on him, knew it was time for a power move. He calmly slid the gun from his waist band and pressed the cool tip to Ramsay’s forehead.

“I hear you’ve been talking.” He said to him. Ramsay squirreled in Tormund’s grasp.

“I haven’t. Whatever you heard, it’s not true man.” Ramsay said. Jon ran his tongue over his teeth and leaned in to whisper.

“Well, it doesn’t quite matter what I’ve heard my friend. I’m just here to let you know, if you’ve been talking, there will be consequences. I let you play your games at the docks, I know about those bodies that you’re getting careless about. Don’t make a mess of this.” Jon warned. And stepped back. Tormund released Ramsay with a shove, the younger man slamming against the front of the stage. Jon called over his shoulder, “Sorry for your loss.”

His eyes scanned the crowd for a place to sit. He just wanted a nice corner to watch a couple of dancers for a few hours and roll himself a joint. Sam came to his side holding a drink, Jon took it, knowing Sam didn’t drink often. As he searched for a place to sit, his eyes found a dark corner where a dancer spun slowly around the sleek of a pole.

And she was beautiful.

Long, gleaming strawberry blond hair waved and curled down to the small of her back she moved fluidly about, heels enhancing her already long legs. Her body was encased in some kind of black lacy do up. Jon’s feet moved without his permission toward her way. People dove from his path.

Her body was like waves, hips rounding and arms going above her head, following the beat of the music. Her eyes were closed as she danced, as if she was lost in her own world. Her skin was pale and freckled from what he could see. Rounded thighs and bottom tantalized him, her long torso was emphasized by her more-than-a-handful breasts that dipped down tantalizingly into her lingerie. As she came up from another graceful move and her eyes met his.

Bottomless pools of cerulean. Widened. There were the parts that drew him in, they shone with a fragile innocence. Her face flushed under his attention, and it had been so long since he had seen something like that. The involuntary reaction of flushing, a bright, beautiful blush rising to her cheeks and painting her chest a delicate pink that he knew didn’t come from exertion.

 

 

 

She was beautiful. And she would be his.

Chapter Text

Early Saturday Night

The meeting room in the underground was a place for business. Or at least, Jon was making it so. When he first entered the business, and he would come with his father to the underground he always wondered why the damn place was like a zoo. There were drunken men about, women in skirts with their long legs carrying about drink trays, men both drunk and sober leaned over gambling tables. The floors were sticky and it was loud and rambunctious and hardly any work got done. Though there were office spaces elsewhere this was a place of publicity, where the people, the underlings, were meant to see them work.

Jon had different philosophies than his father. Rhaegar was an adaptive man. Wherever he went, he adapted to the environment. When he was in the underground, he turned into an everyman. He took drinks from the waitresses, he pulled his necktie off, and he did business out in the open for everyone to see. There were reasons that people loved Rhaegar. There were reasons people feared Jon. As soon as he was able he had the whole thing uprooted and redone. Gone was the wall to wall bar and instead a small corner bar was installed with a trusted barkeep was hired. He didn’t risk information being spilt before he was ready. The poker tables remained but the large meeting table was removed and stowed away in the back, where Jon and his most trusted allies would meet.

That’s where they were headed now. The underground was not bustling, it wasn’t as busy as it used to be now that Jon had put his foot down on drunken nonsense and the whores. Now, only the most trusted of his men stayed lingering. They sat ambling around, holding glasses of warm amber liquid and talking quietly. Just the way Jon liked it.

Rhaegar and Jon were largely different men. Jon’s childhood was bloody, and it was dangerous, there were guns and there was violence. But rarely from his father. Rhaegar was a gentle man. He played the harp, he didn’t smoke, and rarely drank. His eyes never wandered the whore and he never raised a hand to the boy’s mothers. Perhaps Rhaegar’s only drawback was his two wives. But Rhaegar was well liked, and easy to negotiate. He didn’t like violence, or anything that might be considered dirty or dark. He had only seen his father with a gun in his hand a handful of times, and even less than that did he actually fire it.

Jon was a different man than his father. He was running things different than his father ever did. While Rhaegar was a good man, he allowed for messes, he allowed for sloppy behavior. There were more members of their organization in prison now than ever before because Rhaegar didn’t know how to run a tight ship. He wanted so badly to be liked, better than his father, who was dubbed The Mad King, because of his love of setting people on fire and blowing their houses up.

Aery’s – The Mad King – spent his last days in prison before he was put to death.

Jon didn’t have the same fear of judgement that Rhaegar had. He didn’t care if people thought he was cruel, or nice or mad, he didn’t care. He had priorities, he was the head of his family. To borrow a line from the Lannister's, he didn’t care for the opinion of the sheep. Which was why he was turning things around. He didn’t want information to be able to leak, and he didn’t want the mistakes to be made, especially not his name. That’s why he kept his circle tight and close knit.

They closed in on the Underground. Sam bustled over to the bar and retrieved two drinks, Tormund grabbed a beer and Aegon got his own drink. A Dornish red wine a low ball. He couldn’t handle any hard alcohol. During school parties Jon got used to searching for his brother in bathrooms and finding him with his head shoved in a toilet. For a man who was as good at hurting people as Aegon was, he had a weak stomach. Jon took his whiskey straight and strong, and aged.

They settled in the meeting room with little fanfare, the four of them. Rhaegar had always packed his meetings rooms, to get all the different opinions, he said. And while it was a viable strategy, and different opinions were important, he didn’t think packing his meeting rooms were safe. So he used his three most trusted men.

Aegon was his brother, and therefore couldn’t be left out. But beyond that Aegon was smart, he was adaptable. Everyone loved him. He could get into the circles and was better at negotiating than Jon was, by a large margin. Jon had no patience for petty meetings, fancy gala’s and playing nice in the face of those he deemed his enemy. Aegon was. He was always a people person, he always had many more friends and girlfriends than Jon, he wasn’t as picky with his company as his brother was. Aegon was the more accessible Targaryen sibling. He was Jon’s opposite. He kept his silver-white hair long down his back, it was arrow straight. He was slightly tanned, he got that from his mother, Elia. And his eyes were his father’s startlingly purple shade. He always dressed nicely, in tightly fitting pants and button downs. Dress down shirts and slick shoes. Jon didn’t care as much for his appearance. He kept his beard clean, his hair, wild and curly – like his mothers – wasn’t either down or tucked away in a tight bun at the base of his skull. But beyond that, he was mostly un-kept. He liked jeans and T-shirts and boots. He wore suits for church services on Sunday and for meetings with other family heads.

Tormund was all muscle. He had even less patience than Jon, and an ever stronger gravitation to violence. After Jon had watched him rip the ear off of another boy in school, he had a dark respect for Tormund.

He wasn’t a man that worried about appearances, socially or physically. Socially the man was a mess, Jon couldn’t take him anywhere without him causing a scene, he didn’t do manners, or fake social greetings, the man wouldn’t even smile when prompted. He kept his beard unkept, his hair was long and wild and bright fiery red. His eyes were crazy, always blown out and wild, he was always prepared for the fight, hungered for it really.

Which was why they kept Sam around. Sam was Jon’s oldest friend. One of Jon’s first memories was of Sam. The Tarly’s were a lower family and lower house, and he and Sam met at a family function. Sam was a small, chubby, sweet boy who Jon’s mother took a liking too instantly. Lyanna loved Sam, and kept him day after day, and no one was going to argue with Lyanna Targaryen. Sam was Jon’s best friend. He was sweet and smart, and couldn’t handle violence. He had thrown up the last time he had to shoot someone, didn’t even kill him, just shot the man in the knee, and Sam vomited for two days afterward. Jon had to keep him safe, but he didn’t mind. It was the price he paid for having someone he could trust with all things. Besides all of that, Sam was good with numbers and he was good at finding discrepancies and liars.

Jon took a deep drink of his dark liquor, it burned all the way down, and he swallowed. He looked at his most trusted men, all seated around him, and took to daily business.

“As you’re all aware Domeric Bolton is dead. Ramsay is the heir to the Bolton name now, and Roose is closer and closer to swinging in the way of the Lannister’s every day. Sam do you have anything new?” The Bolton's were not a loyal house, but they did have sway. While Jon didn't particularly like the Bolton's he knew that he had to keep them on their side, and to do that, he needed to keep them in line.

“Cersei Lannister is going to a fertility clinic. She’s probably trying to have more children. Coincidentally it’s the same clinic that Jaime Lannister has been visiting.” Sam took on the role of spymaster. People trusted him, and he had more connections around town than any of them.

“Was he donating sperm?” Aegon asked, smirking. Robert Baratheon was a fat drunk, and the Lannister’s stopped hiding sometime in the last couple of years that Cersei’s children were not Robert’s.

Jon smirked and Sam answered, “I don’t know, he visited twice in the last couple of weeks. Cersei visited on Thursday.”

“Disgusting.” Tormund spat. “What’ll you have us do about the Bolton’s boss?”

Jon sighed and rubbed his beard, he would have to talk about it longer with Sam, but there wasn’t a lot that could be done until it was clear about what the Bolton’s were doing.

“We just keep an eye on them I suppose.” Jon mused.

“Tonight?” Aegon asked. Sam flipped through the itinerary that he carried with him at all times. Jon swore the man slept with the thing. If Gilly would allow it.

“We have to meet with the Umbers.” Sam said.

“Want me to have them meet us here?”

Jon thought about what he what he wanted to do when the sun went down, but his mind wandered, as it had done many times during the day, to the red haired goddess he had met in Petyr Baelish’s hovel. When the night waned Friday night and he had laid in bed, his hand in ghosts’ fur his mind drew her up, what she looked like gliding through the air, her toes perfectly pointed, her eyes jammed closed, eye lashes dark and dusting her cheeks. Her hair, light at he tips and dark at the roots, glimmering.
When he realized that the other dancer had urged her out the door, he was disappointed but mostly he was pissed. Jon was much more picky in his taste in women, it wasn’t often that he saw a lady that he deemed worthy of is bed. He wasn’t like Tormund, he would let any person with a cunt near his bed, he had standards. And Alayne, (or whatever her real name was) had met them, perfectly.

