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you were the song all along

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The band was Theon’s idea. They also were both half-drunk when he had it, but that isn’t the point – neither of them wasn’t in possession of his full faculties.

To be more specific, the two of them had been crashing on Robb’s sofa, drinking beer and trying to keep the body count of the four Die Hard movies, which had been Theon’s idea of cheering Robb up. It had been moderately working – heck, he hadn’t been thinking about football or Jeyne or Walder Frey or Tywin Lannister for the previous six hours, and it was good enough for him.

The breaking point had happened when Theon lost count sometime in the middle of the third movie.

“I’m not sure this is helping,” he had said in a (rare) moment of utter sincerity, and Robb hadn’t bothered denying it.

“It’s helping some,” he had answered. It was true. It was helping some, after all.

“Robb, we’ve known each other since – since I can fucking remember, and excuse me if I tell you that you’re not any better off than you were when this whole crap went down. Don’t bullshit with me. I’d know that.”

Robb doesn’t try to bullshit with him. He shudders – he knows that Theon would get what it means, and in comparison, Robb doesn’t feel like he should even complain. Fine, his football career is gone forever and the paparazzi won’t leave him alone, but he still has a supportive family, he still has money to fall back on and he’s… well, fine. Technically. Theon had it a lot worse.

To think that one year ago –

“Okay. No, I’m not fine. But I’ll get over it. It’s just, that’s what I always wanted to do. I don’t even – I guess it’s that I have no idea what I should do with my life the moment the press forgets about me.” He takes a sip of his beer, not noticing the way Theon’s eyes narrow. If he were paying attention, he’d recognize that look. It’s the way Theon looks like when he gets some kind of idea that sounds like genius in his head, and half of the time it’s good and the rest it’s a disaster.

“You know what?” he whispers a moment later. Robb puts his beer back on the table and looks at him.

“What?”

“I know what you should do now. And I know what I should do now.”

“You – you do?”

“We should totally start a band.”

For a moment, Robb thinks he heard wrong.

“We should what? Theon, you’re the one with training. I can’t play for shit. What band you’d put on with me?”

“You don’t need to play anything. Come on, don’t you remember when they picked you for Danny when in high school someone decided to stage Grease the last year? You were a fucking natural and I can’t sing for my life. You can sing, I can deal with the rest.”

“You can’t have a rock group with two people if one just sings.”

Theon’s lips curl up in a small, pleased smile. “Who said that I wanted to put on a rock group with you? Simon and Garfunkel managed fine without anyone else, and I’m good enough that I can cover for any lack of instruments.”

“You want to be in a folk duo with me?” The entire thing seems absurd, especially because well, Robb knows enough about the level of fucked up in Theon’s family and he knows that Theon’s dad would and could throw him out for that. Which only confirms Robb that Theon’s father is batshit crazy, because fucking metal music shouldn’t be a reason to disown your kid.

Theon shrugs, looking a bit put out by Robb’s lack of obvious enthusiasm. “Why not? You have a good voice. I can play. It’d give us both something to do. And – you know. Maybe it’d be good for me, too.”

Theon doesn’t need to elaborate on that. Robb knows what he means.

Robb’s known since they were ten that Theon’s dream was playing folk music, and he had been the only one for a good reason – coming from a family where your father is some kind of obscure metal legend and everyone else is a musician and plays a variation on the theme means that they might look down on you for liking Metallica.

(Let’s not even get started on Joni Mitchell.)

So Theon spent his adolescence pretending to like it and Robb had been the only one who knew the truth. Until Theon got in this moderately successful-on-the-scale-of-playing-in-seedy-bars-band a couple years ago, right at the time when Winterfell United had qualified for the Champions League and a couple of minor trophies, which meant that Robb had seen him a lot less than he’d have liked. Anyway, the first time Robb saw them live he had thought that the singer was a fucking creep, but he also had known that Theon was having a no strings attached relationship thing going on with the guy (in his quest to try any possible kind of sex, or so Theon had told him) so he had kept the opinion to himself.

He had regretted it when six months later he got a call from Theon’s sister Asha, who was somewhere in Japan for her very successful tour of her very successful metal band, and she told him that she hadn’t heard from her brother in three months. Now, they never were too close and there was the entire sibling rivalry going on, but it wasn’t like she never cared, and maybe Robb could tell Theon to fucking call or find out what was wrong?

It turned out that Theon hadn’t answered him either, and the next day he called Robb saying that he really needed someone to pick him up from some place Robb hadn’t even known existed, and when Robb did, he was sporting a black eye, a broken rib, there was blood coming from his split lip and his left ring finger was broken in at least three places.

Robb had brought him to the nearest hospital and called Jon – he had never been happier to have a brother in the police – and after Theon pressed charges, no one heard about Ramsay Bolton until the trial, and after that – well, it’ll be years before he’s out.

But the point had been that Theon hadn’t even attempted to play again in public after that, and hadn’t even mentioned that he’d still want to play music for a living. Which was just all kinds of wrong because while Theon always hated the genre he was stuck with, it was obvious that playing music had always been what he wanted to do.

Whenever Robb thinks about Ramsay Bolton, he feels only blind rage. And he feels awfully guilty because you’d think you’d notice if your best friend ends up in a relationship with a fucking psychopath.

So he knows what it means that Theon is asking him now, and shit, the idea of singing folk music for a living makes him feel ridiculous and he doesn’t know if he can pull that off – he’s good at singing, sure, but you just don’t improvise like that.

Still, he doesn’t have anything better to do. He’s just wasting his time and hiding from the paparazzi and trying not to think about Jeyne and her small, shy smile that had done him in. There’s no reason why he should say no – at worst, it won’t work out.

And Theon’s never been the kind to ask for what he wants – Robb is aware of that, thank you very much. He’s known the idiot for… well, twenty years or something like that, and he knows the way he ticks.

“You’re serious about it,” he says.

“Well. Yeah, but if you don’t feel like –”

“Fine.”

“ – you don’t have to – what?”

“I said fine. But you pick the name and you tell me what to do. I have no idea of how you even begin to… be a folk singer. Whatever. But – I mean, are you sure that –” Robb doesn’t want to say that you can play the way you used to when you have a completely fucked up finger.

Theon rolls his eyes. “Robb, Jerry Garcia played just fine and he didn’t have one finger at all, I think I can work around that. And it’s not fucking speed metal. I can handle it. And yeah. I’m sure. It’s what I always wanted, and – it’s not that I don’t know anyone else that would do it.”

He doesn’t add anything else, but as stated, Robb can read him like an open book. It’s that there’s no one else I could do it with, is what he isn’t saying.

Luckily for him, Robb isn’t ridiculously impaired at dealing with his own feelings. Then again, he hasn’t grown up in the midst of people who think that if you even think about your feelings then you’re a failure of a human being.

“Okay then. We can try it.”

“… you’re serious.”

“Why, do you even think that I’d lead you around about that? Sure. Fine. It’s a living, I guess.”

Now, Theon smiles pretty much all the time. Or better: he smiles all the time when he’s around other people – not so much when it’s just Robb. Robb took it for what it was ages ago, but he never really liked it. It’s not real, it’s just something Theon puts on so that the rest of the world thinks everything’s good and fine with him.

But whenever he smiles when he’s with Robb it actually reaches his eyes, and when his lips curl up now, Robb can’t help thinking that he hasn’t seen him this happy in years.

Fine.

He’ll try this folk duo thing. Just to see how it goes.

--

Robb Stark meets Theon Greyjoy in kindergarten when they’re both three going on four. Now, Robb doesn’t really remember much of that time in his life – who remembers everything they were doing at three, anyway? – but he remembers the day they met just fine. It was during winter, Theon hadn’t been there from the beginning of the year, and one day the teacher showed up with this new kid in tow saying that they should make him feel welcome and other things that Robb hadn’t really heard even then. Mostly because he was busy paying attention to what other kids were saying – mostly they were all variations on the theme of ‘the new kid looks weird’. Okay, well, he was the only person in the room dressed completely in black, but Robb had thought it was cool, not weird. And guess what, his mom had brought him in late that morning and in that moment they were sitting at small tables drawing, and the only free place was in front of him.

The new kid (Robb hadn’t caught the name) had sat down on the chair, looking like a fish out of water, his eyes downcast, as if he wanted to curl on himself and disappear. Robb had figured that he wasn’t going to introduce himself, but it was okay – Robb figured also that if everybody looked at you as if they didn’t get what you were doing in here, you were allowed to look sulky.

“Hey. I’m Robb,” he had said, and the new kid had startled for a moment before meeting his eyes, looking strangely pleased by the attention.

“I’m Theon,” he had answered, and Robb had thought that it was a cool name – he didn’t know anybody named Theon, and it sounded nice, and he said that, and Theon had looked pleased instead of sulking.

Robb had thought that it suited him a lot more.

The following day, Theon had been the one to come to his table in the morning.

“Can – can I sit here again?”

“Sure!”

After that, they went through elementary school, junior high and high school together, and neither of them ever shared a desk with anyone else.

--

Robb can’t help it – he feels ridiculous. He shouldn’t – hell, it’s just him and Theon and no one fucking else, and it’s just normal that if they’re serious about this they have to see if they’re actually decent at performing together. Groups without chemistry don’t really last long. Not that Robb is worried about that, they’ve been living in each other’s pockets for most of their lives and he can guess what Theon’s going to say from the way he blinks by now, but – what if it’s a disaster? For him it wouldn’t be too much of a big deal, after all it’s not his scene, but… Theon is so into this folk group thing that the idea that this might be the one thing where they don’t click together is frankly terrifying.

The moment he thinks that, he wishes he could punch himself. He’s freaking out for things that haven’t happened yet, though maybe the location is also a problem. They’re at Theon’s place, which is actually his sister’s basement, but Asha Greyjoy’s basement is pretty much an attic – she’s the only person in the entire family that actually put up an extremely successful band, and the only one that’s on speaking terms with Theon right now. After the Ramsay Bolton failure he had been staying at Robb’s for a couple of months and then he moved there, also because Asha is on tour for at least six months each year and he said he needed his space, and it’s a lot more convenient for stashing music gear than Robb’s guest room.

Asha is somewhere in Germany right now, so no one is going to find them out, but Robb has this irrational fear that some other random Greyjoy might walk in at any time and find the both of them practicing with… well, not electric instruments.

While he worries himself sick, Theon is ruffling through a pile of sheets and notebooks, nodding here and there, and Robb lets him. When he’s done, he grabs an acoustic guitar hidden in the closet (for precaution in case of impromptu family visits – Robb will never not think that each one of Theon’s relatives that isn’t Asha isn’t batshit crazy. Not that Asha is the poster girl for sane, but at least she doesn’t scare the living shit out of anyone that’s not related to her and she doesn’t think that disliking the family business is a reason to shun you).

“Okay, so, pick a song.”

“Er, sorry?”

“Robb, you’re the one who has to sing. Just pick something that we both know and let’s see if we’re going somewhere.”

“Oh. Sure. I don’t know, since we’re doing the folk duo thing let’s just go with Simon and Garfunkel?”

“Yeah, good pick. So, which one do you want to try?”

“Fuck, I don’t even – okay, Bridge over Troubled Water. I suppose it’s as good as any other.”

“Good. Grab that chair and tell me when you’re ready.”

Theon goes to sit on the battered sofa that is also his bed, and Robb grabs the only free chair in the room. He sits, breathes in, runs the lyrics through in his head (he remembers it, cool, fine, great), then he clears his throat.

“Right. I guess we can start.”

It’s easier said than done – there are two false starts (one is Theon’s fault, he had forgotten the third chord or something and had to look that up, the second is Robb’s – he starts too late), but then at the third Theon gets it right, and Robb closes his eyes and tries to forget how awkward this entire situation is.

And then he starts to sing at exactly the right moment.

“When you’re weary, feeling small…”

--

When they’re seven, Theon’s mother dies. After the funeral, Theon spends an awful lot of time at the Starks’s. Not that Robb minds, but there’s something he can’t put his finger on and it drives him crazy. See, Theon’s not really the sulky type, not as much as he had seemed when they first met. Actually, Theon’s the funniest person he knows even if a lot of people don’t think he is – their loss, Robb figures – and he had stopped being sulky a week after they met, and so when Theon turns somewhat withdrawn Robb doesn’t like it one bit. At the beginning he doesn’t make much of it – if his mum had died, Robb would have taken it a lot worse, he’s sure (Theon just looks sad and doesn’t talk much, Robb knows that he’d miss her so much that he’d probably start crying more than once each day). But three months later it doesn’t go away, and Robb starts to wonder if there’s something else going on.

So he asks, because they’re best friends and why shouldn’t he?

Theon laughs, but it’s not his usual, nice laugh – there’s no joy in it.

“She cared,” Theon answers with a shrug. “Asha does, too, I guess, but she’s busy with the band and she’s never around. I hate it at home.”

Oh. So that was it – Robb gets it, more or less, even if he doesn’t get Theon’s brothers or his dad – Robb’s dad wouldn’t just ignore him or Sansa or Arya if their mum died. He knows that.

“Don’t say you’re sorry,” Theon says when Robb opens his mouth.

“I know you don’t like it,” Robb answers, a bit hurt. They’ve known each other four years, one would suppose that Theon would get that Robb knows the things he doesn’t like to hear.

“Oh. Then what?”

“I was saying that if you want to stay the night sometimes you can just ask mum. No one’ll mind.”

“For real?”

Robb nods and Theon doesn’t look at him when he asks if tonight would be cool. Robb asks his dad and he says that it’s not a problem but that he has to talk to Theon’s father or some relative. Theon says that his father isn’t in town or anywhere they can find him, so they end up calling one of his brothers.

Theon winces when his brother screams into the phone loud enough for the entire room to hear that as far as he’s concerned Theon can stay there for the next week, he has more important business to care about.

“I suppose that was a yes,” Ned deadpans, and Robb spends the rest of the day thinking about how he can make it better. Friends are supposed to help each other when things don’t go well, and when he comes up with the perfect idea he decides to keep it to himself until evening.

That night, when he knows that Theon is pretending to be asleep in the spare bed in Robb’s room, he goes to the kitchen first and to one of the bathrooms later – good thing that the first aid kit is in a cupboard and not on top of some shelf.

Then he promptly goes to shake Theon’s shoulder.

“Robb, what –“

“Can I ask a question?”

“I guess.”

“Are both your brothers like that?”

Theon snorts. “Why do you think that Asha is the best out of them?”

Good point. Robb thinks that Asha is the scariest girl he’s ever met, but Theon likes her, so he supposes she’s okay.

Fine then. He reaches on the floor and shows Theon the small knife he stole from the kitchen, and Theon’s eyes go wide.

“You’re supposed to look out for your brother. Or sister.” And Robb would know that – he’d never be that mean to Jon or Sansa or Arya. “If they don’t then I could. If you want.” He turns upward the palm of his free hand.

“You want to – oh.” Theon notices the first aid kit, as well, and he doesn’t say anything else.

Robb hasn’t ever seen Theon speechless. He doesn’t know if it’s a good thing or not. But then Theon grabs the knife from him.

“Yeah. That’d be – I’d like it. But let me do that. I know how to use that.”

“Why would you?”

“Long story. So, we’re doing it?”

Robb smirks and sits up on the bed. Theon cuts a shallow line across Robb’s palm without pressing too much, and then he does the same on his own.

Then he puts his hand over Robb’s, slightly hesitating, and Robb curls their fingers together – he was serious when he decided to do it, thank you very much, he isn’t doing it halfway.

For some miracle, they manage to wrap their hands up without getting blood on their clothes or on the bed, and the next morning both cuts are healed enough that they don’t have to go around with bandages.

Theon sleeps in Robb’s room for the next week and he doesn’t look as sad anymore.

--

“And like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind,” Robb finishes, and he doesn’t realize that he sung the entire thing straight, without a hitch and putting enough feeling in it that it didn’t sound as if he was just making his way through it until the music’s over and he has opened his eyes.

It was – he doesn’t even know how to describe it, but when it comes back to him he thinks that it was fucking good, and when he turns to his left and meets Theon’s shit-eating grin he knows they’re on to something.

“I knew you had it in you, Stark,” Theon says, almost gloating, and Robb wants to scowl but he hasn’t seen Theon look this good in a long time and he lets it slide.

“Well, I guess –”

“No guessing. Oh, that’s good – now I can finally use this stuff.”

“Use what?”

For an answer, Theon runs to his desk, runs through the sheets again, takes a small pile and stuffs it into a notebook before thrusting it in Robb’s hands.

When no explanation is provided, Robb opens the notebook. And then he realizes that it’s all songs. Original songs. On the notebook itself there are lyrics written in a neat hand, with chords hastily written underneath; the loose sheets are all obviously works in progress. Robb whistles as he goes through the entire thing – there’s enough songs to fill up two records.

“Woah, how long have you been working on these?”

“Years. Not so much in the last one, and it’s all in the random sheets. I think they’re crap, but I figured – well, it’s shit that you’d have to sing so… I don’t know, take a look, bring that home and tell me what you think? If you want to change the lyrics just go with it, that never was my strong point.”

“Because I am a lyricist?”

“Well, you were the one helping me with English homework back then. You write better than I ever did.”

“It’s just – wow. That’s a lot. Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

Theon shrugs. “Nothing personal, but the first time my brother found my notebook with songs drafts and understood that it wasn’t his genre, he showed my dad and they burned it in front of me. And I think I hadn’t told anyone even back then. I figured I should play it safe. At least Asha doesn’t go through my things in her spare time.”

Robb’s opinion of Theon’s relatives isn’t improving anytime soon. “I’m – okay, no, I know. But –”

“Robb, no. It’s over and done. Just go home, give those a read and then call me tomorrow. And if you think some suck ass just say it, I can take some criticism.”

“Some?”

“Well, not too much.” Theon winks at him and Robb puts everything back into the notebook.

He doesn’t tell Theon that even if some of what’s in there sucks, which Robb doesn’t know since he hasn’t had time to look at it properly, he thinks that it’s pretty damn impressive.

For all he boasts and for how popular Theon had been in high school, he was never great at accepting some honest to god praise. When he gets inside his car, he rubs absentmindedly the faint, light scar that runs along his palm.

--

The secret comes out when they’re ten. It’s summer and they’re both hiding under this tree next to Theon’s place – they’re here just because for some chance of destiny Asha is the only one in the house because she’s writing for her debut record, and the rest of the family hadn’t had a quibble with leaving her alone when she said she needed calm. None of them ever got a record deal at seventeen and they’re all suitably impressed. But Theon hadn’t exactly been too eager to go with the rest of the family to his uncle Euron’s seaside house for the holidays, and Asha had said that as long as she was left alone most of the time she wouldn’t have minded – it’s not as if Theon spent hours practicing solos in the yard. It’s nice not to have anyone else around, to be honest – not that Robb doesn’t like it at home, but between his mother’s last pregnancy and his other three siblings and all their friends, he forgets what silence is.

So if he can just chill out with his best friend without anyone else around, he’ll take the chance.

“Robb?”

“Yes?”

“If I tell you something, can you swear not to tell anyone? And with anyone, I mean anyone.”

“All right. Sure.”

“Robb, I mean it. You can’t tell, okay?”

“I won’t! Come on, since when I ever done that with you?”

“Yeah. I guess. Uh, well, it’s that – I think – I think I hate metal.”

The following moment of silence stretches out for at least a minute, until Robb swallows and moves closer to Theon.

“You hate – since when?”

“Since always. I can’t stand it.”

“But you always said –”

Theon nods towards the house and shrugs. Right. Robb has met Theon’s father once, a few months ago, and he had been dismissed after he truthfully answered that his favorite singer is Leonard Cohen and that he occasionally likes his mom’s classical music records.

“So what do you like? For real.”

Theon shrugs again. “The stuff my mum liked. Mostly. Joni Mitchell. Bob Dylan. Simon and Garfunkel. Fairport Convention. That kind of thing. Robb, I mean it when I say that –”

“Theon, come on, I feel insulted here.”

“Right. Sorry, it’s just – you know how he is.”

“Yeah, I know. You know what, stop thinking about your dad. Let’s do something else.”

“Like what? There’s nothing ‘round here, Stark. Unless you want to carve your name into the tree.”

“Huh.” That doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all, as far as Robb’s concerned. “Why not? Let’s do it.”

“Let’s?”

“It was your idea, and I know you stole your brother’s Swiss knife.”

“Oh, why not. Fine. Knock yourself out.”

Theon tosses him the knife and Robb carefully carves his name into the tree’s trunk; when he’s done, he hands it back to Theon, who tries to make the letters look less rough than Robb’s – he gives up after the first two.

“Gosh, it’s horrible.” Theon sounds as if he’s about to laugh out loud.

Robb has to admit that it does, but that wasn’t the point.

He’s about to answer when Asha calls them from the porch, saying that dinner’s ready.

“Race you?” he asks instead.

“As if you’d win.”

They actually get there at the same time.

--

He calls Theon at noon the next day – if he knows him, he has gone to bed late. Meaning, five AM late.

“They’re mostly good, you know.” He doesn’t lose time with greetings. “Well, I’m not ever going to sing that one about the octopus living under a lake in Scotland, just fucking forget it, and that one about the pirate ship needs a lot more work, just to say one, but apart from those two – I think you aren’t half as bad at lyrics as you think.”

“The octopus living under a lake in Scotland?!”

“Man, you wrote it. The word kraken is repeated too many times for my tastes.”

“Wait – oh, yeah, I was drunk. I think. A lot. Just forget it exists. You can throw it in the wastebin. Really, I was trashed. No one else needs to know it exists. But – you mean that you can work with the rest?”

“Yeah. Sure. I told you, these are good. I’m sure they’ll be better when I actually hear the music, but we can totally work with it. I guess.”

“Uh. Good. Then – let me grab some gear and I’ll come over.”

Some gear translates into yesterday’s acoustic guitar and another notebook full of chords that aren’t definitely in draft stage.

“So, was there something you liked better? Other than the octopus and the pirates.”

“Let me see.”

Robb spends the next handful of minutes trying to relocate the five or six song lyrics he had liked better and meanwhile he hands Theon all the ones where he had ended up changing the phrasing or filling the blanks here and there. The entire thing almost makes Robb dizzy – he can’t remember the last time he saw Theon this excited, and to be honest it’s contagious. He has no idea of what he’s doing, but he likes it, and it’s a good thing that the two of them could finish each other’s sentences. Two hours later, they have a couple of drafts that Theon swears could do nicely.

Robb grabs the first and tells him to play while he reads it through another couple of times, and when Theon starts, he thinks that it’s really lovely music. Slow, not intrusive but catchy, the exact opposite of what Robb has heard of his sister’s music. He also looks a lot happier playing that than he looked when he was in metal bands, and Robb has seen at least a concert of each.

Never mind that he hates metal, too, it was all for support.

“Okay, so, where do you think I should start?”

“Fifteen seconds in, when I went like –”

“And what are you two doing?”

They both stop when they’re interrupted. Jon and Arya are outside Robb’s room, the door open; they both look like they can’t believe what they’re seeing. Jon looks like he could barely manage to put the question together.

“What does it look like, Snow?” Theon asks.

“Like he’s helping you with something songwriting-related?” Jon offers.

“Not exactly,” Robb answers.

“No way,” Arya says. “No way. You two – you two are in some group together?”

“That was the general idea. I have nothing better to do, he has nothing better to do and it’s low-key enough. So what?”

“But – just with a guitar?” Jon asks, perplexed. “Wasn’t your genre –”

“Wait, you never told him?” Theon asks Robb, ignoring Jon completely.

Robb raises an eyebrow. “Greyjoy, which part of ‘I swore I’d never tell a soul until you changed your mind’ did you forget? Of course I haven’t.”

“Huh.” Theon doesn’t speak for a moment, but then he turns the shit-eating grin at Jon and Arya. “Well, Snow, fact is, I fucking hate metal. Always hated, always will, and damn, I hadn’t realized it’d feel this good to say it out loud.”

“So what are you doing… exactly?” Arya asks.

“Folk duo,” Robb says before it can turn into a guessing game.

Frankly, seeing both Jon and Arya looking utterly baffled and wearing matching expressions is worth it. When he sees that Theon is trying not to laugh in their face Robb can’t hold it in anymore and second later the both of them have let both instrument and sheets go because they’re too busy trying not to fall from the chair.

“You’re both insane, but good luck,” Jon says before grabbing Arya’s arm and leaving.

When they both recover, Theon has tears in his eyes and Robb thinks his chest hurts.

He hadn’t thought that this entire band thing would turn out to be the best idea Theon’s ever had, but maybe he needs to reevaluate the situation.

--

The first time Robb realizes how exactly fucked up Theon’s family is, they’re both twelve and Theon has disappeared for his birthday, as usual. It’s nothing new – when it rolls around, he falls off the face of the earth for the day before and the one later, and Robb had always assumed that it was because there was some kind of huge family party.

In his defense, huge birthday parties were his family’s usual, so he had always assumed that it was the same for everyone else. He knew nothing.

Anyway, when they’re twelve, he still doesn’t know any better. Theon drops off the radar, Robb doesn’t make much of that and shells out a good third of his current savings to get him this new shiny Watchmen reprint. He doesn’t get the appeal of something so depressing, to be honest, but Theon has worn out his copy to pieces and he’s crazy over it, and it’s not like it’s Robb’s birthday – if that’s what Theon likes then fine, it’s not for him to judge his tastes.

When Theon finally comes back to school two days after his birthday, as usual, he looks… well, livid would be too much, but he snaps at everyone except Robb and Robb thinks that while it was his turn to get questioned in math, the teacher himself was too scared to call him to the blackboard.

Robb keeps his present stuffed in his backpack and says nothing until recess, where he grabs Theon’s elbow and finds the two of them a quiet corner in the garden.

“What’s up with you?” he asks, careful to keep his tone neutral.

“Nothing.”

Right, obviously.

“Theon, it’s not nothing. Mr. Baelish over there was terrified of asking you to come over, and I don’t think that guy is ever scared of anything. What the fuck is going on?”

Theon shrugs, drops sitting down to the ground. “Would you mind if next year it happens that your sister really needs some math tutoring, this time of the year?”

Robb is sincerely baffled. What does that even have to do with Theon’s sour mood?

“Er, if it has to be some kind of lie I suppose I can talk her into it, but what’s the deal?”

“You ever wondered what I do for my birthday?”

“Yeah, but I never thought that asking you was a good idea.”

Theon snorts, nods in approval. “Well, it’s a family thing – you know how they are, it’s not like we stick together much, so whenever someone has a birthday they pick a random house and everyone moves there for three days and there’s no excuse to skip it if it’s yours. It’s – well, their idea of celebrating is hosting a mini-festival in whoever’s garden.”

“Sounds… peculiar?”

“It’s shit. I don’t even like that music, for fuck’s sake. But whatever – that’s not it. It’s just, since my mom died it’s like – when it’s my turn it’s just an excuse for the family reunion. You know how I passed the last three days? Hearing everyone congratulating my sister on album sales. I don’t think anyone talked to me more than once. That’s why I asked you that. I mean, if your sister needs urgent math tutoring I can just excuse myself and they’ll have the reunion in my name anyway, and I won’t have to bore myself to death.”

“Wow. That… really sucks?” Robb offers, feeling wholly inadequate to provide a decent answer. He hadn’t really thought that it would be that kind of thing.

“Yeah, well, at least now I have duplicates of a bunch of Slayer records that were duplicates last year. I should sell them, not as if anyone will check. Whatever. I just want to be done with the farce.”

“I can imagine.” He doesn’t say that he’s sorry, he knows Theon doesn’t want to hear it, but then he shrugs, reaches for his backpack and takes out his package.

Theon raises an eyebrow at the pink sparkly paper. “And what’s that?”

“Sansa wrapped it up while I was at football practice. I was about to rip it, but then again I’m a lot sloppier at doing that thing than she is, so I figured I’d keep it. So, you’re going to open it or not?”

Theon shrugs and rips the paper away, and when he realizes what it is he freezes.

“Robb, what the hell – these were out of print two weeks after they were released, how did you even –”

“Jon’s best friend works in a comic books shop.” Robb can’t help feeling a bit smug. “He totally didn’t mind when I asked him to keep a copy apart. I trusted you’d like it better than the new Cradle of Filth record.”

“Yeah. Figured right. I don’t even – thank you, it’s just – wow.”

Robb pats him on the shoulder before standing up – he knows that Theon is allergic to showing how he feels in front of possible strangers and leaves him there.

Theon doesn’t show up for the rest of the day, but Robb had suspected it and he forbids anyone to sit at the empty place next to him. While he doesn’t pay attention during the last hour of math, he decides that next year he’s going to find some way to throw Theon a serious party.

Then it happens that the next year Sansa really needs urgent math tutoring, and Robb thinks that no one should be this happy to spend their own birthday explaining fractions to their best friend’s sister. The year later he’s dragged back into the family frenzy, and then Robb always ends up having games in that period, and then after the Ramsay Bolton disaster it just seems like a bad idea to bring up birthdays at all.

But Robb never stops thinking that at some point there will come one year when he can finally put that plan into practice.

--

The day after Jon and Arya find them out, they’re in Asha’s basement seeing if they can possibly try out one of the original songs. They did a couple covers too, before, and it went as the first time – so well that Robb can’t believe how easy it comes. Then they finally pick the most refined song, make sure that no relatives are on the way to the house and they go with it.

The first time isn’t exactly stellar, but it’s because Robb still isn’t familiar with the music, and Theon is nervous for some reason (it comes out five minutes later – it’s the first time he actually plays some of his own music that he doesn’t hate), but at the second… if the covers had come easy, then this is even better. After a bit of practice, he has noticed how Theon works when he plays, and Theon probably figured the same about him, and it goes smoother than everything else has until now. Neither of them misses a beat, the moment Robb forgets one word he just goes on instead of stopping, when Theon gets a chord wrong Robb barely even notices, and it’s really good music that both of them like, and when it’s done they look at each other and Robb knows that they do have something to go on there.

Theon doesn’t say anything, but he stands up, turns on his sister’s Mac and starts tinkering with it.

“What are you doing?”

“There’s some program here that makes you record stuff. Nothing like a real studio, but that needs to be recorded somewhat. And then I’m going to have to erase everything, but – that was good and you know it.”

Robb does and he waits patiently, re-reads the lyrics, he is ready when Theon’s done with the tinkering. Then the still untitled song ends up on a couple of portable USB keys Theon had lying around and is erased from the computer. Theon brings the settings back to the original ones and after twenty minutes of checking he’s satisfied.

“You know, couldn’t you tell her? Asha, I mean. She pretends that she doesn’t care either way, but I’m sure she wouldn’t throw you out.”

Theon shrugs. “Sometimes I was about to. I know she wouldn’t care as much as she pretends. But if I tell her it might slip when she talks with dad or whoever. I know she wouldn’t do it on purpose, but they have… a real relationship of some fucking sorts and she tells him everything and he’s all proud of her and stuff. It’s already fucked enough without bringing anything else into it.”

Robb gets that, and he still thinks that the entire thing is fucked up.

When he goes back home, obviously everyone knows about his newfound vocation.

“Robb, are you seriously in a folk duo with Greyjoy?” his dad asks the moment Robb sets foot into the kitchen.

“Well, yeah? We’ll see if it goes somewhere, I suppose.”

“But you don’t play any instrument?” Bran asks, perplexed.

“I don’t play, I sing.”

The room falls silent again. Robb thinks he’s going to die of embarrassment, and then –

“Oh, that’s just adorable!” Sansa coos, and Robb doesn’t know how he should take her obvious enthusiasm.

“Uh, thanks?”

“Please, if you need someone to draw you a cover when you write your first record, don’t hesitate to ask. Jeyne just got me that cracked copy of Photoshop and it’s just so amazing, I’m sure I could –”

“Sansa, thanks, but I think we have one song for now. Maybe. If it comes to that I’ll ask you, okay?”

“Oh, sure! And I want to know everything. Folk music you say? That’s just-so-adorable!”

Robb figures that it’s a good thing that at least someone is enthusiast. Jon and Arya are still looking at him like they can’t believe what the hell he’s even doing, his parents are skeptical at the very least, Rickon has been laughing since Sansa started talking about Photoshop and Bran looks politely baffled.

Well, at least they aren’t disowning him, he supposes.

--

The only time they have a serious argument, it’s when they’re fourteen and the moment Robb walks into class, someone asks him if he knows that someone had seen Theon and making out with this girl yesterday evening in the bar in front of the school, and at some point they ended up in the alleyway behind it, and someone saw them, and the girl was definitely Tyene Sand, who is also Robb’s current not-exactly-serious girlfriend, but his girlfriend nonetheless. And yes, they went definitely past second base.

For some reason Theon doesn’t come to school at all that day, but Tyene does and when Robb confronts her she admits that yes, they did, but she hadn’t started it and he was flirting with her and they were both drunk and it was just sex and there’s nothing against good sex when you can have it and –

Robb breaks it up with her on the spot, then calls Theon the minute he’s home and after a good round of insults, he comes to the burning question.

“I mean, seriously, out of all the girls in this city you had to fuck my girlfriend? I mean, it’s not like it was serious, and she probably didn’t know me well enough to know that we don’t just share the desk at school, but I’d have thought –”

“Wait, what, she told me you broke up with her!”

“Oh, and I should buy that? Just fucking save it.”

He closes the call, doesn’t answer the phone and tells everyone in the house not to pass him the call if it’s Theon.

Jon checks him for a fever and Robb swats him away. It’s not like he was madly in love with Tyene, they had seen each other just some three times, but he liked her, and Theon knew that, and the entire thing pisses him off to no end. He’s the first one to know that Theon doesn’t exactly do relationships like a normal person and apparently he’s definitely more the no strings attached type than else, but fuck, it was his girlfriend. He can’t exactly brush it away.

Theon doesn’t go to school the next day either and Robb doesn’t call.

Then sometime around four PM Jon knocks at his door.

“Hey, it’s –”

“If it’s Theon, don’t –”

“It’s his sister.”

Robb freezes – what the hell? Asha has never paid him more than the barely necessary attention and it’s unheard of that she’d even care about her brother’s business.

“Okay, I’m taking it.”

He goes to the nearest phone and grabs it.

“Asha? Is this about your brother?” He can’t believe that Theon had convinced Asha to play messenger.

“Yeah, but it’s not – he didn’t tell me to call you. Actually, he’s on the way to your place to deliver some ridiculously heartfelt apology, and he doesn’t know I’m calling. I don’t even know why I give a shit, but – oh, whatever. Listen, I know it sounded like a half-assed excuse, but he really didn’t know you hadn’t broken up with her.”

“… what?”

“Well, he didn’t come home last night looking like someone who got laid and had a nice time, so I asked him and he said that he was strange that you hadn’t told him. About you and that girl of yours breaking up. Then after you called him – fuck, seriously, Stark, don’t ever do that again, okay?”

“Sorry, I don’t have the right to be pissed?”

“You do, but he’s convinced that you won’t ever talk to him again and our uncles are visiting, and you know what the opinion about worrying of what others think of you around here is. He’s been hiding in my room since then with some excuse because I’m the only one who’ll take his moping.”

“Jesus, it’s not like that! I mean, I’m angry as hell and I need to work through it, but I wasn’t cutting ties or anything!”

“Yeah, well, it’s my brother we’re talking about. You actually know that if in a life or death situation he had to pick between you or any of us he’d pick you, right?”

“Asha, don’t –”

“Shut up, that’s how it is and believe me, it’s fine. Actually, it’s a good thing I suppose. But – whatever. I just wanted to tell you that he isn’t leading you around or some crap like that.”

Then she closes the call in his face and for a second Robb feels guilty as hell. Okay, fine, he was right to be pissed, but maybe he should have given Theon the benefit of the doubt before assuming it was some kind of excuse. At least against the word of someone he’s known for maybe one month.

He sighs, goes searching for Jon.

“If he drops by, warn me – I’ll get it.”

Jon breathes out in relief. “Oh, good. I was thinking you were sick.”

Robb doesn’t even try to laugh at him.

Theon does drop by some twenty minutes later, and Jon purposefully retreats back to the first floor. Robb thinks that he’s lucky that it was Jon in the house – anyone else would have stuck around to see what happens, but at least his brother has some sense of privacy.

When he opens the door, Theon is holding something in a huge paper bag and he looks like someone who hasn’t slept in one day.

“I’m sorry,” he says, and Robb has never heard him sound that serious. “I swear, I had no idea – she said it was no big deal for the two of you and that it wasn’t working and that she just wanted to have some fun and well, she was hot and I had a couple of beers and I swear I wouldn’t have –”

“Theon. Just calm the fuck down and get in.”

Theon swallows and walks inside, still clutching the paper bag. They sit on the sofa in the living room and Robb takes a deep breath.

“I believe you.”

“What?”

“I thought about it.” He chooses not to mention Asha calling – he isn’t sure that Theon needs to know about it. “And well, maybe I should have heard your side of it before buying what everyone else said. Also – it really wasn’t anything important. She’s hot, sure, but we weren’t becoming serious anytime soon. And now that I think about it, she probably thinks that it wasn’t even a big deal – I mean, from what I gathered she’s… uuuh, very liberal in that sense, so I’m half-sure she didn’t realize that we’d argue over it. But… that said, you could have imagined that if I hadn’t told you about breaking up with her, maybe I didn’t?”

“Yeah. That was – I guess that being half-drunk doesn’t cut it, but – I swear I’d have never done that if I had known.”

“That said, you really think I was going to cut ties?”

Theon gasps, looks at him guiltily. “Sorry?”

“Don’t lie to me. You’re way too worried for such a stupid thing. And – okay, seriously? I was pissed. I needed to let the steam out and I needed – well, to not see your face for a bit. But fuck, I’d have gotten over it at some point. Come on, I’ve known you for ten years and you think I’d stop talking to you because of a girl that I went out with three times?”

At that point, Theon is obviously at a loss for words. He opens and closes his mouth a couple of times, and it’s even more plain that he has no idea what to do with this entire situation, and Robb wishes he knew some way to lighten things up. But he had to say it out loud just to make it fucking clear.

Then Theon puts the paper bag on the table and pushes it towards him.

“What’s that?”

“It was supposed to be a peace offering.” Robb is half-sure that Theon is blushing. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen that happen.

It’s mildly worrying him.

“Oh. Okay then.”

