Sansa started to walk away, her hand feeling the sting of the slap she had just given her boyfriend—correction, ex-boyfriend. Joffrey had humiliated her for the last time.
This time it was a carnival game at the fair. What could she say—she was a sucker for dogs, and the big plush hound hanging in the back corner of the dart game had been calling to her as they milled about with Joffrey's band of cronies. When she had finally asked if he would try to win it for her, he had turned on her with a vile look, a dark humor leaking out into his pale, colorless gaze.
"What?" he had asked quietly, so quiet that it had drawn the attention of nearly all the other men in their group. When Sansa had opened her mouth to repeat what she’d asked, he had shaken his head and held a small, clammy palm up just in front of her face. "You think,” he sneered, “that I'd waste my time and money to buy you that..." he looked over at the animal and sneered, "dog?"
"I just thought that--" Sansa started to say, but he hissed out a contemptuous, evil laugh.
"You just thought? That's your first problem, Sansa.” He stepped closer to her, an intimidation tactic he wielded quite often with her. “Women are meant to be seen, not heard. Now get your ass over here and let's walk around this stupid fair." He'd reached out to grab her hip, but luckily for her, the outfit he'd picked out for her to wear that day helped her elude his grasp. His fingers slid off the tight pleather skirt she wore, as she turned, backing up a few steps.
"You're being ridiculous, Joffrey. All I asked was that you throw some darts for me. It's a few dollars."
Sansa recognized that look—surprise. His eyes had widened briefly, almost imperceptibly, but it was there. She was going to have to endure his tirade the entire way back to her house.
"You... bitch..." he whispered, so quietly that had she not been looking at his face, seen his mouth form the words, she might not have known what he said. Then he added, his voice low and sinister, "Get your ass over here, or I won't hesitate to make a scene."
Sansa was startled at the menacing anger on his face, the venom of his words, and she looked around at the group of men surrounding them, wondering if any of them was going to step in and protect her from Joffrey. But they all stood, stone-faced and unmoving, waiting for the scene in front of them to unfold. So when Joffrey made a second move to grab her she stepped backwards and brought her hand up fast. It connected with his face with a loud crack!
She didn’t give herself time to think about what she’d done--she just ran. As surely as she knew her name was Sansa Stark, she also knew in that instant that she needed to fear Joffrey, as what he’d said was the truth-he would make a scene. And he would do it because he knew his guys would shield him from the worst of the onlookers reactions.
Fear fueled her steps, her auburn hair flying out behind her as she shouldered past two of the peons who were still staring at a stunned Joffrey, and disappearing into the dense evening crowd of fair-goers.
Her movements weren't what they could have been had she not been wearing heels, but she ran as much as she could on her toes, darting through lines and around strollers, not bothering to look behind her. Her heart was beating fast, her breathing was ragged and her lungs burned before long. All she could think about was, she had never touched Joffrey in anger, had never done anything so bad to him as slapping him. God, what had she been thinking?!
It was likely that Joffrey had recovered quickly from the sting of her hand and had ordered his men after her, so she kept her gaze ahead of her and slowed her pace only slightly as she came upon a line of people waiting for the enormous ferris wheel.
There, a man who stood alone at the back of the line, no one talking to him and a good two feet of space between he and the people in front of him. She could see his back, could see he was tall with long black hair, and that he was quite large. At this point it was either him or running, and her feet ached from the pinch of her heels. She was about done with running.
In mere seconds she was at his side, sliding her hand into his where it hung at his side, and she looked up at his face with a smile she hoped was beaming.
He looked down at her, obviously confused. One eyebrow raised in question—his only eyebrow, she realized, shocked to see the right side of his face a tangle of what looked like burn scars, obscuring the thick growth of beard on that side of his face.
She had no time to second-guess her decision. She glanced back over her shoulder, feeling the fear and adrenaline coursing through her blood like a stampede of wild horses. Again, she looked up into his eyes.
"Don't let them take me," she pleaded desperately, voice barely above a whisper although she knew he heard her. He, too, glanced behind them, and then returned his gaze back to her, though this time he took in the low-cut tank top and tight skirt, the mile-high heels that were even now digging into her toes. Even with the heels on, her eyes barely reached his shoulder.
She couldn't wait for him to make a decision. She looked back, searching the crowd for unwanted familiar faces. She didn't see any, but she did notice her hair hanging over that shoulder, a bright beacon in the midway lights, like a signal fire just waiting for Joffrey to spot.