His last time at The Night’s Watch hadn’t gone that well, it ended with the body on the beach, so he knew the owners the dancers and even Baelish himself was wary of Jon’s presence there. And no doubt they had told Alayne all about that. Which had made the game that much sweeter.

“No. Tell them we’re meeting a new place.”
We have a game to play.

 

 

 

Sansa woke up late Saturday morning with her stomach growling and cursing herself for having not taken her contacts out the night before. She swung her legs out of bed slowly and took a long hot shower, peeling her contacts out and tossing them in trash. She put her pair of black glasses on and towel dried her hair.

She went to the kitchen and smeared some avocado on toast and went in search of Lady. She was an orange and white British short hair, and she was the moodiest cat to ever live. Yesterday Sansa had taken a box of cereal from her and she had been snappish ever since. Sansa found her tucked away behind the chair in the living room and dragged her out. She whined loudly but Sansa cuddled her close regardless.

She fed Lady her dainty wet food with a mashed up allergy pill in it and babbled to the cat as she did so.

“I’m just worried about going back now. I know Shae would protect me but I’m still worried. I keep telling myself I’m not cut out for this.” She babbled as she pushed open her lap top and checked her work email.

The Yellow Rose design company was one of the largest print design companies in the world. When Sansa was a child all she wanted to do was be a fashion designer. She went to college for it, she spent all four years doodling in notebooks, when she got the job at Yellow Rose all she wanted was to make her way to the top, be on the head design team, have her name on her own wedding dresses and bridal vails and wedding vests. Instead of being put on the fabric design team, she had been put in the craft department. That’s how Sansa found herself designing cardstock paper.

The emails from work were dreary, they were pushing summer designs. Talking about using brighter colors and flora prints. Sansa liked her job, but she didn’t love it and it wasn’t what she wanted. But it was design.

She pulled out her scratch and began to lightly sketch ideas. Monday she would have to come to work fully prepared to push some ideas but so far none had come to her. Her mind was otherwise occupied.

Last night The Night’s Watch was the most out of place she had ever felt, and the most unsure. Since moving to the city she had felt that while it was dangerous, her parents may have exaggerated a bit about the dangers that the city held. Sure she had been flashed in the park, sure she had had creepy guys smirk and wink at her, but she never felt in danger. Not until last night, not until the man with the gun and the violence and Jon. The dark haired, bearded man who stroked her soul it ways that she had not felt before. At night before she went to bed she heard his rough accent squirmed around in her head, and warmed her belly.
It was exhilarating, it was terrifying. Sansa didn't often feel want.

As Sansa wrote out her weekly grocery list and half heartedly sketched out ideas for the Monday meeting she tried not to let her mind wander too far into what had happened the previous night. As she went in search of her yellow color pencils her cell phone sounded in the other room. Lady chased after as she ran to get her phone before it went to voice mail. Seeing her mothers name on the screen she groaned, moaned and then answered.

“Hey mom!” She chirped.

Her and her mother had been picking up the phone more often these days, Sansa never called herself. When she moved in the beginning her mother had called every day, both waiting or something to go wrong and worrying about Sansa, but over time Sansa figured that her mother had gotten a tad bitter that Sansa had left the nest and their phone conversations grew tense.

“Hello dear.” She could hear the sounds of home clanging around in the background, her mother was always busy doing something, that Sansa remembered. Their large house had no house keeper, so Catelyn took on all the chores. She was always bustling about.

“How’s it going?” She asked. She knew her mother didn’t tell her the whole truth. She stopped getting a lot of information about her siblings when they stopped calling and Catelyn never told her much over the phone. Her siblings stopped calling her and mostly sent her a text every once in a while. She hadn’t even been home to stay in six months. She was there for a day on Christmas and left the very next day.

“It’s going well. Robb’s going for detective in the force. He’s going to make it, we just know it.”

“That’s amazing.” Sansa said, with real enthusiasm in her voice. Sansa knew her siblings would go far.

“We think so too. Bran’s graduation is coming up. I trust you’ll be down for the graduation party?” Catelyn asked. There was that tension in her voice.

“When is it?” Sansa asked, Catelyn mummed the date.

“I’ll try to make it bu-“

“Sansa. You haven’t seen your family since Christmas and we barely saw you then. I’m not going to beg but I’m going to tell you its poor form.” She said.

“I’ll try to be there. I’ll check in with you on Monday when I get to work and I’ll see if I can take the time off.” She said. Her mother sighed on the other end.

“That’s fine. That’s not why I called. Theon is going to be in the city on Monday, I told him he could stay with you instead of fining a hotel.” Catelyn said.

Sansa’s insides froze. Her family had never seen her home in the city. It was nice enough. But it was still just a cramped city apartment that stayed slightly dirty. They didn’t know she had a cat, or a broken in teal couch, or a cramped yellow rug or a crappy TV, they didn’t know that most of her meals came out of a microwavable bag. She didn’t want them to know, and Theon – her families faithful dog, would no doubt go and tell them everything.

“Okay.” She said. It wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t what she wanted, but she wasn’t about to tell her mother no.

“Just text him the address and he should get back to you. I hope you don’t mind.” Her mother said. It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t even a suggestion, it was more just a statement. A warning from her mother, if Sansa refused there would be suspicion, if there was suspicion she would be under the microscope. If she was under the microscope they might find out about her secret.

“I don’t mind.” She lied.

“If that’s all settled then I’ll let you go. Let me know about Bran’s graduation.” And then it was silent on the other end. Sansa groaned and ran her hands through her hair.

Theon would be here. She and Theon had a weird relationship. Her father and mother had all but adopted the little urchin when he was a babe, his parents were criminals of the state. He was only supposed to stay with them a night but Catelyn and her maternal heart loved him. He worshiped her father, Theon did. In his weird way, he would look up at Robb and Ned with adoration. But he despised her. She and Theon never got along because she knew that Theon was a better siblings and child than she was. He didn’t argue or fuss or move away, he was close and agreeable and likeable. She hated Theon when she was younger, she learned to be indifferent to him as she grew older.

For the rest of her day she lounged around the house, she picked up lightly and talked on the phone for a while with Jeyne from work, they talked about ideas and the work potluck on Tuesday. Then she skimmed through her newest book. When six o’clock rolled around she took her mid evening nap to prepare for work. She thought about re-dying her hair, her blonde highlights were coming down, her dark auburn roots showing through. She had started dying her hair when she first moved to the city, as an effort to shape who she was as she saw fit, but the auburn roots kept coming, no matter how much permanent dye she put in, the blonde never came out blonde anyway, her red hair always shone through, tinting the blonde strawberry.

When she approached the building at midnight she was happy to see that it wasn’t as busy as it had been the night before. She shuffled into the back with her bag and greeted some of the other dancers warmly. She gave a little nod to Myranda and then slid into the chair beside Ros, who was putting lipstick on, a bold pink shade. She swiveled in her makeup chair to face Sansa who was just getting comfortable in her chair.

“I heard you had an exciting night last night.” She said. Sansa knew that Shae was going to have told her.

“Exciting isn’t the word I would use.” Sansa admitted, combing her hair back from her face.

“What word would you use?” Ros asked, as she began to work on Sansa’s make up.

“Scary.” Sansa admitted. And she had been terrified. It wasn’t a lie. But she had also been something else, another emotion that Sansa couldn’t put her name on. Excitement? Arousal? She couldn’t name it. She hadn’t felt those things in so long. She felt like she had been numb to true emotion for as long as she had been in the city.

“Well don’t be afraid. Shae took care of you, and those guys shouldn’t be back any time soon. I guess they have some kind of bad blood with Petyr, they only came because it was an event. So rest easy. It’s just the regular smarmy guys now.” Ros said. Darkening Sansa’s eye lid with a dark purple shadow.

“Besides, we wouldn’t let anything happen to you if we could help it.” Ros reminded her. Sansa sipped her coffee from her Styrofoam cup (it tasted like sewer water, Myranda must have brewed it, she couldn't brew to save her life.) and finished getting ready.

As strange as she felt in this environment it was a small comfort that every night she did the same thing. She picked out another black lingerie set and some comfortable black heels, her hair was slightly curled down her back, her makeup dark and thick. This was Alayne, and she had to be a different woman than Sansa.

As Sansa prepared to go out, she brushed past the other girls, locked her things away and tried to will Sansa out of her mind, and embrace Alayne. The stage floor was at its regular passing bustle. Men leered at her, a group of women were here for a bachelorette party and were being treated by Shae who was teasing them and held hands full of penis shaped chunky glitter.
She headed toward Stage seven, where she would be for the night. It was a lonely corner so far, but she had no doubt that business would pick up.

Sansa felt him before she saw him. She didn’t know why she was so aware of him, why she knew that he was behind her, why she remembered the smell of his warm wintery cologne, or why she knew it was his breath on the back of her neck. But she did. She spun around. Her hair brushing against the body that was behind her.

And there he stood.

He was dressed differently than he had been before. His black T-shirt was tight around his shoulders and arms, the black sport coat was good fitting and she was sure that it was soft to the touch. His cologne was on again, she wondered what it was. She wanted to do what Lady her cat did when she got home and rub her face all over it. His jeans were luxury and good fitting. The black boots the same. His hair was slicked back into a bun at the base of his skull and his eyes were just as dark as they had been before.

This time there were more than three men with him. Behind him, milled about six or seven men. All dressed in black, looking just as dangerous as they had the night before.

“Boo.” He whispered. She stared back at him. Her chest felt tight and something in her stomach warmed at the look in his eyes, the way they wandered to her barely covered breasts down to the apex of her thighs.

“Good evening mister …. Jon.” She said. He chuckled, but the sound was a dark and tortured thing.

“Mister Jon.. I like that. How was your lunch the other night Alayne?” He asked her. She flushed. That name sounded so false on his lips.

“Filling.” She said. Anything more and she might give away the lie.

“I’m sure it was.” He said. And just kept smirking, his lip curled up on the left side, twisted up into that mocking expression.

“I’ve got to … go. Work.” She said.