He opens the bag and pulls out a glass container for food, and when Robb sees that there’s peach cobbler inside it (his favorite food, by the way) he isn’t sure he’s not imagining it. On a second look, he realizes that it wasn’t bought – there are some slightly burned bits, but on the whole it looks pretty good.

He does the math in his head and he can’t believe it.

“You made me a peach cobbler.”

There’s no question about who is behind it – from what he knows, Asha can’t cook to save her life and no one else in that house would have an idea of how to put a plate of pasta together, let alone bake sweets.

“It was my mum’s recipe. Figured I could give it a try. The fifth time was the right one, but I figured it looked decent.”

Jesus. He doesn’t know if he should go and give the idiot a hug or let it go since said idiot is horrible at talking about his feelings and paranoid about expressing them in some healthy manner.

“Also, you tell anyone I did that, you’re dead,” Theon mutters, but it lacks any kind of bite.

“Listen, let’s – let’s do something. Now I’m going to get plates and a couple of absolutely mindless movies, you’re going to spend the night, we’re going to eat as much of that as we can stomach, maybe I’ll give Jon a piece because he’s been nice enough not to listen to this conversation. Then you swear that you aren’t ever having sex with a girl that I’ve been with, I swear that I’m never going to have sex with a girl I know you’ve been with, and we just don’t ever argue about that kind of thing again. Deal?”

“Okay. Deal. Sounds reasonable. And I’m kind of hungry.”

“… please, don’t tell me that you haven’t eaten anything since I slammed that phone in your face.”

Theon doesn’t answer that question and Robb just lets it go and goes to the kitchen to grab the plates.

They save a piece for Jon, then they actually finish the damn thing, they don’t go to school the next day because they’re too busy nursing a stomachache, and neither of them ever argues about girls again.

--

“It’s becoming ridiculous,” Theon complains as he slams a pile of notebooks on Robb’s table.

“Sorry?”

“You know that Asha’s back, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So every fucking Greyjoy that’s currently living has been camping at her place and I can’t practice, because well, they can’t hear me, and whenever someone remembers that I’m in there they never forget to ask why I’m not in that nice band anymore. You know. I was going somewhere for once. And it’s going to last for a while.”

Robb sighs, getting the point entirely. He never fully bought Theon’s ‘I got over it’ speech, and he can imagine how good that entire situation is being for him. Not to mention that Asha’s place is somewhere smack in the country, which means that whenever they have to meet up there’s a lot of driving and gas involved, and –

When the idea comes to him, he doesn’t even stop to wonder if it could be potentially disastrous.

“You know that I’m going back home next week, right?”

Robb has been living at his parents’ after the whole scandal thing, mostly because his own place was surrounded by journalists at any given minute, but apparently they moved on to something newer and various family members who went to check say that his apartment is pretty much clear by now.

“Yeah, so?”

Robb shrugs. “So move in with me. It’d be more convenient since we wouldn’t need to go to your sister’s whenever we need a place to rehearse, it’s big enough for three people and I mean, I already know that you never wash the dishes for three days after you use them. It’s not like you aren’t over here half of the time and I’m not at yours the other half.”

Theon stops fiddling with his notes and looks straight at him. “Are you serious? You aren’t worried about… well, y’know, journalists will still be there.”

“I don’t give a shit. My image’s already shot to hell anyway, why should I care about their opinion?”

“Huh. Well then. I guess – yeah. That’d be a good idea. I’m half-sure that Asha was going to kick me out at some point soon.”

No she wouldn’t, Robb thinks. Theon doesn’t know that after the Bolton fiasco Asha had postponed at least four concerts just to come back, give Robb a talk along the lines of ‘you make sure that this doesn’t happen again’ that was frankly terrifying before going back to take her plane. (Robb had asked why she didn’t just visit or tell him herself, but she had shrugged and said that it was too late for that. One day he’s going to lock them in a room until they admit they care for each other, but that day’s still far.) He probably should tell him, but he suspects that the time isn’t ripe yet.

“I’m going to tell you when I bring everything back in – just bring whatever gear you have to.”

Clearly, that evening, he has to break the news.

“So,” his mum says, “did you decide when you’re going back?”

“Sometime next week. There’s some minor royal wedding going on towards the ending, maybe they’ll deploy there the few idiots that are still stationed at my place. Oh, by the way, Theon’s moving in with me.”

The silence that falls at that is even deeper than the one that fell when he broke down the news about the group. Not even Rickon is making a sound, which is scary in itself.

“Robb,” his mum says, very slowly. “Why didn’t you ever say that you two –”

“Wait, what – oh, come on, mum, that’s not like that! I mean, we aren’t – it’s not – we don’t –”

“Oh my god,” Sansa blurts, her excitement very much visible. “Mum, come on, that’s obvious!”

“… what is obvious?” Arya asks, looking mildly scared.

“Don’t you all see it? They’re heterosexual life partners!”

“They’re what?” Ned asks, almost choking on his glass of water.

Robb has no idea of what heterosexual life partner means in Sansa’s language, but the scary thing is that it sounds… pretty much accurate.

“Heterosexual life partners! It’s –”

“It’s when there are two guys that are completely codependent and can’t live without each other and are oh my god best-friends-forever but aren’t… well, romantically together.”

Silence falls again when everyone turns towards Jon.

“Well?” he asks. “I know what tvtropes.org is, Sansa. I suppose that looking at them you could think there’s at least some… how’s that, ho-yay going on? But I think they’re not doing that on purpose.”

Robb thinks that Jon has become Sansa’s new favorite person in the span of five seconds. He also has no idea of what the hell ho-yay means, and when Jon mouths at him homoeroticism, yay, while Sansa rants about at least someone being up to the times, he thinks he wants to hide in his room forever.

But thankfully for him, no one else knows what the latter part means, and after he assures everyone that yes, he knows what he’s doing, and no, they really aren’t fucking, and yes, it’s also more convenient, and shit, they already lived together for three months and no, they won’t kill each other, everyone finally lets him eat in peace.

“You know,” he tells Theon the day he comes in to help him pack stuff, “my sister thinks we’re… heterosexual life partners.”

“Your sister spends too much time on tvtropes.org.”

“… you knew about that?”

“Who doesn’t? Okay, the first evening after we move in, we’re watching some quality television.”

Theon would know about quality television more than Robb does, that’s for sure.

He doesn’t know why he isn’t more terrified at the prospect of actually living with him full-time.

--

The year they’re sixteen, Theon spends most of his time over at the Starks’ whenever he isn’t practicing solos he hates. Robb is sure that it’s linked with Asha going on her first huge world tour, but he doesn’t say anything and keeps the spare bed out. By now no one bats an eyelid if he comes in without saying when.

Incidentally, during that year Ned Stark’s opinion of him goes from ‘my son’s best friend who has some serious issues’ to ‘my son’s best friend who has my eternal gratitude’, opinion that ends up being shared by the entire household. It happens when Robb’s aunt visits them without notice and says she and her husband have to spend a week out of town for some couple counseling thing and they can’t possibly bring in their kid, and since Catelyn has six in the house already, the seventh wouldn’t be an issue, would it?

Clearly Catelyn doesn’t refuse, also because her sister’s husband is also one of her husband’s best friends, but the problem is that Robb’s cousin isn’t exactly… not an issue.

Robb understands that if you have a kid late in life when you think you won’t ever manage to get pregnant you tend to spoil him, but saying that Robert Arryn is a handful would be severely underestimating the situation. They always drop him on Sansa because she’s the only one with enough patience to keep up with him, but this time she had some sleepover with Jeyne Poole planned out and, understandably, she had said that for once they could deal with him.

The result is that both Robb and Theon are trying to study for some test and they can’t because between Arya screaming her lungs out, the kid protesting that everyone is mean and they should all die because no one ignores him like that and Rickon making some more noise just for the sake of it, the two of them are going insane.

“What kind of kid wishes their cousins to fall off a cliff and die just because they want to go play in the park?” Theon mutters, and he sounds as if he’ll punch a wall in a moment.

Robb shares the sentiment entirely. “What can you do, they spoil him as if he was the crown prince.”

They go back to Robb’s notes, and then they hear something shattering downstairs. Theon lets the pen drop.

“We’re not getting anything done until this stops, right?”

“Yeah, but it’s not going to.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s… some kind of long and nasty story, but my mum won’t ever tell the kid a thing because otherwise aunt Lysa won’t talk to her for weeks, it already happened once. And dad is… really close with my uncle, and the one time he tried to silence the kid he – well, he couldn’t do it. And we’re all under strict orders not to ruin the family peace.”

“Well, good to know I’m not the only one who has to deal with family bullshit. So, if I were to tell the kid a couple of things instead?”

“What?”

“Stark, I’m not your relative and I don’t give a shit about what your aunt thinks. You can blame it on me and she can’t complain, right?”

Robb should say no.

“Knock yourself out. Just warn my dad first.”

Theon doesn’t wait a moment – he goes down the stairs and runs to Ned Stark’s office, passing a scene consisting of a broken vase, Arya sulking, the kid whining and Catelyn trying to clean the ground from the broken glass. Then he knocks – Robb stays behind him.

“Mr. Stark?” Theon asks.

“Is there something I can do for you?”

“Do you mind if I have a couple words with your nephew? I was planning to pass that test I’m studying for, and Robb here did too, but we’re not getting anything done.”

Ned sighs, thinks about it for one moment. Robb is half-sure he’ll say no, but it’s been two days already and his dad looks on the brink of exhaustion.

“If you mean a word that doesn’t include actually touching the kid, and if you think you can shut him up, you’re more than welcome to try.”

Theon turns his back on the room and goes straight for Robert.

“You know that some of us are trying to study upstairs, don’t you?” he starts, without that many preliminaries.

Robb’s cousin pouts. “They’re mean,” he states. “I don’t care.”

“Right, you don’t care. Do you even know what are you implying? Because they’re not being mean, they’re trying to do something with you and you haven’t even heard them out.”

“How do you know?”

“I heard you screaming all the way upstairs. And you know what, if I were you, I’d be feeling sorry for being an ungrateful little prick.”

Catelyn gasps – no one had expected the swearing, but Robb stops her and shakes his head. A moment later, Robert hasn’t found an answer, even if he looks like he’s about to cry.

“Oh, you’re listening to me? Good. Now, let me tell you something. How old are you, seven? You know what I used to do when I was seven and your cousin there wasn’t around? I’m going to tell you what – when I was seven, my mother had just died and I spent most of my time on my own because my brothers were too old to waste time with me, their words, and if my siblings had to do something out of the house, they didn’t bother to give me a ride anywhere. Not that I had relatives that were willing to keep an eye on me. So I just stayed home, sucked it up and wished I didn’t live in the country because if I didn’t maybe I could walk somewhere instead of dying of boredom. You want to cry? Cry. But you’re here with eight people who are doing their best to keep you entertained and aren’t leaving you to cook your own fucking dinner. Think about how would that feel, and keep your damned voice down. I have a test in two days.”

Then he storms up the stairs to Robb’s room and Bran swallows as he turns towards his brother.

“Robb… he didn’t make that up, did he?”

“No,” Robb sighs. “No, he didn’t.”

No one says anything after that, but they all expect the little prince to throw a full-sized tantrum.

When he barely sniffs and says that he’s sorry for breaking the vase, no one can really believe it, but it’s not as if Arya (who was the one on watching-Robert duty) is an idiot – she seizes the occasion and drags him to outside to the park (which had been the original plan).

“Well,” Robb says, breaking the silence, “I’m just going to tell him that it worked.”

“Tell him thanks. I’d have never had the guts,” his mum answers.

“Tell him that if he wants to camp in your room for the rest of the year, he’s welcome,” Ned shouts from the office.

Robb goes back upstairs and finds Theon sprawled over the spare bed with the book on the pillow, but he’s obviously not reading it.

“It worked, you know. You’ll have my parents’ undying gratitude, I think.”

Theon smirks. “Nice. Sorry about the swearing, by the way, but I kind of couldn’t keep it in.”

“That’s okay – fuck knows that he needed it. If he stops behaving like that at least here then no one cares. But hey, if you want to –”

“If you were going to say talk about it, the answer’s no. There’s not much to say either – that was all.”

“If you say so. Come on, make me some space.”

“What the hell, you have your own bed.”

“And I don’t want to use it right now. Move.”

Theon doesn’t argue more than that, which only confirms what Robb had thought – he hadn’t really wanted to protest in the first place. He moves over and Robb lies down on his stomach, their sides touching.

It’s not a one time thing. Robert Arryn doesn’t make anyone go insane throughout the next week, even if no one tells Lysa how exactly they managed that.

The next time he’s dropped on them for babysitting duties, the charade doesn’t start all over again.

No one forgets Theon’s speech, though.

--

Robb is glad that at least he had just three or four boxes worth of stuff, because when Theon starts bringing his own up, he realizes that maybe he should have specified how much gear would fit in there.

It ends with one of his two spare rooms turning into some kind of recording studio thing – he has no idea what they need three amplifiers for, not to mention some kind of console and a ridiculous amount of wires and stuff.

“Where the hell did you get all this?”

“It’s Asha’s old recording things. She said she didn’t use them anymore, and they’re still good.”

“Wait, is that a banjo?”

“You don’t even know how long I was waiting to actually use the damn thing.”

Robb should probably protest about his room being invaded, but that comment is enough to shut him up.

Well, if they have to do this thing seriously it just makes sense that they actually record stuff somewhere.

But three hours later, while they’re having a beer at some ungodly hour in the night after fixing everything up, he realizes that there’s a small problem they overlooked.

“Er, shouldn’t we have… a name?”

“What?”

“Come on, the day we put together some kind of demo this group is going to need a name.”

“Damn. I hate names, that’s why I always let the singer pick.”

“Well, I’m not much better off than you. Just – let’s come up with something.”

Theon thinks about it for one moment, then shrugs. “No full real names. I mean, for you it wouldn’t change a thing, but the more it takes for dad to catch up with what I’m doing the better.”

“Okay. Fine.”

For the next five minutes, neither of them says a thing.

“I hate names,” Theon declares after finishing the beer bottle.

“Don’t tell me.”

“Nothing to do with pirates, also.”

“I wasn’t even thinking about fucking pirates.”

After two hours, they settle in an entirely provisory manner on Winds of winter, which is actually the only finished song they have, but the next day Theon wakes Robb up just to tell him that it’s a sucky idea and you should never name yourself after one of your songs, so that one gets scrapped.

Every other option they come up with gets scrapped after two days at most. The least horrible one lasts for about four days before both of them admit that they settled on it just because there wasn’t a better option.

It lasts for one month and seven different names – everyone who knows about the project seems to find it ridiculously funny and Robb just wants to find a fucking one that might stick for one month, before they have to resort to methods like mixing and matching from internet lists.

To Robb’s pride (or shame), he’s the one that comes up with it.

To his defense, he’s the one trashed for once. He had run into a bunch of journalists while he was coming home and after almost punching one in the face he had decided that maybe he should just go have a drink. He texted Theon and by the time the latter got to the pub, Robb was already half-drunk.

At least Theon had been responsible enough to stay sober, which is more than half the world gives him credit for.

So Robb is stumbling into the house, crashing on the sofa, when he has his moment of enlightenment.

“Hey, y’know, I think I have the name.”

“What?”

“The name for the group. It’s awesome. It’s just perfect, not that crap we’ve been trying until now.”

“Mate, you’re so drunk you can’t even stand.”

“What does that matter? ‘nyway. We should totally call it Starkjoy.”

“…like what?”

“Starkjoy. Short, nice, simple, goes to the point, doesn’t have y’r full real name but it’s both of ours, and it doesn’t sound bad. Think ‘bout it. I thought it was horrible, too, but it grows on you.”

Theon actually considers it, which – okay, it’s more than anyone else would have done.

“Huh.”

“So?”

“It’s – you’re right. Not that bad. Surely’s better than every other one we tried. I guess we keep it unless something better comes to one of us?”

“You know we suck at this naming thing, we won’t come up with something better.”

“Yeah, well, who knows.”

Anyway, the next morning neither of them has a better idea, so Starkjoy it is.

When Jon and Arya hear it they laugh so hard that they cry, Sansa says that it’s the best name ever and it sounds so nice and it’s totally perfect, Ned and Catelyn take it in stride (but Robb hears his mother murmuring under her breath that it’s the kind of name Uncle Brandon would have come up with), Bran thinks that it’s cool that they actually have a name at all and Rickon is outside playing with his dog so at least he isn’t there at all.

“It’ll grow on them,” Theon declares, absolutely sure of it.

Robb hopes that it does, also because it was his idea and his first real contribution and he’d really like for it to work.

--

“Listen, it’s not like I’m the most qualified person to give you advice on this, but… can I ask you something?”

“Sure.” Robb already knows what the deal is. He just broke the news, obviously it has to be about that.

“Are you really sure you want to get engaged with someone you’ve seen… probably twice?”

Robb shrugs – it’s not like he relishes it. But well, it’s been twenty years and some and he still hasn’t had a relationship that lasted more than one month. Not because of lack of trying – mostly because he never really connected to any of his girlfriends, and viceversa, which at least meant that all his splits were amicable. Roslin Frey is pretty, and she’s nice to talk to, and if he marries her some years from now his team gets a sponsorship for a damn long time.

The fact that the rest of her family is scarier than Theon’s is quite a problem, but there could be worse options.

“It’s not like I ever found much better and you know that. She’s cute. She’s nicer than most people I know, she seems interested, and it’s not – well, I doubt I’ll end up finding my soulmate with the life I have. Everyone you meet is in that circle anyway.”

He misses the way Theon’s eyes narrow for one moment.

“Well, I won’t be the one lecturing you on who you want to date or marry or whatever, but I still think that it’s a crap idea. You’re twenty-one. She’s what, nineteen? We don’t live in the middle ages anymore, Robb.”

Robb admits that he has a point, but it’s not like he even cares about that. If they don’t learn to love each other, they’ll like each other and it’s going to be more than a lot of people have. They decided not to actually marry for a few years anyway, so it’s not like he’s tying the knot a month from now.

Then Theon gets into his crappy metal band and apparently everyone in his family is happy with his life choices for the first time, Winterfell United qualifies for the Champions League, and then Ramsay Bolton happens.

Incidentally, he also finds out that he was listed as Theon’s next of kin, or as the person hospitals should call if something happens to him, and Robb – well, okay, he knew it wouldn’t be Asha because she’s out of the country half of the year, but he hadn’t imagined that it’d be him. Then when he’s in the hospital the only relative of Theon’s that drops by is the one Theon always calls crazy priest uncle. At least crazy priest uncle doesn’t start on religious tirades about what’s sinful and what’s not – Robb supposes that if you come from that kind of family you can’t exactly go and preach about not sleeping around. But he does start listing all the family’s concerns, and after five minutes during which Robb doesn’t hear any permutation of the words ‘and by the way, how are you holding up’, he uses his newfound rights as next of kin to kindly send the man out of the room.

When he gets inside, Theon looks more miserable than he did when they picked him up and Robb wishes that his stupid sister hadn’t left the moment she arrived.

And he takes the decision.

“You’re staying at my place for a while when you get out.”

“What?”

“If you think I’m sending you home to a bunch of idiots who just care about what’s going to happen with your band you’re wrong. You can stay with me until you’re fine, and don’t tell me you already are.”

Theon doesn’t even try to counter-argue that point.

He gets discharged after three days and Robb never tells him how he managed to convince one of his uncles (Robb thinks it was Victarion) to let him into the house to grab as much of Theon’s things as he could. (He had actually called Asha, who had called her uncle, who had been reluctant but didn’t refuse.)

Now, Robb still has to go to practice and do press conferences even if the championship is technically done, but he still tries to call at least twice each day before he comes home. Which he realizes is probably ridiculous, but Bolton is still in house arrest, and fine, if he’s found near Robb’s house or Theon’s he’s going straight to jail, but that guy was scary other than a creep, and who knows if he manages to evade all the measures.

That said, Theon just pretends that he doesn’t need Robb to call every three seconds, because Robb can tell that he appreciates it.

The downside is that someone finds out maybe a week after Theon moves in. Robb doesn’t tell anyone, per se, but everyone in the team knows who his best friend is, and contrary to general belief football players actually read newspapers.

He doesn’t know how his future father in law finds out about that – maybe some gossip site or magazine, Robb never reads those but he’s half-sure that this thing can’t have stayed out of the scandal press.

But at some point when he’s back home, sending worried looks towards Theon, who’s obviously pretending to read a book on the sofa, he gets the call.

Now, he already finds Walder Frey the most unsettling person he’s ever met (who is still having kids at eighty, for fuck’s sake? Not even Hugh Hefner), but when he hears that voice almost hissing in the phone he feels half-scared for a moment.

“I was wondering,” the man croaks. Robb wishes he wasn’t his team’s main sponsor. “What is this… story about you having moved in with a man?”

Oh, fuck.

“Sir, it’s not – I didn’t move in with anyone. He’s a friend and he’s having a – a pretty rough time right now, but that’s not – it’s not definitive or anything.”

“Hm. Because the press is implying things, Mr. Stark, and I don’t like my daughter to be tied to that kind of rumors.”

“I assure you, we aren’t – that’s not it. I can’t say why because it’s really my friend’s business, but whatever the press is saying, it’s not true.”

“May be. Well, make sure that it lasts just the necessary time.”

Then the call is closed and Robb – Robb just sees red.

He calls Roslin.

“Sorry, I have to ask – what does your father think?”

“He thinks that you’re cheating on me,” she answers with a sigh.

Oh, fuck.

“I’m not, for – but how do you even get to that point?”

“Well – the press talked with some of your teammates. Mainly Karstark. There’s some article in the Sun about you calling this man three times each day, and he’s living with you, and – I mean, whatever you want to do is fine, I understand, but couldn’t you keep it down, at least?”

Robb needs not to be within Theon’s hearing reach. He tells Roslin to wait a moment and he goes out of the house, climbs the stairs until he gets to the rooftop.

“Okay. You listen to me and you tell your dad or you don’t, I really don’t care, but – fuck, Roslin, he’s a friend and I’ve known him since I was three, and he’s had – fuck, just read a real newspaper instead of the Sun. He’s not fine, and if you think that I’m not going to help him because I care about what the press thinks, then you can change your mind. If he feels more comfortable when I call three times rather than one then I’ll call three times, and I’m not going to keep it down or cut his staying short. I’m not cheating on anyone, and that should be damn well enough.”

The call is over there and Robb wishes he could punch something, but it’s probably not a bad idea. He grabs the phone again, orders take-out from the Chinese down the street and waits for it to be delivered.

Theon buys that he had gone to get it in the first place and Robb is just glad he didn’t hear anything.

That night he can’t sleep – at least he has a day off tomorrow.

He sighs and goes to the fridge to get some water, and he finds Theon on the couch with that same book he was reading before.

“What are you doing here?” he asks.

“Can’t sleep,” Theon says with a shrug, and shit – Robb doesn’t need further explanations. He looks down at the ring finger on his left hand, in a cast (all the bones broken, as good as useless – when he heard the diagnosis Robb had almost punched the wall). He still has a purple-ish bruise all over his cheek and Robb isn’t sure of how he should even try to say something.

So he goes to the sofa, sits down so that there’s a bit of space between them and takes a breath.

“Listen, I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to answer me sincerely. No macho bullshit, okay?”

“Fine.”

“Would you feel better if I stayed here? Don’t even try to say no just because you think you should. No one is going to know and I’m not going to think less of you or some bullshit like that.”

He expects the couple of minutes of silence.

“If you can.”

Clearly the idiot wouldn’t say yes outright. Robb nods and goes back to his room to grab a blanket, then plops back down on the couch again. Before Theon can protest, he reaches out, pulls him so that his head ends up on Robb’s shoulder and puts the blanket over the both of them.

“What are you –”

“Shut up. I’m not going anywhere.”

The thing is that for how much he said he couldn’t sleep, Theon is out in a minute.

Walder Frey isn’t going to be happy about any of this. There’s no way this situation is going to last one week.

--

During the month it takes them to put the demo together, Robb has to, in order: cover the recording room with eggs’ cartons because his neighbour wasn’t appreciating the two of them playing stuff into the night, find the titles for half the songs because Theon wasn’t lying when he said he was shit at it, convince most people he knows that he hasn’t gone insane when he agreed to that kind of thing and relent when Sansa insists to be in charge of the demo’s covers.

At least, when he misses playing football a whole damn lot, he can put on a pair of sunglasses and very large clothes and goes to help the two Winterfell United coaches that are in charge of the farm team, Mr. Seaworth and Mr. Cassel (the former does that when he isn’t working for his dad’s best friend’s brother, and he was the one proposing Robb the deal – Robb was very, very happy when he did). Of course journalists understand the deal after the third time and he can’t go as often as he’d like.

He hates the scandal press, he really does.

He also realizes that he actually likes working on lyrics, which only makes Theon look more smug than usual, and Robb had freaked out for a second when he realized that after sitting down to (in his mind) look at one of Theon’s things he had actually scrapped the entire thing out and re-wrote an entirely different set of lyrics.

Theon had just told him to stop thinking he didn’t have talent for this kind of things.

Robb doesn’t know what to do with it but he’s just not going to think about that too much.

When they finally have five good songs Theon declares that it’s time they actually started doing shit for real, they can put in one cover just to make it six songs and make it even.

Robb lets Theon pick the cover.

(It’s Fairport Convention’s Farewell, Farewell. Robb suspects it wasn’t picked randomly but he doesn’t go inquire about it.)

The artwork Sansa does for the entire thing is… frankly improvable, to say it nicely, but she’s so excited when she delivers it that Robb pretends to love it and hopes that Jeyne teaches her that when you work on Photoshop you have to put every damn thing in a different level.

Theon snorts at the entire thing but he pretends to like the cover, too, and he’s a good enough actor that he pulls it off.

“No one’s going to look at it twice,” he sighs when they get back into Theon’s car – oops, Joni. He has a strange fixation with not referring to the car as an it, but Robb has learned to roll with it ages ago.

“We can just give them out by hand. Someone is going to listen to it at some point.”

“That’s going to be so much fun,” Theon snorts, and Robb dreads the moment they actually try to book concerts.

Well, if he could sing musicals in front of the entire damn school it can’t be worse than singing in front of complete strangers that can’t look at you wrong if they ever meet you in the corridors.

Then Jon decides to organize that surprise party for Arya, and calls Robb to tell him that they need a big car and Robb doesn’t even need Jon to ask the question – he asks Theon if they can lend him his.

Clearly Theon isn’t letting anyone else drive it, which is how they end up at the place of this girl who has baked stuff for the party. Jon mentions that she works in some kind of heavenly bakery, and Theon has that look again that says he’s planning something.

Then Robb runs into Jaime Lannister in the girl’s – Brienne’s – hallway and he doesn’t even know how his life could get weirder, especially after finding out that they are together or something like that. Not that Robb ever spoke to the guy more than twice, and both times it was at football-related charity events, but he hadn’t really imagined that he’d end up with someone who worked in a bakery. He looked more like the type who’d walk around with a gorgeous actress on his arm, but what does Robb know. It’s not like he fell for Jeyne because of her oh-so-attractive looks – fine, Jeyne is lovely and nice and a delight to look at, but the looks weren’t really part of the equation.

He almost misses the moment when Theon hands Brienne their demo.

That’s why he doesn’t really expect a call a month later.

From Renly Baratheon of all people – he’s seen the guy around the house enough times years ago, before he had some kind of falling out with his brother, but he still counts him as a family friend.

That he hasn’t seen in ages, but.

“Robb, right? I wanted – uh. You’re in that Starkjoy thing, yes?”

“Did Robert or Stannis tell you?” Robb has no idea if those two know about it – probably they do, since his dad would probably tell Robert and Davos Seaworth knows about the group, too, so it’s ridiculous to assume that Stannis wouldn’t.

“No. Actually – Brienne works for me. I own the bakery.”

Well, Robb hadn’t known that.

“And – there’s my boyfr – I mean, Loras, my other co-worker, who’s gone batshit crazy about your record and we’ve been listening to just that thing for a month and really, Robb, it’s lovely, but – you don’t happen to have a second demo, don’t you? The same six songs are killing… pretty much everyone except Loras by now.”

“Well, we’re working on the second one,” Robb lies. Okay, it’s not technically a lie, but they have maybe half a song done and they won’t finish anytime soon. “You’ll be the first to know. But – you said you own that bakery?”

“Yes. Why?”

Robb glances at the calendar.

Theon’s birthday is in three weeks.

Oh, he thinks, this is the year, all right.

“I need to come talk to you. Tomorrow afternoon. When do you close?”

“At six thirty.”

“Good. I’m going to be there.”

Robb has been waiting for this occasion since he was twelve, he’s not going to miss it.

--

Point is, when the trial is said and done, the championship has started again and Robb has to go play away from home once every two weeks, and considering that Theon’s hands have been shaking for a day or so after the trial’s end, Robb isn’t so sure about sending him back home.

He thinks about it for a while, then asks his agent if they can arrange a couple things and the next day he hands Theon tickets for the next twelve games he’s not playing in home ground saying that he’s coming with and they’re sharing the hotel room and no, he doesn’t want to hear anything about it.

After the second game, he meets Jeyne Westerling.

It’s another of those charity parties that Tywin Lannister organized, and Robb has no idea why he couldn’t organize it back home since both their teams are based in the same city. Then again, no one knows why Tywin Lannister does half of the things he does, and so he goes and doesn’t drag Theon along even if he’s tempted. At least he wouldn’t be dying of boredom.

And then they introduce the two of them.

She’s the daughter of the Lannisport coach, and she works for the team as a physiotherapist, and – it’s not that she’s drop-dead gorgeous, because she isn’t. She’s very pretty, all the curves in the right place and the nicest smile he’s ever seen on a girl, but it’s not what makes him wish he never said yes to that engagement. It’s that she isn’t talking to him as if he’s this great promise of football or as if she cares about how many times he scored in the last five games. And fuck, she doesn’t end up stammering or blushing, which is what half the women he meets do lately. So they talk shop, mostly, but it’s almost refreshing and she’s really just easy to be around.

It ends up that they spend the evening more or less in the same space, and he doesn’t even realize that it’s been two hours until he checks the clock.

(He’s glad that there weren’t Freys attending. He really is.)

Then she asks him for his number. If maybe he wants to talk once in a while.

He shouldn’t do that. He should really keep it for himself.

But he just – he really wants to do it, and so he says sure, and she memorizes it on her phone, and he’s about to ask her if he can get her something to drink when his phone rings.

He swallows when he sees that it’s Theon.

“Sorry, I have to take this one.”

He takes it.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Uh. Nothing.”

“Yeah, right, if it was nothing you wouldn’t be calling. Come on, spit it out.”

“Nah, it’s just – I just wanted to know how long it’s going to be. I’m kind of beat, but I wouldn’t want to lock you out of the room and –”

Robb knows a lie when he hears one. Theon’s problem isn’t that if he locks himself inside the room, Robb couldn’t get in. At worst he’d sleep in another one – they’d find him a spare bed.

“Okay, I’m coming over. I wasn’t really bringing much to the party anyway.”

He closes the call, takes a breath. Jeyne is still waiting for him – he figures he’ll say goodbye to her at least. Everyone else can do without him.

“Hey, sorry but – I really have to go. It’s – it’s complicated, but – it was nice to meet you. If you want to call, you have my number.”

“Oh. Of course. That’s not a problem, I understand.”

“It’s just…” he doesn’t know why he’s explaining himself to her, he doesn’t owe her that, but still. “There’s this friend of mine, and he’s not exactly doing well and –”

“I get it. They said something about it in a magazine, though they didn’t go into details. It wasn’t very flattering.”

“Yeah, well, magazines aren’t exactly reliable.”

“No, I didn’t mean that I bought it. It’s just, from what I gathered, it’s – it’s actually really nice of you.”

“… sorry?”

“I mean, when you do the job you do people are always jumping on you for everything and they’ll behave like they know everything about your personal life, and from the magazines – well, it said that this thing might be a problem for you. With your wedding and all. But – you’re still doing what you think you should regardless of all the stupid things the press says. It’s… I don’t think it’s a bad thing. You shouldn’t put the press before that. If I explain myself.”

“Oh. Yes, you did. Thanks. Really. It means a lot, since everyone’s telling me I should just dump him to deal with it on his own.”

“Well, I suppose you have to go now. I’ll – I’ll call you sometime?”

“Yeah. Sure. I’ll be glad if you do.”

Robb spends the entire ride back to the hotel wishing that he never, ever agreed to that stupid matching.

When he goes back to his room, Theon doesn’t look really as beat as he said. Or at least not in the sense of someone who’s about to go to sleep.

“So, what is this really about?” Robb asks.

“Can’t hide anything from you, huh? It’s just – dad called.”

Fuck.

“Right. And what – what happened?”

“The same old crap. What am I doing with my life, why I’m still living with you, why am I not begging those idiots to take me back, and it’s ridiculous that I’m being such a princess for a black eye and a couple of bruises.”

“It wasn’t just that, was it?” Robb isn’t sure he wants to ask. Theon had asked him to just stay out of the room during the trial when he had to testify, and he hadn’t read any press about it for that same reason. He still doesn’t really know what happened, technically.

“No. It was – okay. Let’s say that he always was kind of overwhelming, and he was into things I wasn’t too sure I was fine with, but until then I hadn’t really minded. You know when you aren’t sure about something but you try it and you like it?”

Robb nods – he gets it. It happened to him once when he ended up meeting this girl who turned out to be Tyene Sand’s sister at a nightclub once – Nymeria, it was Nymeria – and they spent some three hours in a motel room during which she convinced him that he liked a couple things that he didn’t even know existed.

But that’s not the point. At least they were both fine with the arrangement.

“So. At some point – that time at least – he said he wanted to try this thing. It was – some kind of complicated plan that involved ropes and other stuff that I wasn’t really sure about. So, uh, he said there could be a safeword and I figured that it was fine. Who knows, maybe I’d be into it, so why not?”

“Let me guess, you used it?”

“Yeah. I just freaked out. First he said something like that I was just thinking that I needed it, but it wasn’t that. I was really freaking out. I said it and – well. My left was tied to the bed and he just – first he punched me in the face and then he broke that finger.”

In three different places, Robb thinks. He shudders.

“Then – well. I got that he wasn’t letting me go at any point soon and I just – I still had my shoes on for some reason so I kicked him in the chest when he wasn’t looking. Whatever he had in mind, he was going to use this razor. And my right hand wasn’t bound and it was within reach so I took it and I cut the rope off, but by that point he was on his feet already and – well. You remember the broken rib and the rest. At some point he had his hand on my mouth and for a moment I thought that was it. But then I figured I could try a last resort. I bit down on it, he was surprised for a moment and I just ran. At least he hadn’t locked the door.”

Robb thinks he wants to throw up.

“I guess it’s good that I freaked out when I still had my clothes on. But – it wasn’t just a couple of bruises. And I don’t get how I didn’t even see it before that. I don’t even want to know what would’ve happened if I didn’t manage to get out. Fuck, I don’t even know why –”

“You know, it’s just normal that you want to talk about it. And your dad is full of shit.”

“Yeah, if only he’d realize that.”

“Fuck him. It was obvious that it wasn’t just a couple bruises from the get go, and if he wants to downplay it then you have all the rights to slam the phone in his face.”

“It wasn’t that. I mean, I know he doesn’t get it. If you’re a real man you don’t find yourself in a situation where you have to safeword. I can just tune that part out. It was that he said I should beg those idiots in the band to take me back and – yeah. That wasn’t – I just couldn’t deal with that part. Shit, don’t you have something to distract me with?”

“… sorry? Like what?” Robb isn’t so sure they should change the subject, but he knows that it was already a lot that Theon talked about it at all. He won’t push for now.

“Anything. I need to think about something that isn’t my dad or this entire situation.”

“… if I told you that I might be regretting the whole engagement deal?”

“Well, I’ve told you ten times. What, you found the girl of your life?”

When Robb explains the situation, Theon looks almost sorry for him.

“Fuck, Stark, of everyone you had to fall for someone who works for the Lannisters? It’d be like Romeo and Juliet, just with a lot more blood.”

“Oh, shut it. I know it can’t go anywhere. But – she has my number.”

Theon sighs again, sits up straighter on the bed.

“Robb, there’s just one piece of advice I have for you.”

“Which would be?”

“When you two end up screwing each other’s brains out –”

“We aren’t going to!”

“When that happens, please, make sure that happens someplace where no one is going to catch you.”

Robb doesn’t want to know how Theon is so sure of that, but – damn.

He turns off his phone, not knowing if he wants Jeyne to call tomorrow or not. Shit. What is he even doing?

“You know what,” he says, “I think we should just get trashed and watch something really fucking embarrassing and unmanly and think of your dad’s face if he knew.”

“Stark, sometimes you’re just too brilliant for your own good.”

Robb is never going to tell a soul that he actually cried while watching Just Like Heaven. Then again Theon was sort of sniffing and the two of them had gone through everything that was in the hotel’s mini-fridge, from coke to vodka shots, and he’s just glad that Theon had closed the blinds at some point that evening.

If some photographer had been in the room in front of theirs possibly using a zoom to catch pictures of the two of them the moment they woke up, he’d have had a hard time convincing anyone that no, they aren’t technically boyfriends. The position was pretty fucking embarrassing (he had his hand in Theon’s hair, for crying out loud), and the both of them end up nursing an abysmal hangover, but after they get back home, Robb comes back from practice to see that Theon has gone out of the house to buy groceries, and for the previous two months he hasn’t gone anywhere without someone else he knew.

He’s definitely not complaining.

Then Jeyne calls him.

They see each other for lunch a couple of times, always in obscure places that journalists don’t frequent. And damn, she’s nice, so nice, and she completely gets that maybe he’s codependent with his best friend but it doesn’t mean that he’s cheating on his girlfriend with him, and at some point Theon crashes on them because for some reason he knew where they were going. And shit, he actually gets along with Jeyne just fine. Robb thinks of Roslin’s ‘can’t you just keep it down’, and he looks at the small smile Jeyne sends his way when she thinks he isn’t looking at her.

Why. Did. He. Ever. Say. Yes. To. An. Engagement. With. His. Team’s. Sponsor’s. Daughter.

Fuck his life.

--

“Robb, I can’t really do that.”

“Come on, I’m going to pay whatever price you want.”

“You can’t ask me to close after lunch because you need to organize a surprise party that might go on well after closing time.”

“Renly, I wouldn’t ask that if it wasn’t… for a very good reason.”