"Shit, shit, shit," she muttered, letting go of the man's hand as she quickly pulled all her hair over her shoulder and twisted it into a cord, holding it tightly to reduce the risk of it being seen. "My hair, my hair," she nearly cried, again looking over her shoulder. The longer it took them to find her, the more terrifying the prospect became. She saw the man look behind him again, and then back to her, before he unzipped and shrugged out of his hoodie.
Before she realized what he was doing, it was being draped over her shoulders and the hood was tugged up over her head. Suddenly she was engulfed in a garment the size of a monk's robe, and she had to reach up to push the hood back slightly just so she could see.
"Th—thank you," she stuttered, pulling the sides closed around her like a robe.
"You're welcome," came his rumbling reply, and she hazarded a more lingering glance up at his face, noting the beard-covered chin and shadowed eyes. He was still looking at her, watching as she looked forward, looked behind them, looked up at the ferris wheel.
Then she suddenly realized, "I don't have any tickets. Crap!"
"I've got you covered," said the man, but when she was going to thank him she heard her name shouted from somewhere behind her. It was Joffrey's high, menacing voice, and it caused her to shiver violently.
"You?" the man asked, as their line crept forward. Sansa nodded, though now she was frozen in place, staring forward for fear that Joffrey or one of his guys would see her.
"I slapped him," she said, and then she shuddered. "Oh my god, I slapped him and now he's mad. He's going to hurt me. I can't believe I did that, I shouldn't have done that." Her eyes darted around, looking for a better hiding place besides standing next to this tower of a man. Why, oh why had she run to the tallest man at the fair?
But she knew why—self-preservation, as she knew this guy would likely intimidate the crap out of Joffrey, and from the looks of his arms now that he wasn't in his hoodie, he could probably beat the crap out of all of Joffrey's men without breaking a sweat.
“Why did you slap him?” he asked, his voice steady and calm. Sansa glanced up at him and then quickly looked away. What did it matter??
“He wouldn't win me a hound,” she snapped, and instantly regretted it. “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I just need to--I need to go, I need to--" Sansa bent down and slipped out of her heels. It dropped her a good four inches, one more thing she could do to hide herself from Joffrey. Her heels now hung by the strap from her finger.
"I need to hide," she said, her voice wavering as the fear continued to claw at her throat. "He'll find me if I don't hide," but she couldn't see anywhere to go. There were people everywhere, and wandering off in any direction could mean she'd walk right into the hands of Joffrey or his men.
"Come here," said the man, and she looked over just as an arm encircled her shoulders and turned her into him. She went, scared and pliant, and found herself pressed nose-to-chest, with now two strong arms holding her steady. The sensation of being held, of being safe, was nearly her undoing. The tears she had managed to keep at bay until now decided to make an appearance, and she sniffed into his shirt. He smelled like man—skin and cologne mixed into a heady concoction. It was the same scent on his hoodie.
"I'm sorry," she said into his chest, not bothering to raise her head since she wouldn't be able to see him from underneath the hood anyway. Then, because she was so surprised that it hadn't dawned on her earlier, she asked, "Are you waiting for someone? You were alone in line, and—and I just came to you... Because you looked... safe."
She felt the chuckle through the thick wall of his chest as it poured out his mouth above her head.
"No, I wasn't waiting for anyone." And it was almost their turn to be loaded into one of the open seats of the ferris wheel, so thank the gods! She would have preferred something with closed seats but Joffrey couldn't reach her on top of a ferris wheel. When she reached the bottom, however...
Another shudder wracked her body and the man's arms tightened protectively around her.
"Just stay with me and I'll make sure you're safe, all right?"
Sansa nodded weakly, thanking him again.
"No problem. My name is Sandor, by the way. I own Clegane, Inc. We specialize in armed guards, escorts, security, and whatnot."
Sansa surprised herself by letting out a small, unexpected laugh into his shirt. "No shit," she exclaimed quietly, her hand coming up between them to wipe away tears as she pressed her cheek against his chest. Then, because it felt good to do it, she let the hand rest beside her face against the fabric there. The warmth coming from his skin beneath the thin material was soothing, and vastly different from Joffrey's thin, unwelcoming body.
"So I guess if you had to ask someone for help, I was a pretty good choice." She could hear the smile in his voice as the ride operator called them to the platform.