“Well I think you’re coming with me.” He said. At her baffled expression his smirk grew into a full mocking, Joker like smile.

“What?” She whispered.

“Didn’t the little man tell you? You’re needed for a private show tonight.”

“We don’t do those anymore.” It was true, after the local police had cracked down on sex workers, Petyr had taken that aspect away from the clubs. The private rooms hadn’t been in use.

“You do now. You’re all mine for the night, Alayne.”

 

 

Sansa’s skin heat up, a flush arose to her face, a shiver worked its way up her spine.

 

All his.

Chapter Text

Saturday Night 

Private Party 

 

Sansa found Petyr in his office. His office stood off the back of the bar, the windows tinted black so that he could see out but no one could see in. Sansa knew for a fact that he did this for intimidation purposes, during her hiring process they were sure to remind her that Petyr, or someone he trusted, was always watching. But as far as she could recently tell, he was never watching. Every time she found him in his office he was behind a desk, looking over one paper or another. He didn’t drink at the club, so he always had a seltzer water with a lemon in it tucked into a wooden coaster on his desk. He didn’t even look up as she entered. She had left Mr. Jon and company with the lie that she was going to the bar to secure drinks for the night for the patrons, and she would do that, but first – this.

“What the hell is going on?” She asked him. He still didn’t look up, his eyes staying trained on the binder of papers in front of him.

“What do you mean, sweet girl?” He asked her. She glared at him fiercely, knowing he wasn’t watching her.

“A private party? I thought we didn’t do those anymore.” Some months ago law enforcement had come snooping about, as they tend to do in this business, always trying to catch sex trafficking. Which she was slightly positive that Petyr dabbled in. Not that they found anything, but the scare was enough. Three days into Sansa’s employment with Baelish the private room had been closed off and roped off with red velvet ropes. Before she stepped into the back room the girls were undoing the ropes, dusting the seats and turning the low burgundy lights on.

“We don’t. But this is a special client.” Mr. Baelish finally looked up from his paper. Sansa held in a gasp of surprise. He looked relatively normal, his suit was finely pressed, the soft velvet jacket was form fitting. His mouth was in his smile, a false plastered thing that barely made a difference on his distrustful face, and his eyes. Dark and distrust worthy. One was ringed black, clearly from having taking some kind of trauma around his left eye a bruise grew, swelling. The whites of his eyes showing small bits of popped blood vessel.

“Are you alright Mr. Baelish?” She asked him, stepping hesitantly closer, close enough that she could smell that what she thought was seltzer water was probably a vodka and sprite.

“I’m just fine, dear. A little accident. The Targaryen’s are a specialty client that I feel we will be seeing more often, they let me know that they were showing some interest in this business and that they liked and appreciated the club. I thought we could do something special to them. It’s a pro-bono night, no tipping necessary all of your nightly expenses and pay will come straight from your time with the private party, understood?” She nodded her head. Not removing her eyes from Petyr Baelish. “Now Alayne, these being the special clients that they are they are going to need a high level of discretion. Whatever you hear or say in there, cannot be said or told anywhere else. I do this for your own safety you see? Because it’s a dangerous world out there for pretty girls with big mouths.”

Sansa stalled for as long as she could. She procured a bar tender for the back room, avoided the look on Shae and Ros’s face as she passed holding a list of things they needed. The group of men who were using the group were apparently outside taking a smoke break as they waited for the room to be prepared. Sansa took a bathroom break, long enough to splash cool water on her face and then correct her make up. She had already started to sweat via nervousness or fear she didn’t know. She went back to her locker to apply another thin layer of deodorant and perfume, she adjusted the strap on her heel and checked her breasts into place in the thin lingerie piece and throw her robe back on and finally, she could stall no longer.

The private room was a luxury affair, dark burgundy and plum colored lights hung from the ceiling, a deep conversation pit sat in the center of the room, were a low slung table was where dancers would occupy their time. There was a small bar in the corner, the conversation pit was done up in dark velvet and plush overstuffed cushions. The four men were already there, joined by two other men – giants by the look of them. Both of them tall and wide backed, seated already in the plush seats holding deep mugs of local on tap brew.

Large hands cradling the mugs they were leaned forward, whispering a bit to each other. The four men from the night before were in much different clothing than before, gone were the dark funeral style suits. Black jeans seemed to be the theme of the night. The burly red head was dressed in dark jeans a black flannel, his wild beard looking even more unkempt as he tucked his head back to take a flaming shot that the bar tender had brought by. The silver haired fellow was also in black jeans and a tight fitting baby blue button down that made his eyes do weird things. The chubbier fellow was in black jeans a simple white t-shirt with a little pocket on it, the kind her father used to wear to bed. And him, the dark haired one, Mr.Jon was dressed in a simple pair of black jeans, black boots and sports jacket. They sat loosely around the pit, lit joints dangling between puffy lips. Sansa inched her way forward.

“Is anyone else coming tonight, I’ll need to let the door know.” She asked, glad she put the robe back on before she left. Feeling utterly exposed, the music started up in the room.

“We might have a few guests but it should be fine.” The chubby man said.

“We’ve talk to Petyr, he understands tonight’s situation.” Yeah, I’ll bet you did talk to Petyr, Sansa thought – thinking back to his swelling bruised eye.

“Alright well then if everything’s settled I’ll go grab some more dancers and we can begin!” She clapped her hands together, applying a false smile to her purple painted lips.

“Just you.” The voice came from him, he was both slumped and tense in his seat, he looked relaxed but Sansa had a feeling he could be up in a moment’s notice, his knees and shoulder visibly tense.

“A-a-are you sure? I can grab some more, it would be fine.” She said, not wanting to be alone. She didn’t trust herself. “For now. If more show we’ll grab a few more dancers.” The chubby man said, seemingly speaking for his boss.

“Do you want me to … .dance?” She felt silly asking, because without a doubt that was her job, but he seemed to know want that the last time they had come, and she wasn’t going to pretend that he clearly wasn’t the one running the operation.

“How about you just sit for now?” His tone was a tad mocking, she felt a flair of defiance grow in her. She wanted nothing more in that moment than to unleash her barbed tongue. Instead, thinking of her student loan payment she squeezed in next to him again. Between him and the chubby man, who seemed to be safest option. The smell of smoke stained the couches and her skin, it was a sickly sweet scent that made her feel slightly delirious. He shifted beside her, his thigh brushed against hers and stayed there.

“Let’s get to business please.” He said,

“I’d like to spend some time before the Yara shows up, she can be quite the distraction.” He spoke over the table to the two large men who stared at her warily, not speaking.

Jon prompted them with a nod of the head, “Go on.” Sansa tried to distract herself, she didn’t want to accidently overhear something. As she tried to steer her thoughts away she thought back to what Shae had said the night before, about the last girl. She tried to picture someone in her mind leaving with Jon. She pictured a tall blonde, or a short, curvy brunette – she tried to distance her mind from anyone that looked like her. She tried not to think of what could have transpired. Was that girl just like her? Just some girl on a pole one day, dead the next?

“Whispers are coming from the Dreadfort.” Sansa thought back to the name, the Dreadfort – a wasteland, if her father was around to speak about it. The Dreadfort was taken mostly up by the psychiatric hospital that resided there, it had a high homicide rate and was looked down upon by people even in Flea Bottom.

“What kind of whispers?” The broad red head asked. “The Bolton kind. Ramsay’s been meeting with Lannisters. And worse.” One of the large men from across the pit was talking, in between pauses taking deep drags of his beer.

“What could be worse than Lannisters?” The silver haired man asked, smoking the last of his joint and stubbing it out in an empty glass. Holding his fingers up for another drink to the bartender.

“Frey’s” The chubby man said. There was a tense pause, she could feel their eyes all turn to Jon who was taking a deep sip of his whiskey, she could smell it from where she was perched.

“Fuck.” He swore. “What to do about Ramsay then?” Sansa shifted uncomfortably in the seat, not used to sitting during her shift she grew restless. As she shifted again, Jon did as well a hand coming down to rest on her opposite side. His hand was warm and rough and Sansa fought against the urge to move closer to it. To cuddle into the warmth next to her.

“Fuck Ramsay, he’s a rabid dog. What about his father?” The conversation carried on around. She tried to focus on not listening, from outside the walls she could see normal club life happening, thrumming bodies, the shapes of women rowing up and down the silver pole. For a moment, she wished she was out there and not losing her place in here. As she shifted again, and the hand tightened on her side the door to the private party room swung open, revealing a brunette woman followed by two scrawny men. She wore a pair of tight dark pants, brown knee high boots and a high necked shirt tucked into the pants.

“Good evening bitches.” She said, she was holding a bottle of beer by the neck. As she approached the table she dipped her head.

“And my king.” She said, it was sarcastic and her eyes danced and Sansa found that the joke was lost on her. The woman’s eyes dropped to Sansa, sitting awkwardly with her legs crossed, her robe falling off of one shoulder. “And who is the sweet piece?” She said, she devoured Sansa with her eyes faster than any man ever had.

“This is Alayne. Don’t talk to her.” That came from Jon, his voice never changed in tone, still deep and smooth, but there was something there. She flopped down across the pit, closer to the larger men.

“What’s with the new spot?” she asked. Her eyes still dancing between Sansa and Jon.

“You into clubs now?”

“I like the scenery.” He responded. His mouth quirked a little to the side. “Well. You called. I came. What do you need boss?” She asked, taking a deep pull from the beer, bottoming it out. Within seconds one of the scrawny men with her produced another bottle for her.

“I need to know what your fathers plan is. I know he’s getting off his throne soon. Are you in?” He asked her. Sansa had the feeling at that moment that she was intruding on something big, something much bigger than her as the atmosphere turned dark.

“The Greyjoy’s have no other heirs. Of course I’m in.” Greyjoy. A lightbulb pinged in Sansa’s head.

“Theon?” the name popped out of her mouth before she could stop it, as she said it her hand came up (as if working on it’s own) and slapped over her mouth. All the eyes in the room turned to her.

“What did you say?” The brunette asked, leaning forward in her seat, eyes trained on Sansa. Sansa slowly lowered the hand from her mouth.