This is more difficult than he had thought. The moment he had seen that bakery, Robb had made up his mind – it was perfect. Not too small, but not too big either – enough for all the people he had thought he’d invite. And he had tried Brienne’s sweets at Arya’s party, and Theon had too, and really, they are fucking heavenly. Also since Renly owns it, he won’t find surprise paparazzis in the bathroom.

“Okay. Let’s just – I’m going to call up everyone and you’re going to tell us the very good reason and we’re deciding as a democracy.”

“Since when this place is a democracy? Last time you said it was a benevolent monarchy,” says Jaime Lannister as he walks inside the shop.

Right. Probably picking up his girlfriend. Saying that they look sickeningly sweet would be underestimating the meaning of sickeningly sweet.

“Lannister, out. You don’t work here.”

“Well, he practically lives here,” Ygritte – oh gosh, Jon’s girlfriend – states before taking off her apron and sitting down along with everyone else. “He might as well hear it.”

Renly is outvoted and Robb takes a breath as the other four look at him.

“Okay, so. You know my friend. The one who’s in the group with me.”

“Asha Greyjoy’s brother?”

“Yeah, Lannister, about that. Yes, but please don’t – call him Theon, okay? That said… well. Uh, he’s never had a birthday party in his life.”

“He hasn’t had what?” Loras asks, sounding outraged.

Robb hopes that he has an ally. He goes all out, starting from when he was twelve and he found out, and then he goes on about all the reasons why there was never a good year for throwing him a decent party, and then he mentions the Bolton thing, and then he mentally asks Theon for forgiveness. He shouldn’t probably share this with the world, but.

“During the last one, I had a game and when I came back I found out that he baked himself some cake and ate it on his own. It was so fucking depressing I felt sorry for three days. And I just – I’ve always wanted to go all out on that for once, but either the timing wasn’t good or I couldn’t find the right place. And – well. I’m sure that at least if I throw it here I won’t get paparazzi outside. Or worse, pictures on the Sun where they end up selling the entire thing out.”

There’s a moment of silence.

Then Loras actually fucking punches the table. “That’s ridiculous,” he proclaims. “We have to do it. I mean, Renly, come on, that’s really so fucking depressing that – it’s more depressing than a litter of wet orphan kittens!”

Robb is never ever telling Theon someone compared him to a litter of wet orphaned kittens.

“As much as that analogy sucks ass, he’s right,” Ygritte says. “I’ll admit that the guy could tone down the sass, but that’s seriously sad. I’m in.”

“Renly, come on,” says Brienne. “Let’s do it. It’s just one afternoon and I don’t really mind baking more stuff. And – well. No one except you and a couple other people would come to my birthday parties until I decided I was done organizing them – I know how it feels.”

Jaime eyes her for one moment – oh dear, Robb can see that he’s going to bring her to some candlelit dinner this year or the next.

“Well, while I’m sure that my opinion will amount to nothing since I don’t work here, I’d be more than happy to help with the planning.”

Renly looks mildly scared, and Robb wants to laugh at the idea of Jaime Lannister helping to plan Theon’s birthday party, but – well. Guy’s a lot less of an ass than he had seemed when Robb met him before, so. Why not. He’s the baker’s boyfriend, anyway – he supposes he was going to be around anyway.

“Since I’m outvoted, I’ll just pretend we need an inventory.”

Robb doesn’t punch the air just because he’s still got a hold of some dignity, but he can’t help feeling satisfied like he hasn’t in ages.

“Okay then. I’m just going to make some calls.”

The first one he calls is Sansa – at least he knows she’s going to side with him on this.

Obviously, she’s delighted at the prospect, and of course she’s going to swing by and see if they need help with decorations, and of course she’s going to convince Arya, and he totally doesn’t need to call mum and dad – she’ll totally bring everyone if she has to drag them. Okay, everyone but Uncle Brandon, but it’s not like anyone knows where the hell he is right now, and Theon never saw him once, so that doesn’t matter.

Score.

Then he calls Jon and tells him to take a free afternoon, because yes, he’s coming, and actually he can bring Sam, too – he doesn’t want the entire thing to be just people named Stark or related with Starks, and anyway Sam was the friend who used to work in the comic books shop before doing the police officer thing (it paid more and he has to pay for his master’s degree at some point), and he and Theon hung out a bit during Robb’s birthday parties. He thinks they spent the time arguing about whether the last Marvel reboot was crap or not, but whatever. Sam can totally come, too. Yes, Jon can bring someone else from the police station if they’re so inclined.

Then he takes a breath and calls Asha – he had saved the number, and he knows she’s in town.

“Stark?” she asks, surprised.

“Asha. Okay, listen, what are you doing on your brother’s birthday?”

“Uh. Well, I don’t know, I was just planning to stay home and write some, I have a deadline –”

“Good, awesome. Well, so, happens that I’m throwing him a surprise party and just – I’d really, really appreciate it if you could show up.”

“You’re – you’re doing what?”

“You heard that right the first time.”

“And what would I do there?”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Asha, can’t you quit it? I know you give a shit about him, because you wouldn’t have come from Japan just to talk to me in person when the Bolton fiasco happened. What I don’t get is why you think I need to be your go-between, but – listen. Don’t pretend you don’t give a shit. I can buy it from your dad or your uncles, hell, I actually think they don’t care what he does either way, but I know you do. I don’t get why you’re both so hung on pretending that you both don’t, but that isn’t the point. I’m going to tell you time and address and I really think you should come.”

He can hear her sighing from the other side of the line. “Why are you even that interested in it?”

“Asha. Please. I know how your family parties go. And last year he baked his own fucking cake. I know you probably think it’s pathetic, but – I think he’d want you to be there if he knew.”

“… are there any rules for this party of yours?”

“Just don’t give him metal records.”

She laughs and Robb is almost shocked. He never heard her laugh before, and he’s been around Asha fairly more than around any other Greyjoy that isn’t Theon.

“Oh, I got that on my own. I always knew he wasn’t cut for the family business. Don’t worry, Stark, I’m going to be a nice person, I’ll come to your party and I’m not bringing metal records, and I won’t talk about my own unless someone asks me. Does that work for you?”

“Yeah. Yeah, it does. Thanks, Asha. Really.”

“Oh, don’t sweat it. Maybe you’re right about a couple of things.”

Then she closes the call in his face and Robb doesn’t even think about calling again and asking her. He got what he wanted, he’s not going to jeopardize it.

Then he starts counting. Eight people between him and his family, then Asha, then Jon is going to bring at least three, then the four people planning behind him… sixteen. Not too bad, and not too many. He tries to see if he can come up with someone else Theon knows that he might want to come, but he isn’t going to look up anyone in the bands he’s been in and he comes up with nothing.

He doesn’t know how he should feel about that, so he leaves his number to everyone in the place (Lannister, too, it’s not like he thinks that he’ll give that to his father) and says he’ll be in touch. He has to go to rehearsals.

He also has to promise Loras that the moment they have a new demo he’s totally going to call him first.

He’s mildly scared by how enthusiastic he is, but hey, they have a genuine fan, that’s got to count for something.

--

Obviously, Theon had given excellent advice, but Robb doesn’t even think about it when it happens.

In his defense, it had been the worst week of his life. First, in the second-to-last game of the season, he had managed to fuck up a penalty that would have won Winterfell United the game against Lannisport. He still doesn’t know how the hell did it happen, how he had it so wrong – he figures he understands how Baggio felt when he fucked up the decisive one during the ’94 World Cup. At least that wasn’t the World Cup. Small mercies.

But then it had come to the last match – if they wanted to win the championship, his team had to win the last game and Lannisport had to lose or tie, and Robb has no idea if Tywin Lannister bought the referee –plausible.

The problem is that some idiot from Highgarden deliberately fouls on him, and when he stands back up there’s a ligament in his leg that is definitely not fine, and they have to bring him to the infirmary.

Which is empty except for him and Jeyne Westerling.

Oh, shit.

“Why are you working here?” he asks as she bandages his leg after applying some kind of emergency ointment to avoid extra inflammation.

“Their therapist is on vacation and Tywin Lannister knows the owner and they asked me. They have another four at Lannisport anyway, they could do without me.”

“Shit, that hurts.”

“Yeah, that was seriously horrible. At least you’ll be glad to know that it’s eleven against ten for you.”

“Small mercies, I suppose.”

She stands up and gives him that tiny, lovely smile and Robb’s throat closes.

“How is your friend?” she asks, obviously noticing that a change of topic is required.

“He’s doing good actually.”

“Oh. Good to know. And – how are things going for you?”

He shrugs. “Frey is pushing for the marriage. I’m not really sure it’s the right time. I mean, I realize it’s been a while since the engagement, but – there’s the games, and there’s the European cup this summer, and it’s not like I’m going to throw my best friend out of the house because they think it’s bad for their image. And now I just have to hope that this isn’t serious.”

“I think you’ll be fine with a couple of weeks of rest. It wasn’t… torn or anything.”

“That’s… that’s good to know. Thanks, really.”

“You’re welcome.”

And god, she’s staring at his mouth, and there’s another half an hour before the match is over, and Robb hasn’t had casual sex with anyone (named Sand or not) since they made the engagement public, and he really likes her, and fuck, he should just tell her to leave and stop making him want to –

He has kissed her before that thought was over.

Then he lets her go as if her lips burned.

“Shit, I’m sorry, I didn’t want to – I shouldn’t have –”

She puts a hand on his wrist.

“What if – what if I told you that I didn’t mind?”

Robb has always been good at self-control. Great, even.

But there’s a limit to everything.

A minute later, her shirt is on the ground, followed by Robb’s, and he’s taking off her bra while her hands run along his chest until they reach his shorts, and she knows where to touch, she knows where to press, she kisses him like she really wants to; Robb kisses back, one hand buried in her soft brown hair, bringing her close enough that his erection presses against her stomach. She’s warm and soft and he’s her lips are on his neck, and he wishes they weren’t on a cot in a stadium’s infirmary. He wishes he had a proper bed, that at least they could have proper fun for the one time they can actually do this, and damn there are just twenty-five minutes left.

“Hey,” he breathes, “get – sit on the bed.”

She does it, climbing off him, and her cheeks flush when he pushes down her soft, white trousers along with her underwear and kneels (with some difficulty) in front of her. He doesn’t really care about getting off right now, but he wants to make sure that she does, and she shudders when he presses a kiss against her thigh. He can see that she’s wet already, and she bites down on her tongue the moment his tongue presses against her soft, warm flesh. She almost squirms when he runs his tongue over her clit, her hands tangling in his hair and tugging forward – she’s murmuring yes all over, keeping her voice down, and he doesn’t even think about touching himself. His hands are on her hips now, his tongue still swirling against her outer lips until her thighs are closing around his shoulders and she shuddering against him, soft little moans leaving her lips, and when Robb moves away he knows that his face has to be flushed and that anyone looking at him would guess what he has just done.

Clearly, that’s when one of the Highgarden reserves walks in the changing room.

There’s really no way they can lie about what they were doing.

“I’m sorry,” Jeyne tells him in tears when the rest of the world floods inside the changing room.

Robb just smiles sadly and tells her that it wasn’t her fault.

 

After he leaves Manderly (the team’s owner), his father and Walder Frey in his dad’s office, he has to run through a mob of journalists before reaching his car and speeding away. Shit, they’ll be at home, too – marvelous.

He calls Theon.

“How bad did it go?” is the first thing he asks.

Sometimes Robb likes that he doesn’t have to explain himself.

“How bad? The engagement is done, obviously, but that’s the least. He only agreed to keep on sponsoring the team if I retired. Definitely.”

“… fuck. And you –”

“I said yes, what could I do? I can’t put everyone in the team in a clusterfuck and make the entire society fail or go through a sponsor change when it’s hard to find them just because I couldn’t tell her to meet me at the bar two hours later.”

“Nothing to say about your logic, Stark. But – shit. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well. I’ll survive, I guess. I’m getting there in thirty minutes, hopefully. How many journalists outside?”

“Too many for my tastes.”

Robb had figured that.

He’s braced for the worst, but when he actually gets home there’s no one under the door. What the hell?

He doesn’t look at the gift horse in the mouth though – he parks his car and runs up the stairs.

“What happened downstairs?”

“I might have threatened to throw a bucket of iced water on their heads because I live here, too, and I’d like my privacy.”

“And?”

“They didn’t believe me, so I did it. The guy cursed at me like a possessed man because I ruined his precious camera, but when I said that I was going to pay everyone else the same service they flew. For the moment.”

No one ever believes Robb when he says that one of the reasons he likes Theon a whole damn lot is that he doesn’t have a problem with being an ass when there’s the need to. Let them not understand it, he thinks gratefully as he drops his bag on the ground.

“Anyway,” Theon says, and why does he look slightly embarrassed now? “I had an idea it’d end up bad.”

“No doubts you had. So?”

“Er, just go to the kitchen.”

Robb goes, too tired to even wonder what Theon is up to, which is why he doesn’t expect to see the table covered in peach cobbler. Seriously – there are at least five different casserole dishes on it, and they all look perfect. Not a burn, not a wrong detail.

“Well, it’s been eight years since I tried it first. I practiced,” Theon comments when Robb keeps on looking from the cobblers to him to the cobblers.

“And you made five?”

“Well, I might have gone overboard when I bought the ingredients. You never know if you’ll end up fucking it up. Then the first came out fine and I still had a bunch of ingredients left. And it looked like bad enough news to deserve more than – Stark, what the fuck are you doing?”

So, it has been a long and tiring day, and Robb’s career is over, and it’s not like he can go looking for Jeyne now if he doesn’t want her to get in trouble with her father, and journalists will hunt him down for years, and he knows that Theon knew that perfectly, and –

Fuck Theon’s issues about manliness. Robb never gave a shit about that and he surely doesn’t give a shit now, and if he wants to give the guy a damned hug because he’s making Robb want to cry in gratitude, well, he’s going to have to deal with it.

It’s almost comical – Robb throws both his arms around Theon’s shoulders and Theon just stands still, and damn his neck is covered in flour. Robb wants to laugh, really, and considering what kind of day he had, that’s saying enough. But it isn’t really comical at all – seriously, not knowing what to do when someone spontaneously hugs you is sad enough.

“You know, Greyjoy, it’s a normal thing. Perfectly healthy and perfectly acceptable even from grown men. You can hug me back and you won’t die on the spot, I assure you.”

“Yeah, that’s your opinion,” Theon mutters, but then his arms come up to Robb’s back and he finally, finally relaxes instead of staying rigid like a block of ice.

Robb figures that at least even if the day was a failure, this entire deal definitely isn’t.

“Thanks. Really,” he says without letting go – he managed to force Theon into some kind of healthy physical contact, he isn’t stopping until it’s inevitable.

“Yeah, anytime. You know that, right?”

“As if you need a reminder.”

He kind of hates that Theon even asked that question, but he can’t blame him. Not bringing everything else into play, the both of them have spent enough time answering to the ‘how are you two even friends’ question. Robb figures that he isn’t the kind of person that the rest of the Greyjoys would generally like, and everyone Robb knows that isn’t related to him tends to assume that Theon is half-dysfunctional and that Robb gets nothing out of it because when they’re with other people Theon spends his time teasing, but by now Robb resorts to the ‘get to know him first’ argument and closes the topic there. He’s known since forever that Theon doesn’t say things and that he’s crap at showing them, but he isn’t sure that anyone else he knows would have guessed exactly the one thing that would have made him feel at least somehow better after this utter fiasco of a month. He suspects that the Greyjoy ideal of real men doesn’t include baking cobbler for your very male best friend, and just knowing that Theon went and did it anyway both now and when they were fourteen is making him want to say something incredibly mushy and worthy of the worst chick-flick ever shot.

He keeps his mouth shut, but the hug goes on a lot longer than what would be considered proper.

He has to let go, at some point later – he’s also hungry as hell, for that matter, and he can resist that delicious smell just up until a certain point.

Whenever Theon decides that he’s in the mood to throw water over the head of some journalist during the following week, Robb doesn’t even try to stop him.

When one day Jon brings him this ridiculous Sun cover where there’s some Walder Frey interview stating that according to him Robb retiring is a good thing because you can’t have kids using as a role model some guy who deflowers another girl while engaged (Robb has to stop eating the last piece of cobbler and laugh at that, because there definitely wasn’t any deflowering going on) and who has a tryst with some crazy guy who throws water over journalists trying to do their job at the same time, Robb thinks he laughs until he cries.

Walder Frey can think whatever the hell he wants, as long as Robb is concerned.

--

He hadn’t thought that organizing the whole thing would be this stressful.

He thinks that he respects Jon even more now for having organized Arya’s party without any extra stress. Seriously.

First, every time that they’re at the Starks’s place he freaks out because while he knows that Sansa won’t ever say anything and that Arya isn’t the kind to spill, everyone else still might let something slip by accident and Theon doesn’t have to know anything.

He had planned that he’d have to talk to Brienne to tell her what to bake, obviously, but he hadn’t realized that those people would have planned half of the entire thing in three fucking days.

“So,” Loras starts before he can even open his mouth, “Lannister says that we have a soundtrack, which I thought was a remarkably good idea so I suppose he’s useful, sometimes…”

“Hey, I’m right here!”

Loras doesn’t even spare him a glance. “So, what do you think about this?”

“You wrote a playlist?”

“Do you think we do things halfway?” Lannister asks.

Right. The definitely don’t. And the playlist is actually – well, whoever did this had been listening to Robb when he had specified Theon’s music tastes. Other than Fairport Convention which anyone would have guessed since it’s on the demo, there’s a bunch of Joni Mitchell, some acoustic Led Zeppelin songs, Phil Ochs (seriously, who even came up with that one? He hadn’t had an idea of who the guy was until Theon schooled him), various combinations of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the obligatory Joan Baez and Bob Dylan duets and – fuck, Pentangle?

“Who put this together?”

“Who do you think has some taste in here?” Lannister replies.

“Liar. I helped you,” Ygritte says while cleaning up the tables.

“But Pentangle were his idea,” Brienne calls from the bathroom while cleaning her hands.

“Darling, I know I can always count on you!”

“Jesus, who’d have thought you two would make my teeth rot?” Renly mutters. “Anyway, is that good?”

“Oh. Yeah. Sure. It’s perfect, actually. So, other than –”

“Your sister happened, by the way,” Lannister interrupts again, not helpfully.

“Well, she knows more about decorating than you do,” Loras replies, and Robb doesn’t even want to think of what it means that the guy is defending his sister. “Anyway, it was good that she came because well, seeing your friend I’d have thought he’d have liked… you know, dark colors, but she said that black was out of the question – good because otherwise I’d have already ordered stuff in – so we were thinking, shades of blue?”

“Actually – actually his favorite color is red, if –”

“Okay, shades of red, avoiding pink. Sounds good. Ygritte, you have that down?”

“Yeah, I’m going to pick that up tomorrow if you call the store now.”

Loras disappears in the back where the phone is and Robb feels frankly overwhelmed.

“Woah, he’s seriously into this,” Brienne says as she comes back from the bathroom and sits in front of him with a piece of paper in front of her. “So, if we can skip on the decorations for a moment… I need to know how many people are going to be there.”

“I counted sixteen, so –“

Lannister raises a hand and interrupts him. “Hey, actually, I wanted to ask, do you mind if my brother comes, too?”

“Your brother? Well… okay, I suppose. Is there a reason?”

“He said it was adorable that you were going to do this thing and he actually likes your demo. And knowing him he could go and crash the party anyway – oh, by the way, he comes in a package deal with his assistant, but he’s a cool guy.”

“Well, I didn’t want the entire thing to be just me and my relatives, so okay. Yeah. That’s cool.”

“Okay, since we’re here, you mind if my nephew comes?” Renly asks, and Robb has to think about it one moment. The only person in the family who ever had kids was Robert, and if we’re talking about Robert’s kids –

“Wait, Gendry? The one who lives with you half of the time anyway?”

“Yeah. Robert has seen fit to disappear searching for your aunt again, as if she wants to be found, so he’s at my place.”

“Sure thing. I mean, he can hang out with my brothers, so it’s not like he’s going to get bored. So… nineteen?”

Brienne nods, writes it down. “So, nineteen people, three cupcakes each would do but there’s children in between and you said you’d go all out – I’m just going to bake a hundred. Now, tastes? I’m not going to bake him something he doesn’t like.”

“Right. So, uh, he doesn’t really like cheese frosting much so no cheesecakes – but red velvet with anything else on would be good. Actually he ate half of the caramel orange velvet cupcakes you made for Arya’s birthday when he realized that the blue ones were more popular, so you can go heavy on them. Then uh, he likes dark chocolate. If we’re talking about fruit, definitely lemon and peach.”

“I suppose that the no pink rule except for your sister is still valid?”

“Most definitely, yes. About the cake, I don’t think that he has a favorite or something, though.”

“Let me worry about that. Actually, give me five minutes and I’ll get back to you on it.”

She looks down at the sheet, probably calculating something based on ingredients, Robb has no idea.

“You know what,” Loras says, “if he doesn’t want cheese frosting on the red velvet you could just make… you know. The other red velvet kind.”

Brienne suddenly blushes as red as said red velvet cupcakes.

“What do you mean? ” Robb asks.

Ygritte stands up from her chair, goes to the counter and slams in front of him a… red velvet butterscotch cupcake? With green candy in the frosting?

“Oh. Uh, what – wait, is that actually…” He turns to look at Jaime Lannister, then at the cupcake. He looks frankly too proud for it to be entirely normal, and Brienne is blushing so hard that her entire face is red.

“Not everyone has girlfriends who bake things in their image,” Lannister says, sounding oh so very pleased by that.

“Shut up,” Brienne mutters.

“Wench, it was your idea.”

“And I’m not regretting it, but I’m starting to think that I created a monster.”

“Anyway, they’re actually good,” Ygritte interrupts. “I’d eat it if I were you.”

Robb feels like he has no control over this anymore, and so he eats it.

It’s delicious, but he doesn’t say it – he isn’t sure that Lannister needs more feeding for his ego.

“So,” Brienne says then, “I was thinking. I can go for an orange velvet cake, pretty much the same size as the one I made for your sister. I can cut it in layers and put caramel in between them, and then I could cover the entire thing with dark chocolate and do some further decorations with caramel on the top. How does it sound?”

“I think you just described his food-related wet dream,” Robb says without even thinking about it twice. He got hungry just hearing the description and he doesn’t even like caramel that much.

“Excellent. Then I’ll give it a try – Renly, you think I can get away with just a couple of regular batches that morning? It’ll take a while to put this together.”

“I think that you can just give me leftovers from the previous day, we’re not going to stay open long enough to need a fresh batch anyway. And Loras, don’t even think about bringing in shit that we’ll have to clean up later, I’m sure his friend isn’t the type anyway.”

Robb has to agree – paper hats would probably cause Theon an aneurysm.

--

He speaks with Asha another time, just to make sure she got the time and the place, and tells her to show up at least half an hour before.

Then he starts thinking about the present.

He’s sure that Theon would take the party as Robb’s present, which is all kinds of stupid – the party shouldn’t be a present. He has already told everyone to please, for the love of everything, avoid anything that has to do with metal music or the color black, so at least he doesn’t have to worry about that. And it’s not like Theon strictly needs material stuff right now – certainly he isn’t lacking in clothes, or –

Wait.

He thinks he knows what he needs to get. He just needs to plan it to the last detail.

 

One week later, he looks at his present and he thinks that it looks pretty damn good.

--

On day X’s eve, he calls Theon in the morning while Theon’s out replacing guitar strings.

“So,” he starts, trying to keep his voice natural. “You know my uncle Brandon, right?”

“The one that I won’t believe exists until I see him in the flesh?”

“He exists! He even has a Facebook account!”

“Yeah, right, as if it couldn’t be some other relative of yours impersonating him. Whatever, so?”

“So when he drops by he goes to stay at that house in the country where my dad’s family used to go on vacation, but no one’s been there for ages and he said he might come, so I have to go with Sansa and dad to clean things up. We’re leaving in a couple hours and we’re coming back tomorrow afternoon, but there’s not going to be reception so I’ll call you then. But apart from that, you remember Brienne?”

“Jaime Lannister’s girlfriend? The one that works in a bakery? Yeah, so?”

“So apparently some guy who went there for lunch heard the demo and said he thought it was good and he might want us to do a couple concerts. So Renly ended up calling his brother who called my dad who gave him my number, he talked to me and he said that we could meet up there and discuss it.”

“You told him that we have like, five songs and a half, right?” Robb can hear that Theon bought it though. He almost feels bad for lying about it, but someone will pay them for performing at some point – he’ll be excited for it another time.

“He said it’s cool, it was something short so five songs with three or four covers should probably cover it. Anyway, can you come to the bakery at… six PM? I’ll meet you there – I mean, I don’t know what time I’ll finish, so I’ll just drive straight to the place.”

“Okay. Sounds great. So… see you tomorrow?”

“Sure. Oh, and don’t even try to bake your own cake.”

“Robb –”

“I know what day it is. After we talk with the guy I’m taking you out for a drink or something and since we’re there we can just get ourselves some cake. Just – don’t even try that, okay?”

“All right. Fine. I’ll meet you there then.”

“Awesome. And happy birthday in advance.”

“It’s not for another… fourteen hours, Robb. Come back later.”

Well, this one went easy.

--

He goes to sleep at his parents’, obviously.

At dinner, Sansa is so excited about this thing that Robb feels frankly scared.

“You have to see the decorations Loras picked – it’s going to look so great!”

“What, is he your new bff? Don’t tell Jeyne then,” Arya mutters.

“Why do you always have to be like that? He’s nice! And he has better taste in clothes than you, anyway.”

Arya almost spits out her water.

“At what time should we be there?” his mum asks instead – at least someone asks sensible things.

“I told him six PM. I – and I guess Sansa – are going to be there sometime at two PM, which is when they should be already closed. You can all come whenever, but at least half an hour before just in case he gets there early.”

“Good. We’ll be there by then. Did he buy your excuse?”

“It was almost too easy. Now I just have to hope that Asha doesn’t park where he can see her car.”

“Wait. Asha?” Arya asks, her eyes suddenly wide as saucers. “He’s actually – his sister is Asha Greyjoy?”

“Er, yeah? I thought it was obvious?”

“And she’s coming?”

“If she doesn’t pull out at the last moment. Why?”

“Oh my god,” Arya says, apparently going into hyperventilation. “Oh my god she’s like my favorite ever and I can’t believe it, do you seriously mean –”

Since when? , he mouths at the side of the table where Sansa and his parents are sitting. Everyone looks as baffled as him though – Arya has apparently hidden it well.

“Okay, let’s just – hey. Arya. Come with Sansa and me tomorrow, go and swoon over her when she comes in – I think you might be in good company anyway, Lannister likes her stuff. You do that until six PM, and from then on no one ever mentions her records or her sales or anything, okay?”

Arya looks like happiness made flesh at the offer, and when the next day she shows up with some t-shirt of Asha’s group, Robb wonders how did she manage to hide that specific passion from every-fucking-one except probably Jon, and Jon isn’t here to answer for that anyway.

--

When they get there, the place looks like some kind of whirlwind passed through it. Ygritte is cleaning tables obsessively, Lannister is sitting in a corner working on some computer and typing with his left hand like a maniac – the computer is hooked to the bakery’s sound system, so Robb supposes that it’s about the infamous playlist.

Then Loras notices them, looking plenty happy that Sansa is there, and she runs to help him with the darned decorations. There’s a lot of noise coming from the kitchen.

“Is there anything either I or my sister can do?” Robb asks Renly.

He shakes his head. “Unless you can bake Brienne probably will do faster without anyone else around. Unless Lannister goes to help her like the last time.”

“Shut up and go fix that wire, I can’t exactly do it.”

Renly sighs and goes to fix the wire. A minute later, The Battle of Evermore fills up the entire room, and all the speakers are working. Lannister looks very, very smug.

“All right then, I’ll go help the wench in the kitchen. Muscle work.”

“Just get here already!” she shouts from inside the room.

“You heard the lady,” he says, and then he stands up and goes to the kitchen looking a lot smoother than anyone would have the right.

“Well then,” Renly says, “if you want to dump the presents in the spare room, be my guests.”

Right. They go back to the car – Robb takes his bag, Arya a bigger one that is either both hers and Sansa’s or a collective one from at least the both of them, he has no idea, and then they bring them in. After that he goes to help Ygritte cleaning the tables and the floor while Arya is probably bothering Sansa and Loras, and by four they’re pretty much done. The entire place is so clean that it almost shines, the walls are covered in drapes all in different shades of red that are a lot tastier than Robb had feared, Lannister is back behind his computer and putting on ridiculous music at random (when Robb heard the Imperial March at full volume he almost had a heart attack). Then Brienne tells him to go to the kitchen to have a look and Robb thinks that he’ll give her a bonus over the original price. The cupcakes covering three out of four tables in the kitchen are looking so good that his mouth is watering, and when he looks at the cake (which is big enough to feed thirty people, not twenty) he thinks that it’s perfect. And there’s no happy birthday or anything else written over it – good, better not to go too overboard.

“I think he’s going to have a heart attack,” Robb says. “It was a compliment.”

--

His parents get there sometime around five along with both Bran and Rickon – the latter tells Robb that he had forgotten the candles home with a face that only expresses disproval. Ten minutes later Asha comes inside in all her dressed-completely-in-black-with-ridiculously-heavy-boots glory and a huge box in her arms. Robb goes to take it from her, thanks her for coming, and then the poor girl is pretty much assaulted by both Jaime and his little sister at the same time. He tunes out Arya’s ridiculous fangirling, as Sansa puts it, and goes to put the box in the storage room. There isn’t a card on it or anything, but to be honest he hadn’t thought that Asha would bring a present at all, so that’s good, he supposes. Then Robert’s nephew arrives, and a moment after him Jon gets in with three people in tow – Sam, obviously, and then another two that introduce themselves as Pyp and Grenn. Robb thinks that they all graduated from the same class or something like that.

Sam notices him and comes closer. “Did it come out right?”

Robb nods. “Yeah, thanks again. That guy you sent me to did the job perfectly.”

“Well, that’s the kind of people you meet when you help selling comic books for five years.”

So, the only people missing would be –

“Oh, good, I’m not crashing the party already, am I?”

“Yeah, because we aren’t half an hour early.”

So, Robb has never met Tyrion Lannister in person, even if he knew that he wasn’t cut from the same cloth as his brother and sister, but after five minutes he’s reached the conclusion that the man is probably half-insane and that neither him or his brother are the kind of ass that their father is.

Good for them, he supposes. The secretary, who introduces himself as Bronn, goes directly to the backroom and places something over the pile of bags (and Robb is sort of surprised – why would they even bring a present for someone they don’t know? Then again, they have the money and they’re crashing the party) and then proceeds to spend the next twenty minutes snarking his way around with everyone. Asha is the only one that bothers to keep up with him and – well. They’re not exactly a matched group, but Robb thinks that they’re going to do.

Then it’s ten minutes to six and he says he’s going to wait outside. Everyone suddenly tunes down the noise and they turn off the lights.

Theon gets there five minutes later and Robb tries to keep a straight face.

This isn’t going to blow up in his face. He knows it won’t. He just has to not give himself away.

“Huh, why are the lights off?”

“Everyone’s in the backroom, they just didn’t want to waste electricity. Come on, get in.”

He nods towards the street window – someone is hopefully watching him and keeping their hands on the switch.

Clearly, the moment Robb closes the door behind him, the lights don’t go on.

Then he remembers that the switch was next to the computer, which means – oh, obviously.

Then Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock starts.

“Robb, what –”

Then the light turns on. Robb was right – some genius has managed to put Jaime in charge of both music and lights when he’s the only one in the room with just one hand to do it.

Then again, Theon’s utterly baffled look when everyone yells surprise from behind the cupcakes-filled tables is totally worth the small setback.

When Theon doesn’t faint the moment he sees that Asha is there, too, sitting on one of the few free tables and munching on a cupcake, Robb figures that nothing can go wrong.

Then Theon slowly turns towards him. “You organized this.” It isn’t even a question.

“Well, I’ve been wanting to do it since we were twelve. Took me a long time, I guess, but now that I did it I don’t want excuses. And now if you don’t go enjoy yourself I’m going to personally smack you in the face.”

“Stark, I have no fucking words, you know that?”

“I’m not asking for your opinion.”

“You’re both making my teeth rot,” Arya declares.

“What did you just say?”

So the party starts with Theon tacking Arya to the ground.

It could have gone a lot worse, Robb thinks, and grabs a peach cupcake.

--

At the beginning it’s plain that Theon doesn’t know what to do with all the attention on him. Robb keeps on the side because he’s not going to give Theon an excuse to let him do the talking or anything else. He ends up helping Brienne bringing cupcakes in to replace eaten ones, and they end up doing a fair share of conversation – she’s pretty nice to talk to, and she knows more about football than the average person he meets. And she totally agrees with him on the fact that half of Lannisport City plays dirty, but it’s not like she’ll say it out loud when her boyfriend can hear her, so they spend half an hour discussing that matter in the kitchen.

When they’re back with more cupcakes, Sansa has apparently somehow convinced Theon to dance with her while some Joan Baez song Robb doesn’t recognize is on, Arya is huddled in a corner talking to Gendry, his parents are engaged in some incredibly interesting conversation with Tyrion Lannister, Asha and Bronn are trying to outwit each other while polishing off lemon cupcakes, when he asks where Jon and Ygritte are Sam and the others send embarrassed looks towards the bathroom and Jaime apparently ended up in charge of his little brothers.

Maybe nothing good will come out of that part, especially because everyone knows that Bran is a closeted Lannisport supporter, but for the rest Robb thinks it’s going pretty damn good.

--

At some point, someone breaks out the alcohol. Robb thinks it was Renly. He has no idea, but from the moment it happens, everything gets possibly crazier. Okay, other than his parents starting to slow dance like pros, which is entirely crazy in itself, it happens that Asha doesn’t get even tipsy (fuck, she’s scary), that Robb ends up dancing with Brienne for exactly ten seconds before Jaime gets hold of his girlfriend, everyone else who isn’t old enough to drink looks at them like they all turned insane and then Tyrion Lannister, who is conveniently perching in front of his brother’s computer, starts reading out loud some of the latest Sun articles.

By the middle, everyone is laughing regardless of their sobriety or not (Jon and Ygritte included, after they left the bathroom with their clothes buttoned wrong. Theon merely commented that he totally approved that during his first birthday party ever someone was having sex in the bathroom. Robb wasn’t surprised).

“Walder Frey is kind of obsessed with you two,” Loras observes, slightly slurring.

“Come on, Loras,” Renly interrupts. “They obviously are –”

“Heterosexual life partners,” Sansa and Jon say at the same time.

“Oh, seriously, just fuck that idiot,” Asha declares from her place on another table. The fact that no one reminds her that there are kids in the room is probably a proof that most people aren’t sober. “Actually, you two should just do something that would totally make him flip if he saw it.”

“Like slow dancing?” Bronn suggests. He doesn’t seem that drunk either.

“They totally should,” Ygritte says. She tries to sound solemn, but she just had a bite of cupcake and it doesn’t come as solemn as she probably wanted.

“Tyrion, find them a song!” Jaime shouts from behind the counter where he’s having some embarrassing PDA moment with Brienne.

“On it!”

“Oh, this is the best party ever,” Sansa sighs.

Arya and Gendry aren’t looking too impressed. (At least Bran and Rickon are more interested in polishing off the cupcakes at their table.)

“Well, I suppose that if there’s some photographer on the other side of the road, I can just hope Walder Frey has a heart attack when he sees pictures?”

“Stark, you should be glad I’m drunk enough to agree to this,” Theon replies.

Robb is sure that at least Sansa films the two of them failing to dance decently as A Case of You plays (seriously, who told Tyrion to pick that damned song?).

But after all Theon tries to keep himself from laughing in Robb’s face half of the time and fails for the other half, which means that this party is, until now, a total and absolute success and Robb is going to congratulate himself sometime next morning.

When he’s sober enough to do it.

--

The problem is that these people are clearly evil, because of course the lights would go out and Brienne would bring the cake in when the two of them are still half-clinging to each other in a position that would be even harder to explain than any other possibly compromising positions they’ve been found in.

(Fine, that’s a lot of positions, but it’s not the point.)

“What the hell have you cooked up other than –” Theon starts, and then he turns and sees what Brienne is bringing in from the kitchen.

Robb is thankful that the only current illumination is candlelight, because for a moment he was sure that grateful crying might happen and he isn’t sure that it would be a good thing. But then the moment is gone and he shrugs Theon off him, pushing him towards the table where Brienne is settling her masterpiece.

Seriously. It’s a masterpiece. Robb would be almost sorry to eat it, if it didn’t look so damn delicious.

He also doesn’t know how he ended up next to Theon rather than on the other side of the table, which had been his original plan, but then again Robb isn’t exactly sober – if Theon grabbed him and brought him there, then he doesn’t remember it.

What he knows is that Theon is looking down at the lit candles as if he has no fucking idea of what he should do and Robb decides that someone has to speed things up.

“You know, you’re supposed to make a wish and blow, not to stare down at it. Even if I suppose Brienne doesn’t mind it.”

Someone laughs, Theon sends him a stare that’s half grateful and half I-want-to-punch-you-in-the-face.

But then he looks down at the cake again, waits a couple of seconds – Robb knows that he’ll deny it until the end of times, but he can bet that he was making a wish – and then he blows on the candles, and he might be half-drunk but he manages to do it without taking a breath in between.

Admittedly, when someone (Jaime, probably, since he hears a couple of curses – why is he the one always near the switch, anyway?) turns on the light, Robb thinks that Theon’s flush has more to do with everyone else clapping than with how much beer he drank in the last two hours, but for the sake of dignity he’s not going to point that out.

Then Theon takes a better look at the cake in full light.

“Lannister, if you two ever break up, I’ll be ready to pick up the pieces.”

Jaime snorts. “You wish you had half my charm.”

Brienne blushes all over and says she’s going to cut the cake – no, everyone else that can handle a knife in this room is too drunk to be trusted with it.

Also, he has to stop himself from moaning appreciatively when finally his piece of cake is delivered. He doesn’t even like caramel and this thing is so delicious he might just have a second piece.

From the look of Theon’s face, he thinks that if he wasn’t stopping himself, too, the appreciation moans would be this side of pornographic.