Sansa stepped out of his embrace, feeling the cool night air more acutely now that she had spent a few minutes surrounded by Sandor's warmth. She walked up the squeaky stairs and onto the platform, all the while her hand gripped snuggly in his large palm. He held it as she climbed onto the waiting bench, and he kept ahold of it even as he lowered himself to the bench beside her, giving the cart a good jolt as he sat with his hip pressed to hers.
Sansa dropped the heels on the enclosed platform at their feet as the ride operator stepped up to maneuver the seatbelt over their laps. Then he tightened it, stepped out, and closed the short gate at the front of the seat.
She turned now to look up at Sandor just as he looked down at her. His face was kind, and he had the slightest smile playing at his lower lip. Hair had fallen over his scar and he made no move to push it back. He really was quite handsome, in a roguish way that was only complemented by the scar that covered a portion of his scalp. With such an intimidating countenance, big of body and thick of muscle, Sansa thought it was no wonder he owned a security company.
"Sansa!" came a ragged yell from the crowd, Joffrey's voice high and shrill but still threatening enough to make her entire body jump at the sound.
"Oh god," she groaned, but through the haze of panic she felt Sandor's hand tighten on hers.
"Is that him?"
"Yes," she whispered in response. A low growl came from the man seated beside her, though she couldn’t drag her eyes away from Joffrey's maniacal gaze. The younger man's eyes were wide, the whites showing as they zeroed in on the two clasped hands on Sansa's thigh.
"Sansa, you fucking bitch! Get out of there right now!" Sansa tried to shrink down but there was nowhere to go. She was locked into the seat belt, and ensconced in a small carnival ride beside the hulking figure of a very large man.
"Fucking hell," Sandor cursed, surprise in his voice, and Sansa nodded in agreement. Her life would indeed be hell, based off of Joffrey's furious face. A few of his men now stood behind him, a group of roosters backing up a hysterical hen. Joffrey's body was shaking with rage as he screamed at her.
"Get back here, you bitch! You fucking cunt! You--"
Sandor choked out a short laugh. “He’s like an angry chihuahua.” Then he let go of her hand to wrap his arm around her back, and she heard from right beside her ear the near-whispered, "Look at me."
She turned her head, though her eyes took a moment to follow. But when they did, his face was right there, just a tilt of her head and she was looking up into his eyes, his mouth mere inches away from hers. She was instantly mesmerized by this--the closeness to a man who wasn’t Joffrey, a big, bearded man in her space, in her bubble, with severe gray eyes and puckered skin on his face.
"You don't deserve that little shit," he said, his breath a puff of mint against her lips. Her eyes dropped to his mouth, to the soft lower lip she could see under his mustache. Joffrey's yelling moved slightly below them when their chair lifted to the next level, allowing the operator to load the car beneath them.
"All I wanted was a stuffed dog," she said lamely, as words like cunt, bitch, and slut wafted up to them on the wind. But she wasn't paying attention, as Sandor's mouth was dropping towards hers in a tantalizing decent.
"I'll get you one," he said against her lips, the words forming as he pressed into her. His hand came up to slide around her neck, cupping the expanse of skin just below her ear as her hood fell back against the seat.
Sansa was shocked and surprised, watching his face for a moment as he kissed her mouth, eyes closed, all mint and man. Then, when she realized it was the most pleasant physical affection she'd felt in years, and with perhaps a good amount of adrenaline rushing through her system, her eyelids drifted shut. She brought her hand up to clasp the thick, hairy wrist that held her face, as her other hand gripped a handful of his t-shirt at his chest.
She thought she heard Joffrey choke and sputter, but soon the sound was gone, replaced by a ringing in her ears as Sandor slid his mouth over hers, kissing at her lower lip while she focused on the sensation of facial hair rubbing at her skin. It was so different from what she was used to, though not unpleasant, and it didn't hurt at all.
Then Sansa tilted her head and parted her lips, easing herself into the kiss as delicious chills ran through her body down to her bare toes, chills that mingled with the adrenaline but that had nothing to do with being chased, with fear or Joffrey or anything that had happened in the last ten minutes. These chills were pure, unadulterated attraction, and it surprised her to feel it pooling deep between her thighs.
She parted her lips again but when they closed this time, she found herself taking the softness of his lower lip between her own, unaccountably participating in this scandalous charade. She moaned at the erotic feel of his body's response--his fingertips twitching at her movements, before they slid against her scalp. She was affecting him, and it was a heady thought.
Their lips both parted at the same time and it was then that their tongues met, and Sansa released her grip on his shirt to slide her hand up and around his neck, her palm coursing over scar-roughened skin and into the hair at the nape of his neck.