“Theon… Theon… Greyjoy?” She said. “How do you know that name?” The woman whispered.

“I went to high school with him.” It wasn’t a lie, she and Theon did go to school together.

“Where?” She whispered. Sansa’s eyes darted about.

“Winterfell.” She said. “A northern girl, ey?” The redheaded burly man said.

“I thought Theon had been gone a long time. Do you know where he is now?” She asked. As much as she disliked Theon, she liked her safety more. She wouldn’t throw him to the wolves, this time.

“No. Last I heard he was still in the north. But that was years ago.” The woman seemed to digest this. Not saying anything for a while.

“Well wherever he is, he’s a liability. He should stay there. We can’t afford that right now. Yes. I’m in.” As she said this the chubby man beside her took some papers out of his pocket and unfolded them, handing them to her as everyone talked amongst themselves for a few moments. She felt Jon move, he turned and she felt his nose dust her cheek, her eyes closed at the gentle feeling – the sweep of his nose across her jaw line. His lips lined up at her ear.

“highschool, huh? At least I know you’re legal.” He whispered, goosebumps rose up all over her, dusting her arms, the sensation causing her nipples to harden under her robe.

“Are you hungry.. it’s about you ‘lunch’ time.” He whispered, her face engulfed in heat, the flush rising hard and heavy to her cheeks. She knew he was teasing her, although his voice never changed tone.

“I-I-I-“ She stuttered. “I don’t know.” She admitted.

“Let’s find out. Dinner’s on me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Evening,

Stark Family Dinner

 

Stark family dinners were a staple on the weekend, whether it was Saturday or Sunday or late Friday dinner with wine and pizza, they happened. It was a family tradition since the children were young and Ned had only had one day off a week, so busy in his schedule. Ned and Catelyn had made time to try and connect with their children when they first got busy with their jobs, but their family continued to grow and Ned continued to work heavily they didn’t always have time. They were though, as close as they could be.

Ned trudged into the house, dropping his tie off in the glass junk bowl by the door, kicking his loafers off. Summer, Bran’s large dog was draped across the couch and hardly gave him a glance as he walked through. He could hear the voices of his family rising up in the other room. He turned to corner and found them. The table was set, a roast chicken being picked apart, mashed potatoes being scooped the smell of a hearty family dinner being passed about. He left his brief case by the door and fell into one of the dinning room chairs, Catelyn kissing his cheek as she came around the table. Robb, half in his uniform still shoveled a fork full of beans in his mouth and proceeded to talk at the same time, prompting Arya to smack him on the arm.

“How’d it go today, dad?”

“It could have been better.” Was his only answer. Because that’s all he could say, they could catch the petties – bring them down from Kings Landing where they were working for some family or another and have them persecuted but if they couldn’t get the big fish, and no one would rat well then… it was rather moot. “No confession then.” The whole table looked at him. It had been a big case.

“Not the one we hoped for.” Catelyn shook her head in dismay, “You would think all of these people going to jail would make them wake up, see that they’re loyal to the wrong side.” She said. It had been an ongoing conversation for the family, as the flood gates from Kings Landing broke open, spilling as many petty criminals as was able. And they were all loyal to a fault, and that was a problem. Not one of them willing to betray their house.

“Did you see that awful shooting?” He had, he knew of course the exact one that Bran had been talking about. He watched the news, he worked in the business. “I did. Through someone’s window, killed her in her sleep. Terrible.” Catelyn shook her head, dishing out some dinner for herself, Rickon through a bone to Shaggy who was under the table being pet by feet.

“Makes me worry about San.” Arya admitted. Ned spent his nights worrying about Sansa. He spent his life growing grey hairs over his oldest daughter. Before she moved, in her rush, she hadn’t even told them her address. They only spoke one a week, if that. Catelyn and she still had some hardships with each other. Ned found that it was hard himself to talk to her, every time he picked up the phone fighting the urge to start begging her to come home.

“Your sister is fine.” Catelyn said, her voice sharp. “I talked to her this morning.” She admitted. Talking to Sansa always put Catelyn in a bad mood. Ned figured it was part guilt, part irritation at the situation. Ned held many regrets over the way that Sansa had been brought up, too many weekends with Lysa, too many fairy tales – they hadn’t accommodated to her at all. And perhaps they should have.

“Yes. She said she would try to make it to Bran’s graduation and that Theon could stay with her during his trip.” Theon was making a trip down to Kings Landing to go to a lecture at the University, and tour. They knew he wouldn’t pick it – he would stay close to home.

“She said she’d try to make it!” Bran popped up, excitement lighting in his eyes.

“That mean’s ‘try’ Bran” Arya reminded, stealing a sip of Rickon’s juice.

“It means ‘will’” Catelyn said, smirking. Ned set his fork down slowly, rubbing between his eyes with a tired hand.

“What do you mean, Cat?” “I mean if she doesn’t come down here I’m driving up there and getting her myself.” They had heard this whole thing before. “And how are you going to do that? We don’t have her address.” They had her street name and PO box for her mail number. Sansa lived in an exceedingly private life. Working at the Tyrell printing company, and staying mostly mum about her social life when on the phone with her mother or texting her sister. Ned though about looking her up in the system and finding her, but every part of him just wanted her to tell him. For once to just open up and tell him, instead of the hoop jumping and the scheming.

 

 

 

 “Theon.” Catelyn smirked. “Theon is going to tell us all we want to know.”

Chapter Text

Tea with Aunt Lysa

 

A smaller, more innocent version of Sansa was sitting in a wire backed chair in the backyard of Lysa Arryn. They had a beautifully landscaped backyard, it made Sansa think of princesses and castles. The bushes were trimmed into neat squares, the pool had shimmering tiles by it and there was a fountain, with fat naked babies and marble trout dancing around it. The sound of rushing water and the humming birds gathering around the feeder was heavenly noise to Sansa. The tea of the afternoon was a honey, mint blend.

Sansa took hers extra sweet, with three cubes of sugar and Aunt Lysa took hers straight with no sugar. The small sandwiches had been eaten and Sansa was eyeing the pink topped cupcakes with lust. They were beautiful white cakes with pink buttercream icing and edible pearls on it. Aunt Lysa had just finished reading a chapter out of the book, this fairy tale consisted of a dragon, a princess and a poor knight.

“So the poor Knight isn’t so poor now that he is with Princess Roya?” She asked her aunt, who was taking down cupcakes for her.

“Yes. When a poor man marries into a wealthy family, he gets money too.” She said.

Sansa delicately unwrapped her cupcake.

“I meant not poor in his heart, like his heart is full now.” Sansa clarified. The wind picked up and blew her auburn hair across her shoulders some strands landing on the back of the chair, brushing her neck and her elbows.

“Yes. Listen close, little Sansa.” Sansa, with a bite of cake in her mouth, leaned forward and listened intently to her aunt. “It is important to me that you find someone who fills your heart Sansa, but it is more important to me that you find someone who can fill your pockets as well.” She said, aunt Lysa had a way of speaking that entranced Sansa, like she had syrup in her voice, it drew in Sansa intently.

“Because love is important, but so is security and so is a home, and peace of mind, do you understand what I’m saying?”

“That I shouldn’t marry the poor Knight.” Sansa asked.

“Yes.”

“But the other Knight, the rich Knight, he was an evil man. He wanted to change Princess Roya and make her like the evil queen.” Sansa grew confused. Aunt Lysa preached most tea parties that love was the conqueror of all, if love was the conqueror of all than Princess Roya should stay with the poor Knight.

“Listen little dove, men can be tamed. Men can be taught. Men are not as mentally strong as us women, and if we find a man who had deeper pockets and a love for us in his eye, even if it’s only for our beauty, we can make him love us.” We can make him love us.

Later, as Sansa was on her way home from the sleepover, bright and early her mother had pulled up in the SUV, not even bothering to leave the car just let loose a couple of honks to indicate she was outside - Sansa brought it up to her mother.

“Does daddy have a lot of money?” She asked her mother, who was white knuckling the steering wheel and grinding her teeth.

“Yes.” She answered, but it was wary. “Why do you ask?”

“Did you make him love you?” She asked her mother, ignoring her mothers question in favor of one of her own.

“No. Your father and I fell in love. It happened naturally” Sansa pondered this.

“Why do you ask?”

“Aunt Lysa told me – “ Her mother groaned in frustration.

“Sansa, don’t listen to everything your Aunt Lysa tells you, she can be a bit disillusioned she’s never been … well. I know you like to have your tea parties with Aunt Lysa, and I know that she makes you happy but you can’t just believe everything you tell her.” Sansa thought back to many tea parties ago, that time over Earl Grey and Lemon cakes.

 

 

“She told me you would say that.”

 

 

 

Present

The Turtle Dove,

Restaurant and Bar

 

The Turtle Dove was located nearly smack dab in the middle of downtown Landing, it featured a gold roof with a large fountain on the inside. There were women sitting about in cocktail dresses, holding glasses of wine in their hands, men in full suits leaning into them. It was a place that was meant to look like nothing but money. The marble floors were polished and shiny, a chandelier dangled over every table. Sansa realized that she drove past this place every morning on her commute to work, and never once did she think she would be able to sit inside of it. Without even opening the menu she knew she wouldn’t be able to afford anything there. Mr. Jon had seemingly ordered for them, speaking to the waiter in fluent and precise valyrian. The table was lit by candle and had little rose petals dusted all over it, in fact the whole room was terribly romantic, low hanging low lit chandeliers, the rich color of the marble, the couples huddled in booths and hunched over tables.

She was also, horribly, terribly, underdressed in her pair of paint splattered high waisted jeans, a loose grey tank top with the worst fitting sports bra and a ratty pair of converse which had smiling suns painted on the white tips of them.

So to recap: Sansa had not only broken her vows to herself (never go home with a client. Never give a client your number. Never give a client your name) and technically she didn’t go home with him but she definitely left with him. Shae and Ros are furious with her, (says the constant vibrating of her phone which is loudly going off in her back pocket) she is in a fancy restaurant about to eat with the man who keeps coming to the job where she takes her clothes off and is most definitely some kind of mobster and all kinds of trouble and she doesn’t know how she’s going to get home without tipping off where she lives. That all sounds about right. Sansa, you stupid, stupid, stupid girl.