--

Everyone is at the second or third serving of cake when Robb glances towards the backroom. Brienne nods back at him, then Bronn catches on the memo and follows the both of them while Theon is too distracted telling Jaime something.

When Brienne drops Asha’s very much heavy carton box on the table and Theon notices the three of them – Brienne only had the box, Robb and Bronn had all the other bags – he looks like he wasn’t absolutely expecting that.

“What,” Robb says when he drops a shiny pink bag on one seat – Sansa needs to learn to like other colors –, “did you think that it was over at the cake?”

“… actually, I did?”

It’s a miracle that everyone in the room is sensitive enough not to say anything.

“Well.” Rickon breaks the silence as he finishes his second piece of cake. “If I were you, I’d open the presents.”

“That’s what I call words of wisdom,” Tyrion comments as he keeps on doing stuff on the darned computer. It probably consists in switching the playlist so that all the Joni Mitchell stuff starts all over again.

“Uh. Okay then.”

Robb swears to himself that he’s going to throw the idiot some real party every damn year until he learns how you do it properly, and meanwhile he grabs his present and hides it behind his back.

It’s probably cheating, but he figures he earned the right to be the last one.

Clearly, the first that gets noticed is Asha’s – well, it’s big.

Theon glances at her with some kind of distrust when he sees her name on the side.

Asha rolls her eyes. “If it makes you feel better, I didn’t pay for it.”

He looks relieved at that.

Robb is even more convinced that if you searched dysfunctional on a dictionary, you’d read Greyjoy family as the only definition.

Anyway, Theon opens the box and he stops dead in his tracks.

It’s full of old LPs, and from what Robb sees, it’s all Joni Mitchell. At least the ones on top.

“Weren’t – weren’t these –” Theon starts.

“Mum’s records, yes. I found them in the cellar last month while I was searching for other stuff,” Asha replies, and everyone else goes quiet. No one knows the backstory except Robb, probably, but they did get that it’s Important Business. “Anyway, I went to check a couple things after, because I was honestly sure that someone had just… sold them or whatever.”

“And?”

“And she left them to you. In her will. Back when she died, I mean. But I had to go look up a copy, no one except dad had read it back then. I can guess what he was thinking, but – well. Seems to me that all his fears have come to pass and you won’t get back to the family roots with or without mum’s records.”

“Wait, you know?”

Robb is probably the only one who understands the… well, Overall Importance of the moment when she drops down the table she had been perching on and puts a hand on his shoulder.

“Anyone with some common sense would have known. Or well, anyone who didn’t desperately want to deny it, I suppose. And while I think that your choice is frankly boring as fuck…” Her voice suddenly drops so that only Robb hears, and because he’s standing next to her. “If pretending that you want to do what I do means that you almost get yourself killed, then just go be Neil Young. You were never cut for that anyway.”

“Well… yeah. I never was. Guess I made peace with it. Asha, really, thanks. I just –”

“Shut it. I know. Go open the rest. And someone give me something stronger than beer.”

That didn’t go well, Robb thinks, that went amazing.

All things considered.

He also doesn’t know why Tyrion Lannister’s secretary has small vodka shots in his bag.

Better not to ask.

The next one is the pink bag. Obviously Sansa went through the hassle of putting a card over it. Theon reads it, then looks at Sansa, then at Arya.

The latter just shrugs. “It seemed stupid to waste a card when I suck at writing them, anyway.”

Robb can’t help it – while Theon is opening the bag, he reads the card.

Happy birthday! My brother couldn’t have a better heterosexual life partner.

<333

Sansa

Her message totally sucks but then again cards are stupid. Whatever. Happy birthday. Also, she picked the wrapping paper, not me.

Arya.

His sisters are insane.

Then again, at least they both had been listening to him. The (sparkling pink) package contains a bunch of DVDs with all of Bob Dylan’s concerts at the Newport festival (he’ll find out later that she and Arya had spent half an afternoon googling possible presents and Robb is oddly touched).

When Theon looks like he has no idea of what he should do, Arya rolls her eyes.

“Don’t even try to hug me.”

“Oh, thank fuck.”

Sansa sighs, gives him a pat on the back. “You’re welcome,” she says graciously, and kisses him on the cheek before eyeing one of the remaining lemon cupcakes.

That went good, too.

Then there’s the blank red envelope.

Theon turns it between his hands a couple of times, trying to guess who’s behind it.

“Oh, that one,” Tyrion says after no one else claims it. “I figured it was just rude to crash a party without a present. I was sure I told someone to at least write the name on it.”

“Yes, except that you didn’t tell me who I was supposed to address it to,” Bronn says.

“Oops, I didn’t? Oh, well. Whatever. Knock yourself out.”

“Oh. Thanks. But uh, really, you didn’t have to.”

“Lad, it’s a drop in the ocean of my paycheck. Don’t sweat it.”

Robb thinks that Theon almost faints when he sees that in the envelope there are two tickets for some Joan Baez concert a month or so from now. And when he looks at the seats… well. It’s the kind of seat where you’re this close to seat in the singer’s lap.

“Woah. Thanks, I don’t even know how to… I just – are you serious about –”

“I like classical music better. And that wasn’t even sold out. ‘Course I’m serious. And please, you’re totally welcome to stare at me like I’m the best thing since sliced bread – that’s probably not untrue.”

“And I have the big ego,” Jaime Lannister mutters from somewhere behind the counter.

“I’m going to faint before this is done,” Theon mutters before turning to the next package. Which is some collective present from Sam and Jon’s other friends. The moment it’s uncovered, Theon looks straight at Sam with a look of uttermost respect on his face.

“Where the fuck did you find this?”

This sounds like a bunch of Deadpool issues. (Later, Robb will learn that it was the first two mini-series that were issued sometime in the early nineties. Saying stuff that only crazy obsessed people would recognize at a first glance is saying nothing.)

“I’m still in perfectly good relations with the people at the comic books shop,” Sam replies smugly.

Robb thinks that Theon is this close to crying on all of their shoulders in gratitude.

Okay, that doesn’t happen, but still, this is going so well, Robb couldn’t have asked for more.

That said, Robb is frankly half-scared when he realizes that the next one is Jon’s present.

Half of it is definitely a mock present – the first small box in the bag was… seriously, chocolate flavored condoms? The entire thing becomes a lot more hilarious when Ygritte supplies the information that she was there to help him decide the flavor.

Robb goes next to Asha and asks Bronn to hand him one of the vodka shots.

He didn’t do a bad thing. The actual present is – The Threesome Handbook? Oh gosh, who even finds that kind of things lying around?

Theon flips through it and at some point he has a laughing fit and tells Jon that he didn’t know he had it in him.

Robb grabs the book.

There are pictures of possible positions.

He’s not killing Jon right now just because Jon is his brother.

And oh, they’re down to two now. His parents’ and – yeah. Okay. He can trust that his mom picked something nice and sensible. Probably. Damn, he drank too much – he grabs one of the lonely leftover lemon cupcakes – maybe if he eats something he’ll regain some clarity.

When Theon realizes that the only other package left – a square box wrapped in dark gray – is from Robb’s parents, he starts saying that there really wasn’t the need.

Ned rolls his eyes. “If it makes you feel better, I owe you for that time when you shut up my nephew.”

Catelyn elbows him. “Don’t mind him. And yes, there was.”

Robb is still standing next to him, so he’s the first one to see that it’s… a photo album?

Oh, they didn’t.

Except that they did. At least it’s not some kind of tasteless cover. Theon opens it with hands that aren’t exactly steady and oh. Oh.

Someone has gone through all the films that ever were put in the basement, or through the other albums, because the entire thing is full of pictures of the two of them. From age three to age current. Some are even in fucking black and white – oh right, the times when his mum was experimenting with her camera or whatever it was. Robb should feel mildly embarrassed – some of those pictures are seriously blackmail material – but he totally gets the sentiment behind it and damn, Theon looks like he’s about to cry for how touched he looks, and Robb himself isn’t sure he isn’t feeling somewhat emotional.

At least no one comments on the strangled thank you Theon manages as he looks down at some pictures of the two of them at – what was that, Halloween when they were nine? When they had gone as Superman and Batman? Jesus.

He says goodbye to his dignity – the moment Ygritte or anyone else sees those pictures he won’t have any left, but it was worth it. He figures.

Then he decides that it’s time to break the impasse.

“Well, I guess it’s my turn,” Robb says, not knowing if he’s saving the moment or possibly pushing things over the brink.

“What? You have one too?” Theon asks, baffled.

“Why, you thought I’d organize this entire thing and show up without a present?”

“You know nothing,” Ygritte shouts from wherever she is.

“At least it’s not just me now.” Jon sounds kind of smug.

Robb sighs, hands Theon his package – plain red paper, no card, but shit they really don’t need a card after all.

Robb doesn’t know that his hands are sweating until the package is out of his hands.

Theon rips the paper slowly, his eyes narrowing when he sees the light gray shirt inside. He throws away the paper and unfolds it and – his eyes go so wide that Robb thinks that he really has reached his emotional overload for the night.

“You – when did you do this?”

“Took me a couple of nights. You already dumped the whole logo business on me anyway.”

The story is that Theon had indeed told Robb that the day they picked the name for good, he would have to work on the logo because he was the one out of them that could draw. Neither of them had said out loud that Starkjoy was it, but Robb just knows that it is. And he kind of likes the damn name. And he wants it to be both of their names at once. So he sat down and put his head to it – the name is in this nice, understandable handwriting that it’s similar to this font he had saved somewhere on his computer but not exactly the same, enclosed in a pentangle, in dark gray over the light background.

“It probably can use improving. But I figured that the first ever Starkjoy merchandise would do nicely.”

“That’s how you called the band? Oh, Jesus, I need a lot more alcohol. Bronn, tell me those vodka shots aren’t over,” Asha declares, and the worst thing is that she still isn’t drunk.

“I need a dentist,” Jon says.

“I think – uh, I need a word with him,” Theon says. “Is there a place that isn’t… well, outside?”

“Not the bathroom! You don’t want to go there!” Ygritte says, hurriedly.

“Fuck my life, you clean it!” Renly sighs.

“Go to the kitchen,” Brienne says. “We won’t pry.”

From the way she sounds, they will be left alone, which is a good thing. They go to the kitchen, Theon still clutching the shirt. Robb closes the door, and when he turns Theon is mere centimeters from him.

“Hey, are you all right? You look –”

The moment goes down in history as the first time in their entire friendship where Theon spontaneously hugs him.

And not even awkwardly – in the first couple of moments, Robb finds himself literally without air.

Not that he’s going to say anything. Fuck no. And since he isn’t the emotionally constipated one, he doesn’t wait a minute to get on with the memo and reciprocate.

Then he realizes that Theon might be trying not to cry against his shoulder.

“Fuck, did I break you?”

“Shut up. Probably. You owe me.”

“Yeah, sure. Just get it out of your system, won’t you?”

Robb doesn’t exactly move away the moment Theon does get it out of his system. His hands loosen their hold for a bit, but not enough to let Theon get away.

“So – so that’s it? I mean, I suppose it’s definitive. The name, I mean.”

“Well, it grows on everyone apparently. I think it is.”

“I guess I should put it on then.”

Robb moves away – Theon goes to wash his face at the kitchen sink, then takes off his t-shirt and puts the new one on.

It fits perfectly. Robb should really congratulate himself.

Then Theon’s eyes go to his shoulder.

“Oh. Fuck. Everyone’s going to notice that, will they?”

Right. There’s a damp patch on Robb’s button-down, and it’s light gray – no way to hide it. But that’s fine – it just makes the next move easier.

“Then you’re lucky that it’s not the only shirt I have on.”

“What?”

Robb takes off the button-down.

Under it, he had exactly the same shirt he gave Theon before, except that his own has the logo on light gray and the background dark.

“Yours was still printed first,” he says, looking up at Theon’s utterly surprised face. “But it’s two of us in that thing, yes?”

“I– okay, I’m speechless. I admit defeat.”

“Good. Then I won a great victory. So, should we go back among the living?”

Theon shakes his head and moves closer again. His hand goes to Robb’s shoulder again, then to his neck, and for a moment Robb almost looks down. He doesn’t think someone has ever looked at him like – like he’s the best thing that ever happened to this planet or something like that.

“Robb, just – thanks. I don’t even – sometimes I’d think about how it’d feel. Ages ago.”

“Yeah? Lived up to your expectations?”

“My expectations were a lot lower than that.”

“Well, next year I’ll make it bigger then.”

“Next – oh, shut up. I don’t need to embarrass myself again.”

Robb laughs, claps him on the shoulder.

“It’s not the end of the world.”

He looks down at his right hand, at the faint scar that’s been there since they were seven. Theon looks down at it, shrugs and turns his left upward.

He still has it, too, but it’s a lot less faint.

“I opened it again a number of times,” he says, shrugging, and yeah, Robb thinks as his throat closes for a moment, that says a whole damn lot.

“Idiot. There wasn’t the need.” He takes a breath, deciding that he has reached his own emotional quota for the day. “So, you want to see if there’s some cake left or we’re just going to stay here and braid our hair?”

--

Two days after they cut their hands, Robb finds Theon looking at the scar running over his palm during recess.

“Does it hurt?” he asks, concerned. He hopes not. His own doesn’t, but who knows?

“No. It’s just – what if it fades?”

Well, that’s the most stupid thing Robb’s ever heard in his life.

“So what? We still did that. It’s – it’s a deal, it doesn’t just disappear like that.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. It’s a now and always kind of deal.” Robb has no idea where that came from, but he likes how it sounds.

Actually, he thinks he couldn’t have put it better.

“… Now and always? Huh. Sounds… sounds right. Okay. I like it.”

“See? Nothing to worry about.”

--

Theon snorts and goes to open the kitchen door.

But then Robb remembers something and he puts his hand on Theon’s wrist, stopping him momentarily.

“Didn’t we say now and always?” he asks, and he doesn’t think he has ever seen such a soft look on Theon’s face.

“Yeah. Right. Now and always then.”

Robb lets Theon’s wrist go and and Theon opens the door.

Everyone notices that they have matching shirts.

Robb doesn’t even hear the heterosexual life partners comments anymore.

End.

Chapter Text

He should have realized that the surprise party thing had gone too well. There had to be a catch somewhere.

The catch is Asha Greyjoy knocking at his door a few days later while Theon is out and dropping the bomb on him.

Wait.

Dropping the atomic bomb would be more accurate.

“I was wondering,” she says without many preambles. “Are you aware that my brother is in love with you?”

Robb opens his mouth, then closes it. “Excuse me?”

“Huh. He really is a good actor then,” Asha remarks.

“You mean – but how? Since when?”

Asha looks at him as if she pities him and his narrow perception of the world around him. “At least since he was seventeen or something. Or better, I thought that there was potential when I realized that you two spent your time carving your names on trees, but I think he realized it then.”

“Did he tell you?” Robb doesn’t ask how she knows about the whole carving names on trees business.

“Well, not exactly, but while he wouldn’t say who he was pining for, the moment I asked whether it was a straight close friend he denied it a bit too forcefully. And he doesn’t have other close friends, not close enough that they’re attached to the hip as you two are. I can put two and two together, Stark.”

Robb swallows, not entirely sure of what he should do with that information.

“… I had no idea,” he says lamely.

“Yeah, I had gotten that far. But since my brother won’t ever tell you to your face, I figured I should make you aware.”

“Er, and why’s that?”

She shrugs. “He won’t ever tell you because he’s sure that you’re straight as an arrow and he’d just ruin your lovely, touching platonic relationship. Now, I’m pretty sure that he’s wrong about the last part – that’s him being paranoid. And well, I suppose you might be straight, but considering how you two act when you’re in the same space, I’m starting to think that you might make an exception. Well, now that you know, I have stuff to do.”

And she disappears running down the stairs again, and Robb – Robb wishes she’d just stop dropping by, saying Very Important Shit and then leave before he can ask for explanations.

He closes the door, thinks about it.

The problem is that – well. Theon’s never shown interest exactly, not in that sense –

Wait, no.

Robb remembers when he told him about the engagement with Roslin. For a second, when he had said that he wasn’t going to meet the love of his life anyway, Theon had sent him a strange look, and – uh. Fuck. He doesn’t know what to make of it, but then again Theon’s always been crap at showing any kind of feelings directly, romantic or not, so how is he supposed to know if Asha is seeing things?

--

It ends up eating him alive for the next two months. He doesn’t know if it’s that Asha planted some kind of seed in his head or something, but he’s trying to find proof of… well, this supposed being-in-love-with-him thing and for now he’s utterly failing. Mostly because – there’s a reason why half the world assumes that they’re fucking when they really aren’t. He’s aware that outsiders might think that they act like a married old couple. Fine. Robb is willing to admit it, but it just makes it worse if you’re trying to detect if your best friend is in love with you.

The worst thing is that Robb has no idea of how he feels about it.

There’s no question about the fact that he loves Theon – of course he does. He isn’t really sure about the in love thing, though. For that matter, while Theon always played for both teams, Robb has never been attracted to men. He never even had the curiosity to try how it’d be like. But when a week or so after Asha dropped by, Robb is pretending to memorize some lyrics while Theon scribbles in a notebook on the sofa and he can’t help staring at him and thinking, would kissing him be that weird of a thing?

The moment his head provides the answer, which is, why would that be, Robb decides that he’s way over in his head.

Especially because whenever he manages to grab some alone time in the shower or late the night in his bed, he thinks about Jeyne and their only time that was cut short, rather than about anyone else.

He can’t possibly be having a freak out about this. That’s what high school is for, for fuck’s sake.

--

Two weeks later (and three complete songs later – Robb can’t think that they’re going to have enough for one record in maybe another month) he decides that he has to talk about this with someone.

That’s another problem entirely. Any relative is out of the question – the idea of telling Sansa scares the shit out of him, and Jon won’t be much help either. His parents would be too awkward, and – no, asking Uncle Brandon through Facebook would be ridiculous – if only there was another way to contact him, but Robb has lost hope on that front. Any Baratheon is out of the question as well – just, no. He doesn’t need anyone who knows him as more than a passing acquaintance, which doesn’t leave many people. Considering that he also needs someone who’d know something about this kind of thing.

That’s how he ends up asking Jaime Lannister if he can talk to him about a personal matter.

Thankfully finding him isn’t an issue – he lives at the damn bakery. Also, the guy is too much of a smartass for his own good, but at least he knows the backstory of his failure so he doesn’t need to go explain who’s Jeyne Westerling.

“You know that this is extremely fucking weird, don’t you?” Lannister asks, but he doesn’t tell him to fuck off.

“Believe me, I had no other choice.”

“Well then, I’m all ears.”

“You know Jeyne Westerling, I suppose.”

“Yeah. Nice girl. Not one I’d throw away my career for, but then again I wouldn’t get married to anyone named Frey with a knife to my throat. So?”

“So I’m still in love with her.”

“Not so good for you. What’s the problem, other than the fact that you obviously haven’t contacted her in ages?”

“Well. There’s the problem that I’ve always liked girls. Just girls.”

“So you don’t feel like trying both sides of the pond. All right. I still don’t see your problem.”

“If I’m in love with Jeyne and I just like girls, why have I spent a week wondering why I might want to kiss my very male best friend?”

To his credit, Jaime merely raises an eyebrow. “Because you two are completely codependent?”

“Lannister, that isn’t funny.”

“Fine, fine. Just one thing. Did this urge of yours come out of nowhere?”

“It might have started after his sister told me that he’s in love with me. Well. According to her.”

“Stark, according to her my ass. Anyone with a couple of good eyes would see that part.”

“… excuse me?”

“Come on, the way he looks at you is beyond any kind of emotional constipation.”

Oh, fantastic. If even a guy who saw Theon exactly twice says it, it means that it’s a lot more obvious than Robb had thought.

Jesus.

“Anyway. So, you’re in love with darling Jeyne but since someone threw in your face that the guy has feelings for you, you’ve been thinking that you’d like to tap that ass even if male asses don’t usually do the deed for you?”

“… more or less.”

Lannister thinks about it one second, then raises an eyebrow again. “I think you might take into consideration the possibility that you might like one guy.”

“Meaning?”

“That it’s just your friend’s male ass that might do it for you rather than the entirety of male asses on this planet. It’s not as black and white as you think. Ever heard of the Kinsey scale? It’s named scale, for a reason. There’s also the entirely plausible chance that you’re just being confused by what Asha told you and you just think you might like him, but to be honest I don’t really think that it’s the case.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“After seeing you two sharing space at his birthday party, I can safely say that friendship doesn’t cover it. I mean, lad, no offense, but if the entire world assumes that you two have a thing, there has to be a reason.”

“So I might like him… unconsciously?”

“That’s a possibility. And stop hyperventilating. You can be attracted to two people at once, it’s not something out of the X-Files.”

Robb feels like banging his head against the table.

This can’t be happening.

He can’t really be in this situation. It’s not – he doesn’t need another elephant in the room of this fucking size. Of course, no one says that Jaime has to be right, but – what if he is? It all makes perfect sense, the way he puts it.

“Brienne!” Jaime shouts. “Bring him a cupcake. I think he needs it.”

On that, Jaime is absolutely right.

--

The problem, he thinks, is that whichever way it goes, this is a clusterfuck.

He can’t call Jeyne because he knows that he’d just create trouble for her with her parents (after reading on the press that they actually brought her to some gynecologist to make sure that she really was a virgin still he had pretty much thrown up in his mouth). Logic says that maybe he should test the waters and see if both Asha and Jaime were right about Theon, but he – he can’t really do it. At least, not now. He doesn’t know what he’s feeling, he thinks that if they actually stopped being platonic life partners of what the fuck it’s called then not much would really change, but Theon’s been through too much crap relationship-wise and the last thing he needs is Robb being confused about what he wants. Especially if the he’s-in-love-with-you part is true – if the whole thing ended up being… well, not what he really wanted it’d probably be a disaster of ridiculous proportions. He isn’t… making a move or anything like that until he’s sure of where he stands, and as things are right now, he’s as far from sure of where he stands as Earth is far from Alpha Centauri. (A whole fucking lot.)

Also, this entire thing is exactly what he doesn’t need when he has songs to rehearse, lyrics to change and possibly finding time to learn some basic guitar rudiments because maybe he’s going to need it if this group thing lasts for a while.

Having Theon asking him why he looks strange or distracted, while Robb tries not to show that he’s freaking out because he just thought that hey, the Starkjoy shirt really looks good on Theon and it’s not entirely objective, is just the cherry on top of the fucking cake.

Sometimes he looks at Jeyne’s number on the screen of his phone, his thumb hovering over the call button.

He never presses it.

--

Then it happens that one day they’re having dinner at the Starks’ and Sansa finds out something she’s not entirely happy about.

“Wait, you mean that you two don’t even have a Facebook page?”

Both of them shrug. Neither of them had exactly thought about it.

“How are you even thinking that people might know your stuff then?”

“Sansa, there’s the problem that we shouldn’t put our real names out yet,” Robb sighs. If someone found out that Robb was in this thing they’d be all over magazines and that’s not what he wants this to be about – magazines can find out after they make a name for themselves. And if any Greyjoy not named Asha finds out what Theon is doing before they even manage to book concerts, it’ll create more drama that is worth.

Sansa snorts. “I can totally set it up for you. No real names, I swear. As long as you give me some song samples.”

“You have the demo,” Theon replies. Robb supposes it’s an agreement.

Sansa smiles and Robb can’t help feeling mildly scared.

--

Then it happens that he manages to throw out of the window half of his efforts of not making Theon notice that he’s having some kind of sexuality crisis.

Incidentally, it’s also when the group thing finally seems to be going somewhere outside working on demos.

They have a second demo almost done when Theon comes into the house looking so smug that Robb hadn’t thought it’d be physically possible.

“What’s going on?” Robb asks.

“Well, your sister wasn’t totally wrong. For some reason she put my e-mail in the contacts instead of yours, and this guy who owns some bar downtown asked if we wanted to do an evening there. For free, but he’s paying for the gas and the food. And the drinks, I suppose.”

“… you mean that –”

“We have three weeks to put on a decent setlist together.”

“Oh, wow.”

“I know?” Theon sounds slightly out of breath. He probably ran up the stairs, now that Robb looks at him. “That’s – we’re really doing it, aren’t we?”

Robb should point out that playing for free can’t exactly be the best option ever, but –

He knows how they end up patting each other on the back.

He doesn’t know what possesses him to kiss Theon’s cheek in the middle of it.

Fuck.

Theon raises both eyebrows at him when Robb moves away as if his skin burned.

“Oops. I got carried away?” Robb knows that he sounds absolutely ridiculous.

“Nice to know that you’re as enthusiastic as I am,” Theon replies, his tone a bit too smooth, and Robb doesn’t miss that his eyes became a bit wider, and that his right hand has curled in a fist.

Fuck.

Robb is an idiot.

No, really, he’s an idiot. This isn’t – this isn’t France, you just don’t kiss your male best friend anywhere unless there’s a very good reason and not especially when you think he might like you in a sense other than friendship.

And if it’s the case, he doubts that Theon’s going to forget it. And he’s being an idiot, because he’s pretty sure he’s sending a bunch of mixed signals Theon’s way and he really fucking shouldn’t. Especially because he’s pretty sure that Theon hasn’t had a one-night stand since Ramsay Bolton happened, and Robb isn’t so stupid that he doesn’t see what it could mean. Especially for someone who has never been shy about sex or one night stands before.

Whatever, the point is that Robb can’t afford to make Theon’s situation even more fucked up when he has no idea of what he wants.

--

Anyway. When they have settled on a day, they tell Sansa to put it on the Facebook group – neither of them has an idea of how you should work with that kind of thing and she seems more than happy to do it for them, and so Sansa’s in charge of that and everyone is fine with it.

Obviously, all the first likes are from people who know who they are, but then it turns out that the guy who owns the bar has a Facebook page too, and after he puts a link on his personal homepage, a lot more people seem interested. Some comment on the three/four song samples Sansa put online and they all seem to like them, which Robb figures is a good thing.

One week before the concert, Theon comes back from some place he knows with some one hundred copies of the first demo.

“I hope no one looks at the cover, but even if three people buy it and they pass it to their friends it’d be great already.”

Good thinking. Robb hadn’t even thought about it. Then again, Theon’s the music business expert, not him.

Robb tries very hard not to stare at his backside while he bends down to put the box with the cds carefully on the ground.

This isn’t really – this isn’t good at all. He needs to get a grip on himself.

--

Robb isn’t sure about a place named House of the Undying. The bouncer also looks like some seriously scary guy – fuck, he’s how much, one meter and ninety? He scares Robb just looking at him. The entire place is – well, it seems like some exotic place out of Morocco, but it’s pretty nice overall. The owner, a Jorah Mormont who apparently brews his own beer, gives them a room in the back and says they can come after the show for free drinks, and for anything else they should ask Daenerys – the co-owner. When she shows up in the backroom discussing how much she has to pay them for the gas, Robb can’t help thinking that she’s hot – blonde hair so pale that it’s almost silver and purple eyes that are definitely something, not to mention that the shirt she’s wearing doesn’t hide that she has a very nice front. But that’s all – she’s hot, of course, but for some reason his heart rate doesn’t speed up as it had with Jeyne, and he doesn’t feel the urge to stare at some part of her, nor wonders how good of a kisser she’d be.

He needs a break. Anyway, after the instruments are tuned, they go and check the main room just to see if there are some familiar faces to be seen.

Sansa is there in the back, obviously. Arya, too. Robb hasn’t seen other relatives yet, but it’s better if he doesn’t know, to be honest. Less nervousness.

“I can’t fucking believe it,” Theon hisses as he looks at the first row of tables.

“What?”

“You see that guy at the first table on the right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“That’s Tris.”

“Wait. The guy who’s been trying to make an honest woman out of your sister for years, or as honest as it gets?”

“Yeah, as if. He’s gonna be pining for ages if that’s his target. Anyway, look at what he has on the table.”

“… has Asha sent him to film you?”

“I suppose? Jesus, couldn’t she have been this supportive when I was fourteen or something? Only Asha would find this supportive, anyway. Okay then. Tell me you aren’t hyperventilating.”

“Er, strangely… I’m good. I am. I was a lot more embarrassed before Grease.”

“Well, could be worse.”

“Tell me you aren’t hyperventilating.”

Theon shrugs. “Last time I was on a stage, it went so good that a certain someone had to celebrate later. I’m not hyperventilating. I might be quietly freaking out.”

His fingers are drumming against the wall, and shit – Robb gets it. Quietly freaking out covers it. It’s also kind of strange that Theon admitted it just like that, but then again Robb knows the entire deal.

He’s itching to do something that wouldn’t help with the whole mixed signals bullshit, but he needs Theon to stop thinking about the psycho ex-boyfriend right the fuck now.

He looks down at his right hand, looks at Theon’s left still drumming against the wall.

Robb figures that he’ll deal with the emotional clusterfuck later. He moves so that his back is to the wall, grabs Theon’s left with his right, curls their fingers together, that light scar still on the back of his hand touching Theon’s deeper one. The way Theon’s ring finger hangs, it’s obvious that it’s never going to heal properly. Robb doesn’t think he has anything to say that might not sound absolutely inadequate, so he keeps his mouth shut, but when Theon doesn’t pull away he knows he didn’t make a bad call.

He takes a breath. “Now. We have another… two minutes. When that’s done, we’re going to go out there, we’re going to give them… well, I don’t know about the show of their life, but we’re going to make them buy the stupid demos. Then I’m going to buy you a celebratory beer or two, and then you can have that freak out. Later.”

Theon takes a breath. “Okay. Sounds reasonable. Fine. Let’s just – let’s.”

Robb moves away and tries not to think about the fact that he… had kind of liked it. The handholding thing.

Fuck.

He needs to sort this out in his head sooner rather than later.

--

And then the entire thing becomes a lot more complicated because after they actually go out and sit down and play Winds of Winter, which actually goes great – he doesn’t fuck up, Theon doesn’t fuck up, it goes as smooth as all the rehearsals had and if the next seven songs go like this then they’re good – he looks up at the table in the middle of the second row, and there’s Jeyne.

He takes a breath, sends a shaky smile her way and then she smiles back, and –

He definitely still likes her.

No, he’s definitely still head over heels for her.

He tries not to think about it and concentrates on singing.

--

They kill it.

He’s sure that a bunch of people weren’t there for them, but by the end they had the attention of a good part of the room, and Sansa isn’t the only one clapping wildly as he had feared, and the moment the show’s over someone asks if there are demos to sell. Theon is grinning like this is the best day of his life as he answers that he’s going to get them.

Robb should go help him, he should, but –

“Hi,” Jeyne says from his side, and Robb – Robb looks at Theon, who obviously recognizes her, and Theon nods at him mouthing I got this.

Actually, when Sansa notices the entire situation she goes and says that she’ll help – what – but it’s good enough that they have it covered.

“Hi,” he says, his heart rate increasing. “It’s been a while, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. You could say so. I just – I never managed to tell you that I was sorry without… well. A bunch of people around, and I ended up on your group’s page for some reason and I recognized the voice, so I figured –”

“Hey, that’s – that’s okay. I could have told you to meet me later and we could – er. Have done it somewhere else.”

“But – well. You lost your job, and I can’t imagine with the journalists and all, and –”

“Jeyne, don’t. It’s fine. We could have timed that better, but no one forced me. And – I loved it, don’t mistake me, but what I’m doing now, I love it, too, and not just because I had no other options.”

“That’s – that’s actually good to know. I was so worried that it was going to ruin your life or something, but it’s nice to see that you aren’t… well. Angry.”

Robb shakes his head. “It was the two of us. Actually, how are you? From what I heard you didn’t have it that much easier. About that, won’t your father –”

Jeyne snorts. “As if. He’d have a heart attack if he knew I was here. But I don’t really care. I mean, my parents are always preaching about having to save myself for some nice guy that they’ll approve of before I marry him, but… You said it – it was two of us. If no one had stopped us, I don’t think I’d have told you not to – go the whole way.” She blushes, and Robb wants to kiss her, but he’s sure it’s not a good idea.

“It’s just – it’s that I’m not even sure I want that. And technically there’s no – I mean, you don’t work for Winterfell anymore. If you wanted – maybe we could –”

“I’d love it,” he blurts. It’s not even the way she looks at him – the same as the first time they met – but it’s that everything from the time they had spent hanging out is coming back full force, and well, yeah, he likes her a whole damn lot, and he wants to date her and do things properly if he can.

“Oh. So. Well. Maybe we could get a drink? Or something? Just – just to talk.”

Robb is about to accept when he remembers that he… sort of has another appointment.

“I’d love that, too, but – well. I sort of promised Theon that I’d buy him something to celebrate after he’s done selling our stuff back there. But – I mean, if he’s fine with it, and I’m pretty sure that he is, you can come with us? It’s not like he wouldn’t know anything I’d say to you while we catch up, anyway.”

“How’s that?”

Here it comes, Robb thinks. One of the reasons he had really liked Jeyne had been that she actually seemed to like his best friend rather than assume that the two of them were just badly mismatched. And Robb knows how it is between them. But if she answers the way he hopes…

“He’s living with me. Not like he was when we met – I mean, back then it was supposed to be temporary from the beginning, now it kind of isn’t. You know. It’s more practical, with rehearsals and stuff. So whatever happened to me since the changing room, well, he knows anyway.”

Jeyne’s eyes widen in understanding. Robb thinks he feels his heart beating so hard that it’s about to break out of his chest. If she tells him that she finds it kind of ridiculous, or worst, he’s not sure he can –

“That seems logical. Also I mean, I suppose it’s better to live with someone you know rather than alone or sharing with someone you don’t care about. Also, he was there first, I guess, so if he wants the celebratory drink to be just you and him I’ll take a rain check and call you, but if he doesn’t mind then it would be perfect. If I could tag along, I mean.”

“You know,” he says, wishing he could bite his tongue because fucking hell why does he have to ruin it when she just said everything he had hoped she’d say? “Most of my previous girlfriends would have probably protested.”

Jeyne raises an eyebrow, the right corner of her lips curling up. “From what I see, it’d be pretty much like being jealous of your brother. And that said, he’s been there since you were three and it’s not even been two years since we met. Assuming that I’d come first just because we’re maybe dating would be all kinds of delusional.”

Robb’s lips go dry as his heartbeat doesn’t slow down.

Not including Roslin, he thinks he hasn’t had a relationship that lasted over a month.

He has this feeling that if he starts dating Jeyne for real, it might be the one time when it lasts a lot longer than that. And it’s not a question of putting someone else first – it’s that she might be the first person he’s met who wants to date him rather than one of the five hottest guys in school (yeah, yeah, he ended up on that chart somehow), or who wants to date him because of his career choices, or his name, or the money he used to make back when he played football.

Even if it’s probably not a good idea, he wants to give this a try.

And maybe if they actually do date, the confusion in his head about that other elephant in the room might get cleared a little.

(His reasoning is that if they date and it goes so splendidly that he couldn’t ever ask for something else, he was probably just confused and he’s not a one on the Kinsey scale just because he likes his best friend a bit too much. If it doesn’t go splendidly and he keeps on thinking about Theon still – well. He’ll cross the bridge when he gets to it. If he does.)

--

For the first minute after he asks Theon if Jeyne can tag along and Theon answers that of course she can, he’s half-sure that it’s going to blow up in his face.

He’s proved wrong on all fronts.

They all mostly do small talk and they keep it related to the band most of the time, and Robb hadn’t expected anything else, but – it’s actually nice. Whenever Theon snarks Jeyne takes it in stride, and she obviously isn’t lying when she said she liked the songs. Fuck, she even buys the last demo left even if Robb had told her that she could take it for free. She looks so very lovely in the bar’s dim, warm light, her chestnut hair falling in waves on her shoulders as she drinks her beer.

Robb drinks his shot of whiskey and doesn’t stop Theon when he starts talking about something highly embarrassing, and when Jeyne laughs at it he does, too, and he forgets about his drama for the next hour or so.

Before they have to leave, Jeyne says she’ll call tomorrow.

Robb says he can’t wait to get it.

--

“You know,” Theon says as he drives them back home, “I’m re-evaluating your taste in women.”

“What?”

Theon rolls his eyes and speeds up a notch. “I mean, don’t fuck this one up. She’s nice. And she likes you a lot more than all the others I remember ever did.”

“Are you my relationship advisor now?”

“Well, seems to me that the last time I gave you relationship advice, you were an idiot for not following it.”

“Maybe I like it better like this,” Robb blurts, and damn, he did drink too much.

“Sorry? You lost your job, you’ll never be rid of paparazzis, or at least not for another couple years, and that’s just the beginning.”

“Yeah, but someone would have caught us sooner or later and it’d have been worse. And yeah, I miss it, but – I like this, too. I’m not sure that I’d change how things went.”

Theon’s eyes widen for a second, and then he looks back at the road and keeps driving.

Now, Robb can’t help thinking that the whole he’s-in-love-with-you thing has some truth to it, but if it’s the case, why is Theon encouraging him to be with Jeyne?

This entire thing makes no fucking sense.

--

Jeyne calls.

They make an appointment for dinner and Theon spends the next two hours laughing at Robb’s indecision about what he should wear. In the end he throws a dark green button-down his way and tells him to just stop turning their (shared) closet into a battlefield, and that said, the less clothes the better – he’s sure that Jeyne won’t be interested in an indecent number of layers.

Robb doesn’t know what to make of it, either, but he takes the advice.

There are journalists under the house, again, so he waits for Theon to pull out the cold water trick and when they’re gone he takes his car and drives to the House of the Undying again – they decided to go there since the food seemed decent and it’s far from both their places, so no one should find them out.

--

“You look great,” he tells her when he sees her standing outside the door. He means it – the dark red dress she’s wearing is a great fit on her, and she’s keeping her hair loose – he really, really likes the way it curls over her shoulders.

“Thanks. I could say the same,” she says, staring at the shirt.

Well, Robb owes Theon one either way.

--

The more the dinner goes on, the more Robb thinks there has to be a catch somewhere.

They fall back into that easy conversation that they had the first time, and there’s no awkward silences or anything of the sort. Half an hour after they sit, they’re laughing about something Sansa and Arya did some ten years ago, and they’re stealing food from each other’s plates, and there haven’t been any embarrassing moments or questions or anything.

The more he sees her smile, the more he thinks that he really doesn’t regret having kissed her back during that game, and it would all be perfect if not for the circumstances surrounding them, but he isn’t really thinking about that now.

When he asks her whether she wants something to drink at his place before going back home, she says that she’d love it.