He hummed into her mouth as his hand drifted down to her shoulder, down her side where it ghosted the side of her breast through the hoodie, down her waist to her hip and outer thigh. There, he grasped her and pulled at her, though she was already as close to him as she could be.
It wasn’t close enough for Sansa, and she let her other hand drop to his thigh, squeezing it during one particularly deep thrust of his tongue. She gasped around it and tilted her head the other way, giving him access to the other side of her mouth.
Nowhere in her mind did it occur to her that this was inappropriate, that she shouldn't be acting like this after being in a confrontation with her boyfriend. It never occurred to her to pull back, to remove her hands from his body, or to remove his from hers. It just felt so good, so right.
The ferris wheel was now full and beginning its first full rotation. As Sansa and Sandor rose over the peak and started to fall on the other side, her stomach shifted and she gasped into his mouth. He growled again, the grip on her back tightening in her hair as she slid her hand downward between his knees to give his thigh a squeeze. When they swooped under the wheel and soared back to the front of the ride, Joffrey fairly screamed in anger at the sight they presented to him.
Sansa couldn't help it—she broke the kiss to glance at him, a niggling of fear bothering the back of her mind at the reminder presented by his voice. But she only saw a man nearly Sandor's size, with hair that fairly matched Sansa's in fiery brilliance, suddenly step in front of Joffrey, blocking the smaller man from her view. The tall ginger turned and winked at Sandor, grinning like a cheshire cat.
Sansa turned back to Sandor--"Your friend?" she asked, with a smile. Sandor nodded, though his eyes were on her lips the whole time. It was all the encouragement she needed, as he now clamped his thighs around her hand and resumed their heated kiss.
The ride went around a few times, each time passing a hissing, screeching Joffrey until at last Sansa saw the tall redhead, as well as a very tall, very muscular blonde woman, carrying Joffrey out, one on each arm.
When the ride slowed to a stop and they were a couple spots in front of the ferris wheel’s peak, she broke the kiss. They were both breathing heavily, and she was shocked--shocked that her escape from Joffrey had somehow turned into one of the sexiest damned experiences of her life. She looked at Sandor, seeing the heat in his eyes. She darted her tongue out, tasting him on her lips before she bit it, a blush stealing across her skin under his gaze.
“Fucking hell,” he exclaimed quietly, eyes on her mouth. His expression was one of shock as well, and she inexplicably felt the need to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
“I'm, uh… I … Thank you, for rescuing me, Sandor.” Sansa stammered through her statement as he ran a hand down his face, pulling at his short beard. She pulled her hands away, smoothing the shirt over his chest where her grip had wrinkled it. Then she turned and faced outwards, looking out over the carnival as they moved up slightly, another booth being let out and new people getting on far below them.
“So,” he started, also turning. Sansa glanced over at him and he, too, was looking out over the carnival, towards the blinking lights, rides and vendors. She wondered if he was also seeing none of it.
“That was your boyfriend, huh?” She could see his scars beneath his hair now, and as she looked, he turned back to her.
Embarrassed at being caught staring, she blushed again, though she doubted he could see it. They weren’t exactly well-lit there at the top of the wheel.
She slumped back into the seat at the mention of Joffrey, once again reminded of how she got into this mess.
“Yes, that was him. I don’t know what to do now. Your friend grabbed him, but I didn’t see them escorting out any of Joffrey’s goons.” She looked over the side, wishing she could see all the faces of the people milling about at the bottom. She was sure some of them would belong to Joffrey--men he had hired to follow him around and protect him--more from himself than from other people, Sansa had always suspected. Those guys had gotten Joffrey out of innumerable scraps with men bigger than him, stronger than him, smarter than him.
Come to think of it, men like Sandor, she decided, as she looked over at him.
He turned to her at the same time, ready to say something until he saw her looking at him. He stopped then, closing his mouth as he watched her. Sansa was mildly uncomfortable, so she smiled.
Sandor didn’t smile, though his gaze was intense as he looked into her eyes. It was like he was trying to read her.
“I was going to say, I can get you out of the fair safely. My firm was hired for extra nighttime security.” Sansa’s eyebrows went up, understanding dawning on her at what he said.
“Oh my god--you weren’t waiting in line for the ferris wheel, were you…” Sandor did smile then, shaking his head slightly as the skin of his scar pulled unnaturally, causing folds down the edge of his cheek. His hair swayed where it fell in front of his shoulders. Sansa chuckled, completely embarrassed now. “I’m so sorry! But wait, how could you leave the fair if you’re on the job?”