“Are you going to answer that?” His smooth voice broke over the tirade she was giving herself in her head.

“Huh?” Was her brilliant response.

“Your phone, sweet girl, are you going to answer your phone. It’s alright – I wont mind.” Sansa, without taking her eyes off of the man dug her phone out of her back pocket and answered, not even having to check to see who it is.

“Have you lost your mind?” Was Shae’s introduction.

“I have not.” Sansa answered.

“Baby girl, we are worried sick for you where are you? We told Petyr not to do this, not to allow this but those thugs those murdu-“

“Shae. I’m fine. I’ll be fine. I’m just having dinner.”

“That sonovabitch is looking at you isn’t he?”

“Yes.”

“Oh baby girl, if any shit starts to go down just hit the deck and run. Don’t stop, don’t try to help don’t try to call the police just save yourself.” The waiter swung back around, setting gently a basket of brown bread and two glasses of white wine.

“I’m sure it won’t come to that.” Across from the table Mr. Jon held out his hand, and waved forward his hand. “Let me speak to her.” He asked, although, like everything he asked, he never really asks, you never really have a choice. “He wants to speak with you.” Sansa said, and handed over the phone.

Because what else was she supposed to do? She didn’t want to be the girl on the beach.

“Hello.” He answered, his small smirk grew into the full grown smile of a madman at the sound of Shae’s shouting. Sansa had not seen anything quite like it, the edges of his lips turning up, teeth never showing. He looked all the while like the Joker, and she was caught in his game.

“That’s rather rude, I’d never hurt Alayne.” Sansa flinched at hearing the fake name, knowing good and well that he knew that wasn’t her name.

“Well your boss is a coward, which is a good thing for me isn’t it?” Then he let out that dark chuckle.

“I’ll have her home by sun up, and in one piece, I promise.” At that, he hung up her phone and handed it back.

“She’s a lively woman, that Shae.” He said, taking a sip of the wine.

“You’ve met?” Sansa asked.

“Well the other night, when you went on your … lunch break…” Sansa flushed, “I went looking for ya’ and I found her.” Ice flushed down Sansa’s spine.

“You looked for me?” She asked. He nodded, downing his wine.

“Have some bread. You must be starving.” Mechanically, Sansa put a piece of the bread on her little plate and tore off a tiny bite. “I did look for you, and I’ve been looking for you since. Not every day you find a pretty red head, and a natural too.” Her roots were showing, and she was flushing. “But that’s not all, really. I know you’re more than a pretty face.” He said. She set her bread down.

“And how do you know that?” “I can see the fire in you, Sansa.” He said. The use of her name on his lips brought a different feeling down her spine, one that was filled with heat and liquid warmth.

“How did you get that name?” She asked him, quietly. He leaned in close, like he was telling a secret, his knee touched hers.

“You see love, your boss, he’s a coward. He told me all I wanted to know. Took very little force, too. I’ve known men like Petyr Baelish all my life, and to be honest with you – it’s not me you should be scared of. I think your boss has a bit of an obsession with you.” He said. She jerked backed, looking at him with mouth agape.

Petyr!?” She whisper shouted. “No, no, he barely knows me. He couldn’t be obsessed with me.” She said.

“Well, here’s the thing, love – when we asked about you he seemed to know everything were you live, where your second job is, what you do during the day. He even had pictures.”

“You’re lying.” She whispered.

“I don’t lie.” He whispered back. The waiter came by again and dropped their dishes, Sansa appeared to have some kind of pasta dish, there were spirals of zucchini noodles, cherry tomatoes and a thin sauce. Jon’s meal was a bit more hearty, a steak and a pile of steaming potatoes. He thanked the waiter and the waiter took off bustling away at a speed that seemed a bit unnatural.

“You got all my information from Petyr?” She asked, slightly fearful.

“No. I love a good chase, you see? He offered up all the information but I declined. I think there’s something to be said about a good chase.” He said.

“A good chase?” She asked, swirling noodles around her fork, The bite was delicious, her stomach growling angrily, she quickly took another bite. It was possibly the best dish she had ever had.

“That’s what we’re doing you and me, playing a little game of chase. I like red-heads, but I like them even more with a little fire. With fight in their eyes.” He said.

“I don’t have fight in my eyes.”

“Yes, love, you do. That’s okay we’ll-“ He stopped in the middle of his sentence, she watched as his face changed, from lightly smirking to going stone frozen in a moment. His face straightening out to where she couldn’t figure out what he was thinking or feeling. He reached down and took out his phone, pressing a few buttons and then setting it down. As he did this, a man approached their table. Sansa recognized him from the night of the funeral, he was a squirrely looking man with a thatch of dark hair on his head, and large, vibrant blue eyes on his face. But his most distinguished feature was more likely the large manic grin on his face.

“Jon Targaryen. Or is it Snow? I lose track of what everyone calls you. I’ve been trying to get ahold of you.” Sansa took in the interaction, watching as Jon took the man in. “Ramsay.” Was all Jon said. Without warning Ramsay began to pull a chair up to the table, Jon closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them back up.

“If you sit down, you’re not getting back up.” Was all he said. This halted Ramsay’s movements. He left the chair in the walk way and instead leaned against the table.

“I’ve fixed it for you.” Was all he said.

“Now isn’t the time.” Jon replied.

“No more bodies at the docks.” Ice flushed down Sansa’s spine, bodies, bodies at the docks bodies on the beach a redhead face down in the sand, all of these images assaulted her until her body stood up, adrenaline pumping in her veins.

“I’ve got to go.” Was all she said.

“You’ve not finished your meal, love.” Was all Jon said, looking up at her with something in his eyes, something that she couldn’t but her finger on.

“I have. I think. I’ve got to go.” With that, she fled the restaurant, giving this Ramsay wide birth as she made her way to the exit. People turned in their seats to watch as she fled, her cheeks burned red as she ran directly into a waiter, champagne glasses scattering to the floor. As she made her way outside she passed the three men Jon were with, the redhead chuckled as she ran past but the chubbier man stopped her. Grasping her forearm.

“Where are you going?”

“Home!” She wrestled her arm out of his grip and ran down the street, she could feel people staring at her as she bustled past pushing her way through stubborn knots of people she tried to put distance between her and the restaurant so she could call a cab finally, she got far enough away to hail a taxi and the night was lost behind her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, that night, in bed the nightmares followed her. Feeling ever the foolish girl for getting in the car with them, for sitting across the table with him, for trying to normalize any of this. She knew, from his words about Petyr to what happened tonight she would have to be leaving that job. Even if it left her dirt broke at the end of the month she couldn’t compromise her safety. For the first time in months she wished she were back home. In her house in Winterfell, with her father and mother lying in the bedroom down the hall. Not here, in the small, cramped apartment with only Lady to keep her company. She spent the night tossing and turning, her bed proving to be not strong enough to lull her to sleep until finally she slipped in some pills and forced her body down. Sunday was spent writing and re-writing a two weeks notice for The Nights Watch, sending emails back and forth to other co-workers and peeking out her window for dark tinted vans. It was, as they say, the moment she got comfortable that she was blindsided. Monday morning, came with little flourish she got ready for work, pulling on a grey business skirt and tucked in a white short-sleeve turtle neck. The commute to the office was busy that day, Monday morning traffic had her running into the office. She passed Brienne, her floor supervisor and threw her a wave before going all the way down the long walk to her small cubical in the corner by the window. Where there was something new. Her mason jar full of multi-colored pens was still there, as was her stack of binders, some sketch paper and her computer which was powering up for the morning, but sitting in front of her key board was a vase full of yellow wildflowers and blue roses and a little note lay underneath.

This is the second time

you’ve run from me

Am I that frightening to you, sweet Sansa?

I think you owe me dinner.

Chapter Text

Tyrell Printing Company

Monday

“So who are the flowers from?” Sansa about choked on her bite of salad, that she had thrown together casually that morning, crudely diced tomatoes and carrots thrown over a bed of wilting lettuce that was on it's last day, angry at herself that she had forgotten her dressing she was hunched at her desk pretending to read her weekend emails when Margery Tyrell snuck up on her.

Margery Tyrell was the granddaughter of Olenna Tyrell, the head of this company and yet she insisted on mingling with the small fish, part of her wondered if it was a power play, to come down from her beautiful office to mingle with Sansa. They had met in the elevator on Sansa’s first day of work, and she couldn’t shake the brunette since. Margery had a way of getting around that Sansa could even fathom, she knew every department head, every small fish, every person who had a hand in whatever project they were working on. But mostly, she was a gossip. She was a ravenous gossip, who didn’t stop until she got answers. Sansa wondered how bored she had to be in her skylight office to come down here for petty gossip of who ate who’s lunch and who’s sleeping with who’s supervisor. Sansa would occasionally dabble in office gossip, but not to extent of Margery, who wasn’t above cornering someone in a bathroom stall for information.

“Just a friend.” She answered, after she had cleared her windpipe of salad debris.

“Awfully nice friend.” She said, she propped herself up on Sansa’s desk, ass squishing Sansa’s latest doodles. Margery was the type of woman who seemingly had no cares in the world or personal space boundaries, she was prone to giving hugs, kisses on the cheek to flinching receivers and the occasional pinch on the arm. She trotted around the office in 15k heels and gobbled up all the information she could.

“Yeah, he’s a .. nice man.”

“He?” Wrong thing to say, she pinched herself internally.

“Yeah. Just a friend, enough about me did your project get done?” She rushed. The best way to throw Margery off her scent was to talk about Margery.

“No. I’ve got more important things to do now.” ‘more important than work?’ Sansa thought, ‘that must be the life.’

“What could be more important than this? I thought this was your pride and joy?” Margery had been boasting about this large blowout project for months now, going on about how it was finally going to get her name in the market. Like her name wasn’t already in the market.

“My bridal shower, silly!” Sansa blinked. “I didn’t know you were getting married.” Sansa admitted, after a moment of silence.