So she gets into her own car and drives behind him and his hands are sweating and he just hopes that Theon won’t mind, even if in theory he really shouldn’t, all things considered, and fuck, why is he even thinking about Theon right now?

--

When he opens the door, the lights are all strangely shut off.

“Doesn’t your friend live with you?” Jeyne asks.

“Yeah, and he’s never sleeping this early.”

He turns on the light and the first thing he sees is a piece of paper attached to the kitchen door.

I’m sleeping at your parents’ tonight – you can thank me later. And if tomorrow I learn that you two didn’t take advantage of it, I’m disowning you.

Robb snorts, unable to keep it in.

“What’s that?”

“He’s at my parents’. And he says he’s going to be very angry if we don’t – well.”

Jeyne comes closer, takes the piece of paper, and the corner of her mouth quirks up.

“How considerate.” It doesn’t sound as if she thinks it’s ridiculous.

It sounds as if she really appreciates it.

“So – maybe we should? If you want. I mean, we don’t have to –”

When she kisses him, the piece of paper falls to the ground and his hands go to her waist while her hands reach up for his head.

“Robb Stark,” she says when it’s over, “I think that considering how it ended the last time, I definitely owe you. But other than that, is there something that suggests you that I don’t want it?”

He looks at her in the eyes.

Yeah. Right. There’s absolutely nothing suggesting that she doesn’t want to.

So he kisses her again and picks her up, her feet a few centimeters from the ground, before heading for his bedroom while she laughs against his lips.

--

The moment the both of them are on the bed, Jeyne takes off his shirt in one swift motion before kicking off her shoes. Robb does the same with his own, and damn, this is so much better than the first time they did this. There’s no rush as he slowly lowers her dress’s zipper, dark red revealing soft, pale skin, and he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder every two seconds.

Still, there’s something that he thinks he should address. For the sake of it.

“Listen,” he says, “are you sure – I mean, I don’t want you to have trouble with your parents. Technically, there’s no need to –”

He’s cut short by her lips against his, and she kisses him hard enough that for a moment he’s surprised.

“Robb, I’ll admit that one of the reasons I like you is that I’ve never met someone who actually means the perfect gentleman act, but right now, you should really stop it. My parents will get over it, and if they don’t, their problem. It’s not the damned middle ages.”

Well, he should have addressed it, he did, and she’s right – it’s not the middle ages.

He kisses her back then, his hand going up to her shoulder so that he can push her dress down her shoulder, and she gasps when he touches her breast, his thumb kneading at the base. She leans back enough to take off the dress entirely and throw it on the ground, her fingers going to his jeans and unbuttoning them. A minute later, all clothing is gone and Robb’s fingers are running over Jeyne’s inner thigh. She breathes a little quicker, her cheeks flushing a lovely, deep pink as he finds out that she’s wet already. He teases a bit, running his thumb over her clit, until her nails on his shoulders start to hurt and he slowly pushes one finger inside her. She moans out loud, the way she couldn’t when they did this for the first time, and when she tells him to just stop fucking teasing, he thinks that maybe – well. He had planned on taking it slow and nice, but – maybe there’ll be time for slow and nice later. He’s so hard it aches, and Jeyne’s eyes are almost all pupil, and –

He reaches for his nightstand, fumbling until he finds the packet of condoms he kept in the first drawer. He grabs one, rips the plastic off and puts it on as quickly as he can, and he groans when Jeyne’s hand closes around his cock, giving it a couple of strokes.

He doesn’t know where he finds the self-control to go slow, but somehow he does and when he leans down to kiss Jeyne again, she spreads her legs, her calves going behind his knees. He breathes in and kisses the side of her neck as he enters her inch by inch, trying not to go too fast because he knows it has to hurt. She closes her eyes and when he asks if he should stop she shakes her head and kisses him again, her hips slowly thrusting up. She tells him not to move, though, and he doesn’t, his hand grabbing a fistful of her hair as his tongue traces the space behind her ear; when she tells him that it’s fine, that he can, he starts out slow again, but he can’t keep that pace. She’s hot, and wet, and so very tight around him, and those moans that are coming from her mouth are making him lose his mind. But Jeyne is keeping up with his pace as he moves faster, so he just stops thinking and loses himself in the feeling, her hands running through his hair as she presses his lips to his cheek and mouth and neck, and he feels it when she starts shaking, her grip strong enough to hurt.

He comes a moment later, shaking almost as hard as she does – there isn’t a part of him that isn’t feeling good right now, and there are white spots in front of him when he closes his eyes, and before he completely loses it, he manages to crash his mouth against hers again.

 

When he comes to, moments later, he pulls out of her slowly, and there’s blood over the sheets.

Jeyne opens her eyes then, looks down at the bed and shrugs.

“Good riddance,” she comments before turning on her elbow and kissing him slow, and Robb goes with it without hesitating.

After he gets rid of the condom, he turns back to her, his hand putting a strand of hair behind her ear.

“I was thinking,” he says. “Maybe we could… put these to wash, and then take a shower? It’s big enough for two. I had other plans.”

“Interesting. Like?”

“Well, I was planning on taking it a bit slower.”

Jeyne looks a bit pleased at that.

“Why, the perfect gentleman has nothing on you. But I like the part where you aren’t that nice, too.”

“Oh, really?”

The shower definitely wouldn’t have classified for a PG13 movie, but as he thrusts slowly inside Jeyne while she has her legs around his and her back against the shower wall, Robb can’t really care less.

--

The next morning, he’s woken up by a stream of curses.

That don’t belong to Theon, which is strange in itself, but –

“Oh, shit,” Jeyne keeps on saying, and it takes him a good thirty seconds to see that she has bolted from the bed and that she’s grabbing her clothes from the ground.

“What –”

“I wasn’t supposed to stay the night. I mean, I was hoping that I could avoid giving my parents explanations, but – whatever. It was worth it.”

She winks at him as she zips up the dress, leaning down to kiss his cheek.

“I was thinking, maybe we could do it again?”

“Maybe? You have to be insane,” Robb replies, still not quite awake. She laughs as she puts on her shoes and grabs her bag.

“I’ll call you then.”

“Are you sure you don’t want some breakfast?”

“I’ll take a rain check.”

She leaves after sending that small, delighted smile his way, and Robb knows in that moment that he’s utterly whipped.

A minute later, the phone rings.

“Tell me you two didn’t spend the night just cuddling.”

Oh, obviously, Theon would want to know how it went.

“Well, if you really need to know, this time… the deflowering happened.”

“Oh, good. Can I come home?”

“You don’t need to ask, you idiot. Anyway, yeah. It’s all clear.”

“Good. See you after your sister gets me to eat the muffins she tried to bake yesterday.”

The call is over then, and Robb falls back on the bed, realizing that he’s smiling like an idiot, and to be entirely honest, he doesn’t give a damn.

For a moment, he’s just going to let himself feel good. He’ll think about the rest later.

--

Jeyne calls at lunch. She asks if he wants to do dinner again. Robb answers sure, and Theon congratulates him again, which is ridiculous, again, because –

Not thinking about it.

Not.

Except that clearly, exactly when he decides that for now he’s just not going to think about the elephant in the room, it happens that he can’t avoid it.

Sometimes Robb thinks that Murphy’s law is really the only thing in the universe that is guaranteed to never fail.

It happens that they’re having dinner again, and apparently Jeyne’s parents bought whatever excuse she had cooked up, and it’s going as well as last night had except that now she’s grabbing his hand over the table at times and he really can’t believe that it’s going this great, when he gets a call from an unknown number.

“Yeah?” he answers.

“Robb Stark?” a voice on the other side asks.

“That’s me. Who’s this?”

“Oh, thankfully. Listen, my name is Eddison Tollett, I’m with the police. And you’re the emergency contact of a Theon Greyjoy, right?”

“I am. Has something happened –”

“Not strictly, but we brought him in for drunk driving. And – mister, I really, really need you to come over and get him before we all go insane. Clearly all the crazy ones happen when I’m on shift.”

“Woah. Okay. Sure. Tell me where.”

He writes down the address and sighs before closing the call.

“Uh, I’m sorry, I have – I have to go. The idiot who lives with me got arrested for drunk driving and the police officer wasn’t too happy with whatever is going on.”

Jeyne’s eyes go wide. “Oh – wow. Sure. Of course, just go. I hope he’s fine.”

“Yeah, I don’t – I mean, with all the stupid shit he’s pulled in his life, he always stayed sober when he had to drive. He likes his car too much to wreck it. I’m sorry, really, but –”

“Robb. It’s fine. Just go, I can meet you tomorrow.”

“Are you sure it’s not a problem?”

She rolls her eyes. “Go. If you waited you’d just worry about it for the whole evening. Say hi from me, won’t you?”

“Yeah. Hopefully.”

He leaves her the money to pay for his half-consumed dinner and he gives her a quick kiss before leaving, not knowing if he should be angry or worried.

The problem is that the more he thinks about it, the more he thinks he should be worried. Of all the stupid things Theon’s ever done, drunk driving never was one of them. He has too much self-preservation instinct and love for his car to do that kind of thing, so it means that something catastrophically bad happened, and – okay, now he’s fucking worried.

He parks in front of the station – damn, it’s Jon’s station, but he thinks that Jon is off duty tonight. Scratch it, he has to be, if not he’d have called.

He gets out of the car and walks inside.

And he clearly hears someone singing a pretty off-key rendition of I’m in love with my car.

Wait.

Not someone.

Theon.

And there’s some kind of croaking going on, as well. What the hell?

And then this tall guy with a face that makes him seem as if he just walked out of a graveyard comes to meet him.

“Robb Stark?”

“Mr. Tollett?”

“Yes. Oh, finally, finally, you don’t even imagine – he hasn’t stopped singing that damned album since they brought him in!”

“What, A Night at the Opera?”

“Fuck, the ones in the car had to go through Bohemian Rhapsody twice. Twice! If only he was a decent singer. But follow me.”

“And what’s the croaking?”

“The croaking – it’s that stupid crow.”

Robb doesn’t get further explanations and he walks in front of a couple cells – the people in there that aren’t drunks sleeping it off are laughing like there’s no tomorrow, and Robb can get why.

Seriously, Theon should be forbidden to ever sing songs that are basically innuendo from start to finish.

But the baffling thing is that there’s a crow just outside the cell, and it’s croaking along and practically making backing vocals to Theon’s horrible, horrible singing – he thinks the crow’s actually more in-key.

“You said – what’s that?”

“That’s Damon,” Edd replies, sounding utterly disgusted.

“Damon?”

“Lieutenant Mormont’s pet crow thing. Can be insufferable. But apparently your friend is some kind of magician and taught it to sing in twenty minutes and – I can’t take it if he doesn’t forget it.”

Robb doesn’t even want to know the details. Because if he does he’s probably going to start laughing hysterically and he’s not sure that he should.

“Okay, just – just open the cell and I’m going to get him.”

Theon stops looking at the crow just when Robb steps in. Good, because they were just starting ’39 and that was all kinds of fucking wrong.

“Come on,” Robb cuts before anything can be said. He grabs Theon’s arm and hauls him up. “We’re going home. Fuck, what did you have to drink?”

“Have you seen that crow?” Theon almost shouts.

He really is drunk, dammit.

“Yeah, I did. Impressive, really, but –”

“Can we take ‘im home?”

Robb thinks about it for a moment and almost has a heart attack.

“Not an option,” he cuts. “But if you behave I’ll get you a cat. Come on, don’t make me carry you.”

“Y’couldn’t carry me,” Theon objects, but he leans on Robb even more and Robb sighs.

“Sorry for that, officer. I hope the crow just forgets that stuff.”

“As if. With my luck, it’ll turn out to be the smartest crow ever and I’ll have to listen to You’re My Best Friend for all the night shift.”

Robb sincerely feels for him. He shudders and then drags Theon out while everyone else in the cells either screams for him to stay, they were enjoying it, and the rest congratulates him on the performance.

This takes the crown, really.

--

He drops Theon in the passenger’s seat and since he’s there he puts the security belt on – considering that Theon’s hands are shaking all over, he doubts he’d manage.

“Teaching Queen to a crow? Really?”

Theon snorts, and he looks like he can barely keep his head up.

Jesus, when was the last time Theon got that smashed?

“What happened?” Robb asks some ten minutes later.

“Nothin’,” Theon mumbles against his shirt, and Robb lets that go. He’ll nag later.

When they get home and he drags Theon out of the car, he’s a dead weight. Robb doesn’t know how he’s still conscious, but when Theon stops him and stumbles on his knees, he knows what’s coming.

He keeps Theon’s head up while he vomits on the ground, and Robb can’t help noticing that there’s not much food in there. Or doesn’t seem to be. Did he get drunk on an empty stomach?

After a minute of dry heaving, he kneels down as well.

“Do you think you’re done?” he asks, trying to sound as even as he can.

“Yeah,” Theon mumbles. “Fuck. Tastes like crap.”

“I’d imagine.” Robb reaches down in his jacket’s pocket – he remembers that he had a packet of tissues with him. He grabs one and when he hands it over without any answer, he sighs and at least wipes Theon’s mouth before throwing the tissue in a nearby trashcan.

Then he grabs Theon’s arm again.

“Come on, you need to sleep it off.”

“Fuck no,” Theon slurs, and Robb is starting to get worried.

He calls for the elevator, still keeping Theon’s arm around his shoulder. When they get in, he takes a breath.

“Theon, what happened?”

“It’s just – I was jus’ going to get one beer, but – y’know, they get to make phone calls in jails?”

Robb’s blood goes cold.

“You mean –”

“I hung up after the first sentence. But – there was other stuff an’ I just – shit, I need to throw up again.”

Robb doesn’t waste time – he grabs the keys from his pocket, shuts the door kicking it and drags Theon to the bathroom just in time. He rubs a circle on the back of his neck while he dry-heaves all over again.

Shit. The last thing he had thought was that –

Tomorrow he’s dragging Theon to change his number first time in the morning. Fine, he’ll wait until he’s not hungover, but no longer.

He puts a glass of water on the sink and then he grabs Theon’s arm again.

“Come on, drink that and spit it. You’ll thank me in the morning.”

Theon doesn’t even try to answer, which – well. He’s starting to worry here.

But he does as he’s told, and Robb knows that he isn’t sleeping tonight – he’ll have to keep an eye on him just in case the throwing up isn’t done with.

He drags the both of them to his bedroom – it’s the closest – and then he goes to the shared closet and grabs the first pair of clean pajamas he finds.

The problem is that while Theon is half passed out on the bed and Robb is taking off his clothes, he can’t help it when he – when he stares a bit more than he should.

Which – shit. He shouldn’t. He already has enough problems with the entire situation at all, this isn’t the time to be thinking that Theon has nice arms. Or hands. Or anything.

Fuck.

This is not the time for his freak-out.

Evidently he’ll have to cross that bridge he was thinking about before.

He shakes his head and goes on to the task of actually getting Theon under the covers.

Then he looks at the phone on his nightstand, grabs the receiver and puts it outside the cradle.

When he turns to his left, Theon’s eyes are wide open and staring at him and shit, there’s something so very raw in there that Robb can’t place and he needs someone to tell him what the hell he should do, because he has – he has no idea.

“Just sleep it off,” he says then, climbing on the other side of the bed.

“Y’re staying here?”

“I would even if this wasn’t my own room.” Robb can’t help laughing at that. “Don’t worry, your honor is safe.”

Theon laughs, too, but there’s something bitter in there.

Robb doesn’t dare asking.

But then Theon turns on his side and throws an arm over his waist, his head against Robb’s side, and Robb almost falls out of the bed.

“You mind?” comes from someplace between Robb’s hip and his thigh.

“’Course not,” he says, feeling as if there’s a lump in his throat.

He’s sure that heterosexual life partners doesn’t exactly cover spending three hours with your hand running through your supposed best friend’s hair when said best friend might be in love with you and you have a girlfriend that you’re head over heels for, but at the same time you also think that you aren’t entirely honest when you force yourself to believe that between the two of you it’s all platonic.

Robb seriously needs to sort this out, or he’s going to go insane.

--

Sadly, he doesn’t have better options than he had the first time.

The following morning, after handing Theon some aspirin and forcing him to call his mobile company to change the number, he says that he has a couple of things to do. Theon answers that he’s going to sleep it off some more and Robb figures that he can leave for a couple hours.

He goes straight to the bakery.

“Lannister, I need to talk to you,” he says without preambles.

Jaime raises an eyebrow and shuts down his laptop. “Fine. This entire thing is still fucking weird, though.”

Ygritte doesn’t comment just because she’s serving other people – good thing that.

“So? I’m all ears.”

“It’s still about that situation.”

“Right. I suppose you didn’t sort it out.”

“It happened that me and Jeyne are a thing.”

“Congratulations, especially for when her parents find out, especially her mother. Fuck, I’m glad I don’t hang out with people from the team just because I don’t have to see her anymore. Anyway, good for you.”

“And I – I like her. No, scratch it, I’m in love with her.”

“Good for you, again. And?”

“And I spent last night freaking cuddling with my best friend, and it wasn’t the heterosexual life partner thing.”

“Did you cheat on your girlfriend?”

“Fuck, no! Of course I didn’t! But – I was thinking things that someone in a relationship with someone else shouldn’t think.”

Jaime rolls his eyes and looks straight at him again. “Then I think you just have to come to terms with the fact that you can indeed like two people at once. Nothing horrible. Happens to a lot of us.”

“Yeah, and what does someone do about it?”

“Well, there are a number of choices, I suppose. Masochist option: you keep it to yourself and leave it like it is until it goes away. Practical option: you spend a bit thinking about who you like best and hook up with that person. Intelligent option, or that least for me: there are things called threesomes.”

“Excuse me?”

“Threesomes. You know, three people in a relationship. If the other two are fine with it, everyone is happy and the problem’s solved.”

“But –”

“I said threesome between consenting adults, Stark. That doesn’t mean cheating. As stated, not your most traditional option I suppose, but a lot more people than you’d think are into it.”

“I can’t ask my girlfriend if I can have a relationship with my best friend on the side,” Robb almost whines.

“On that I’ll agree, you can’t ask just anyone about that. But maybe your particular girlfriend would be up to it. Hell, maybe she’d think that it’d be hot if she could watch the two of you. Who knows?”

“You’re serious.”

“Deadly. I wouldn’t say that it’s what I’d go for right now, since I’m perfectly happy like it is, but it’s an option like any other. Not to mention the only one that would end up without one of you getting the short stick.”

The problem is that it even makes sense, in theory.

In theory.

“I suppose Irish coffee isn’t available at this time in the morning, is it?”

Ygritte, clearly, was walking right behind him.

She gives him a pat on the shoulder.

“Not in theory, but for you we might make an exception. There’s still some alcohol left, anyway.”

Robb thanks her and figures that he really, really needed it.

--

He doesn’t allow himself to think about the option for the great amount of ten minutes after he exits the bakery.

Then he thinks, what if he’s right and the moment he thinks about it in practical terms – being with the both of them, even separately, at least to try it out, his brain supplies him that it’s a good idea.

A darned good idea, actually. As he drives, he thinks about kissing Theon in the kitchen while he puts breakfast together and bringing Jeyne out during the evening and holding her hand on the table, and – fuck.

He doesn’t – he can’t be considering this.

And maybe he needs to talk about it to someone else that isn’t fucking Jaime Lannister.

He sighs, runs through the possibilities again. His parents are out of the question – he has no idea of how he should even break the topic to them. Sansa would probably just tell him to man up and go for the threesome with a dreamy look in her eyes, and he’ll be dead before he talks to Arya about his sex life.

His little brothers are out. Everyone else at the bakery is out.

Then he remembers that his technically half-brother not only is one of the least judgmental people Robb knows, but that he can keep his mouth shut.

Not that Ygritte doesn’t know already, so even if he told her it wouldn’t matter.

He pulls the car over and calls Jon.

“Hey,” he asks, “I know you’re on shift, but do you have twenty minutes? I need to talk to you.”

“Come to the station,” Jon replies. “My lunch break is in ten minutes and it lasts one hour, so it should be enough. By the way, I have something for you.”

The station.

Right.

“Like?”

“Like footage of your heterosexual life partner singing along to Lazying on a Sunday afternoon with Damon. Or singing Bohemian Rhapsody in the car. I figured that you’d probably want it – I shouldn’t give it to you, in theory, but everyone agrees that they don’t want it anywhere around the place so we’re all closing an eye.”

“Oh. Okay. Right. I’ll be there then.”

At least he’ll have blackmail material for the next three centuries, he thinks.

--

When he gets to the station, he finds out that the crow is indeed a smart cookie – he’s pretty sure that it’s trying to hum Love of My Life.

“How do you even have a crow in here?” Robb asks as Jon hands him a USB stick.

“Long story. They found it on some crime scene a couple years ago and the lieutenant decided to keep it. He was going to take it home, but then some guy ended up being questioned in his office and the crow proceeded to scare him shitless someway. So well, we bring it in when we need people to spill.”

Spill, croaks the crow before going back to Queen.

“And they called him Damon?”

“No idea. I think Mormont’s little niece named it, but don’t ask me. So, you said you wanted to talk about something?”

“Yeah. Uh, could we do it over lunch?”

“Sure. You mind if Sam comes? We were supposed to have it together.”

Well, Robb thinks, the entire bakery knows already, Jon is going to know in a minute, Sam might as well be briefed.

“No problem.”

They end up at the diner in front of the station, Jon and Sam on one side and Robb on the other.

“So?” Jon asks. “Spill. I see you fidgeting from here.”

“If I told you that I think I’m in love with two different people?”

Jon shares a look with Sam and then looks up at Robb again. “I’d tell you that I always knew that the heterosexual life partners thing didn’t entirely apply. And that Sansa and Arya will have to redefine their terms.”

“Sorry?”

“They’ve had a bet going on for the last five years or so? About who out of you and Theon would end up fessing first. I think Sansa thinks it’s going to be you and Arya thinks it’s going to be Theon, but don’t ask me the details.”

Robb wants to bang his head against the table. “… right. But that wasn’t the point.”

Jon shrugs. “I’d say that it happens? I mean, that doesn’t make you insane or anything. Not that it ever happened to me, but it’s nothing to be crucified for.”

At least that one went good. “Except that I don’t know what to do about it,” Robb confesses, taking a bite of salad.

“If I can put my two cents in,” Sam says, “you don’t look like you’re the kind of person that would do fine trying to ignore it. Sorry.”

“Don’t be, you’re right. I don’t think I can. I mean, if it was just me –”

“You mean, if Theon wasn’t obviously in love with you?”

Robb thinks that his appetite is gone. “Sorry?”

“Robb, even Rickon has caught up to it. I mean, the last time I was there he seemed very disappointed by the two of you not being technically boyfriends.”

“Fuck my life,” Robb mutters. “Seriously?”

“I wish I was joking.”

“Jaime Lannister thinks I should ask the two of them for a threesome.”

“You actually talk to Jaime Lannister about this?”

“Well, he seemed like a good option in the beginning.”

Jon snorts, taking another bite of salad.

Sam looks up at Robb again, half-blushing. “You – you could still ask.”

“What?”

“I mean, uh, well, from what I’ve seen of Theon he obviously – I think he’d be cool with it. Who says that your girlfriend wouldn’t?”

“I can’t ask her that, come on.”

“Don’t let us stop you, though,” Jon says. “I mean, if you’re worried about what me or your parents or our siblings might think, just don’t. Everyone’s been expecting you and Theon to hook up for years, and if that’s what makes you happy I doubt anyone’s going to throw a fit. If that was in issue.”

It hadn’t exactly been the main one, but it’s still nice to know that. “I’ll keep it in mind. But – I don’t – how do I even ask that? Seriously? Listen, I might be in love with my best friend, too, do you mind if I date two people?”

“… that sounds horrible, actually,” Sam mutters into his lunch.

That’s exactly the fucking point, Robb thinks.

He walks them back to the station later, and when the crow croaks Robb the moment he walks by, Robb starts quietly freaking out.

How the fuck does it – Damon – whatever – know his name?

--

When he comes back home Theon is still sleeping it off.

He should be worried, because it’s not normal (for Theon at least) to sleep for what amounts to at least fourteen hours straight, but he lets that go. Robb has no idea of what he’d do if his very psychopath ex-boyfriend called him out of the blue, so if that’s how Theon deals with it, he’ll allow himself to start worrying later.

He doesn’t notice the stack of paper on the living room table until he walks in front of it for the first time since yesterday. There’s a note of it – obviously Theon had written it before yesterday evening.

If you’re back before I am, have a look at these – maybe some can work for the second demo.

Right. Since the concert, the two of them have been slacking off a bit, but he figures that with everything that’s been going on, they’re allowed. It’s not like they have a contract to respect, anyway.

So he starts going through the lyrics drafts and – after the fourth one, he can’t help noticing a pattern. Now, thing is, Theon isn’t really much for depressing music, or sad music for that matter. But from what he sees, everything here is dangerously close to melancholic or bittersweet, and – he isn’t sure that he likes it that much. It’s good music, nothing to complain, but he doesn’t like what it says. He read the dates on the first batch of songs Theon gave him back when they started, and the ones that were written during the Ramsay Bolton era were so depressing that Robb had just put them aside without looking at them twice. If this is reflective of Theon’s general mood, that’s – not good. Robb sighs, wishing that this entire situation was easy to deal with, grabs a pen and starts having a look at the drafts for real.

--

After a couple of hours he gives up on trying to lighten up the mood in the lyrics – not going to happen anytime soon – and glances at his room. Theon is apparently still out.

He calls the grocery store under the house asking if they can home-deliver that Belgian beer that Theon likes and Robb can’t stomach – not that any of them is going to have alcohol in the next couple of days, but he knows the offer would be appreciated.

He hides Jon’s USB stick in his jacket’s zipper – he’s not going to watch it if he can help it – and texts Jeyne telling her that everyone is fine and he’s still sorry for ditching her.

She answers a minute later telling him not to be stupid and whether he wants to have lunch with her tomorrow. He knows he’s grinning as he answers, but he can’t help it.

Then he hears groaning coming from his room.

He stands up, gets a glass of water and goes to stand at the door. “Sleeping beauty just woke up?”

“Fuck, my head hurts,” Theon mumbles, and Robb hands him the water.

“Yeah, I can believe that. Better than this morning, at least?”

“No shit. Thanks,” he says, handing him back the empty glass. “Damn, I have to warn half of my contacts that I changed the number.”

“Half?”

“If my uncles don’t get to call me ever again, all earned.”

Good point, Robb figures. He still doesn’t know which of the three he finds scarier.

He drops sitting on the bed – Theon isn’t even attempting to stand up. Robb should really, really not give in to the urge to draw circles on Theon’s scalp with his fingertips, but before he can think better of it, he’s doing it anyway.

“Does that help?” he asks.

“Fuck yes,” Theon mutters, leaning into it, and Robb swallows as he keeps on doing it.

He needs to figure this out before it gets out of control.

--

He doesn’t figure anything out for a long while, though. Weeks pass, during which they work on Theon’s new-and-definitely-melancholic songs, where he has dinner or lunch with Jeyne almost every day and during which Theon sleeps at Robb’s parents’ at least five times. And the thing is that when he’s with Jeyne he thinks he couldn’t want anything more – it’s serious, and he loves her so much that sometimes he thinks that his heartbeat might go off the grid while they kiss, and it’s everything he’s ever wanted out of a relationship. But then Theon comes back home and Robb thinks about the melancholic songs, and about how he finds himself staring at him whenever he’s sure Theon isn’t looking, and about Theon’s absolutely earnest face when he told him not to fuck it up with Jeyne, and he knows that it isn’t going away.

Not now and not soon.

Anyway, he had thought he had it under control.

He was wrong.

It’s been about three months since he and Jeyne met again after the concert, and they’re at the House of the Undying again when she gives him a small, nervous smile and tells him that they have to talk.

“Sure. Just don’t tell me you’re breaking up with me,” he tries to joke, but it comes out flat.

Jeyne lets out a nervous laugh and shakes her head. “Not really. Absolutely not, actually. But – I need to ask you a question. And I need you to answer me.”

“Okay.”

“Are you in love with Theon?”

Robb feels as if someone threw a bucket of ice on him.

“I’m in love with you,” he answers instead, and he’s not lying. There’s not an inch of lying in it. Jeyne chuckles.

“I know. But that wasn’t what I asked.”

“I – uh. It’s kind of complicated. I guess that…” he trails, but then he realizes that there’s no way to put it differently. “Fine. Yeah. Somehow. But that doesn’t mean that –”

“Calm down. I know you wouldn’t cheat on me or anything. But that’s fine.”

“… fine? You’re fine with it?”

Jeyne shrugs. “It’s difficult to explain. It’s – well, looking at the two of you people would start to suspect, but that’s not the issue. Just – hear me out, okay? It’s that – a month ago or so, I had lunch with him.”

“With Theon?”

“Yeah. I met him by chance – he was in some record shop looking at the new used arrivals and I was searching for a birthday present and he asked me if he could get me something to eat. And well, it’s not like we didn’t get along, so I figured why not.”

Robb nods, his throat feeling so tight that he couldn’t speak if he wanted.

“Anyway, while we were talking he gave me this speech about being happy that you and me were together. Something along the lines of wanting to see you with someone who deserves you. I guess he didn’t like Roslin Frey that much.”

Robb snorts before drinking a sip of water. “Understatement. And he was right. I mean, he told me it was a bad idea from the get-go and I can’t find any wrong reasoning there.”

“What I thought. But – that speech felt weird. I mean, it was obvious that he meant it, but he looked like he’d have really liked being in the place of giving it a shot. I mean, at being the person who deserves you or whatever he put it like. And then whenever I was around the two of you I paid more attention and well – it’s kind of obvious that he likes you a lot more than as his best friend.”

Robb wonders what it means that he was the only one needing Asha Greyjoy to tell him before noticing.

“And I also noticed that whenever you’re with him you seem to – I don’t know. You look like someone who’s repressing something. But it was confusing, because I mean, if you weren’t really in love with me I’d probably notice.”

“Jeyne, I don’t –”

“Robb, I told you I know. I’m not working on the assumption that you’re fucking with me, all right?”

Robb breathes out. He gasps when she reaches out and grabs his hand.

“So, since it was very confusing, I had this talk with my best friend, who – well, let’s say that she’s a lot more expert about this kind of thing than I am. And after hearing out the entire thing, she said that you were obviously having feelings for the both of us. I mean, Theon and me. Now, is that true?”

“… yes. I can’t really put it otherwise. It’s – it’s not the exact same thing, not really, but I’m not sure that I know how to put it so let’s just say that I do. Are you –”

“Robb, for the tenth time, I’m not mad at you, okay? It happens. Now, I suppose –”

“Wait. Before you say what I think you’re going to say… I had this talk with someone else too. And he said something about figuring out which one I liked best out of the two of you and it was – just ridiculous. Don’t try to tell me that if there’s some kind of contest where you’re losing I should break it off now, because I don’t want to break it off with you. Okay?”

Her smile becomes a little wider. “Well, I was hoping you’d say that. I don’t want to break it off with you, either. Hell, no. But that said, I had to think about it. After the first twenty minutes of hyperventilating, but at least Arianne was nice enough to hear me out. So, I thought about it with a clear head, and – Robb, if we leave things as they are, it’s going to blow in our faces.”

“Sorry?”

“I mean, we’re happy. I know that. But I also know that you have feelings for him, and that he has them for you but he won’t act on them because he wants you to be happy and I’m pretty sure he thinks that you aren’t interested either way. So you’re feeling guilty because of that, he’s feeling miserable and he can’t tell you, and I know about it and I’m not sure I want it to be like this. And – well, Arianne said a very sensible thing.”

“What did she say?”

“That if both of you leave it alone, at some point – could be days, could be years – you’ll be drunk or excited or something like that, and you might act on it, and if you do the both of you will feel ridiculously guilty and I’ll feel betrayed and – well. It’s gonna blow up in our faces. And I really don’t want that.”

Robb should tell her that they’d never do that, but her friend is right. At some point it might as well happen, heck, who knows what’d could go down if they got a real record deal with excitement at the highest levels, and – yeah.

“I don’t want that either. So – I mean, what do you think we should do?”

“I thought about it. A lot. And – shit, if my mother heard me she’d have a heart attack or ten. But – well. All things considered, if you want to – to date the both of us, I think I could deal with it.”

For a moment, Robb thinks he’s going to have a heart attack. “Sorry?”

“Well, it’s the most sensible thing. You wouldn’t have to ignore your feelings and both him and me would get what we want. If he agrees to it, obviously.”

“Are you sure about it? I mean, if you don’t really want to do it but you’re doing it just because you think I’ll –”

“No. No, it isn’t that. I’ll admit that it wasn’t exactly easy to get there. And if it was just the two of us it’d be a lot easier, I don’t deny it, but from what I see you really don’t like me better than him or him better than me, and I guess that I’d mind it if it was anyone else… but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I didn’t mind the idea of sharing with him. If that makes sense.”

“Really?” Robb can’t help being surprised. “I mean, I’m pretty sure that every other girl I ever was with would have shared with anyone but him. No offense.”

Jeyne laughs, shakes her head. “Well, first thing, I actually like him. All the times we were in the same space he was pretty cool, to be honest. And he kind of cracks me up.”

“Woah. I thought it was just me and my brothers liking that humor.”

“But other than that – I mean, I don’t know him well or anything, but enough to see that he really loves you, and at the same time he never tried to put himself between the two of us or anything. And I can appreciate that, believe me. I don’t know if I’d be proposing this if it was another woman, but – that’s not the point, so let’s just avoid that. I want to at least try it, okay? I mean, it’s – I’d feel better if I knew that everyone got what they wanted rather than the way it is right now. As Arianne put it, if sticking to what’s normal makes everyone miserable, maybe it’s time to see if the alternative works best.”

“Your friend really seems an expert.”

“Let’s say that her family’s only stance on sex is that as long as it’s between consenting adults anything goes.”

“Huh. Reminds me of an old girlfriend of mine. And of her sister. But – okay, not the point. Jeyne, listen, I can’t say that I wouldn’t like it. Actually, considering what’s going through my head lately, I’d probably be a lot happier if I could date the both of you, but if it makes you even slightly uncomfortable I can’t really do it.”

“Robb, I’d feel a lot more comfortable if I knew that he’s the only other person you sleep with rather than worrying about the entire situation. Let’s just – ask him if he’s willing to do it for three months. We can see how it goes. If it’s a disaster, we’ll sit down and talk it out. If it ends up that we’re all happier that way, then good, we can give it a try. It’s just – I want all of us to be happy with the way things are. And right now, I think it’s worth giving it a shot.”

Her fingers tangle with his and he squeezes her hand, suddenly unable to find words. He feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders, and to be honest he’s relieved that she was the one proposing the idea – he isn’t sure he could have ever brought himself to do it.

“Okay. Then – I guess I’ll talk to him. I’ll warn you, it might not be just talking.”

She snorts, but it’s almost relieved. “As long as it’s no one else.”

“No. No one else, I swear. And then – if he’s fine with it, but I think he will be – I mean, he doesn’t really have hang-ups about this kind of thing and he does like you a lot more than he ever liked any of my friends, not to mention girlfriends… I’ll just call you and we’ll sit down and have another conversation between consenting adults where we set the limits and stuff?”

“Sounds good. Actually sounds great. Let me know then.”

“Oh, I will. But tonight I had plans. I hope you’re still up for it?”

“Meaning?”

He grabs a bag he had put underneath the table before she arrived and takes out a small bouquet he had bought before coming to dinner – lilies and forget-me-nots – with an envelope attached to it. She opens it and gasps in delight.

“You said you didn’t like Titanic. And that you hate 3D movies.”

“Yeah, well, that was before we ran into that friend of yours last week and she told me that you couldn’t wait to go see it again when it was re-released. I can make a little sacrifice. And Kate Winslet is hot, I suppose I’ll have something to look at.” He winks after that – obviously he wasn’t serious.

Maybe it isn’t very proper that she stands up, grabs the lapel of his shirt and kisses him in the middle of the diner, but he doesn’t protest for one second.

--

The next day, he wakes up to a note on the counter. It says that Theon has to go do something family-related with Asha, which means that he’ll probably be back in the evening and his mood won’t be that great. Robb sighs – he had meant to get everything out in the open that morning, but obviously that’s not going to happen.

Well then, he’ll do something useful. He cleans the entire apartment first, then he works on some songs that he weren’t part of the last batch Theon gave him, then he figures he should prepare some speech, except that everything that comes to mind is just corny, and – and seriously. Does he even need speeches with Theon of all people?

By the time Theon comes back home looking as if he’d have rather spent the day in bed, Robb decides to wait a while and if nothing particularly nasty happened, then he’s going to spill.

“You look horrible,” Robb notes.

“Be thankful that I managed to come back now.”

“Was that a birthday?”

“Yeah. Sadly I couldn’t skip it, but at least no one minded that I only was there today.”

“Who was that?”

“Crazy priest uncle. And he’s actually the least bad of his generation. I need a drink.”

He goes straight to the kitchen and gets his disgusting beer, and well – could have gone worse. Maybe if he does this now –

Robb takes a breath and comes into the kitchen.

“Listen, I have to talk to you.”

“Is that serious?”

“Quite. Stop looking like that, I’m not quitting the group or anything. But – well. Your sister brought to my attention a while ago… this one thing that I apparently missed while the rest of the world had caught up on it.”

Theon’s shoulders go rigid at once.

Damn.

“What’d that be?”

“Well, she rang the doorbell and proceeded to say that you were in love with me.”

There’s a second where he sees Theon’s eyes widen as if someone had just found out his best-kept secret, and then he puts on a face that wouldn’t convince anyone.

“My sister’s full of shit. You can’t –”

“Except that it’s not just your sister. I got the >how didn’t you still get it question from Jon, who says that my entire family is keeping betting pools on us. Then from Jaime Lannister of all people. And – well. Others. Now, just – just tell me the truth, all right?”

Theon sighs, turns his back to him and puts his hands on the table.

“What difference does that make?”

“It makes a difference.”

“Oh, come on, even if it was, you’re straight as an arrow, and it’s not –”

“Just answer it.”

And then Theon punches the table hard enough that Robb almost screams out loud. “Fine! What if it’s the case?” Robb has never heard him sound that bitter.

“If it’s the case, then I could say that straight as an arrow doesn’t cover it.”

There’s a moment of silence and then Theon turns back towards him, his face carefully blank.