Sandor admitted, sheepishly, “I’m the boss. I can do whatever I want.”
“Ah,” smiled Sansa, once again looking out at the carnival. The ride moved and they were now sitting at its highest point. Sansa’s spirits were raised at his assurance, though she wondered about what would happen afterwards, and how long it would take Joffrey to lose interest in her.
At the thought, her mood dampened all over again. She was wondering what to do when a thought struck her, and she turned back to Sandor.
“Why did you kiss me?” she asked pointedly.
She’d put him on the spot and she knew it, but she needed a distraction, and pursuing this line of thought was going to provide her with one.
She knew why she had kissed him--or rather, she knew the multitude of reasons why it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Among them was Fuck you, Joffrey, but she wasn’t going to tell Sandor that. She wasn’t going to tell him that because more than the desire to thumb her nose at the scrawny little blonde man, was the desire to press her lips to Sandor’s once he had hovered his mouth so close to hers, once she had nuzzled into his chest for those minutes while they were waiting for the ride, once she had slipped her hand into his much large warm paw, his hand engulfing hers as she held onto him and pretended to be his best friend. It was a strong desire had had built up over the course of the last, what?--10 minutes? 15? Sansa didn't even know.
He still hadn’t answered her, and she found herself raising one eyebrow, a smile forming on her mouth as she noted with a strange sort of joy that he was embarrassed.
“Well?” she prompted him. He turned back to her then, eyeing her from underneath that curtain of black hair, and he sighed.
“Damsel in distress?” he offered, a smile playing at his lips. Sansa shook her head.
“You must have had a better reason than that.”
He looked away then, and she wondered that perhaps he just didn’t want to tell her. “It’s okay, you don’t have to answer--”
“It was because I knew it would be like this,” he interrupted before tilting her face back to him and swooping down on her mouth, attacking it with a bruising, passionate kiss. Sansa’s response was immediate, with a warmth spreading through her body like wildfire as his hands came up to cup her face. Once again her hand gripped the front of his shirt and she pulled at him, feeling as though she couldn’t get close enough to this new, large, very warm body.
She played right into his hands, like putty, feeling the crazy attraction as keenly as he must have. Here, at the top of the wheel, there was no need to be shy, or to hide from anyone. So she let go of his shirt and slid her hand upwards, into the hair on his neck, under the collar of his t-shirt to grip the smooth skin she found at the top of his shoulder.
He was so different than Joffrey--so big and masculine, compared to Joffrey’s smaller, thin, effeminate demeanor. She was attracted to Sandor, and incredibly aware of his virile masculine presence.
When she would have crawled up onto his lap, the belt across their legs stopped her. She groaned into his mouth, sucking at his tongue and feeling him thrust it rhythmically. It was intense, the combination of him making love to her mouth and that taste of mint on his tongue.
A part of her was still attempting to be the voice of reason, telling her she didn’t know him, had only picked him because he was big, and that what the hell was she doing, kissing a stranger on the ferris wheel?!
“No one can see us anymore, we don’t have to do this,” she whispered as his mouth trailed kisses down her jaw to the side of her neck.
“I know,” he growled, a hand sliding down to grasp her waist, despite not being able to pull her closer.
Sansa whimpered, her other arm coming to rest behind his neck as he leaned in to suckle at her skin, kissing where she was sensitive at her collarbone. Her head fell back and she sighed, aware that he was growing bolder in his actions, and almost not caring.
But she was aware that there were indeed children on the ride, and that kissing was one thing--full-blown making out was another. And as much as she didn’t want to stop what he was doing, she pulled herself back to reality long enough to push him away.
“Sandor,” she hissed, painfully feeling the absence of his mouth from her skin. But she was breathing hard, and not from running. She glanced at him and his chest was moving, heaving with his breaths. “I…” She started to say that she had a boyfriend but thought of how ridiculous that sounded. No, she did not have a boyfriend. Nor did she have to rely on that knee-jerk reaction now, as she had done in the past when a man showed interest in her.
And, she found, nor did she want to.
She looked up into those soulful gray eyes that were staring so intently into hers, and she saw so many things--desire, curiosity, hope.
His hand still rested on her thigh and his fingers flexed against the bare skin, roughness on softness, giving her chills that sent a wave of goosebumps coursing over her body. She felt her nipples tighten beneath her top, under the massive tent of his hoodie.
She knew what she wanted then, and she decided to take it.
“Your place or mine?”