“I’ve only been engaged six months. Ta da!” Out of her tight (and wholly unprofessional) jeans came a folded gold envelope. Sansa pushed her salad to the side and wiped her hands on her skirt reaching for the envelope. Out of the envolpe came a handful of glitter and a pink card, written on the front asked boastfully and beautifully in trademark Tyrell gold, ‘Will You Be My Bridesmaid?’

“But Margery.” She blinked

“I-I-I I don’t know what to say, we’ve only just met this year.” She said. She didn’t feel near close enough to Margery to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. The wedding she didn’t even know Margery was having.

“Sansa, in the short time I’ve known you, I … I admire you. You’re so powerful and fiery.” Sansa thought of the words that had been haunting her all night, ‘you have fire in your eyes.’

“Margery I’ll be your bridesmaid but really, you don’t need to admire me. I’m not anyone special. So who’s the groom tell me more?” Sansa scoot her salad closer and stabbed her fork in, getting a forkful of the limp salad and shoving it in her mouth. Thinking of the pasta dish she had before and growing bitter at her lunch.

“His name is Joffrey Baratheon. He’s so handsome, he’s in line to inherit his family business.”

Baratheon. Sansa thought of the name, it was emblazoned on the side of one of the skyscrapers off of Maine street, a banking company of some sort. Sansa shrugged, rich people all ran in the same circles.

“So tell me about him, what’s he like?”

“He’s blonde and beautiful, he’s a hunter, his whole family does big game hunting. He’s even won some trophies for it.” She said. Sansa smiled, but was nonplussed. The things that seemed to amuse Margery never seemed to have the same effect on Sansa.

“When did he propose?” She asked.

“Oh it was a beautiful Saturday night, we went to Roscoe’s, you know – that restaurant off of 5th and Maine? – the patio had lights on it, and we danced a bit, well …. I danced a bit. And then when I sat back down at the table he had set the ring box on my plate.” Sansa blinked, because the romance was lost on her.

“That’s beautiful Margery. When’s the wedding?” She asked. Because she was under a time constraint, and a money one now that she was thinking about quitting her second job.

“As soon as possible, but don’t you worry about a think, my grandmother is paying for the whole thing.”

“That’s great I – “ As Sansa went to answer her cell phone, which she had tucked into her top drawer began to loudly go off beside her. She dug it out, the screen flashed: MOM. Margery must have seen because she hopped of the desk, “You get that, I’ll talk to you later. I’ll email you!”

Sansa stared down at her ringing phone for a few moments, contemplating if she even wanted to answer it. Before the phone could force it to voicemail, she picked it up. “Mom?” She answered.

“Hello dear, how are you?” Her mother sounded as she always did, slightly bored, slightly tired always overwhelmed.

“I’m doing well.” She answered honestly. “How’s planning for Bran’s party?” She asked, stabbing more of her salad, shoving more in her mouth. It was a sad affair.

“It’s going well I suppose, I think we might have too many people. Going to have to adjust the catering.” She said

“You mean you’re not cooking? I don’t know if I’ll go now.” She teased.

“I’ll make you lemon bars.” Her mother teased back, and for a moment it was like it had been before. Before things were strained and painful, before phone calls were avoided and trips home were put off. 

“I’m in then.” She said. There was a beat of silence.

“Really? You’ll come?” There was something in her mothers voice, she didn’t want to identify it as excitement right away, but that’s sure what it sounded like.

“Yeah. I asked for it off. I’ll be there. I want to be there for Bran.” She said. Her mother let out a breath on the other end of the phone.

“I’ll let your father know. He’ll be overjoyed. I’ve called to remind you however, that Theon will be there tomorrow sometime in the afternoon. I assume you’ve heard from him.” She had, and she wasn’t looking forward to it. They had exchanged simple messages over the weekend, he more excited to see her than she was to ever see him.

“I’m going to meet him at the station, and then I’ll take him back home.”

“Alright. Thanks dear, I’ll … see you soon I suppose.”

A knot formed in Sansa’s throat.

“Yeah I’ll… see you soon.”

She would be home soon. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Targaryen Family Home

Monday Morning

Contrary to popular belief, Jon was a morning person. He liked to be up early enough to get a jog in as the sun came up, enjoy a cup of coffee with his mother and maybe even a talk or two with his father before heading in to do work. However, as he watched Sam droop into the coffee Gilly just poured him, the rest of his company was not. Lyanna and Gilly shared a knowing look at Sam’s dour state, even though he’d showered he looked just as tired as if he hadn’t. His face was round and red and his hair was mused, Jon’s mother leaned over and tried to smooth the mess.

“Jon.” Gilly fussed, placing a hand on her hip, the other one of course was holding up little Sam. Sam and Gilly’s one year old boy. “What have I told you about keeping Sam out late, you know he can’t take it.” She said.

Passing Little Sam over to her other hip she glared him down.

“I gave him the option to go home.” Jon said, and it was the truth. Jon always gave them the option to leave.

“You know he wouldn’t leave you. Especially not with Tormund and Aegon.” Gilly said. She shuffled Sam into the high chair next to Jon, where they examined each other. Light, wispy tufts of blonde hair covered Little Sam’s head, his cheeks were ruddy red and his hands were squishing a banana into unrecognizable pieces.

“Tormund is perfectly responsible.” He argued lightly with Gilly. “Tormund bit someone’s ear off.” She reminded him, she placed a plate in front of him, hot cakes served with sausage and a bowl of fruit. His normal breakfast.

His mother was at the other end of the table, flipping absently through her newspaper. No matter how many gadgets and technology he got her he could always find her curled up around a paperback or writing in a newspaper. She was that way. Elia, on the other hand, embraced the technology – and helped Lyanna when she could. Little Sam took to smearing Banana on the table, Jon fed him a bite of hot cakes.

“He’ll be all hyped up on sugar, and then he’ll be your responsibility.” Elia warned, as she came around the corner. She was dressed in her Dornish colors of course, her robe vibrant yellow, her house slippers a burnt orange. Her hair was wet and twisted up in a bun. The women had taken to all having a hand in the raising of little Sam, who was the apple of everyone's eye, Passing Lyanna, she pressed a kiss onto her head and gave one to Sam as well.

“I could spend a day with Little Sam.” Jon replied, Big Sam groaned from his side of the table.

“Poor thing.” Lyanna said, leaning forward to rub Sam’s back as if he was a baby, “You’ve kept him out all night and now he’s awake all day. What had you out so late. Didn’t hear you come home?”

For most of the time, Jon stayed with his parents. He of course had his own place, but it was barely used. His parent’s home on the outskirts of town sat on the edge of a lake, and was a place of peace of mind for Jon. Gilly and Sam lived in the side house that was tucked in the garden. Not because they couldn’t afford different, but because their family was there.

“Had to take care of some business.” Jon said, he tried as hard as he could to keep his family out of it. So that should anything happened their hands were clean.

“What have I told you about those Bolton’s?” But his mother was smart as a whip, and read a newspaper, “Leave them alone.” In the night the Bolton Wood Factory had burned to the ground, no witnesses and police say it was an accident. Although the matches in Jon’s back pocket could say different. But it didn’t cost too much to pay off the police.

“I’ve got it handled. They need to be taught a little bit of respect, is all.” And it was true, quite like training a puppy not to shit on the rug he would keep slapping the Bolton’s on the nose. Even if he had to kill all of Roose’s pathetic offspring. After Ramsay had interrupted his time with Sansa, Jon had taken his temper right to the top. Unlike Tormund, he was slow to burn. But something about the way that Sansa had run from the restaurant after Ramsay had shown his rabid smile had irked Jon into a slow burning fury, the Bolton's were already on a short leash as is, and now that he had the Greyjoy's he had little use for the Bolton's.

“Where’s father?” He changed the subject. Both of Rhaegar’s wives groaned at that.

“Golfing.” They both answered. Since retiring Rhaegar had taken up a number of hobbies, the worst of all being golfing, primarily because he wasn’t any good. Both of his wives, and all of his children were better at it than him.

“Dany took him out this morning to try and do some training with the poor man but he’s helpless. If I’d have known when he retired I would be hearing about golf for the rest of my life I would have pushed him to stay in.” Lyanna confessed. Both Lyanna and Elia had pushed Rhaegar to bring his time with the family to a close. Mostly because for a man with two wives, he didn’t spend much time with either of them. Growing up Jon spent most of his time with Elia and Lyanna, as Rhaegar was always in the Underground or overseas or taking care of some business that Jon wasn’t introduced to until he was fourteen.

“Is he getting any better?” Gilly asked, finally sitting down with her own plate, next to little Sam. She gave Jon’s unfinished plate and pointed look and he put another bite in his mouth, even before having the baby Gilly had always been quite the mother hen.

“Not really.” Sam said, “I mean, we tell him he’s doing better, but he’s still quite awful.” He admitted. The table shared a laugh.

“Jon just got mad because Ramsay interrupted his date last night.” Sam said. Jon turned a heated glare onto his childhood best friend. At this, the table grew silent. Elia spoke up, her voice not hiding her clear excitement: “Jon you’ve had a date?” She asked. Jon thought back to his evening with Sansa, the whole thing in it’s entirety and wondered if it counted as a date if the girl was too scared to say no, but he knew that there was part of Sansa that was as curious as it was morbid, and that’s the real reason she got in the car. He’d known girls like her all his life, good and curious. And mostly, he stayed away from them. This was not the case with Sansa. There was something hiding in her eyes, something about the half-moon shaped scars on her thighs, about the way she tilted her head in curiosity, as if she couldn't help it. A fly caught in the web. 

“I suppose you could call it that.” He said. His mother dropped her newspaper in shock. It was no secret around the house that Lyanna had been pushing Jon to find a woman, a wife of some kind.

“Well who is she, spit it out? Was it Alys Karstark? I told you she liked you Jon.” Lyanna chided.

“No. Another.” Before he could interrupt the door to the kitchen swung up, Jon tensed for a moment but his father lumbered in, wearing his golfing clothes and looking less than happy. He kissed both his wives and gave Sam a pat on the back before collapsing in a chair. Gilly stood to fix him a plate, but he waved her down.