“It doesn’t cover it.”

Robb sighs. “Well, I thought it did. But apparently, there’s one exception to my heterosexuality.”

Before he can go on, Theon raises a hand and shakes his head. “Robb, don’t – don’t go there. Don’t even try to go there. You have a girlfriend, and she actually –”

“Well, my girlfriend asked me yesterday whether I was in love with you, and when I answered that I kind of might be, other than being in love with her, she said she wasn’t opposed to – well. The kind of three-way where I date two people.”

Theon keeps on staring at him as if he can’t believe what he’s hearing. He’s also gone dangerously pale and damn, this thing needs to stop going the way it is. Robb doesn’t like it one bit.

“She said that,” he repeats numbly.

“Apparently the fact that I’ve spent the last three months thinking about kissing you when I’m not thinking about kissing her was a lot more obvious than I thought.”

“Don’t tell me you’re having a sexuality crisis now. I can’t deal with –”

“I’m not having any sexuality crisis whatsoever. It’s been six months or something and I can safely say that you’re the only exception to the straight thing.”

“Okay. What did Jeyne tell you exactly?”

“That as things are right now, you’re being miserable because I’m with her even if you’re happy that it’s going well, that I’m miserable because I keep on repressing the entire exception thing, and that she’d just go insane worrying about the entire situation blowing up in our faces at some point. And she said she was willing to share. Or something like that. Anyway, her idea was giving it a try for a couple months and see how it goes, but on the condition that you’d be fine with it. Obviously.”

“Shit,” Theon whispers before looking down at the ground, and – okay, fuck this, in Robb’s head it had happened differently. He corners Theon against the table, puts a hand on his chin so that he has to meet his eyes, and – well. He thinks that terrified covers what he’s seeing, and considering that he’s never seen that look on Theon except maybe a couple times after the Bolton mess, he doesn’t know what to do of it.

“Hey. Talk to me. Don’t do that, okay?”

“It’s – damn. Robb, if you’re joking I’m going to strangle you right here and right now, so just – are you?”

“Have I ever done that?” Robb replies, and Theon shakes his head feebly.

“No. It’s that – fuck, of course I’m fine with the three-way thing. Heck, she’s perfect for you and if it’s her I’d have to share with then I’d be more than willing, but – you don’t get it.”

“What?”

“I’ve been – Robb, I’ve been wanting you to say that for years by now.” His voice is so low that Robb can barely hear it. “And I don’t – well, no, I get what I want at times, but it’s not like I ever thought you would, and I spent years making peace with that fact, and – fuck, do you mean it?”

Now, Robb thinks that if he didn’t, just looking at Theon’s face right now would turn him into the best liar on this planet. But point is, he doesn’t need that.

“Yeah. Yeah, I mean it, and when she said she was fine with it – it’s that, I’m in love with her, and – well. If I had any doubts left about you, this conversation would be dissolving them completely. I want to see if it works and – I realize that if it doesn’t then we’ll have to deal with it but I really want it to and just, I mean everything –”

“Kiss me?”

The interruption is so blunt that Robb is almost taken aback. That sounded… uncertain and shaky and everything he hasn’t associated with Theon in years, and his eyes are closed right now, as if he couldn’t ask for it while looking at Robb in the face.

“Next time don’t ask,” Robb says. He moves his hands so that they’re at the sides of Theon’s face and fuckfuckfuckhe’sabouttodoithe’sabouttodoit and then he stops thinking and he closes the distance between them and kisses him for real.

Theon freezes for one moment, but then one of his hands goes to the back of Robb’s neck, his fingers shaking ever so slightly, and then he parts his lips and Robb goes all in. He runs his tongue over Theon’s bottom lip before plunging it forward, and when it meets Theon’s he deepens the kiss, one of his arms going around Theon’s waist. And fuck, Theon kisses back like he’s been waiting half his life for it to happen and for all Robb knows he actually has, and when they have to move apart because Robb needs to breathe, Theon’s cheeks are flushing a deep pink and there’s such a hopeful look on his face that Robb has to lean in and kiss him again.

Just to make his point.

“Fuck,” Theon breathes when the second is over, too, “please tell me you weren’t planning on taking it slow.”

“No, but I hadn’t planned on doing it in the kitchen.”

“… good point. Are you sure that your girlfriend isn’t –”

“My girlfriend spent five minutes convincing me that she was fine with it. We’re dealing with the formalities later, okay?”

“Right. My room. Closer.”

A minute later they’re kissing savagely as they land on the bed. Robb’s button-down is already on the ground and Theon’s t-shirt joins it a moment later, and Robb shivers when he finally, finally can touch instead of just looking. He runs his hands over Theon’s arms – he likes the way the muscles are shaped, or how rough his hands are, and fuck this is nothing like Jeyne and somehow it’s the same. The basic feeling is the same, but this is months (if not years) of repression going out of the window, and he has to guess all over again. He doesn’t know what Theon likes and he really, really wants to find out, and fuck, the way Theon is kissing him, his knees would go weak if he was standing.

“How – how do you want this?” he manages to say when they’re done kissing for the moment. They’re just in their jeans by now.

“How do you?” Theon answers.

“I don’t really mind. Heck, it’s not like I ever did this with a man. Your pick.”

Theon takes a breath. Robb is about to roll over and switch their positions when Theon’s hand stills on his hip, his fingers gripping tight.

“Don’t even try to switch. I want it like this. Possibly looking at you in the face.”

Well. Robb hadn’t expected it, but that’s fine. He can work with it.

“All right.” He leans down, kisses Theon’s swollen lips again, hoping that Theon keeps some lube around because then he’ll have to go search for some substitute and it’ll ruin the moment.

He doesn’t know in which moment it happens that his hands end up on Theon’s wrists, pinning him down to the bed, and –

Theon goes rigid at once, and mutters a get off that sounds all kinds of panicked and Robb wants to punch himself in the face. He lets go at once, rolling on the other side of the bed without waiting a moment, putting a safe ten centimeters between them.

How did he even think about holding down someone who –

Shit.

He turns on his side, puts one hand on Theon’s elbow. He’s breathing heavily, his eyes closed, his body taut as a string.

“Hey. Hey, talk to me. Are you – fuck, I’m sorry.”

Theon takes another deep breath and turns towards him, and Robb expects a punch in the face.

He doesn’t expect dejected. “What for? I’m the one who should be sorry.”

“Are you – wait. Wait, it was me. I fucked up. I should have realized that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I just – I wasn’t thinking.”

“No, it was – I’m an idiot.”

“Why the hell would that be your fault? If anyone’s, it’s… well. His.”

“You don’t get it,” Theon says dejectedly. “You have no – Robb, I’ve been thinking about this for years. You have no idea of how much – I should have known better. I fucked it up, didn’t I?”

Robb doesn’t even try to reason with that kind of crap – seriously, it’s crap – and before even attempting to answer he grabs Theon’s shoulder and kisses him again. Soundly.

When it’s over, he takes a breath. “First thing, it’s that psycho’s fault, not yours. Second thing, er – sorry for asking, but have you been with anyone else since?”

Theon snorts. “Do you think I trusted anyone else?”

Robb tries not to get overwhelmed by the statement – he can do that later.

“Then – shit, I don’t – well, okay. I read something. When it happened.”

Theon’s eyes widen all over again. He hadn’t known, it’s not as if Robb had told him that at one point he had gone to a counseling center and grabbed anything he could find on sexual assault. Also Theon was moving in with him, like hell he wouldn’t have looked it up.

“It’s – I put you in the same situation and your body reacted accordingly? Something along those lines. And it was my fault for not thinking about what I was doing before, not yours. Fuck, you really think that I somehow got the memo that you didn’t want it?”

Theon sighs, his shoulders relaxing all over. “No, but – I should be over it. I’m sick of it.”

Robb had thought that they should just postpone, but right now he isn’t so sure.

“Right. Okay. We can – we’re going to start over, and I’m going to avoid doing that just to be sure, and I’ll try to think about what I do, but if you feel like it’s too much or if I’m doing something wrong just tell me before I end up doing something stupid.”

“I don’t know what you could do wrong.”

“That’s why I said tell me. If you want to use a safeword, that’s good.”

“Fuck, seriously? Safewords aren’t for –”

“Safewords are for when you need them. Come on, pick.”

Theon closes his eyes, takes a couple of deep breaths, and then he gives him a nod. “Let’s just stick with red, yellow and green.”

“Good. And are you really sure? I can wait. It’s not a one time deal.”

Robb doesn’t expect Theon to slam his mouth against Robb’s hard enough that it hurts, but he doesn’t exactly discourage it.

“Robb,” Theon pants after, “I don’t – I’ll be damned if I let that piece of shit ruin this. That’s exactly what he’d have wanted, I guess. I want to, all right? I’ve been wanting it for too long.”

Which – well. Robb can see the reasoning.

“Okay. Then, before I have to ruin the moment again… do you have some lube lying around? I didn’t plan on running around the house searching for hand lotion. If we even have any.”

Theon rolls his eyes and reaches for the first drawer in his nightstand and tosses Robb a bottle.

“Well, are you going to put me back in the mood or not?”

Robb puts the bottle on the mattress where he can reach for it later. “I’ll do my best.”

Sure, there’s the part where Robb hasn’t been with a guy once in his life, which means that he’s going to have to improvise, but it can’t be all that hard.

He could begin with something he’s pretty sure he couldn’t get wrong even if he tried. He moves back over Theon again, careful not to pin him down too much. He unbuttons Theon’s jeans and –

Huh.

“Since when you’re going commando?” he asks, unable to keep that in.

“I was at my uncle’s birthday. Thinking about the face he’d pull if he knew made me feel marginally better.”

“Only you,” Robb mutters, but there’s no denying that he sounds fond more than anything else.

Whatever, it’s one issue less. Theon groans when Robb gives his cock one long, slow stroke, and Robb kisses him again while he keeps on doing that, not hurrying. And damn, he can’t help shivering whenever Theon moans into his mouth, Theon’s hands on Robb’s hips. He keeps on stroking as he breaks the kiss and starts planting tiny ones all along Theon’s cheek, going just a bit faster but not too much, feeling it when his efforts are rewarded and Theon’s half-hard again. Good. He reaches out with his free hand and grabs the lube – he thinks he has an idea of how to put the mood back where it was. No one needs to know that Nymeria Sand had pulled this trick on him ages ago, but he thinks it’s worth giving it a try.

So he takes his hand away and Theon groans in displeasure.

“You’re a tease, y’know that?”

“Oh, I’ll make it worth your while, don’t you worry.”

He moves down the bed, opens the bottle and puts some lube on his fingers.

“Spread your legs a bit.”

Theon doesn’t even ask before doing it and – all right. There it goes. He went down on a whole lot of girls and a whole lot of girls went down on him, and it’s not exactly rocket science – he can do it. So he goes down and takes the head of Theon’s cock in his mouth and from the way Theon moans the moment he does it, he decides that whatever he does short of backing off it’ll be hard to fuck it up. He can’t take it all, he finds out a moment later, but he’ll do with what he has. He runs his tongue beneath the head again, tries to keep the same rhythm so that Theon doesn’t suspect what he’s about to do, and then when he’s sure that they have it established, he reaches forward with his lubed hand and puts the tip of one finger inside Theon’s entrance.

He’s expecting Theon’s hips to thrust up at that, and so he leans back so that nothing awkward happens, but after the string of curses leaving Theon’s mouth is over, he just smiles and gets back to what he was doing before. He doesn’t do more than teasing, really – he manages to work just up to one knuckle inside when he also has to concentrate on the way Theon’s cock is hardening inside his mouth and fuck that’s turning him on more than he’d have thought it could, until Theon reaches out with his hand and tugs his hair strong enough that Robb recognizes it for the warning it is.

For a moment he thinks that he should just go on, but then he decides that he can do it another time. He moves away and lies on the side of the bed because throwing himself on top seems like a very bad idea, and – well. Theon’s cheeks are the deepest pink he’s ever seen them, and his eyes are all pupil, and fuck Robb’s jeans are so constraining, he needs to get them off now. So he does, and then he moves back on the bed, grabs the lube and leans down for another kiss. Theon goes with it without a moment of faltering, and Robb can’t help thinking that there has to be a way to do this without him risking what happened before, and then –

He thinks he has it.

“Okay,” he says when it’s done, “I need you to get on top.”

“Robb, I said –”

“I know what you said. I don’t need to be on top of you to do it.”

He sees the moment when Theon gets what he means and he makes space so Robb can lean up against the headboard. He grabs the lube again, before he realizes he forgot something else.

“Shit, I don’t have condoms, what –”

“Whatever. I’m clean, you’re clean, sure as fuck you’re not getting me pregnant, I don’t give a shit.”

Well. If that’s how it is, then good. Good. He opens the bottle, pours some more on his fingers and reaches for Theon’s entrance again – he goes as slow as he can, and Theon has to urge him to stop stalling and move to a second. Robb swallows and does it, and he can see on Theon’s face that it’s not exactly pleasing at least in the beginning. He moves his fingers back, then slides them inside again, crooks them a bit and he knows he’s doing something right when Theon starts muttering something under his breath along the lines of yes and right there. And then he pushes them a bit deeper and Theon lets out a moan loud enough that Robb thinks he could have come just hearing that.

“Shit, yes, right there, don’t dare stopping,” Theon keeps on saying, and Robb does it again, until Theon’s knuckles are white where he’s grabbing the headboard. His eyes are still all pupil when he opens them, and Robb swallows before reaching up with the other hand and bringing his head down so they can kiss again.

And then he thinks he can’t take it anymore.

“Okay, I’m going to – can you –” He eyes the lube on the side. Theon gives him a curt nod, takes it and manages to coat his entire palm in it using just one hand before he throws it away and reaches down, wrapping his hand around Robb’s cock. At least he’s keeping the touch clinical. When he’s done, Robb moves his fingers away and he was planning on going slow again, but Theon has other ideas. Before Robb can stop him, he has taken his cock in his hand and lowers himself down on it and Robb thinks the neighbors will kill them tomorrow, because the moan he let out – well, he’d be surprised if any lingering journalist downstairs hasn’t heard it. Not that he cares.

And fuck he wants to move, and stretching or not Theon’s so very tight around him, but he still has enough self-control not to do it.

“Fuck, you’re insane – do you need – how long?”

“Just – give me a minute?”

“As much as you need. You’re crazy, you know that?”

Theon snorts and doesn’t dignify him with an answer, and he closes his eyes, breathes in, and Robb can’t help it when he reaches up with one hand and tucks a loose strand of hair behind his ear.

“Move,” Theon blurts later, Robb can’t even say how much, and he swallows and he does and from then on, he stops thinking. Theon moves back up and then thrusts his hips down while Robb pushes inside him and Robb thinks that he isn’t going to last much, not when the friction is just perfect and Theon’s hands are grabbing his shoulders, as hard as Robb’s are clutching at Theon’s hips. He tries to follow Theon’s pace rather than setting it himself, he’s fine with it, and when his eyes are on the level of Theon’s lips (all swollen and the color of ripe strawberries, and saying his name over and over) he bites down on the bottom one, as gentle as he can, and Theon shudders before he says that he can’t and stills for a moment before coming against Robb’s stomach, hard and fast, and Robb tries to reach down and stroke him through it but the sight sends him over the edge. He comes with a last thrust, buried deep, his hands probably leaving bruises where they’re still grasping Theon’s hips, and the last thing he thinks before he’s too blissed out to think is that he should have manned up about this entire thing a long time ago.

--

“Hey, if you don’t get off me now you’re going to regret it later.”

“Spoilsport,” Theon mutters before lifting himself up and dropping on the bed next to him. The two of them are wrecked – fuck, they’re sticky everywhere and the sheets definitely need a wash, but Robb can’t bring himself to care. He looks down at Theon’s hips – there are reddening bruises. He reaches out, tracing one of them with his finger.

“Did I go too far?”

Theon shakes his head. “Nah. I’d have stopped you if you had.”

Robb is strangely relieved as he hears that. Really. He is.

“Tell me you aren’t freaking out now,” Theon says, voice slightly worried.

“No. It wasn’t that. I’m not. I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t freaked out about the entire thing already.”

“So – so what now?”

“Well, now – next morning, I’d say – I call Jeyne and I tell her that we’re doing it, and then she drops by at some point and we discuss how it goes.”

“Sounds like a plan. Fuck, I’m – wow. For a gay sex virgin, you weren’t bad.”

“Oh, I wasn’t bad?”

“Definitely past beginner level.”

Robb throws a pillow in his face and feels deeply, utterly relieved that this hasn’t made things awkward.

Theon throws it back at him and Robb ends up throwing it on the ground so that they don’t have the temptation to wreck it.

He debates going to grab a couple of towels, but then he decides that it’s too much work. He grabs his shirt – it was an old one that he only used at home, anyway – and he wipes off the both of them before dropping back down on the bed.

The sad thing is that when he sees Theon’s surprised face he already knows what’s the deal.

“Come on, you thought I was the type who disappears in the morning?”

Theon snorts, shakes his head as he lays back down next to him.

“Nah. That might be part of your charm, actually.”

“Hey, are you all right?” He feels compelled to ask that question after what happened before. Theon seems more than all right, truth to be told, but better safe than sorry.

“Never better. If you tell anyone I said it out loud I’m going to kill you in your sleep.”

Fine, for now Robb can stop worrying.

“Far from me to share that with the world.” And then he throws an arm around Theon’s waist and lays down for good, Theon’s back flushed against his chest.

“If you tell anyone about this, too, I’m going to kill you anyway.”

“You can have manly pride for the both of us. Shut up and go to sleep, will you?”

To his surprise, there isn’t a reply to that, just Theon’s left hand covering Robb’s right over his stomach.

Robb goes to sleep swearing to himself that he’s going to make this three-way thing work at whichever cost, because now that he has actually crossed the bridge, he knows he doesn’t want to go back.

--

He wakes up first the next morning. He sees the alarm clock on Theon’s side of the bed with the corner of his eye and decides that eight AM is too early to even attempt standing up. Theon’s hair is tickling his cheek and Robb closes his eyes, basking in the moment. It’s all so quiet – which isn’t a word that he’d have associated with sleeping with Theon, to be entirely honest - but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. At some point during the night some turning must have happened because Theon’s face is pressed against his shoulder. Robb breathes in, and when he realizes that nothing feels awkward, that he’s not having any latent freak-out and that he actually feels no urge to move he’s only relieved. Not that he had thought it’d happen, but – it was a possibility. He moves one hand up Theon’s back, feeling his spine under his fingertips, and Theon hums under his breath before hooking his ankle around Robb’s. Robb thinks he’s never seen him so relaxed in his entire life, and he’ll have to think about it, he really will, but for now there’s no need. When Theon starts stirring a few minutes later, Robb leans back enough to look at him in the face – he can pinpoint the moment when Theon focuses enough to realize that Robb hadn’t lied about staying the night.

“Morning,” Robb says, his hand still on Theon’s back.

“How did we even wake up this fucking early?”

“Maybe because we passed out a while before midnight? I’m going to go put some breakfast together.”

“Nah, call Jeyne instead. I’ll worry about the food. If you blow up the kitchen it’d be the biggest joke in my entire existence.”

“Hey, I never –”

“Remember Christmas ’05,” Theon replies while he reaches down for his jeans and puts them on.

Except that when he stands up –

“Hey, those are my jeans!”

“Mine are on your side of the bed. Too much of a hassle.”

Robb is left speechless while Theon gets out of the room with just his jeans on and no underwear – seriously? – but then he lets that go and calls Jeyne.

“You fessed up?” is the first thing she says the moment she picks up the phone.

“… yeah.”

“And how did it go?”

“Uh. Better than well, actually.” Gosh, this feels so awkward. “He’s – he’s cool with it. The idea, I mean. I said you might drop by, so –”

“Oh, good. Maybe I could come for… coffee or something, mid-morning?”

“Sounds excellent. I’m going to report then. And –”

“Robb, no need for further explanations.” Her tone sounds fond, at least. “I’ll drop by.”

That went well, at least. Robb forces himself to get out of bed and steals a pair of sweats from Theon’s side of the closet and purposefully doesn’t put on any underwear – it’s not like Theon bothered with Robb’s jeans, right? Then he pads towards the kitchen.

Theon is at the stove and Robb can smell bacon, and it definitely smells better than anything Robb’s ever tried to cook. And there’s a container on the table. Robb walks inside the kitchen and looks at it.

“Muffins?”

“Your sister’s. I had forgotten stuff at your parents’ so yesterday I dropped by before coming back and she handed that to me and said that I wasn’t allowed to refuse. Is that some kind of stress relieving thing?”

“Sansa and baking? Fuck if I know. At least they’re good.”

“Well, it’s gonna be a couple minutes before I’m done here.”

He’s barely looking at the food, as if he doesn’t need to, and Robb sighs. He can’t cook to save his life, but he never needed to learn that just so that he wouldn’t have to rely on take-out.

He takes a couple of steps so that he’s behind Theon and then wraps an arm around his waist. For a moment Theon freezes, but then he just leans back into it even if with some caution.

“And what’s this about now?”

“Do I need a reason to do it?”

“Huh. No, I suppose.”

Robb doesn’t move until the bacon looks crispy and Theon more or less attempts to shove him away – his stomach feels empty all of a sudden, but of course it would. He hasn’t eaten in a day or so. He puts Sansa’s muffins out of the box and puts some tea to brew while he hears the sound of eggs cracking. Ten minutes later they’re both eating ravenously – Robb wasn’t obviously the only one needing sustenance.

“Jeyne’s dropping in a couple hours,” Robb says halfway through his second muffin.

“Oh. Good. Is she – well, fine?”

“She sounded fine. And stop frowning, it was her idea.”

“Yeah, still. It’s just – fuck, I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

“Are you –”

“Shut up, of course I’m fine. I just have to come to terms with realizing that I’ve spent years thinking that it was never going to happen. And don’t say anything. Just don’t, okay?”

Robb doesn’t say anything and eats his eggs, but meanwhile he searches under the table with his bare foot and when he hooks his ankle around Theon’s, the latter doesn’t even try to move his away.

--

By the time the doorbell rings, they’ve managed to get themselves into their own clothes. Robb doesn’t know if they’re much presentable – they did wash and all, but Theon still has the face of someone who just got laid and who enjoyed it a hell of a lot, and Robb is sure that there’s a hickey somewhere on his neck.

Then again, it’s not like she doesn’t know.

Thankfully, when he opens the door and Jeyne gets in, she doesn’t look angry. Or anything like that. Maybe a bit not exactly at ease, but neither of them is, he thinks.

There’s some minute of silence.

And then.

“Please tell me this doesn’t have to be awkward,” Theon says, and suddenly Jeyne is trying not to laugh. Robb doesn’t have that much self-control and he just lets out a snort, and a moment later everyone else is, and maybe it doesn’t have to.

“Let’s just sit,” Robb says when he has regained some composure. They all go to the living room, picking three different chairs.

Someone has to start talking here, though, before it becomes awkward all over again.

“So,” he says when he realizes that no one else is about to start, “I guess – I guess we’re doing it? If everyone is all right with it. Otherwise, it’s better that we say it now.”

“No,” Jeyne says. “That’s fine. Seems like it went good for now.” She’s sort of blushing as she says it, and Theon is totally looking down at the carpet.

“Oh, it did,” Robb confirms.

“Definitely. It did. Yes,” Theon blurts when he realizes that he’s not giving too much contribution to the entire thing. “Jeyne, are you really sure that –”

“He asked me that question at least fifty times until now, I’m not dignifying you with an answer.”

Theon lets out a relieved breath and Robb clears his throat again.

“Then – I guess we should – put down some rules? Or something? At least for the next two months or so. Goes unsaid that as long as it concerns me, the two of you – that’s it. But if anyone else wants to do the open relationship thing –”

“Not me,” Theon interrupts without even letting me finish.

“He said it,” Jeyne agrees. Okay. Good. At least that one is out in the open. “Actually – there was something I was thinking about while coming here. Clearly it’s just if the both of you agree.”

“Shoot,” Theon answers.

“Well, my parents are starting to be suspicious. About whether I’m seeing someone.” She says it as if she can’t even believe it’s happening for real. “For now Arianne – my best friend, I mean – she’s covering me pretty decently, but I think my mother is suspecting that I’m seeing you.” She nods towards Robb, then she takes another breath. “Now, if this entire thing works, at some point I guess I’ll have to just fess up and tell them that I get to pick whoever I go out with, but what I was thinking was that – well. While keeping the real thing quiet would probably be a very good idea, if the two of you didn’t – gosh, I don’t even know how to –”

“Wait,” Theon intercedes. “You mean that while it’s better that no one knows that he’s dating the two of us until we’re sure of where this is going, it’s not an issue if everyone knows that me and him have something going on?”

She sends him a thankful look. “Yes. But just – I mean, if you both want to keep it quiet too that’s –”

Theon snorts. “Well, everyone was assuming that we had a thing since long before yesterday and if it means you get less idiocy to deal with, I don’t really have a problem. Robb?”

“What? Problems? No. Sounds – kind of accurate. It would just mean stopping denying that we’re doing it when someone assumes that we are, after all. For the rest – yeah, good point. It’s not like we’d have to put that much effort in it, anyway. I’m just sorry you have to go through that at all.”

Jeyne sighs, not disagreeing. “Believe me, if it didn’t mean risking my job I’d have told them already. Anyway, other than that – I suppose there isn’t much else to the arrangement?”

Robb shakes his head. “I think that the whole thing is enough on our plates already. Two months from now we see how it’s gone and then we can break our heads at that point.”

“Sounds marvelous. Anyone wants some muffins?” Theon asks after some ten seconds of silence that were threatening to become seriously awkward.

Turns out, everyone could do with a muffin. Sansa would be pleased to know that they finished the entire box.

--

Before Jeyne leaves, they agree on who should know and who shouldn’t – in the end, Robb’s family, Jeyne’s best friend and Asha get a pass. The latter mostly because Robb figures that after her impromptu matchmaking she should at least know.

“There’s the huge weekly dinner tonight,” Robb says after Jeyne is gone, still tasting on his tongue the chocolate muffin he had before. “I suppose we could just show up and fess. Everyone’s waiting for it anyway. And I more or less talked to Jon about it before, so…”

“Yeah. Good plan. I, uh, listen, can you call my sister?”

“What?”

“She was the one bringing it up to you. And I’m not sure I can – we just don’t.”

Robb sighs. One day, he thinks. One day those two will have a somewhat seemingly functional relationship.

He agrees because otherwise no one would call at all and dials her number.

“Asha?”

“Yeah? Stark, what the fuck is this? It’s three AM in darned Los Angeles.”

“Yeah, your brother neglected to mention that you were out of the country. Anyway, uh, it’s just – we might have hooked up. With my girlfriend’s blessing. Or something. And since – well, you know, I figured I should have told you. The end.”

“Huh. It just took you six months. Figured it’d take another couple years. Well, good for you. And now I have to go back to sleep.”

The call is over at that point.

Ah well, it’s not like Robb thinks he will ever understand her. At least that part went fine, more or less.

--

“Do I really have to be here for this?”

Robb rolls his eyes and parks the car. “Listen, it’s not like I don’t know who’s going to do the talking in this relationship, but you don’t get the pass this round. What are you even freaking out for? The only person who probably never had a bet going on about the two of us hooking up is my dad – I’m willing to bet my money that Rickon is on one too. I wouldn’t even say that I’m 100% sure about my dad not having a bet going on, actually. Jon already knows – well, he knows about the whole I-like-two-people deal – everyone’s going to raise their eyebrows and say that they had seen it coming, we’ll have dinner and no one’s going to freak out.”

“But what if –”

“I don’t even know what you were about to say and just – don’t say it. There’s enough freaking out going on, don’t even try to add more to the pile.”

Theon snorts, opens the car’s door. “Fine. But you say it.”

“As if. I know I’ll do the talking until we’re dead and buried.”

Jon opens the door and Robb knows that he knows the moment their eyes meet – to his credit, he just gives him a slight nod and lets them in. Robb takes a look at the living room surroundings – Bran is texting someone with uttermost care (probably Meera Reed), Rickon is doing things to some Iron Man action figure that Robb doesn’t want to know about, Sansa is switching the places of cutlery on the table (from the way it looks, Arya was the one setting it up, which probably means that she just put everything in random places that looked good), Arya is on the couch listening to something on her iPod. Nothing new under the sun, then. His dad comes down from the stairs a second later, his mom comes out of the kitchen at the same time.

“Oh, there you are,” Catelyn says, taking off her apron. “It’s almost ready, another five minutes and it should be good to go.”

“Good, because uh, there’s something I should tell you all in the next five minutes?”

All of a sudden, silence falls in the room. Except from faint music coming from Arya’s headphones when she takes them off – Robb thinks it’s totally Asha’s latest record.

And then he realizes that he has one hand on the small of Theon’s back and that – well. Even with the whole heterosexual life partners shit going on, that’s a hell of a lot more touching than strictly goes on between them.

“Did you break up with your girlfriend?” Arya asks, without much finesse.

“Uh, no, it’s that –”

“I’ll save you the hassle,” Jon interrupts him. “It’s about that thing you told me a while ago, yes?”

“It is, actually, but –”

“Oh, good. Looks like you manned up.”

“Er, what is this about?” Ned interrupts.

“Nothing earth-shattering. He’s just dating two people instead of one. The second person he’s dating should be plenty obvious by now.”

For a moment, there’s silence.

Then.

“Oh gosh, I knew it!” Sansa shrieks in delight before running towards the both of them and more or less hugging them at the same time.

“Woah,” Theon gasps, “easy there, but uh, thanks?”

“Just no PDA when I can see you,” Arya shouts before putting on her headphones as if the entire deal was absolutely not mattering to her one way or the other.

“So you’re boyfriends now?” Rickon asks.

“I suppose?” Robb answers, trying not to make it more complicated than it is.

“Oh, at last, I’ve been waiting for you to fess up since I was four,” Rickon comments before going back to his let’s-destroy-Iron-Man attempts.

“Congratulations!” Bran shouts before his cell rings and he goes back to texting.

Then Robb turns back to find himself in front of both his parents.

“Uh, well, what Jon said,” he blurts.

Ned raises an eyebrow, then sighs. “Well, if that’s what works for you, then good. Just be careful and keep it down for the moment. There’s enough bad press about you already. And for the love of everything, don’t tell your uncle if or when you talk to him, or the entire western hemisphere is going to know.”

“Uncle Brandon? Why would he –”

“One day you’ll realize.” Then he says he’s hungry and he’d like to eat, and while everyone leaves their spots to head for the table, Catelyn looks at the both of them before shrugging and pinching Robb’s cheek.

“What your father said. But just one thing. You fessed up first, didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” Robb answers. “Why?”

“Oh, excellent. Davos Seaworth owes me some money.”

“You had –”

“Robb, your father has had a bet going on with Jon Arryn for at least the last six years or so, for that matter, and I’m pretty sure that he has just lost. That said, whenever you think it’s time, you should bring your girlfriend along. And if I were you, I’d go sit before everyone eats all the appetizers.”

Then she goes back towards the table and when Robb meets Theon’s eyes, he looks as dumbfounded as Robb feels.

“… that was interesting,” Theon croaks a moment later.

“Yeah. Well. Let’s just forget about the betting pools and get some food. I should hope that one of the winners will buy us a drink, at least.”

Theon gives him a nod and Robb doesn’t even think before he reaches down and takes his hand before they had for the table – they have the chairs next to each other, obviously – but other than Rickon whistling and Arya reminding them about PDAs not being appreciated, the handholding thing goes utterly unnoticed.

Well, Robb thinks, this went good.

Now they just have to see if the next two months go as well.

--

The next morning, he wakes up with Theon’s ankle still wrapped around his.

In the evening, after they go through another round of polishing-songs-for-the-next-demo that includes a whole damn lot of kissing, he goes to dinner with Jeyne, and then instead of going back home he brings the both of them to a nice, not flashy hotel that does have excellent room service, and when she falls on the bed as she laughs against his mouth, it doesn’t feel weird at all. It doesn’t feel weird while his hands skim along her stomach, and it doesn’t feel weird when they kiss. His mind isn’t elsewhere while he thrusts into her slowly, and his mind is definitely all there as well when he wakes up and kisses her first thing in the morning, sour breath be damned.

He drops her off three blocks from the stadium where Lannisport trains, goes home and Theon chooses exactly that moment to get out of the shower, wearing just a white towel around his waist.

Before Theon can ask him if his first serious date after this entire trial of the three-way started went well, they end up in the shower all over again because Robb couldn’t stop himself from slamming Theon against the wall the second he saw him dripping wet all over the floor.

And his mind isn’t elsewhere either.

He doesn’t know if it’s just endorphins or maybe the novelty of the entire thing or whether he’s being too optimist, but he thinks that if the next couple of months go this way, the trial might as well be a success.

--

Point is, Robb keeps on waiting for the shoe to drop every second. When he wakes up in the morning (whoever it is he’s with), he thinks I hope this isn’t the day something goes wrong. He has made a mental list of everything that might go wrong – he could find out that he can’t divide his time evenly, he could find out that either Theon or Jeyne would think that he’s not paying them the right amount of attention. There’s a lot of shit that’s bound to go wrong.

Except that the more he freaks out the less he has reasons to. The dreaded day where it all goes to shit doesn’t happen. After three weeks Jeyne tells him that if deciding to give it a try meant that he’d look that better, maybe they should have started before. That evening they go to another pretty-much-decent motel and as he presses kisses to her neck while she kneels over him, he thinks that it’s actually better now, because he doesn’t feel some residual guilt born out of his feelings for Theon whenever he’s in a bed with Jeyne.

He doesn’t tell her that, but he knows that she’s probably coming to the same conclusion.

After a month, Theon casually hands him some new songs and says that they should scrap half of what he came up with last month because seriously, how fucking depressing was that?

It takes Robb five minutes to realize that Theon has never handed him music that upbeat. Or scraps of lyrics so genuinely free of anywhere-near-sad lines.

Which makes him realize that in comparison to that time when Theon ended up in a jail cell teaching Queen to a crow, he looks a whole damn lot better. Robb hadn’t noticed because seriously, when you see someone every day you just aren’t really aware of the small changes, but there’s not much to argue with it. It’s not something that anyone would notice, he figures, but he sees that the guy smiles a lot more, argues with Jon a lot more (like in the good old times when they were all thirteen and you couldn’t put the two of them in the same room) and has stopped staring at his left hand with contempt – he still did that, sometimes.

The moment Robb realizes that dating two people has actually fucking solved a good three quarters of his problems, he has a freak out of major proportions.

And since he can’t and won’t drop it on people he’s related to, he goes straight to the bakery. He knows that he’s telling someone that shouldn’t know, but he hopes that Lannister knows how to keep his mouth shut. He really doesn’t want to be wrong about the guy being… well, mostly decent. Deep inside.

He says hi to Ygritte and goes sitting directly in front of Jaime – by now he has his own table in the corner and no one even objects anymore.

“Woah,” Jaime says, “this looks hilarious.”

“And it’s going to be confidential. I mean it, okay?”

“… well then. I’m all ears. Have I told anyone until this point?”

“Right. I suppose not. It’s – you know – you said to try the dating two people thing.”

“Did you?”

“Apparently I’m doing it.”

“And is it going wrong?”

“… no. Actually, it’s going better than I thought it would. Everything’s great. More than great.”

“Right. And so what’s the deal? I mean, if it’s going fine then why are you in front of me having a freak out?”

“I’m not –”

“You are.”

Robb doesn’t even try to deny it. “Because it’s not – that’s not – that’s not how it works! If the moment I start dating two people my life gets better it – it doesn’t compute, okay? I don’t know what to do with it!”

Lannister raises an eyebrow, the corner of his mouth twitching as if he’s endlessly amused by Robb’s plight.

“You think it doesn’t compute because that’s what you’ve heard all your life.” He’s talking as if he thinks that Robb is an idiot, but maybe he has a point. Robb surely feels like an idiot. “I mean, tell me the truth. If three people who had the hots for each other had raised you, you probably wouldn’t say it doesn’t compute. So you’re in a relationship that isn’t generally approved of because it’s not the norm. But if it works better than good old monogamy, then I just don’t see why you have to freak out.”

“You don’t see it?”

“Hey, you aren’t keeping an harem of underage girls to satisfy your sexual whims. You’re adults, you’re agreeing on it, it’s working fine for you, no harm done. Listen, I’m going to tell you something. If you ever tell another soul that I told you this, I’ll make sure that you die in your sleep and that your body is never found. Are we clear?”

Robb swallows and nods. Lannister sighs and moves so that his elbows are on the table, his voice lowering a whole damn lot.

“Right. Okay, you knew me before I decided that I was done with the family business. If three years ago someone had told you that this would become my life, would you have believed them?”

“Honestly? No.”

“Point taken. I wouldn’t have either. Now, see, you know where I come from. I can assure you that the life I’m having now is not what my family would consider acceptable. Or even desirable. I wasted a lot of time thinking that I couldn’t possibly want to quit the family business, because there couldn’t be a better option, and then thankfully my brother decided to take the matters into his own hands. And you know what? I’m glad I quit. There’s no comparison. I’m a lot fucking happier now, and I wouldn’t change it for what I thought was – well, normal. For those standards, anyway. What I meant, is that what you’re told is supposed to work is not necessarily what does work eventually. Now, another question. Does dating two people make you feel bad? Or them?”

Robb takes a breath. He pretends to think about it, but he already knows the answer. “No.”

“Then fuck it. Just embrace it. Life is too short to spend it being miserable. This coming from someone who spent a long time feeling sorry for himself, and it wasn’t worth it.”

“… that’s… pretty fucking deep, you know?”

“Fuck you. Ygritte, I know there’s beer in the fridge!”

“At least once you pretended to ask nicely,” she snorts, but she does get him a bottle.

And Robb – Robb thinks about it and realizes that Lannister is probably right. He’s being full of shit. He also knows that if they do it for real they’re going to run into endless problems, but – maybe it’d be worth it. They won’t ever see if they don’t try, right?

When Ygritte drops a second beer in front of him without having been asked, he decides that he needs to re-evaluate her. She can be sensitive, when she wants to.

