Fire comes from the east, and ice from the north, and one day Theon Greyjoy walks straight into the sea.
The whole of the world is crumbling around him, and the rest of them may be satisfied to go down fighting, but he'd learned to stop fighting years ago. King's Landing will go up in dragon's flame, and the little king will burn. The wall will crumble, and winter will come. Winter's been coming for years, or so Ned Stark had made it out to be, so he thinks it's about time it arrived.
Jon, Snow that he is - Stark that he is - is set on meeting winter halfway, but Theon knows a lost cause when he sees one. He sees one every time he looks in the mirror. If the world is going to go, he'll go first, and not give it the chance to take him.
If you'd asked him several years ago how he wanted to die, he'd tell you with a bow in his hands and the fever of battle hot in his veins, although the truth was he'd thought himself invincible, un-killable. If you'd asked him several months ago, he'd have cowered before you, frightened and brittle and with no idea of how to answer the question, because death was a luxury that he couldn't quite conceive of at that point.
He's different now, regrown some of his old self, but not nearly enough to have any desire to survive.
Asha laughs when she sees it in his eyes, that mad look of a man who feels himself already dead. She takes his face in her hands and kisses him, wetly and unlike a sister, right on the forehead. "What is dead may never die," she says, with that smirk curling her lips even now. She is ready for the war, she cannot wait to go down fighting, but she knows as well as he that her brother is unfit for battle. Unfit for living, even.
Hobbling and fingerless, he doesn't quite manage to smirk back. But rises again harder and stronger, he thinks, but doesn't say. He knows it's just another lie.
Jeyne grabs at his furs, clutching him and crying quietly. She is damaged, but intact - still a person, still with a life to live, still with a name. She doesn't want to watch him die. "Please don't go," she whispers, her voice thick with tears.
He cannot quite manage to look her in the eyes, but he runs a hand down her back and tells her, "Don't forget your name."
Snow says nothing to him, as is usual. He'd housed him at The Wall for months under Stannis's orders, and while he is too tired to hate Theon, he probably won't particularly miss him, either.
He nods and Snow nods back and then there is no one else to part with. There is no one else who will remember him. Ramsay, maybe, if he still lives, but he won't remember him, not Theon. Just what he had made him into.
It is cold at Eastwatch, and the water is colder. He can taste the salt on the air and he doesn't look back to see if they're watching him, he just goes, until he's got no more ground to stand on and the waves crash over his head, filling his throat and eyes and ears. He listens for the laughter of the Drowned God's watery halls, but all he hears is the surf and his own slowing heartbeat.
He is tired, and it feels good just to float. Even feels good to sink.
He does not know himself when he wakes, does not know his body nor the ground he's lying on. He is weak and waterlogged and starving, and it takes him hours, maybe days, to sit up.
He doesn't wonder if he's dead, because it is all too sharp and bright and painful to be anything but life, but he does not know where he is or how he'd survived, either.
It is very cold, and all is very white, and he is beyond The Wall, he thinks. No - he knows. It is all that he knows, because he can hear them, the Old Gods, speaking to him. There are many and more heart trees in the north, and each one speaks with the same voice, a boy's voice, a voice he had once known.
Theon, they whisper to him. Theon. You are not done yet.
He is an Iron Islander, a son of the Drowned God, but right then, as he lies half-dead on the frozen shore, he thinks that he can hear the song of earth.