“No, sit dear. I already ate.” Elia pressed a hand into her hip and leaned back in her chair, “Did you have brunch at the club without us?” She asked him, Rhaegar looked at her sheepishly.

“What are we talking about?” He asked, obviously trying to change the subject that he had crepes and coffee without them.

“The Boltons.” Sam said, not lifting his head from the table, not even the lure of coffee urging his head up.

“I’ve told you what I think about those Boltons.” Rhaegar warned. And he had, Rhaegar had given him a strict warning about the Boltons, their behavior, their way of swinging from leading family to leading family, and he had heard him and listened but Jon had a different plan than his father. “The bolton’s are a weed in the garden,” Rhaegar warned again, “best get them with the pesticide before they spread” When one family flopped from one side to the next, other houses normally followed suit, no one wanted to be on the losing side.

He wouldn’t beat the weeds into submission, he would pull them from the garden.

“Where is Aegon.”

“laying in front of the toilet.” Elia said, with no sympathy in her tone. No one made a move in sympathy.

“Jon is the only one worth his ale around here.” Gilly said, giving Sam a partially disgusted look. “Best get them up.” Jon warned, standing from his plate to kiss Lyanna and Elia on their heads,

 

 

“we have some weeds to pull.”

Chapter Text

The Train Station 

Tuesday 

 

The station at the railway was dirty and cluttered and Sansa was feeling as self-conscious about it as if she were standing in her own home. She vividly remembers first coming here when she moved to Kings Landing, the sights and sounds – the way the smell hits you as the train doors open, the littering about of homeless people and street kids, the obvious smell of marijuana in the air, the patrol men lounging about with the drug dealers. In that moment though, she felt nothing like she did now. There had been nervous anticipation, yes, but most excitement – excitement about a brave new existence that she was going to carve out for herself as a city girl. That excitement was mostly gone now; she tried to find traces of it every day at the office as she typed away on the computer and each one of her designs got turned down, when she was eating a lackluster dinner on the back patio of her apartment or every time she had the unfortunate need to get on the train.

This was the life that she wanted. She huddled on a bench, her leggings and long sleeve shirt hardly keeping her warm. She wondered if she would recognize Theon. It had been so long since she had last seen him, and he had always been a cloudy figure in her mind, never a solid entity to hold onto – just something to resent. And resent Theon she had, for most of her life, he had come into their lives voluntarily and all but took her place among her siblings. They loved Theon, he was the brother they always wanted. Sansa had been a space-cadet with her head in the clouds, too wrapped up in fairy tales to want to play cops and robbers. Although now in her adult hood she wishes more and more that she had just played along.

Her phone buzzed against her thigh, she took a peak at it. Another text from Margaery on the screen. The woman was wedding crazy, her wedding party was coming up a party that she had created to introduce the bridges friends and the grooms friends and it sounded all the while like something Sansa wouldn’t enjoy. She was already going to have to cash out on a new outfit. “still so stuck on colors. Teal and yellow or Red and gold?” The text read.

Margaery had accosted her at the desk every day to assault her with swatch pads and catering fliers and dress ideas that she had sketched out on a sticky note. Their wedding was a rushed affair and it was starting to show on Margaery. Sansa sent a quick reply back a simple ‘whatever you think.’ And left it at that, still so nervous in her own situation that she couldn’t properly focus on Margaery.

She had left the house in a rush that morning after spending all night cleaning. She vacuumed the couch where Theon would be sleeping, scrubbed the bathroom and stowed away all of her dancing attire. The kitchen had been scrubbed from baseboard to ceiling fan, she had even cleaned out the oven. She had shoveled out for groceries, knowing that Theon wouldn’t have known how much food cost in the city as compared to Winterfell. Lady had been groomed as well and was not taking the new clean house well. Before she left her apartment Sansa had looked around, even clean it still looked mostly pathetic. Her small television, sunken in couch and mismatched dishware, it was nothing like Winterfell, nothing like home. She didn’t have matching silverware sets or a backyard to make smores in. She had a back patio with a single broken bench on it and a soup can full of cigarette butts from when she was feeling exceptionally stressed. The train from Winterfell announced it’s arrival, she could see figures moving about in the train gathering their belongings and that nervous bee started up in her chest – the dancing figure of nervous energy gyrating in her stomach.

She stood at the passengers came pouring out and tried to look for a familiar face amongst the unfamiliar. She saw him before he saw her, she almost laughed at herself for thinking she wouldn’t recognize him. He had the same mousy face with his nose scrunched up at the smell and lank brown hair that fell into his eyes. She was struck for a moment because a few nights ago she had met his sister – and they looked nothing alike (But she was trying not to think about that) He didn’t seem to see her, his eyes going over her a few times before they recognized her. They met in the middle. She braced herself as Theon consumed her in a hug, her nose pressed into his shoulder his arms around her back. They had never hugged before.

“Ah, Sansa it’s so good to see you.” He said, giving her a smile. Which was odd, because he never smiled at her.

“You to0.” She mumbled.

“D-do you need help with your bags?” She asked him. He shook his head. He was in clothes that she had never seen before, black slack pants and a grey T-shirt, a black sports coat thrown over his arm.

“You look nice.” She told him honestly.

“You look different.” Theon said, though not bluntly just like a statement of a fact. She touched the tip of her blonde hair, the dark red was coming in at the roots. Her eye makeup had been done with a shaky hand this morning but still came out looking nice. In black leggings and long sleeve Kings Landing U shirt she was sure she looked every bit as homely as she felt.

“Yeah.” She cleared her throat. “Well come on, I’ll get us a cab.” She said.

“A cab? What happened to your car?” He asked. She swallowed guiltily. “The transmission went out in it about a year ago, it doesn’t necessarily ‘run’ anymore.” She shrugged. “And besides, driving in the city is a mess. You’ll see.” They hustled out of the train station, he had a hard time keeping up having never had to fight for space in Winterfell.

“Why didn’t you say anything about your car? Robb and I could have come and looked at it.” He said. ‘because I didn’t want you here, I also don’t have the money for parts and I’m considering selling it to help pay off my student loans.’ She thought. Instead of saying that she mumbled.

“It wasn’t a big deal. I can hardly drive it here anyway.” She told him. It was impossible to drive in the city unless you were a cab, a bus or a big black SUV that had guys with guns in it, but she was trying not to think about that.

“I’ll take a look at it while I’m here.” He said all the same. Which was fine with her, it was worth more on the market if it ran anyway. She hailed them a cab and hustled him inside, watching him take in the city, the skyscrapers, the people the bustling atmosphere and could remember her first time in the city. It was with her father, touring the University, her father had been generally uninterested and/or disgusted with the city, Sansa had been in love. Now she was just part of it, like a speck of paint on the wall – nothing special.

“So when is your interview?” Theon was in town to interview for a student research position at Kings Landing U in the criminal justice department, in true Stark fashion. Theon had always been more of a Stark than Sansa.

“It’s not until tomorrow morning. But I was thinking if you don’t mind I could stay until Sunday. I’ve never been to the city by myself before and I’d like to peak around if I might some day study here.” He said. Still gazing star struck out the window.

“I don’t mind.” She mumbled, even though she did mind, she minded quite a bit. It was only Tuesday, that was six days with Theon. She absently pointed up to Yellow Rose.

“That’s where I work.” She said, she could see the exact window that she stared out of every morning.

“That’s amazing.” He said. And the weird thing was, Sansa was sure that he meant it. The cab right didn’t take too long and to her dread they pulled up to her apartment quicker than she ever wanted them too.

“I thought you could get cleaned up and I could fix us some lunch.” She said, she would try to keep Theon inside as much as possible, she didn’t need him getting into trouble around the city as she could hardly afford to get him out.

“Sounds good.” She could see him examining her house in a way that she things Robb might have done too, looking her teal door up and down, looking down in her dying plant by her doorstep. She hastily unlocked the front door before her neighbors came outside and asked her for a joint (which they did every day.) Theon set his luggage down by the door and examined her home. The front door opened right up into the living room where her work desk and her two rickety book shelves were, as well as her sunken couch and little TV with the movie stand next to it. The walls were scattered with bits of art that she had gathered around the city, a clock with dancing legs, a cork board with pictures of friends from school that she no longer talked to and a series of portraits that she had sketched when she was a little girl still believing in fairy tales. There were no family pictures besides one, and that one rested next to her bed. He stepped around her kitchen, eyeing her multi-colored rug and her tiny three seater kitchen table with mismatched chair, the kitchen which had a few soaking dishes in the sink from her failed casserole experiment and a basket full of extremely ripe banana’s on the counter. She watched him look around, looking oddly big in her tiny apartment.

“I like it.” He said finally, after moments of tense silence.

“Not what I expected but I like it. How much do you pay for it?” He asked. She mumbled out the price, and his eye brows shot to his hairline. He gave a low whistle. “So.” She clapped her hands.

“The bathroom is over here.” She showed him into the bathroom, the shower curtain with dancing soaps on it and the basket full of worn, thin towels. "I don’t know if mom told you but it’s only a one bedroom, but the couch is a pull out.” She said. He shook his head, giving her a small smile.

“It’s all right. Beggers can’t be choosers.” He said.

“So if you want to get cleaned up I’ll whip up some lunch.” She smiled at him, he gave her a tight lipped grin before dipping into the bathroom with his backpack. She hadn’t opened the room to her door and there had been a reason for that. That was her private and personal kingdom and it was also still dirty. She tried not to think of Theon in her shower using her cheap shampoo and body wash as she cut avocado and tomato slices for the pasta. Lady came sauntering out of her hiding spot for a bit of food and company. She set the pasta on the table and cleaned off some of the debris including Margaery’s wedding party invitation. Popping open the expensive cardstock again Sana read over the details.

It was happening in the hotel of one of the Baratheon’s well known spots, it was black tie and there was a little dancing ‘plus one’ at the bottom that implied that Sansa could bring someone. She thought for a few moments about inviting Theon, it would keep him out of trouble on a Friday night and keep her mind off the fact that she was about to dwindle down what little saving she had with no side job. It wasn’t like she hadn’t been looking, but nothing jumped out at her. Being a dancer had been too easy, Baelish had made it too easy for her to hide herself until it wasn’t.