--

When he gets out of the bakery and starts driving home, he decides that it’s time he clears his head. As bad as Lannister can get, he had more than a point. To be honest, Robb is surprised that he went and told him about some fairly personal stuff, but he’s not going to ask himself why or he’ll go crazy. What matters is that it made sense, and the ridiculous thing is that Robb has never once in his life thought that not being monogamous is a bad thing. He always thought that if it worked fine for consenting people then there was no reason to be upset about it – their business, not his. Except that right now it’s not happening to other people, it’s happening to him, and he doesn’t like to think that he might be that kind of hypocrite.

Not to mention that he’s probably overthinking this, or worrying too much. Or maybe both. He also knows that if they decided to have a go at it for real at least he’d have nothing but support from his relatives, and he’s not the kind of idiot who doesn’t realize that he lucked out because of that.

There’s also the point where – well, if it’s going good, why waiting to make the entire thing official?

Fuck, why is it so damn complicated?

He parks at the first free spot he sees and calls Jeyne.

“Tell me that you weren’t working.”

“Not exactly. But I can’t stay on for long.”

“That’s – that’s fine, I just wanted to ask you something. About our arrangement.”

“What about it?”

“It’s – things are better now, aren’t they?”

“Well – yes. Can’t argue about it. Much better, I’d say. But why –”

“Too long to explain. Can you be at my place at… I don’t know, six PM?”

“I can do that. Robb, are you all right?”

“Yeah. Yeah, don’t worry. I am. Really.”

She doesn’t sound too convinced but she probably has to go because she doesn’t press it.

Then Robb drives home. As he opens the door, he intends to ask Theon the exact same question, he does.

Except that he hears Theon cussing in the kitchen first.

Robb gets there and – yeah. Right. He’s totally putting peach cobbler into the oven.

“What’s with that?” Robb asks.

“I hate your brother,” Theon replies.

“Yeah, which one? And how does it relate to what I asked you before?”

Jon, who else? Apparently yesterday evening he was over at your parents’ with his devilish girlfriend and I don’t know if it was just the two of them. Anyway, they started talking about embarrassing things and he apparently spilled that story about the first time I made you the damn thing.”

“Wait, you mean the whole Tyene fiasco?”

“That one. Bastard. Anyway, so, your mom calls me this morning being all like why didn’t you ever tell me and I try to downplay it, but next thing I know I agreed to bring her dessert tonight at dinner and damn him, couldn’t he just have kept his mouth shut? I’m going to kill him.” As he says it, he closes the oven and stands up, cleaning his hands over a rag he put on the counter. Robb doesn’t point out that his shirt is totally covered in flour, but he figures that Theon drew the line at wearing aprons.

“Yeah, as if. It had to come out at some point, you know.”

“No it didn’t,” Theon protests as he glances at his hands before shrugging and taking the shirt off, saying that it’s too dirty to wear.

Robb doesn’t know if he’s doing it on purpose or not, but if he wants to get laid sometime between now and this evening, he’s not doing it wrong.

“Are you trying to get some? Because you’re doing a terrible job of being subtle.”

Theon snorts and throws the shirt in the corner. “Well. This thing takes half an hour to bake. I don’t exactly have anything pressing to do between now and then.”

Fuck it, Robb thinks, they can talk later. “Interesting.” He moves so that he’s in front of Theon, eyeing his belt. “Because there’s a lot that can be done in half an hour.”

“I’m not saying no, am I?”

And he dares sound smug.

Robb snorts and kisses him, pressing him up against the counter, and yeah – the old jeans Theon’s wearing aren’t doing anything to hide the fact that he’s interested.

Except that then Theon’s hand goes to his shoulder, shaking it hard enough that Robb can’t mistake it for accidental.

He breaks the kiss and moves back. “Yeah? Something wrong?”

“Yellow,” Theon replies, and right, Robb is pretty much crowding him without leaving a possible way out.

And then he realizes that – well. It’s not the first time safewords were used, but this time Theon isn’t either blushing or sounding uncomfortable or looking the other way.

Fuck talking – he already knows everything he needs to know. He backs away and moves on Theon’s side, keeping a hand on his neck.

“So,” he says, trying to sound as casual as possible, “you think twenty-five minutes is enough to get to the bedroom and let me blow you?”

“Fuck yes,” Theon replies, and – yeah. Twenty-five minutes is also enough so that Theon repays him the favor.

While Theon is busy checking if the cobbler came out right, he calls his mother and tells her to add a place this evening.

--

When Jeyne gets there, he just hopes he didn’t forget his speech. Well, what in his head sounded like some semblance of a speech, but whatever.

“So,” he starts, not eloquently. “This is – I just needed to talk to you both.”

“Go ahead,” Jeyne says as she sits on the other side of the kitchen table. Theon is standing behind her, his expression carefully neutral.

As if he’d have a reason to think Robb is calling it off after what happened before – then again Robb has made peace with the fact that his issues aren’t getting solved in a matter of months or even years.

“Well – until now it seems to me that everything’s gone great, right?”

“Understatement,” Theon mutters.

“Well, yes. Of course.”

“Then – we might as well make it official. I mean – we said to try for a longer time than what’s passed, but seems to me that it’s worked fine and – why wait? It’s not like the other shoe is going to drop three weeks from now, if it hasn’t dropped yet. If I’m explaining myself.”

“… Robb, the way you look, it seems like someone died,” Theon says a moment later, dropping on the only remaining free chair in the room. “Seriously? That was the problem?”

“I just didn’t know if maybe there were –”

“I’m not sure I even want to know what you were about to say. Anyway. What do you think I’d answer, no? You’re such an idiot sometimes.”

Jeyne snorts at that, and Robb tries not to feel too betrayed.

“He’s right, you know. You looked like you wanted to call it quits.”

“… I didn’t. So –”

“So of course I’m fine with it, too. I had been thinking about that, too, by the way. And – you’re right. No sense in saying we’re trying it out if it works.”

“Oh, good. By the way, you’re coming to dinner at my parents’ place.”

She laughs at that, looking at him in the eyes after. “I don’t have the right to refuse, do I?”

“No. Also you’d lose the chance to try his peach cobbler.”

“Do you have to share that with everyone now that Snow spilled?” Theon tries to sound outraged, but it doesn’t really work.

“Huh. You’re a man full of surprises, aren’t you?” Jeyne asks, but she sounds genuinely intrigued rather than sarcastic.

“Good for you that it’s big enough for fifteen people,” Theon mutters under his breath.

That went well, Robb thinks.

--

Clearly, Theon has to be a jerk and pretend that he was seriously hurt by the previous exchange, which ends up with Robb and Jeyne going in Jeyne’s car and Theon taking his own, not that Robb thinks that he really was pissed about it.

Please.

“Are you sure that I didn’t – I mean, that he wasn’t offended?”

Robb turns towards Jeyne – he’s driving even if it’s her car, but he knows the way and knowing how Theon can drive, if she had to follow him she’d probably lose him sooner rather than later.

“What, because you said he was full of surprises? No. I know how he works. He just wanted an excuse to have thirty minutes alone and clear his head and he pretended it was about the cobbler.”

“He needs to clear his head?”

“Well – not exactly that, I guess. But if I know him, he’s probably freaking out because the whole thing is official and he isn’t a natural optimist. Don’t worry, he’ll probably be fine when we get there.”

“Oh. Good. I just – I didn’t want to possibly ruin things before they even started, you know?”

“Nah, don’t worry about it. He says that kind of thing to everyone, he won’t get pissed at you because you did the same. And as stated, you’re the only girlfriend I ever had that he’s ever liked. I doubt that’s going to change his mind.”

“Well. At least he does.”

“Jeyne, what is this really about? Because it can’t be just about him.”

“It’s just – well, you had to quit playing also because of me and –”

“Hey. Stop it right there. No one is pissed at you for that.”

“But your father –”

“My father didn’t lose anything over it, the team is doing fine, and I don’t remember not agreeing to any of it. Really, just don’t even go there. My mother wouldn’t have been asking me to bring you over for weeks by now if she didn’t want me to. At worst you’re going to have seven people talking to you at once, but that’s going to be it. Seriously. It’s all water under the bridge.”

“Are you sure?”

“And I thought it was bad when I told them I was dating him, too. Jeyne. Yes. I’m sure. And I’ve fretted enough for the three of us today – no need for you to start. Or for Theon to start, but if he does then it just comes with the package.”

Jeyne doesn’t ask him to clarify and Robb doesn’t offer more – it’s not the kind of discussion he needs to start when they’re almost there anyway. He sees Theon’s car parked near the front door, which means that he’s probably inside already – good. He’ll be spared all the discussion about the peach cobbler. Then he grabs the keys to an electric door that faces a small yard where his parents keep their car and opens it – there’s space enough for three and he doesn’t want to bother searching for a free spot.

When he gets out of the car, he realizes that he was wrong – Theon is not inside already. He’s standing outside the door with the casserole in the crook of his arm.

“About time,” he says, and he doesn’t sound off at all. Good.

“No one said you had to wait.”

“Oh, right, because you think that I’d go in on my own when I have this with me? When half of the people inside aren’t even fourteen? Like hell. I need a buffer.”

Robb rolls his eyes and rings the doorbell – clearly he forgot the keys at home.

Arya opens the door and looks first at Jeyne, then at the casserole in Theon’s arms. She gives Jeyne a small nod and then stares at Theon again.

“Seriously.”

“So what?”

Robb is half-sure that Theon is not sticking his tongue at his sister just because he has some self-control. Arya keeps on looking at him as if she can’t just believe it.

Then she shakes her head as if she’s completely given up on his mental sanity and lets them in.

At that point, what Robb had feared happens. Sansa throws herself at the three of them and manages to, at more or less the same time, tell Theon that whatever he brought smells amazing and he totally has to teach her, tell Jeyne that she couldn’t wait to meet her properly and generally look at the three of them as if they were the best thing since sliced bread or something. Arya still looks at them like she can’t believe they’re even real. Rickon arrives in the middle of Sansa’s speech and asks Theon if he really made the cobbler because he can’t believe it, surely he bought it somewhere. Bran is looking at the whole lot of them as if he’s very ashamed of his siblings and when Robb desperately tries to see if Jon is around because at least he would give the situation some sort of order, he sees that he’s talking to Ygritte on the sofa while she has a hand on his leg.

Right, no hope on that front.

And then his mother sort of saves him as she gets out of the kitchen and tells everyone to please tone it down.

Good, because between Sansa cooing at them and Theon and Rickon arguing on whether it’s appropriate for a real man to bake cobblers at the same time, his head is about to explode.

“Well,” she says when there’s some semblance of silence, as she turns to Jeyne, “it was time he brought you over. You must be Jeyne, right?”

“Yes. Mrs. Stark, it’s a pleasure –”

“Stop right there. Catelyn will do – that makes me feel old. And it’s my pleasure too – I hope that they haven’t scared you off already.”

“Oh, nothing of the kind.”

“Well, good. And you.” She looks at Theon, who seems to ponder his options before handing over the casserole.

“Please tell me we’ll never speak of this again,” he says as she takes it.

“I’d like to answer yes, but do you think there’s a chance in hell that it might happen?”

“He knows nothing!” Ygritte shouts from the sofa, where she and Jon are kind-of-sort-of-making-out as Rickon declares that they’re gross.

“Good to know I don’t have the exclusive on knowing nothing anymore,” Jon says, and he sounds quite happy about it.

Robb isn’t even trying to answer that.

He doesn’t know whether he should be scared or not when his dad comes into the room, takes it more or less in stride, doesn’t comment on the peach cobbler and doesn’t mention the whole changing room debacle – he can see Jeyne visibly relaxing when she realizes that it’s not something he seems to want to bring up now. Maybe he should just take it in stride and stop freaking out more than it’s necessary.

Anyway, Jeyne stops walking on eggshells when, some ten minutes into the dinner, she probably comes to the conclusions that the changing room debacle is not being discussed anytime soon. She takes Arya’s snarking in stride, has a seriously creepy conversation with Sansa about tvtropes.org and merely blushes when Rickon asks her if it’s true that she’s in a threesome with them, because according to him you’d have to be insane to date one, let alone getting them both into a package even if she’s technically dating just Robb. Theon, on his side, pretends to sulk whenever anyone mentions the smell of peaches coming from the kitchen, but when people actually eat the cobbler after it’s brought over, silence falls all over the table. Then Rickon says that damn, the thing is good. Everyone else has to agree with it. Arya refuses to give an opinion and Theon just looks smug from that point on and gets himself a second helping.

All of that while rubbing his foot against Robb’s under the table.

Robb decides that overall it went splendidly.

--

He doesn’t really know how the three of them end up sitting on the staircase leading up to the house’s backdoor some twenty minutes later, but he doesn’t complain. The weather it’s nice, it’s a lovely night, it’s a lot quieter than the inside of the house, Theon’s on his left, Jeyne on his right and he really, really likes the feeling.

“Your family is insane, by the way,” Jeyne says quietly, but she says it as if it’s a good thing.

“Yeah, can’t argue with that,” Robb agrees. “You just have to get used to them.”

“Hey, I didn’t need to get used to anything.” Theon mutters under his breath. He still sounds smug.

“Yeah, because your family is the only one on the face of this planet that might make them look adjusted in comparison,” Robb answers him, and Theon snorts at that.

“Good point, Stark, good point. Then again, they didn’t even blink during the entire thing. Give them credit.”

“Never said I didn’t.” And Robb does give them credit. He knows that perfectly. For a moment he thinks I really lucked out, didn’t I?, and even if he doesn’t have an idea of how this entire thing is going to turn out, he decides that he really can’t bring himself to care right now.

“Well,” Jeyne says a moment later, “good to know I was worried for nothing.”

“I told you no one cares about that anymore. And after all I think that things turned out better like this. So since I was the affected part, can we just never make a problem out of it again?”

“I can do that,” Jeyne replies quietly. “And by the way, that was a mean cobbler.”

Theon’s face remains as smug as it was before, even if he also looks sort of genuinely pleased. Robb isn’t going to point that out. “Why, thanks. It’s always nice when your talents are recognized.”

“Well, I could have spilled some ten years ago if –”

No, Robb, you couldn’t.”

Robb decides that pursuing that isn’t worth it and takes a deep breath instead.

“At least it’s starting well, isn’t it?”

He totally hadn’t planned to say just that, but it comes out of his mouth without his brain giving permission.

He doesn’t expect it when Jeyne’s hand covers his. “That it is,” she replies, sounding pleased.

“At least that,” Theon mutters, and Robb hadn’t expected him grabbing his hand on the other side either. He also looks mildly embarrassed that he did it, but he isn’t moving away, so Robb counts it as a win.

And he likes that – well. This could be considered a fairly nice moment, romantic even, especially if it lasts a bit longer and it’s not ruined by –

“I told you that they were totally not lying!”

Robb tries not to groan out loud as he hears Arya’s voice coming from somewhere over his head. Someone’s probably spying them from Sansa’s window, which means that Sansa is in there, too.

“Woah. They really weren’t,” Rickon adds, totally not trying to hide his presence either.

“Why are you two bothering them? They’re just so adorable, let them be!”

Thanks, Sansa, Robb supplies in his head. A moment later he hears the sound of someone closing the window. He doesn’t know if he owes his sister or not.

For a second, there’s some seriously awkward silence.

Then. “Stark, if your sister ever tells a soul she saw us like this, she can forget the free tickets to my sister’s concert. Clear?”

Robb can’t even try to stop himself – he breaks down laughing. Jeyne does too and Theon sort of follows a moment later, and their hands stay where they are.

Overall, Robb thinks that it went great. If he’s secretly hoping that this entire threesome thing goes as well, and he knows that it’s kind of stupid, well, no one has to know.

End.

Chapter Text

Jeyne doesn’t know what she feels most ridiculous about in this entire thing. It could either be that it took her a month to come to the decision, it could be that she’s making a problem out of it or it could be that she had to call Arianne to ask her to discuss it. The jury’s still out on that. Maybe it’s that she’s making a problem out of it. Who knows. That’s why your extremely open-minded best friend can be useful to talk it out, right? Right.

She looks down at her tea and wishes that she had prepared some kind of speech, because she has no idea of how to even put it into words.

“Jeyne,” Arianne says after a couple of minutes of tea-staring, “this isn’t helping me guess what the problem is.”

“Well – that’s it, actually. It’s not – it’s not a problem. Or maybe it is. I don’t know.”

Arianne takes a sip from her coffee and looks at her as if that didn’t really make sense. And it probably didn’t.

“Right. Let’s see if we can get there. I suppose this is about your love life arrangements, isn’t it?”

“Yes. And no.”

“Very helpful, Westerling. So, is something wrong?”

“No. Actually, no. It’s all great. Everyone’s happier. I was sort of worried about Robb paying less attention to me but – that’s not happening. And – that’s what freaking me out.”

“You’re freaking out because you’re happy that you’re all better off?”

Jeyne will never not be thankful that Arianne gets this kind of thing.

“Yes. And I know it’s stupid. But I can’t – I spend hours freaking out about that and I know I shouldn’t. And on top of that there was something else I was thinking about, but I’m not even sure of it.”

“Like what?”

“Well, uh, it’s not that me and Theon don’t get along, we do, but maybe I thought I should, I don’t know, maybe spend some extra time with the guy just so that we get to know each other? Considering – well. That. But I don’t even – it’s not like we’re doing things that way, and I shouldn’t –”

“Jeyne. Slow the fuck down and drink some tea and listen to me.”

Jeyne drinks a sip tea and nods at Arianne.

“Okay. Now, I just need you to answer one question for me. Think about it. Now, when you say that you should feel bad about being glad that it’s also someone else making your boyfriend happy, it’s you thinking that or it’s your mother?”

Jeyne is about to tell Arianne to go fuck herself, why would that even be a question, but the moment she opens her mouth she can’t find the words. Because – well. Arianne does have a point. It did take her time to wrap her head around the idea of doing this three-way thing, and in the end she had gone for it mostly because having been friends with Arianne for ages has done wonders to make her reach the conclusion that her mother is full of crap about that kind of issue. Then again, she has been raised by someone who thinks that anything short of heterosexual marriage is inherently wrong.

Jeyne sighs and drinks some more tea.

“You’re right,” she admits. “It’s my mother.”

“Well, good thing for everyone. So, answer me this other question. Are you upset or angry or feeling negative towards this thing where your boyfriend has a boyfriend?”

Jeyne tries to think about it rationally and to tune out the little voice in her head saying that it’s all kinds of wrong.

“No. Actually – I’m okay with it. I’m more than okay with it. It’s not like he’s paying less attention to me, or anything of the kind. And he’s over the moon and I want him to be. But –”

“Some part of you thinks you’re a freak because you shouldn’t be happy about it. Now, there’s something your mom will never get. And that a lot of people don’t, but – while it’s not common, there’s nothing wrong with it. Some people happen to like it when another person is thrown into the mix and this third person is good for the one you like. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing your relationship badly or that you don’t care enough or that you’re fucked up in the head. As long as the three of you agree with it, then there’s nothing wrong with it. And not just for Martell standards. It’s your fucking business, not your mom’s or society’s or whoever.”

Which – yeah. Okay. Makes sense. She’ll have to work on that, but it’s nice to hear it. And she feels like an idiot for even having brought it up, but –

“Jeyne, stop brooding. And let’s go into the other thing. Which sounded very confusing when you first said it.”

“Right. Well, uh, so. As stated, we get along fine. Theon and I, I mean. But we never really talk if Robb isn’t there either. And I’m thinking that if I want this to work – and I do – maybe we should, uh, know each other better? Like, not in that sense, but – well. At least better than now. But I don’t know if I’m overstepping boundaries or something. Which might totally be the case. Shit, it’s all so confusing.”

Arianne pats her hand and takes a sip of her coffee again before answering her.

“I don’t see why you’re thinking it would mean overstepping your boundaries. Heck, it’s just normal that you’d want to know who your boyfriend is shacking up with.”

“It’s not that.”

“No?”

“It’s not for that reason. It’d mean that I’m worrying about who Robb’s dating. Or that I want to make sure that he doesn’t try to steal him over or something like that. And I’m – I’m not worried about it.”

“Well, that’s the first time I’ve heard someone say it. Elaborate. I’m all ears.”

“I’ve seen them. Also before Robb and I technically – well, did it that first time. Or when I was the only one dating him. He’s not – I know he isn’t interested in that at all. And I told you about that time when we went to lunch and I realized that – that he was in love with Robb, too. He meant it when he said that he was happy for the both of us. Him not being straight with me in this is the last thing I worry about. I just feel like we should be more than casual acquaintances.”

“Interesting,” Arianne says. “Well, that attitude will get you all far. Just so you know. That said, I don’t see what’s the problem. It’s not like you’re cheating on your boyfriend with his boyfriend if you two spend some time together.”

“It isn’t?”

“Shit, no! I mean, if he’s on board with it why shouldn’t you? Surely your common boyfriend would like it better if you two weren’t just casual acquaintances.”

“Would he? I feel like some kind of dirty cheater just thinking about it.”

“Jeyne, seriously? Do you actually feel attracted to –”

“No! I mean, uh, he’s hot, sure, but of course not. I’m not interested like that.”

“Then stop listening to your mother and spend some time with him if you want to. The middle ages are over. You can be friends with a guy even without screwing him – don’t listen to When Harry Met Sally.”

Jeyne snorts into her tea and wishes it all were so easy. But Arianne does have a point. At worst if he isn’t interested they’ll stay acquaintances. Jeyne also would really like to know why Arianne was so surprised at the fact that she isn’t jealous at all, but she’ll let that go for now. She had enough of embarrassing pep talks for the day.

--

Then again, the pep talk did clear her head enough, and since Jeyne likes to think that she’s not a quitter or someone who doesn’t come through with her resolutions when she takes them, the next time they’re at dinner at the Starks’, when Robb is helping washing dishes, she takes a breath and spills.

“Can I talk to you a moment?” she asks Theon then. “Alone.”

“Huh. Sure thing. Let’s go in the backyard, no one should be there.”

She doesn’t miss that he looks a bit worried, and she can imagine why. She just hopes that this comes through the way it’s supposed to.

“Listen, uh, I was thinking. It’s nothing bad – I mean, I don’t want to call this off or anything.”

His shoulders relax slightly at that and Jeyne will really have to think about it. “But – well. We don’t know each other very well. And I thought – if we’re all doing this, maybe we should?”

He looks surprised when she asks the question – he hadn’t expected that. It’s obvious.

“You mean, we should spend some time together without that idiot in the kitchen buffering it?”

She snorts – she wouldn’t have put it like that, but it’s accurate enough.

“Yes. I mean, uh, I think it’s safe to say that we do like each other. At least – well. Superficially.”

“Hey, I meant it that time. When we had lunch.”

“You’re not so bad yourself. And – it’s not like I’m worrying about things going wrong or anything. I’m not. But I want this to work. And maybe it’d work better if we – well. Knew each other better. That’s all.”

He stares at her for a moment and for a moment she expects him to refuse straight. But then he gives her a nervous half-smile that is nothing like the self-assured grins he sends everyone’s way.

“You got a point. Maybe we should. It’s a good idea actually. It’s not like I’m worried either but of course this’d work better if we did. Yeah. Fine. We can commiserate about Robb if everything fails.”

Jeyne laughs and wonders why she isn’t feeling slightly offended on Robb’s behalf at least. Maybe it’s because it’s obvious that Theon doesn’t mean it.

--

They end up arranging for having lunch together a couple of days later while Robb is at his parents’ discussing Sansa’s upcoming birthday party. Incidentally, it’s also Jeyne’s day off, so she won’t have to rush it.

When she realizes that she’s spent twenty minutes agonizing over what she should wear when it’s not a date she decides that she’s just having some kind of lingering freak-out and puts on jeans and the first shirt she reaches for. She gets to the House of the Undying – she’s half-sure that the owners must be speculating on why they always end up there, but it’s convenient and no one she knows has found out that they do yet, so there it is.

Theon is waiting for her outside already, reading what looks like some kind of music magazine. He hears her coming before she can say hi.

“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting,” she tells him while he puts the magazine into a backpack he had at his feet.

“Nah, I’ve been here for five minutes and I had something to pass the time. So, should we?”

Jeyne sincerely hopes it doesn’t turn out awkward – after all, the first and only time they did this, they hadn’t been both dating the same person.

It doesn’t turn out awkward. At the beginning the conversation is slightly stilted and she can’t help noticing that he tends to drum softly with his left hand on the table’s surface, but then she asks him how things are going with the second demo (which is as far as Robb told her) and that’s apparently the stroke of genius. The moment he starts discussing music he apparently can’t shut up, and Jeyne doesn’t have to pretend that she’s listening – he’s so much into it that even if she doesn’t exactly get half of the technicalities he goes into it’s not really hard to follow. After she learns that the second demo is almost done and that they just need to pick a cover to close it and then maybe they could start sending it around to publishers, that is if Robb doesn’t stop changing lyrics all the fucking time – Theon is done re-recording songs just because he decided to switch a word or two. It’s also obvious that he doesn’t really mean it when he complains about Robb’s lyrics-related OCD. Jeyne doesn’t think she’s ever seen someone be that excited about what they do in life, and then she can’t help thinking that he looks different from both the first time they had lunch together (with Robb) and the second (on their own). That first time he was charming and fun and he cracked her up half of the time, but there was something in the way he held himself that spelled clearly that he was going through some kind of rough patch. She still doesn’t know what it was about exactly, and she doesn’t ask. It seems too personal. The second time, he looked fine but somewhat tired, and right now he looks thriving.

This three-way thing isn’t making things better just for two of them, Jeyne thinks.

“Fuck – sorry, did I just go off the tangent?”

Oh, shit. She got completely lost in her thoughts and it probably was obvious that she wasn’t following.

“Oh, no, I should say sorry. Just – there was something you said that made me think about another completely different thing and I lost track. But – you weren’t. It was interesting. Really.”

“Good. Just – I tend to go overboard when I start talking about that.”

“I’d be worried if you didn’t. I mean – it’s nice to hear it when someone’s passionate about what they do.”

“It’s – it’s not just that.” He stops when he sees that their food is being brought over, and he doesn’t look as if he knows whether he should keep on or not when the waiter’s gone.

“What is it then?” Jeyne asks. She’s genuinely curious, on top of the rest. It’s not like Robb talks much about how this group thing started and it seems like a decent topic to discuss, especially since Theon looks more than willing.

“It’s that – I suppose Robb didn’t tell you, did he?”

“Not really. I asked, but –”

“That’s fine. It’s a long story, but he tends to keep his mouth shut about the things I do if he’s not sure that I want him to say it. And it goes way back.” He takes a bite from his burger. “Playing music is a family thing. Except that my relatives aren’t really into the things I am into.”

“More into heavy metal?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, your sister is pretty famous.”

He snorts. “She’s also the only one who can do decent music in there, for it being metal, but anyway, I spent a whole fucking lot of time doing that kind of music because I didn’t want to disappoint them. Not just for that, but – mostly. And it ended up being a fucking poor life choice. This thing I’m doing now with Robb – it’s the first time I actually do what I want. And I tend to get excited if I talk about it.”

“Seems to me like you have all the rights to. It’s a good thing to be excited about what you do.”

“Why, you aren’t?”

She shrugs as she eats some of her salad. “It’s complicated. It’s that – I like my job. I wanted to do it. I don’t want to change it. But – you know. Since that time when they found Robb and me in there – well. It’s not been the best workplace ever. If you catch my drill.”

He gives her an emphatic nod. “Believe me, I get it. I’ve been doing that half of my life. I mean, I suppose playing in bands where everyone sees that you’re not into it isn’t the same, but – I get it.”

“It’s just – I can’t leave because after that mess clearly everyone thinks that I’m easy or that I can’t stay professional, so I don’t really think that anyone else’d have me. But until I work there I can’t – well. Come clean about this entire thing. Sorry, you probably didn’t ask for –”

“That’s fine,” he interrupts, not unkindly. “I asked first, didn’t I? And I suppose you aren’t telling Robb any of this, because far from you to unleash his guilt trips.”

She can’t help it – she laughs at that, almost choking herself with the salad, but in the end she doesn’t and she sends a glare at him as she wipes tears from her eyes.

“Yeah. Well. Couldn’t have put it better. But next time wait until I’m done eating.”

“Well, I was saying the truth. He can get into ridiculous guilt trips.” He says it fondly, though. “I’m sorry about that though. To think that I told him.”

“You told him what?”

“Uh, the night you two met – I was in town.”

“Yeah, I remember. He left that party in a hurry.”

“And when he came back he was all ‘shit shit shit why did I even agree to that Frey marriage thing’ and he was obviously smitten and I told him that when you and him actually released the sexual tension you shouldn’t do it somewhere you could be found. He didn’t follow the advice, though.”

He’s half-smiling as he says it and Jeyne really, really has to ask the question.

“Can – can I ask you something… personal?”

“About that? Shoot.”

“You were – I mean, you were already –”

“Pining hopelessly for his lovely honorable face? Yeah. And I had been for longer than that.”

“Then why – why would you even tell him to go for it with me?”

“For one, I found out that he wasn’t one hundred per cent straight the day he came on to me. I never even suspected he could be bi, so why the hell would I make things awkward? As far as I was concerned he’d be extremely nice while saying no and I’d have spent the next six months dying of embarrassment. For two, back then – let’s say that I wasn’t in for that kind of thing. The last thing I needed were emotional breakdowns.”

He takes a breath and eats the last of his burger, and Jeyne doesn’t press.

“Third, it was plain that he liked you a whole lot, and from what he said you seemed a lot nicer than most of his previous girlfriends, and I just knew it was going to happen because I know him. He wasn’t going to leave it alone even if he tried. And – since I thought I didn’t stand a chance, then why shouldn’t I want him to be with someone who’s actually good for him and vice versa? Most people say that I’m a jerk after talking to me five minutes, and I don’t blame them, but I’m not that kind of jerk. And that was probably too much information, wasn’t it?”

He looks like someone who has spilled more than he thought he would, but Jeyne is – she’s actually pleased. She did the same before, and they’re actually having a serious conversation which isn’t awkward at all and is actually making her understand a lot of things about how those two work, and that’s exactly what she hoped would happen.

“No. Actually, thanks for being straight with me. For the record, I didn’t think you were a jerk when I met you the first time.”

He snorts as he puts down his coke. “Well, don’t tell anyone, but I was making an effort.”

“You were what?”

He shrugs. “I don’t usually give a shit about what people might think of me at the first glance. I stopped bothering years ago. But the first time I was paying attention to what I was actually saying. You know, I didn’t want you to think that the guy you liked had some insufferable best friend coming with the package. Then – okay. He probably figured that out for himself but this stays between the two of us, all right?”

“Sure.”

“When he broke out that news about getting engaged I wanted to punch him in the face. Like, what the fuck are you doing, you know? It’s not like I thought I’d have half a chance but if he had to be with someone else at least it should be someone he liked, right? Or someone that wasn’t out of a freaking arranged marriage. I’ve spent months hoping he’d break it off. And while I’d have liked it better if it had ended in different circumstances… after that I was just hoping he’d stop beating around the bush and call you.”

“Really?”

“Told you. I’m the kind of person who tends to think that when you can have something nice, you should get it. So don’t ask me why I didn’t go for it, since as stated I didn’t know I could. And – well. When we were in high school, all of his girlfriends hated me.”

“They did?”

“Yep. Like hell. If they saw me in the hallway they’d glare. Once one of them stopped me in the middle of it and told me that it was ridiculous that whenever she and Robb couldn’t go on some date I was always the reason. One called it quits because she liked him so much but she didn’t understand how he could stand me. Let’s not get into what Roslin Frey probably thought. Or her dad, shit.”

Jeyne keeps her mouth shut. Right. Nothing good, from what she knows.

“So well. I was trying to make a good impression since most of the time I scare people off.”

“It didn’t look like you were putting on a show.”

“That’s because I stopped after you laughed at some crappy joke I wasn’t planning to make. Congratulations about that, by the way. I know exactly two people who appreciate that kind of humor.”

“Why, there’s one other than Robb?”

“His brother. Rickon, I mean. At least someone in there has some hope to turn out well-adjusted.”

Jeyne laughs again, thinking that she really shouldn’t, but she can’t help it.

“Listen, at this point I think I owe you some information,” she says then, figuring that since it’s going well she might put the entire jackpot on the table.

“What?”

“Well, uh, this is going to sound awkward, but I told Robb and I figure I should tell you just for being straight. I’m not sure I’d have wanted to give this three-way thing a try if it had been someone other than you.”

“Sorry?”

“I mean that – when I thought about it, I also asked myself what I’d have done if it’d have meant bringing another woman into the mix. And I answered myself that I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Then I asked myself if I’d have shared with – well. Other people. And the answer was always no. But when I got back to would I share with you then the answer was yes. So – well, when I asked you last night if we could speak alone you looked worried and – you shouldn’t be. Really.”

There’s something strange in the way he looks at her at that. Surely he hadn’t been expecting it. He’s also looking kind of pleased to hear it. And there’s something else that she can’t place, but it’s nothing bad. It doesn’t look like that anyway.

“Okay. Good – good to know. Then again… I think we’re on the same wavelength here, or aren’t we?”

“The Robb Stark wavelength?”

He laughs again, and why is she thinking that he’s kind of cute as he does it?

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s accurate.”

“We are then.”

They get dessert without much more conversation, but Jeyne thinks that it’s gone a lot better than it could have. And – well, if she had any doubts about this, they’d be gone by now. The notion that either of them would step on each other’s toes seems ridiculous, and after all they’ve had a good balance until now, so why should things go wrong? It was nice to hear it out loud, though. And there’s also the point where she feels kind of pleased that she was the one bringing the three-way thing up. Which hasn’t exactly occurred to her before – at the beginning she had gone with it because it seemed a better idea than risking the whole ‘blowing up in everyone’s faces’ thing Arianne had pointed out, and because she really didn’t mind sharing with Theon out of anyone. She also knows that Theon wouldn’t have even thought about it, now that he confirmed it, and Robb, knowing him, would have never done that anyway. And it turned out to be a better option, so – well, she can feel good about it, right? At least she isn’t freaking out about it anymore.

Which is a good thing. They said it out loud, the awkward moments will probably be over from now on, she has some insight into Robb that she didn’t have before and to be entirely honest she doesn’t usually spill her problems out to people she doesn’t know very well. She wouldn’t mind being friends with Theon, really, and why not? They’re on the same wavelength, after all, and they’re not in some kind of contest.

So when they’re done she asks him whether he’d like to do it again.

She’s kind of surprised when he agrees without blinking.

--

So they do it again. After the second time, which by the way goes as well as the first except with less personal talking (but then they did enough of that the first time) Jeyne figures that she should just tell Robb – just in case. So the next time they’re out she breaches the subject as they stand in line for some ridiculous action flick she can’t even remember the title of (then again Robb did bring her to see Titanic all over again, so she can take one for the team).

“Uh, listen, I don’t know if Theon told you but –"

“You happen to have lunch together sometimes?”

“I suppose he told you then.”

“He did.”

“I just – you don’t have a problem with it, right?”

He looks sincerely puzzled at that. “No. Why should I?”

“I – I don’t know. I just thought I’d ask.”

“Well, no. Really. Actually – it’s great. I mean, uh, why should I have a problem if you two get along?”

Now that he’s saying it, it sounds like a completely dumb question.

“I – you know what, you’re right. I was – I don’t know what I was thinking but I shouldn’t have even worried about it. That’s fine. And go grab the ticket for this godawful thing.”

“If it’s really godawful, it’s not like I’m picking the back row for nothing.”

Well, that’s a prospect Jeyne is totally happy with.

--

Once that is out in the open, too, it doesn’t become exactly usual, but they’ll meet up without Robb in between at least twice a week. Sometimes it’s for lunch, a couple times it’s breakfast, another time Theon agrees to help her shopping for Sansa’s birthday present (her fault – she ended up doing it at the last minute and Robb was too busy with organizing the apparently-ridiculous-huge-party with Jon when he isn’t recording stuff with Theon). He makes her swear that she’ll never tell a soul that after every idea the both of them had failed they both ended up in a Victoria’s Secret shop, and who knows what did the salesperson think when she saw the two of them looking at matching pink lingerie sets. Then again Sansa loves it and everyone thinks that it was just Jeyne’s choice and they’re happy enough to leave it like that.

Jeyne also would really ask Sansa why she kept on sending dreamy looks at her brother whether he danced with any of the two of them, but she doesn’t think it’s the case, so she doesn’t. She’s too worried wondering why when she glanced at Robb and Theon trying not to fall on each other’s feet (after Sansa told them that they should totally re-do their performance from Theon’s birthday party, and Jeyne should really ask about that) the first thing she thinks is well but aren’t they adorable.

She tries to channel her inner Arianne Martell and tells herself that it’s normal. Not common, but normal.

--

Meanwhile, she spends most of her time wishing that she could just fucking resign and move out of the apartment upstairs from her parents’. Which is nice and cheap, and it’s not like she makes these great wages even if she works for one of the richest men in the country, but it means that somehow her mother always knows when she gets back home or when she goes out. And she doesn’t know how long she’ll manage to keep hidden the fact that she’s in a relationship with Robb – the fact that she could do it this long is already a miracle. On top of that, the more time passes the more she wishes she could strangle half of the people she’s in contact with – most of the players keep on joking whenever she’s touching any of them (jokes of ‘can’t I get the Robb Stark treatment’ kind), the other four therapists keep on looking at her like she’s some kind of pariah and whenever the owners visit during practice she feels like she’s going to faint just from how the atmosphere becomes heavy. Except when it’s Tyrion Lannister, but he doesn’t deal with the football team, so he’s almost never the one.

Jeyne can safely say that since Jaime Lannister left home everyone related to him has been sulking or looking sour or downright murderous. But she can’t even wish that he’d come back if only for her own peace of mind on the workplace because from what she sees of him – and she does see a lot of him if she drops by at that bakery Robb can’t help recommending left and right – he’s doing a lot better than anyone in his family right now.

Not to mention that as she told Theon the first time, that thing with Robb in the changing room probably has fucked up her CV – she isn’t sure that she’d get hired soon if she were to just leave.

Not that she regrets it – it was the both of them and at least she kept her job – but still, it’s a problem.

Clearly she doesn’t tell Robb, because as stated the last thing she wants is for him to feel guilty about it when it was the both of them being idiots, but it’s also obvious that she isn’t getting any pay rise this year (unlike the other four therapists).

And if her mother asks her again when is she planning to settle down with a nice man Jeyne will probably do something not advisable and scream in her face that she is dating someone who is also dating another guy and won’t she just leave it?

