The men file out of the war council one at a time, each one bowing slightly to Robb as they pass through the door, the last few exchanging hidden frowns as Robb catches Theon's sleeve, as he asks Theon to stay in a tired, rumbling voice. Theon has learned to ignore the dark looks his friendship with Robb often earns him; he smiles at Rickard Karstark and the Blackfish before he turns back to the table, busies himself with the maps and letters strewn across it as he waits for Maege Mormont to close the door behind her.
I could have been a Stark, he thinks sourly, pressing his shaking hand to the shadows and whorls on the map that make up the Westerlands. I would have been willing, had you only been willing to let me. Robb's bannermen abide Theon because Robb keeps him close, because Robb considers him as much a brother as Jon and Bran and Rickon, but these men once sworn to Ned Stark do not trust him; they have not forgotten that Theon is a hostage, and Theon knows they never will. I suppose I must be a Greyjoy instead. I only hope I still remember how.
"You leave in the morning?" Robb asks quietly, his hands flat on the table, his fingers splayed along the Red Mountains of Dorne.
"Jason Mallister would prefer first light," Theon replies, finishing the wine at the bottom of his cup, bitter with dregs. "It will depend on how much Patrek drinks tonight."
Robb almost laughs, just a short, soft huff of a sound burring in the back of his throat. His eyes are darkly shadowed, the skin underneath the color of an old bruise; he grows more weary by the day, the longer his father's men call him a king, his face closed and narrow and tight, a muscle always twitching against the line of his jaw. "Take care on your journey," he says, pulling the crown from his head, wincing as it snags in his hair. "I would prefer it if you came back to me in one piece."
"Of course," Theon murmurs, taking the crown from Robb's hands and setting it on the table, tucking a wild strand of Robb's hair behind his ear before he can think better of it. A queer knot settles in his stomach, heavier than a stone and colder than ice; he doubts he will be coming back at all, thinks Robb knows it as well as he does, knows neither wishes to be the first to admit it out loud.
He lets his hand linger in Robb's hair too long, his palm pressed to the shell of Robb's ear; he tries to deflect the dark look in Robb's eyes with a laugh, the sound thin and hollow and false between them, but Robb catches him as he starts to pull away, wrapping his fingers over the back of Theon's hand, brushing his thumb along the inside of Theon's wrist. They've been here before, this strange place that itches at something under Theon's skin, that tugs on the hair at the back of Theon's neck; he has always made himself turn away from it -- because Robb is dearer to him that his own brothers ever were, because Robb is the closest thing he has ever had to a friend -- but Robb's grip is stronger than iron tonight, and his mouth is parted slightly, just enough that Theon can see the wet pink of his tongue.
Robb gasps quietly when Theon kisses him, the noise trapped somewhere between surprise and relief; his back pulls as taut as a bow-string, but his cock is hard against Theon's hip, and he presses closer as Theon's arm wraps around his waist, doesn't move away when Theon's tongue slides into his mouth. We should do this properly, Theon thinks, twisting his fingers in the tails of Robb's doublet, letting his other hand rest at the hollow of Robb's throat. I should bring him back to my chambers, where we can at least take off our clothes, but Theon knows that if he stops now, Robb will let his honor drive him back to his own rooms alone out of shame or fear or both, and Theon doesn't want to risk losing this now that he finally has it.
"Theon, Theon," Robb mumbles, his face warm and flushed, his hand curled at the back of Theon's neck, his thumb stroking the skin below Theon's ear. "You don't -- we aren't--"
"Shut up," Theon says, dragging his mouth over Robb's jaw, and he nearly laughs, because that's no way to speak to a king, but the ache in Theon's chest is too sharp and tight for it, and Robb was never Theon's king anyway, won't be once Theon returns to the sea. "Just, just let me."
Robb nods slowly, making a soft noise against Theon's cheek, shaky and breathless, caught in the back of his throat. He tucks his face in the slope of Theon's shoulder as Theon runs his hand over the front of his breeches, as Theon curves his palm over the hard line of his cock, leaves it hidden there until Theon noses at him for another kiss. Robb returns it too roughly, his tongue pushing into Theon's mouth too fast, his hand knotting in Theon's hair and pulling to hard, and Theon wonders how many girls Robb has kissed, if he has kissed any at all, if he'd lied when he told Theon he'd put his hand up a kitchen maid's shirt. We should've done this sooner, Theon thinks, but it's more than half a lie; he knows having had this for weeks or months would only make it more difficult to leave. I need to remember who I am. I've lived in your shadow for half my life; I cannot do it anymore.
Theon bites the the well of Robb's lip as he tugs on Robb's laces, kisses the hinge of Robb's jaw as he pushes Robb's breeches down past his hips, sucks a warm bruise into the skin behind Robb's ear as first draws his fingers over Robb's cock. It takes a moment to get his hand moving the right way, to find a comfortable angle for his wrist, to make space enough for his arm between the tight press of their bodies; Robb shudders against him, his hands digging sharply into Theon's waist, his mouth open and wet at the dip of Theon's throat, and Theon presses closer to him, nudging him back against the table, the maps bending and folding under Robb's ass as Theon rubs himself against Robb's hip.
Robb moans as Theon's hand strokes up the length of him, and he leans back a little, enough that Theon can see his face, his flushed cheeks and his wide eyes, his swollen lips, wet and red, creased by the anxious press of his teeth. He tries to open Theon's breeches, his hand shaking as he fumbles with the placket, as his fingers snag the laces into a knot; he curses under his breath, then rubs Theon with his palm, sweet pressure from the slow heel of his hand, and Theon stills for a moment, inhaling sharply through his nose, as close to embarrassing himself as he had the first time he had sex, when he'd tried to fuck the miller's wife at fourteen and only managed to spend helplessly on her thigh.
I should take you with me, Theon thinks, kissing Robb so he won't say it out loud. I would tell my father you're my salt-wife, close to laughing again, because it's a poor jape if it's any jape at all. If one belongs to the other then it's Theon to Robb, since Robb was five years-old and asking Theon to show him how to shoot a bow, begging Theon to carry him around on his shoulders, the only person at Winterfell who'd never really cared that Theon was a hostage, who'd rarely bothered to broach the subject even once he'd been old enough to understand what it meant. Theon sucks Robb's tongue into his mouth, runs his thumb along the ridge under the head of Robb's cock; he wishes that they had done this before, even if it would only make Theon regret leaving more that he already will, because now he must sail to Pyke without ever having his cock inside Robb's body, without tasting the skin at the creases of Robb's hips, without knowing what Robb sounds like with his cock in Theon's mouth.
Robb spends with his mouth at Theon's neck and his hand clutching at Theon's back, shaking as Theon slowly strokes him through it, as Theon brushes his other hand into Robb's hair, threading Robb's soft auburn curls around his fingers. Robb leans into Theon's chest with a low, breathless moan, his fingers clumsy and trembling as he tries again to unlace Theon's breeches; Theon catches Robb's hand and holds it there, his hips snapping forward as he rubs and presses against it, his eyes sliding closed as the heat in his gut snaps and twists and flares.
"Come back to me," Robb says quietly, his fingers curled in the collar of Theon's doublet, his lips fluttering against Theon's jaw.
If I don't leave you, I'll only end up dying with you.
Theon kisses him again, because it's easier than finding a lie either of them will believe.