She still hadn’t told them she wasn’t coming back. Besides, bringing Theon to Margaery’s party might be the best way to keep her family off her back for awhile; she was no fool. She knew that everything Theon saw and heard down here that pertained to her he would be bringing back to Catelyn’s door stop. Theon came ambling out the bathroom in comfortable looking pants a gray T-shirt, snorting as he saw Lady sitting on the counter glaring him down.

“Of course, you got a cat.” He snorted, and she had to laugh along with him. When they were younger they were all offered the opportunity to get a pet. Theon had gotten some horrible pet snake and all Sansa wanted was a cat. However, she wasn’t allowed to get one because the rest of her siblings got dogs and Arya got the sniffles around cats. One of the first things she had done as an act of rebellion against her past life was go to the local shelter and adopt Lady. Her ill-tempered English short hair.

“Her name is Lady.” She said while pulling down some plates. She served the pasta up and gave him her best fork (it didn’t bend when squeezed too hard.)

“Are you excited for your interview?” She asks, around bites of pasta salad.

“Sure. I have an offer from Winterfell but Cat thinks I should make sure to see to all my options.” He said. He says ‘Cat’ more easy than she’s ever said ‘Mother.’

“Well.” She wiped her mouth. “I have to work most of the week, but I’m doing an early shift so I should be done by three, enough time for me to show you around the city a bit.”

“That would be nice.” They’re sitting in more companionable silence than they ever have before and Sansa doesn’t want to break it. It’s on the tip of her tongue, ‘you have your own family, and I found them your sister is scary and she carries a gun but she’s your family and not mine so go to them.’ – the jealousy of her youth is still there, acidic and creeping beneath her tongue and into her bones. Instead she asks, “How is everyone? How’s the family?” He’s devouring his second helping of pasta salad like it’s Catelyn’s famous meatloaf and talking in between bites. Lady comes to table to beg for food, Sansa gives her a noodle.

“Good, good. Robb made detective.” He nodded along.

“Arya’s dating some guy from the academy – Gendry. He’s a good lad. Your father is finally looking into retirement I think. Jon Arryn is retiring this year and no one wants to have to fill those boots. Bran is looking into the academy and you know Rickon, just as wild as ever.” He said. She soaked up all this information. Arya, dating. (she scoffed inside, because she never pictured it.) Bran looking the police academy down the nose. Her father looking at retirement. Uncle Jon retiring. Life was happening without her.

“How about you, exciting city girl?” She tried not to think too hard on the nickname, that’s what people from home probably called her, with sneers on their faces. The exciting city girl. The girl who left her honorable family and didn’t come back and doesn’t call on holidays. They’d say ‘she bought a box of hair dye and now she sits at home on week nights and goes through pints of ice cream.’

“There’s not much here. Just work and home, trying to get ahead at work for the new season.” They weren’t lies at least.

“I’m surprised you let me come.” He muttered. She crinkled her brow. “What do you mean?” He scoffed, for a moment he reminded her of the old Theon, pulling at her pony tail and taking her spot in Sunday school.

“We haven’t exactly always been close. You hated me when you were younger.” She rose a brow at him, “if I recall correctly I tried to like you. Besides, that’s all behind us. We’re adults now. Not children, and besides, you’re family.” Her eyes darted over to the invitation that sat unassumingly on the counter.

“How do you feel about wedding parties?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyrell Printing Company 

Tuesday 

 

 

 

“How do you feel about wedding parties?”

Willas Tyrell found the whole thing to be quite a bore, honestly. Most men in this business, in this life, had personalities like cardboard. It was all kill, kill, kill, money, money, money. They had no interests, no lives, no great stories to tell that didn’t end with a bullet in the head. There were few people that he enjoyed being around in this business. Not many of them could hold a conversation of subtly or play the game well. Perhaps that what this was about, playing the game well – none of them could do it. Most of them had their names and titles handed to them on a platter since birth, one rich woman marries one rich man and you’ve got a natural born mobster. But that’s simply not true. The bigger families can play the game a bit better, but still not good enough – not good enough not to get killed.

Willas Tyrell could count on one hand the amount of time he had had a gun pointed in his face. The number significantly went down when he excluded his own grandmother as the person who was holding the gun. The number went down to one, and that one time and that one person was right in front of him. Willas had a lot of respect for the Targaryen’s they were honestly good people, when you took away of course the drug ring, the murders and those nasty incest rumors. He liked doing business with them, he should say. It wasn’t every day that he got to do business with people he not only respected but also could trust to get the job done. He enjoyed every conversation he had with Jon Targaryen, including that one time with the gun.

The man was seated across from him looking all the while like a mobster. He didn’t know how Jon got around anywhere free of suspicion. Most people in the business didn’t look like they were in the business, they hid those personas under suits and ties and bright cars and business names. He himself always sported a smile and a good pocket square. Not Jon. Since he had known him, since they were maybe 15 or 16 – he had always had the aura that he knew something you didn’t, and that something was going to get you killed. From his hair slicked back into a bun at the nape of his neck his dark T-shirt, black jeans and boots combination seemed to work on him. He dressed like a construction worker most of the time. His tattooed fingers (the words FIRE and BLOOD) to his hooded eyes, he was every bit the suspicious criminal that he was. Even coming into Willas’s building security had swarmed all over, but knew only to look and not touch. The redhead that he traveled with bites.

“I don’t think I’ve been to one.” He’s got the accent of a northerner. Willas thinks it’s from the two years he spent on icy Skagos. The juvenile detention center farther north than most people ever want to go.

“Most of the time they’re lovely.” Willas hummed, sipping his tea. It was a disgusting blend, and expensive too. He scoffed internally.

“Most of the time?” Jon asked flatly. They had left their company in the hall to mingle. Jon’s riffraff crew of his usual, his brother, the redhead, and the portly one who surely must be out of place they were in the hall with Garlan and Loras. Hopefully getting on well, the hall had just been repainted for blood stains.

“This one won’t be I’m afraid.” He set his tea cup down. Jon still cradled his with surprising gentleness. Willas thought hands like that were only meant to crush things, like windpipes – for instance.

“Haven’t you heard the news. My lovely sister is engaged.”

Margaery had worked hard to charm the Baratheon boy. A boy heir whose hobbies including tormenting people, crashing his car and shooting things (read: people.) with a crossbow.

“I think I saw something about that.” Jon hummed. Willas had no doubt that the moment Joffrey had proposed the Targaryen spies had known everything.

“Odd match though.” Jon said.

“Our thoughts exactly. I’ve heard you don’t have the best history with them.” Willas tsk’d under his breath as if unimpressed.

“Do we have good history with anyone?” That was the truth, the Targaryen’s had their loyal families but didn’t have the best history with anyone. Aery’s had burned most of those bridges. Literally.

“No one does these days.” He watched Jon Targaryen turn into the boss that he was, setting his tea cup down and digging in his pants pocket for a pack of cigarettes. Normally, if a man tried to smoke on his office he would have put a bullet in their throat before they could breathe in the smoke, but he allowed it for Jon. After all, he owed him quite a bit.

“No.” He confirmed. “We don’t have the best history with the Lannister’s, we’re still cleaning up their sloppy messes every day.”

“Aren’t we all.” With Tywin Lannister stepping farther away from the head of his table the Lannister’s had gotten more and more sloppy as the years went by. “But I hear you have a particularly bloody history.” The history between Jon’s mother and Cersei Lannister had been well known. Lyanna had caught Rhaegar’s eyes well into his marriage with Elia Martell, and Cersei had sought to ruin that, to leave her marriage with the brute. The whole affair ended with Jon’s mother in a country club like jail for six months and Cersei Lannister with a lovely little knife wound in the palm of her hand. Then there was the skirmish between Jon and Jaime that landed him in Skagos. The only Lannister anyone could stand to do business with these days was Tyrion.

“If Joffrey marries my sister, I’ll have no choice but to keep with their side. The boy isn’t smart enough to see that he will lose any war, he rather things he’s the most untouchable man in Kings Landing, and we both know that’s not true. I heard about what happened at your docks. A shame really.” Joffrey was getting more sloppy than the Bolton’s and had no real way of controlling his underlings, he wasn’t a frightening leader – just a dumb one with a hunting fetish. His men had been caught by local police ( what an embarrassment) orchestrating their trafficking, it had taken place on Jon’s docks – which of course put his family under the microscope. But one couldn’t forget that the Bolton’s were supposed to be guarding those docks, but that was different duck for another time.

“What are you asking?” Jon said bluntly.

“I’ve heard Tommen Baratheon is a good boy, smart and keeps to himself, rather girl crazy though – though with his gentle nature rarely attracts a good match.” At Willas’s words Jon stroked his beard, hands laying into the smooth hair at his chin.

“And that’s the kind of man you would rather have for you sister.” Jon said, there was no question in the statement.

“Well.” He took a long drag off of his cigarette, dark eyes trained on Willas. Tattoo’d fingers twitching around his knee.

“You’re in luck. I’ve been meaning to do a little cleaning, it’s that time of year again.” Jon Targaryen had a much different strategy than his father when it came to dealing with enemies. It was something like, torture first, set boundaries later.

"Does your sister know that you're doing a little renovating?" Jon inquired of him. Willas thought this over. Or rather, thought of a good way to put it. 

"What she doesn't know won't kill her, and it's nothing that a good diamond necklace or a vacation to Dorne can't fix." Willas told him. "So I can add you to the guest list?” Willas said, picking up his tea cup again.

“Might as well. However, I’m going to have to ask you to do something for me.” Willas’s brow rose. Because that was new.

“I need you to look into one of your employee’s. Get back to Sam about what you find.” He pulled a piece of paper from the inside of his cigarette carton and slid it across Willas’s desk.

“Of course.”

“Well then, my first wedding party should be interesting.” Jon said, smirking, it was malicious and dark thing.

“It shall. Wear something black.”