Obviously she doesn’t, but she doesn’t know how much longer she can take it.

Then one evening she’s supposed to go have dinner at the Starks’, but both Robb and Theon had to be somewhere because they’re printing the second demo and have to supervise it and so they said they’ll get there together but not to wait up, and she’s done working earlier than she should have been.

So she calls the landline and asks if it’s a problem if she’s there earlier – if she drops at home she’ll never manage to leave in time.

Catelyn answers that of course there isn’t, she had everything done one hour ago anyway and no one is in the house for some miracle, so it’s fine – they can keep each other company.

When Jeyne gets there, they have some late tea and spend five minutes making small talk – mostly about Robb – until Catelyn clears her throat before looking at her in the eyes.

“Can I tell you something?”

“Why – of course, Mrs. Stark.”

“I told you, call me Catelyn. And – well, it’s not my business, of course, but you look a bit tired. And Robb did tell me that he noticed that too, lately.”

She knows – he has asked her, and she always said that there was just a lot happening on the job, but without telling the truth.

“Well –" she starts, planning to lie her way through it, but Mrs. Stark – pardon, Catelyn – is looking at her as if she’s really interested in it and it’s not like her mother asked her anything like that, lately. “It’s just that things at work aren’t… really ideal.”

“Meaning?”

“I’m still there because the owner owes my father some favors, I guess, but the atmosphere is… bad. The next time some player asks me if he can finish what Robb Stark started I’ll probably punch them in the face.”

Catelyn does look outraged at her behalf, which makes Jeyne feel slightly better. “And – well. It’s all small things, but if I could go somewhere else I’d take the opportunity in a heartbeat. But I’m not sure I could at the moment.”

Catelyn nods and seems to be thinking for a moment, then she looks back up at her.

“I think I could help you with that.”

“You – you could?”

“Well, I suppose Robb never told you what my surname is, did he?”

“Uh, I’m not sure. No, I don’t think so.”

“He probably thought there was no reason. Okay then. Now, I didn’t end up married to someone named Stark for mere chance. I’ve always been in the same circle.”

“You mean –"

“My father used to own a football team as well. Before he died. And it’s Catelyn Tully.”

“Wait. Tully as in – as in the Riverrun owner?”

“Exactly. It’s a long story – I should have married Ned’s brother, we met at some Riverrun/Winterfell game years ago, but that’s not the point now. The point is that right now my uncle is the one managing the entire team. And they need a new physiotherapist since someone either resigned or moved city, I can’t remember. I can call him and ask him if he’ll interview you.”

For a moment Jeyne feels completely out of her depth.

“Are – are you sure? I mean, uh, I didn’t ask around also because I’ll admit that the whole changing room failure was not exactly professional, but –"

“Jeyne, I can assure you that the only thing my uncle cares about is your resume. You could have slept with the entire team and he’d still take you if you were good. Should I call him?”

Maybe it should have taken her more than three seconds to think about it.

But she’s really fucking tired of Lannisport.

“I’d be grateful,” she answers, and she has an interview three days for now. They agree not to tell Robb anything in case it doesn’t go well or whatever, but Jeyne really, really hopes it does. Because if it does she can at least come clean about her current relationship and she’d work better and maybe she wouldn’t have to feel like she has her job just because someone owes someone else.

--

It happens that Catelyn was right. Brynden Tully doesn’t mention the changing room debacle once, reads through her CV carefully, asks her about her job experiences – he’s obviously trying to see if she knows what she’s talking about. Which is good to know – paradoxically, it’s a relief to be sure that he won’t hire her just to pay his niece a favor. Then he asks her if she can go down to the practice for two hours with him to see how she is on field and if the players like her, and she agrees.

Four hours later, she has a contract in front of her, starting a month from now (she has to resign from Lannisport, after all).

The moment she’s out, she calls Robb’s cell, but it rings until it goes to voicemail. Weird. She calls the landline instead, and Theon answers after a couple of rings.

“Hey,” she says. “Is Robb there?”

“Er, technically. He has his head deep down in straightening out the wires in the studio. And he’s been shouting at me for an hour because I should clean behind the speakers. He probably has a point. Anyway, I can go get him in a moment.”

“Oh. Okay. But at this point I might tell you as well.”

“What?”

“That I quit Lannisport. And in a month from now I’ll be working for his mom’s uncle.”

There’s silence on the other side of the line for a moment.

“Well, fuck, that’s big. She told you or something?”

“Yeah, when we went to dinner there last week. I was there earlier, she told me they were looking for a therapist and apparently he thinks I’m good enough for the job. So – well. I can’t wait to resign properly.”

“Congratulations then. Actually – okay, wait a second, I’m going to get Robb.”

She waits for at least a couple of minutes before Robb grabs the phone. He pretends to be pissed that he wasn’t told, but then he starts laughing and tells her that of course he’s happy for her, and you know what, she should drop by their place in two hours. He refuses to elaborate and so she ends up agreeing without knowing what he’s planning.

When she gets there, she meets Theon on his way out.

“Where are you going?” she asks.

“Oh, nowhere special. Anyway, when you’re up, remember that the only thing Robb did was setting the table.”

And then he’s gone towards his car and Jeyne doesn’t still get what is going on. When she arrives upstairs, though, and closes the door, Robb calls for her and tells her to go to the living room.

Where she finds a table made for two, with freaking scented candles in the middle and a small bundle of flowers on one side – she supposes it’s hers. And the smell coming from the kitchen is heavenly.

Then Robb comes out of it with a bowl of pasta with clams and mussels, which is sure is what she had the first time they had dinner at the House of the Undying.

He’s also wearing a light green shirt that does absolutely nothing to make her wish she could throw him against the bed right this moment, but that’s another point entirely.

“What – what’s this?”

“He said we needed to celebrate. I said I’d order from somewhere and he looked at me as if I was a very pitiful person and said that he was going to handle it. And – uh. He did handle it.”

“Did he cook us dinner?”

“And dessert. And then he said to wreck my bed.”

“Oh. Wow. Well, dinner does smell delicious.”

“You didn’t see the blueberry cobbler,” Robb replies before putting the bowl on the table. “That said, I tried to tell him that he didn’t need to go to my parents’, but he kept on saying that it should be you and me and I couldn’t convince him.”

Which – well. It kind of makes Jeyne feel slightly bad – he could have stayed for dinner. It’s not like he had to leave.

She can tell him next time, she supposes.

“So, I guess we should at least honor the effort and avoid leaving him leftovers for tomorrow?”

“I like the way you think.”

The dinner is excellent. And the blueberry cobbler is indeed heavenly.

And they do come this close to wreck Robb’s bed. Jeyne decides that this day goes down in history in the top ten of the best things that ever happened to her, no doubt about it.

--

Then two days later she wakes up in the morning to a text from Robb. That was sent… at three AM. Saying I might have gotten into a fight but I’m okay, will explain you later, don’t freak out when we meet this afternoon.

He got in a fight? Why would that even happen? Seriously, Robb is – the last person between everyone she knows who she could imagine getting into some kind of fight. And why should she freak out when she sees him? She tries to call his cellphone, but it’s shut off – well, if he sent that at three AM he might be sleeping it off. Which is why she’s hesitant to call the landline. After all they are meeting this afternoon and if he sent her the text he’s obviously fine enough, so maybe –

Her cellphone rings and it’s Theon.

Well, maybe someone will actually explain this to her.

“Yes?”

“Oh. Hi. Did I wake you?” He sounds agitated.

“No. No, I woke up a while ago. Listen, there’s this text from Robb –”

“Yeah. Right. That was what I was calling about.” He takes a breath and there are a couple seconds of silence. “Listen, I just – can you come over? Like, now? Don’t worry, the idiot’s fine – he’s sleeping it off but I think he crashed at some ridiculous hour in the morning so he’ll be out for a while. And I don’t think I can have this conversation on a phone.”

It sounds strange, but then again it’s not like Jeyne has anything to do. She handed in her resignation letter, everything’s done, she just needs to wait three weeks before she starts at Riverrun and she has the entire day free.

“All right. I’m coming over. See you in half an hour?”

“Right. Thanks. Really.”

He closes the call before she can say you’re welcome and Jeyne doesn’t really like how clipped his tone sounded. She resolves to worry when she actually gets there and puts on some clothes before going out of the house. Thankfully no one hears her going downstairs – good, because the last thing she wants is break out the news that she quit now.

She’s at Robb’s place in some forty minutes and Theon is waiting outside the apartment’s entrance. He looks like someone who hasn’t slept much and who has barely thought of brushing his hair, not to mention that his shirt is inside out.

“Are you all right?” She asks the moment she sees him.

“Uh, not – let’s say mostly. Listen, you mind if we go up to the roof? I don’t want to risk waking him up.”

“Sure.”

She follows him into the elevator (and he’s drumming his fingers against the mirror in it) and then up to a staircase until they’re on the roof. He closes the door behind him and leans against it, taking a breath.

“Right. So, sorry for this entire thing. It’s just – it’s complicated. And he doesn’t need to hear it. Just in case.”

“Sure. So, uh, what happened?”

“What did he text you?”

“That he got in a fight.”

Theon snorts, and there’s nothing amused in it. “Understatement. He got into a fight with a convicted criminal.”

“What – why? How would he even –”

“It has to do with me.”

He looks at her, as if he’s waiting for her to flee or send him some kind of disgusted look, but she won’t cast stones until she hears the whole story and he obviously sees it. He gives her another nod and then takes another deep breath, as if he’s bracing himself.

“So. Okay, this isn’t a conversation I was planning to have anytime soon but I suppose that you’d have found out at some point. When you met him at that charity thing and I called him, what did he tell you when he left?”

“That – that you were having a rough time?”

“It wasn’t a lie. The rough time was because I had pressed charges against said convicted criminal. For sexual assault.”

Jeyne goes completely still at that – she had no idea that it was what rough time had meant, not to mention that what was in the scandal press back then wasn’t exactly rich in details, and for a moment she can’t even think of anything to say that doesn’t sound condescending or too personal or –

“That’s fine – don’t walk on eggshells. It was a long time ago. And it stopped at the assault part – I mean, I managed to run away before it got too bad. Still – he wasn’t – let’s say we were involved. It was more a no strings attached thing, but we had been for a year. Let’s say it’s was a fucking poor life decision.”

She gives him a nod, moving slightly closer to him.

“Anyway, while he didn’t manage to go the whole way, as stated, I walked out of it with some broken ribs, a good number of bruises and – well, he broke one of my fingers in three places.”

Jeyne thinks she could vomit, but she just swallows and doesn’t interrupt him. It’s obvious that it’s taking a lot to get this out.

“And when you two met, it was right after the trial. Let’s say I wasn’t coping and let’s call it a day. Whatever, point is, the piece of shit got enough time in jail and at least I didn’t have to freak out every time I left the house. He had a restraining order before, obviously, but you never know. And really, I got over it. Mostly. So, anyway, that was what happened then. Yesterday – we were at Robb’s parents’ and at some point Jon calls Robb, and Robb looks like he might be sick. Then he says that he has business to do with his brother and he’ll be back at some point and then he looks at me saying that for fuck’s sake I’m forbidden to get out of the house tonight. It was weird but then he left before I could ask for explanations. So I stay there and I wait for news until sometime around one Jon calls me and tells me I have to bail the idiot out.”

Bail him out?”

“Yeah. I ask what happened, he refuses to answer. So I go to the police station and he looks – shit, he looks horrible. He has a black eye, dried blood all over his mouth and his chin and there’s some serious bruising on his cheek, and I’m freaking out but he won’t tell me what’s going on either and downplays it. When we got home he went to take a shower and I called Jon again because like hell I was going to sleep without knowing what the fuck went down.”

“Did he tell you?”

“I tried to shame him into it. It worked. So – the aforementioned piece of shit – okay, Ramsay, apparently there was some kind of attempt to break out in the prison he was in and he tagged along. I have no idea of how Jon was warned, maybe because when I pressed charges he was the one I did that with, but anyway, he called Robb to tell him not to leave the house and not to let me do it. Which was absolutely reasonable. And then Robb decides to go fucking help him. I lost half of the details because I was too pissed off, but whatever, apparently Robb was with Jon and his partner in the car while they were checking out the area, saw someone trying to get away in a small alley, he recognized him and instead of, you know, warning the two trained policemen in the car…”

“… he went out himself?”

“Yeah. Jon said that when they reached the two of them most of the deal had gone down already. As things are, Ramsay is going to stay in a hospital for three days before they ship him back to jail, but since you know, you aren’t supposed to beat people to death when you’re a policeman and even more if you’re not, he spent two hours in a cell. Which is the least. He deserved it.”

“But – he’s fine, right?”

“Yeah, he won’t look very pretty for the a while but that’s it. Except – fuck, that idiot. It could have gone a lot worse and he’s just – I don’t know if I want to strangle him or the contrary.”

“Worse?”

Theon takes another breath and Jeyne can’t help noticing that the more time passes the paler he gets.

“I told him about what happened. But I never told him something specific about it because I didn’t want to make him worry more than he was worrying already. It’s that – there was a moment, before I tried to fight back and at least I managed that – when I thought that he was going to kill me. Either then or… after, but he was. And that scared me shitless and made me act, because I wasn’t going to just let him, but he would have done it.”

He doesn’t say anything else after that, but Jeyne doesn’t really need that said out loud.

“That didn’t happen, though.”

“No. No, it didn’t. But how do you think that knowing it could have happened is making me feel right now?”

Jeyne has no answer for that. The only answer she can provide is awful at best, and of course he would. And he said he was mostly over it, not over it.

“Horrible, I guess. But it’s not your fault. You know that, right?”

“In theory. But then I start thinking that maybe if I hadn’t been stupid enough to get into anything with that creep in the first place –”

“Stop that. You can’t seriously be blaming yourself.”

He snorts again, and it’s nowhere near amused, again. “And at least it turned out well. And – clearly he’s all like I’d do it again. Of course he would.”

And that doesn’t surprise Jeyne at all. It sounds like typical Robb Stark. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Yeah, I wasn’t either. But – shit. And he wasn’t planning to tell me. I can’t – I get it, but still. Maybe I’d have liked to be warned. Just a thought.”

“Do you want me to rip him a new one about that?” He’s right, actually. In his place, she would have liked to know.

“Well, not a bad idea. Sure. Maybe if someone other than me makes that clear he will get it.”

He still looks like a bundle of nerves ready to snap, though.

Jeyne wishes she had something meaningful to say, but she hasn’t even been up for two hours and she hadn’t expected to start the day like this. And she isn’t even sure that he wants to hear sympathies – he doesn’t look like the kind of person who would.

“Did you eat anything this morning?” She knows it’s an abrupt question, but it’s enough to startle him.

“Huh? No. Not really.”

“Well, I think that right now you need some ridiculously caloric drink. And possibly something equally caloric in your stomach. There’s a Sunspear shop on the other side of the street. And from what I gather he isn’t waking up anytime soon.”

“So what, should we just go have breakfast?”

“Why not? You look like you need it. My treat.”

For a second she expects him to say no. But then he shrugs and curls his left hand into a fist – now that she notices, he has a finger bent kind of wrong.

“You know what? Good idea. Let’s go. I’m starving.”

She knows it’s not the end of it and she’s planning to at least talk about it during breakfast, but at least he’s not looking that stiff right now.

That said, she is going to rip Robb a new one. As nicely as possible.

--

He was hungry indeed, she finds out after they get their orders. He comes back to their table with a ridiculously huge frappuccino that looks loaded with extra coffee and extra dark chocolate and with a piece of peach pie that make her coffee and blueberry muffin order look meager.

“You weren’t lying before,” she says after she takes a sip of coffee.

“I haven’t eaten since yesterday evening and I’ve slept four hours. As long as I keep it down, it will go down.”

She’s kind of worried about the as long as I keep it down, but when he doesn’t run towards the restroom after two bites of pie and a quarter of his drink, she figures it’s not going to happen.

Still, she doesn’t miss that his hand is still drumming nervously against the table. And he doesn’t miss her noticing – when he does, he shakes his head and moves his hand under the table. Probably on his leg.

“Sorry, I know I look like a nervous wreck.”

“That’s – that’s fine. I mean, I don’t know what I’d be doing in your place.”

“Yeah, well, I should be over it. Fuck, I thought I was over it until yesterday.”

“You don’t have to be over it.” At least that’s something she can safely say. He shouldn’t feel like he has to be over it, especially considering what he told her earlier.

He looks about to answer when his phone rings. He looks at the screen and groans loudly, as if he was hoping not to be called by whoever that is. Then he sighs and answers, sending her an apologetic look.

“What do you want?” he asks into the receiver without even saying hi. He’s also doing nothing to hide the fact that he doesn’t want to have this conversation. “Oh, fuck. Listen, this is not the right moment. I can’t be worrying about what you think of what I’m doing. I have more important – yes, there are more important things I have to worry about. No, no, I don’t give a fuck about the family reputation. When your fan club asks you about it just lie and say I’m a distant cousin, it’s not like they’d know. And no, I’m pretty sure that my sister isn’t feeling ashamed of me right now. No, I’m not coming home. Not today and not this week and possibly not this fucking month, I have a demo to sell. Yes, with Robb Stark. No, I still don’t care. You call me again, it’s going to voicemail.”

He closes the call at that, and he looks as if he’d like to crawl into his bed without leaving it for the next year.

“Well, that probably sounded psychotic.” He’s trying to joke, but it falls flat.

“Not as much as you think. Family drama?”

“They found out about my little pet project. Or well, one of my uncles did, but before midday everyone else will know. And they’ll try to talk me out of it and I won’t even listen to them. Considering that I fell into a thing with the aforementioned psychopath also because he was the singer of a group they approved of, they couldn’t have picked a better day.”

He finishes his frappuccino, there was just a sip left, and the moment he puts it down on the table the phone rings again.

He ignores it.

“Your uncle?”

“The second one. I’ll be damned if I answer that. And just – it’s not even ten AM and I ended up piling a bunch of crap on you which you didn’t even ask for.”

“That’s okay. If it consoles you, I get the whole family thing, I do. I mean, the moment my mom learns that I’m dating Robb is so not going to be pretty. Let alone telling her that he’s dating you, too, but I’m not sure I’ll go into it at once.”

“Why, not a progressive person?”

“Hey, I’m still supposed to be a virgin according to her.”

“Well, that’s fucked. And Robb’s the antichrist?”

Jeyne almost spits the water she had been drinking in his face.

“It’s – well. Pretty accurate, actually.”

“Fuck, the mere idea of Robb being the antichrist is so hilarious I could weep.”

He’s right. The mere idea is making her want to giggle until the day after tomorrow, but before she can get into a laughing fit Theon’s phone rings. First he glares at it, but then he sees the name on the screen and his eyes go soft at once and Jeyne can guess that the not-antichrist might be the caller.

“Hi. No, I didn’t go destroy something just so that I wouldn’t punch you. I just told your girlfriend the news and since you were out we were having breakfast, but we’re like in front of the house. Yes, at the Sunspear. Do you want me to bring you something upstairs? What? Okay, suit yourself. But at least put on some sunglasses. Yeah, okay, we’ll be waiting then.”

“He’s coming here?”

“Yep. His funeral. Whatever, I’ll go get him breakfast. He always takes the same thing whenever he’s here, anyway.”

He comes back five minutes later with a normal coffee and some cream and sugar to put in it on the side and a couple of integral muffins, and he’s half-smiling as he puts the tray on the table. They seriously have something in common if just thinking about Robb Stark improves their mood instantly – and the thing is that Jeyne doesn’t feel like it’s a bad thing at all.

Then Robb gets into the store and heads for their table.

“The fuck happened to you?” She almost shrieks, because – well, not going into the still split lip and the fact that his cheek is a very interesting shade of burgundy, when he takes off the sunglasses he looks like some Fight Club extra.

“Didn’t he tell you? And is that breakfast?”

“Don’t say I never did anything for you, Stark.”

“I’m touched, you don’t even imagine.”

The thing is that Robb doesn’t sound like he’s making a joke – he sounds like he utterly and completely means it. And then he sits down and presses a kiss to Theon’s cheek as if he didn’t even think twice about it, and then he empties the cream packet into the coffee and drinks half of it at once.

Jeyne does not point out to Theon that he’s kind of blushing. Or that it’s kind of adorable.

--

That said, she does rip Robb a new one. As gently as she can. While she puts ice over his cheek and eye because he hadn’t thought about it yesterday. And since she isn’t interested at all in going back home – she’d really rather not confront her mother – she ends up staying at Robb’s place well after lunch. She hadn’t thought that she’d end up thinking well, they’re kind of adorable more than once that day, but – she does. And it’s not even relationship stuff – for some unspoken reason, the three of them are keeping things very much PG-rated and there isn’t any obvious kissing or touching or groping going on. It’s just the way they act when they’re in the same space, and she’s never been around the two of them long enough to notice it. Now that she is, she can’t help seeing how obvious it is that they’ve known each other forever, and it’s not just the teasing. And that it’s obvious that they’re tuned to each other – she doesn’t miss Robb more or less subtly touching Theon a lot more than usual, or that Theon stopped reminding Robb of how stupid he was last night after Jeyne had stopped torturing him with the ice bags. She also doesn’t miss that he cooks for lunch stuff that she knows Robb likes.

Some part of her brain is telling her to just quit it with the bullshit and start feeling jealous or outraged or anything. But it’s a minority. The majority, other than being settled on the adorable, is more on the ‘please tell them to go on’ side. She doesn’t do that, fuck no, but apparently she has to come to terms with the fact that she’s not going to dislike this fact that her boyfriend has a boyfriend anytime soon.

Let’s not discuss the part where said boyfriend’s boyfriend can cook a mean chili.

She ends up leaving in the afternoon, after forcing Robb to swear that if something like that ever happens again he will make his qualified brother go first. Theon still looks like he could do with a week of uninterrupted sleeping, but nothing as bad as this morning, and she manages to go home without contact with her parents. Good, because the news regarding her job is bound to come out any day and if she can postpone that moment, she will.

--

She wakes up at seven in the morning with a gasp and flushed cheeks, not to mention that her underwear is wet in a way it hasn’t been since she was fifteen.

Her hand is also slightly trembling and she thinks she really needs to talk with Arianne before she starts freaking out all over again. Then again, it’s seven AM. Then again, it’s a weekend, and Arianne Martell never sleeps on weekends. She sleeps on Sunday night.

She presses the call button before she can think about it twice.

“Westerling. You know what time is it?”

“I do, and I knew you were awake anyway.”

“Touché. Something I can do for you?”

“I might be quietly freaking out.”

“What happened? Something wrong with –”

“No. No. It’s – uh. I had a dream.”

“That isn’t helpful.”

“A nice dream. Of the long and specific kind. That leaves you very sexually frustrated when you wake up.”

“Right. And I suppose it wasn’t about you and your boyfriend, or you wouldn’t be calling me now. Was about that you and his boyfriend?”

Jeyne wishes it was. It’d have been a lot easier.

“No. Actually – uh – it was – the both of them. I wasn’t anywhere in the picture. Except watching.”

From the way she’s breathing, Jeyne knows that Arianne just became about one hundred per-cent more interested.

“Now that’s interesting. So, let me fill the blanks. You had a long, nice wet dream where your boyfriend and his boyfriend were up to I suppose quite kinky things, your freaked-out mind woke you up before they could get to the real business, and now you’re ridiculously turned on and feeling guilty because that was something you hadn’t thought would happen?”

“… that’d be the gist of it.” She knows that she sounds mortified, but how the hell should she sound?

“Stop sounding like you did something horrible. Hey, it’s a confirmation that you’re healthy, for one.”

“I’m what?”

“Jeyne, if there’s nothing wrong about straight men watching lesbian porn, then there’s nothing wrong about straight women thinking that two guys doing it is hot. You’re totally allowed to be turned on. I mean, from what I’ve seen, I’d totally pay to see that for real.”

Arianne!

“Right, right, sorry, just if you allow it.”

Jeyne groans. As if. It’s not like the three of them are a thing as – as a thing where three people are all involved. “Fine, and even if it’s normal that I find it hot if two guys do it in front of me, which I hadn’t even thought about until tonight, what about the fact that – Arianne, I didn’t have a random dream about Brad Pitt and George Clooney doing it. It’s not the same thing!”

“No, it isn’t. And good for you, because you can’t exactly go and ask George and Brad if they’d let you watch.”

“What?!”

“Jeyne, it doesn’t take a shrink. Now, just hear the facts out logically. You said you wouldn’t have been okay to share with another girl or with anyone else but Theon, right? Which means that at least superficially you don’t dislike this guy, or you wouldn’t have been fine with it. Then, you actually do it and everyone is happier etcetera. Also, I suppose you have spent some time with the two of them while they were in the same space, and you obviously aren’t jealous or you wouldn’t be turned on. Not to mention that from what I gather you’re in good enough relations with Theon. Did I get anything wrong?”

“No.”

“Logical conclusion: you’re at least intrigued by this whole my-boyfriend-has-a-boyfriend thing. Now, the first time I asked you, you said that –”

“That Theon was hot. So what? It’s a fact.”

“Who says? I know a lot of people who think that Brad Pitt isn’t hot. What matters is that you think he is. Conclusion: you’re totally curious about what your boyfriend and his hot boyfriend do in their spare time. Who knows, maybe he’s curious about what you and Robb do in your spare time. And since I would like to think that you’re also attracted to your boyfriend, your subconscious is just sending you a nice message.”

“It’s… telling me that I like them both.”

“Not necessarily. You could like the idea of them both without necessarily wanting to screw one of them. I mean, I’d totally pay to see Brad and George do it, but I wouldn’t do it with George. Brad’s more my type.”

“And that’s normal.”

“Perfectly. I mean, even if it goes nowhere, it’s not like it’s happening for real. If I’m allowed to fantasize about Brad and George why shouldn’t you be allowed to do it about those two, also because you know that it, like, actually happens?”

The way she puts it, it seems just so neat. Then again, she has an idea that Arianne’s little cousins, and with little we mean from five to eight years old, could explain you what informed consent in sexual situations means better than professional counselors.

“But… I’m not cheating?”

“Is Robb cheating on you?”

“No! Of course he isn’t.”

“Well then, until you and his boyfriend start going at it without him knowing, you aren’t cheating on anyone. That said, you could ask them.”

“The fuck? You can’t be saying –”

“Westerling, Westerling, stop channeling your mother. There’s absolutely nothing outrageous in that. Unless they both don’t agree, of course, but nothing stops you from asking.”

“You mean I should walk up to Robb and tell him that hey, I was wondering, would you mind it if I watched you and Theon having sex?”

“Exactly. Hey, it’s a kink. Some people like it.”

“Arianne!”

“Jeyne. Go back to sleep, stop freaking out and think about it. And remember that fucking is not a crime. Regardless of what your mother thinks.”

Arianne hangs up and Jeyne decides that maybe she should just follow the advice. At least the first part of it.

--

Three hours and one cup of coffee later, Jeyne isn’t exactly feeling any less confused about it – Arianne tends to forget that things aren’t that easy sometimes. And she wishes she was the kind of person that takes it in stride when this kind of thing happens, but she’s not there yet. Still, she can hear very clearly Arianne saying that she should ask to watch them, and – well. Shit. She can feel a rush of blood going under her waist just at the thought. She tries to think about it in detached terms. Would she still find it hot to think about the two of them together if she didn’t know them personally? Probably she would. Even without taking the whole involvement factor in, they would look hot together. They already do, and while they do completely mundane things – let’s not get into what they were doing in that dream of hers tonight.

Fuck. It’s not even been a year since I had sex for the first time and now I have fantasies about the two of them? Smooth, Westerling, very smooth. Arianne would say that she’s a quick learner. Jeyne doesn’t know about that, but she knows that if her mother had an idea, she’d be having a heart attack or ten.

She grabs her cell and texts Theon – no point in asking Robb how he’s doing. He’d downplay it.

The answer arrives a couple of minutes later. That bruise on his face is going to stay purple for a fucking long time. Other than that, annoying as usual.

And how are you doing? She texts back. She’s kind of concerned, truth to be told.

Fine. Now that you’re asking, even better. ;)

Is he flirting with me? She thinks the moment she receives it. And then she realizes she’s smiling to herself.

Well, even if he is, she isn’t exactly minding it. It’s probably all in good fun – she has this idea that he’d shoot himself before doing it seriously.

Damn, this is confusing.

--

Jeyne manages to ignore the elephant in the room for the next five days or so. She pretends to go to work (she knows it doesn’t say great things about her, but the last thing she needs is family fighting, not that she doesn’t know that she’s just making things worse by postponing it) and takes some time for herself. She meets up with Arianne, she accepts an invitation for some high school reunion dinner for the first time in years (since working took up most of her free time until now), she gets started early on birthday presents and in the late afternoon she always ends up dropping by at Robb’s. She doesn’t go during the day because she knows that they’re putting the finishing touches on a third demo and since they can’t exactly do concerts with the condition Robb’s face is in, they’re trying to wrap it up. And she doesn’t want to be a further distraction – she knows there are distractions already. But since it’s not like Robb feels much like going out at all she ends up being there most evenings. Theon ends up hanging around at least during dinner after she insists – she really doesn’t feel good about it whenever he says he’ll spend the night somewhere else – and makes himself scarce after saying that he has to rehearse songs anyway while they have some fun.

Which is good enough, really, even if something doesn’t exactly click in this entire mechanism. Jeyne has no idea of what is missing, and she has too many other things going on to put that on top of her problems. And then she goes home late enough to avoid talking to her parents.

It works until they find out.

--

She doesn’t know why she calls Robb and not Arianne, who’d be more than happy to offer her a couch.

Then again, she’s not thinking clearly.

When Robb answers, he sounds out of breath and Jeyne is almost tempted to hang up and call Arianne because seriously, of course she had to pick a bad moment, but she can’t exactly do that.

“Jeyne? Is there something wrong?”

“Uh – let’s say that my parents know that I quit. And that I’m seeing you.”

“Something tells me it didn’t go well.”

“Something tells you right. Listen, uh, I really can’t be at home tonight, and maybe I should have called Arianne but –”

“Hey, that’s fine. You want to come over? I mean, uh, the space is there.”

“Are you sure? Really, I can ask her if –”

“Jeyne. It’s fine. Just come over, okay?”

She still thinks that she has totally interrupted something, but the alternative is Arianne’s place and Arianne’s place is never calm. Or quiet. If it isn’t her cousins or her brothers it’s someone else, and she really isn’t sure that she’d get any privacy. So she breathes in and drives toward Robb’s and tries not to think about the insults that just went down with her parents. At least she can postpone that until she parked the car.

She grabs a small backpack she filled with clothes she grabbed in a haste, knowing that she wasn’t going back home for at least a couple of days, and walks up the stairs.

When she knocks on the door and Robb opens it, she has the confirm that she did interrupt something. His shirt is pulled upside down, his cheeks are lightly flushed and Theon’s hair is completely disheveled. But neither of them looks upset at least, and she takes care not to mention it because seriously, no.

For a moment after Robb closes the door no one says anything.

“I think you look like you could do with some tea,” Theon says a beat later. “Don’t, I’m going to get it.”

“You don’t really need to –”

“Nah, don’t worry. I get how it is.”

And then he’s gone towards the kitchen (in bare feet, she can’t help noticing), and from the look he sends at her before leaving she knows that he gets it.

“You can sit, you know.” Robb’s voice sends her out of her reverie and she nods, putting the backpack against the wall and following the advice. She almost cries when he sits next to her and puts an arm around her shoulder.

“Thanks,” she manages to say. “I just – maybe I should have told them before. Postponing is never a good thing.”

“That bad?”

“Well, they found out that I quit from the team’s manager. Not from me. And – that wasn’t really the best way to start the conversation. It was totally useless to point out that the job I’m getting now pays better and is less stressful. And – at some point I might have told my mother that she can’t control my life and that I can make my own choices, and she asked something like what choices and – I kind of screamed in her face that I was dating you. That – didn’t go well.”

“I suppose I can’t charm her out of it?”

She laughs a bit, leaning against him and wishing it were that easy. “No. Without discussing my reputation, I think that hers just spiraled down. Not that I give a damn. She can work for Tywin Lannister as long as she wants, I can’t go along with it just because she thinks I should.”

“Sounds reasonable to me,” Theon says as he comes back inside the room. Other than some tea that smells very good, he’s also bringing along a piece of some leftover peach pie that smells better than the tea. I could kiss him, she thinks, and then wishes she could punch herself in the face because that so was not the right pun.

At least she didn’t say it out loud.

“Thank you,” she mutters as she grabs the tea and takes a sip. Nothing to say. It’s excellent tea.

“That’s nothing. Hey, I know everything about your family not wanting you to date him. You’re a liferuiner, Robb.”

“Oh, shut it. It isn’t my fault if your father is an idiot. And it’s not true, anyway. Your sister totally loves me.”

“My sister doesn’t love you. Though I suppose that she approves of you, which is probably a miracle.”

“Considering you’re talking about your sister, if she approves then she loves me.”

“You wish. Anyway, before he completely put me off track, I was being serious.”

Jeyne takes a bite of pie and decides that they can stay off track forever. At least they’re distracting her.

“Nice to know I’m not the only one.”

“Yeah, apparently we lucked out. Any sane family in this country would cry of joy if he was the guy their sons or daughters brought home, and we totally got the only two ones who wouldn’t.”

Jeyne almost spits the tea in his face, and Robb sends Theon a not-so-horrible glare while he pats her back as she coughs, while she also tries not to laugh hysterically.

“Will you stop embarrassing me? Not even if I was the kind of guy people talk about wanting to meet on Cosmopolitan.”

“Because you are the kind of guy women talk about on Cosmopolitan, and the fact that you even brought it up first should make me run for the hills. Anyway, that’s not the issue. Listen, uh, maybe it’s better if we all sleep on it and we discuss it in the morning? You two can just go to your room, if –”

“Hey, no,” Jeyne interrupts him without even thinking about it, and a second later the two of them are looking at her and oh, fuck, she should have thought it out. Oh well. The dice are thrown, right?

“It’s just – uh – this is going to sound so embarrassing, but – you don’t really have to… I mean, er, I know that I probably… interrupted you when I called.”

“That’s okay,” Theon says. “I told you I get –”

“Yes, fine, but – it’s just that – oh, damn. Okay, listen, I appreciate that you want to give us some space, but you always do that and I wasn’t really thinking when I called. And – if you were – I mean, I can just take Robb’s room or the couch. Or whatever’s free. That’s fine. It was your night after all, I’d kind of feel horrible if – well. That.”

She’s perfectly aware that it really didn’t make much sense. Shit, why can’t she channel her inner Arianne right now? That’d have been a good moment. Not to mention that Theon looks like he had expected anything but that.

“Are you sure? I don’t mind. Really. That’s okay if –”

“No, no, you’re already giving me the couch, I’ll be fine. Really, I’d feel bad.”

“But it’s fine, you don’t need to.” She’s getting half-frustrated here. Robb is looking between the two of them like he can’t believe this conversation is actually happening, which – well, she supposes that it’s strange when someone who’s sleeping with you begs someone else to sleep with you without saying it out loud.

That’s so ridiculous that she wants to laugh.

“Well, this is surreal,” Robb mutters under his breath, and a moment later there’s nervous laughing that starts from him and passes to the both of them.

And then – Jeyne doesn’t even know what possesses her to say it, but. It might be a combination of frustration at herself, frustration at her mother, Arianne sounding particularly reasonable while she discusses her subconscious and a huge need to just think about something else that isn’t her parents.

“Can I ask you something? The two of you?”

“Sure,” Robb answers.

“This is going to sound ridiculously inappropriate. And out of place. But – I was thinking – maybe we can settle it another way?”

“Meaning?”

“I – I could watch?”

For a moment, there’s pure silence. Not to mention that she didn’t sound half as sure of it as she’d have liked. Not to mention that she doesn’t even know why the fuck did she even ask that right now.

“You mean,” Theon starts, “you mean, watch us? In the very kinky sense?”

“Er… yes? It’s just – I might have been kind of curious about it. And I don’t even know why I’m bringing it up now but – if you’re not okay with it that’s fine, of course. It’s not like I even know entirely what I’m thinking.”

A moment later, they turn to look at each other.

“Can you wait a moment?” Robb asks her after a couple of seconds.

“Oh. Sure.”

“Good. Kitchen?”

Theon nods and follows him into the kitchen before closing the door. They speak in hushed tones, and she doesn’t really get much of it, even if she does hear something.

… would you…

… that’s fine. I mean, why not? It’s not like…

… sure of that? Don’t feel like … don’t have to, if…

A couple of minutes later, they walk out of the kitchen and go stand in front of the sofa.

“Okay,” Robb says first, and Jeyne doesn’t think she heard right.

“O-okay? You mean –”

“That’s fine. I don’t mind. And I think he minds even less than me.”

“Hey, it’s a perfectly legitimate kink,” Theon protests. “But really, that’s cool. Just one thing though. You want to just watch or you think you might want to take a one-time offer and join? Because I’m fine with that, too, but in case –”

She doesn’t even let him finish. She doesn’t even think she could take joining right now. “Don’t worry. I’m – I’m kind of beat, anyway. I don’t think I could even if I wanted. And I already interrupted once.”

Robb sends her a look that obviously says say another time that you interrupted and I’m going to cry and look like a kicked red kitten and it’ll be all your fault, and she doesn’t try to reinforce the statement.

“Well then,” he says. “His room. Then – uh, when it’s over, you can just use my bed?”

“Oh. Sure. Great.” This is so surreal, she thinks she’s going to faint. And Robb probably notices it.

“Right. Listen, let’s do it like this. Just – go to my room, bring your stuff, put on something comfortable and come to his when you’re done while we, uh, go discuss a couple things. We’re going to wait, okay?”

“That’s – that’s good. I can do that. See you in a few then.”

Robb gives her a nod and then both he and Theon disappear into Theon’s room, and Jeyne is this close to hyperventilating and she doesn’t even comprehend what the heck she just asked. Or what they agreed to.

--

She puts her backpack against the wall in Robb’s room after taking a pair of pajamas out of it. She puts it on, figuring that if she has to be comfortable she might go the whole way. And then she can’t help it – she calls Arianne.

She needs to talk to someone, okay?

“Jeyne, what –”

“Hey. Listen, I really don’t have much time, so. This is a shortened version. My parents found out about the job. And I might have told them I’m dating Robb.”

“That didn’t go well, I suppose.”

“No. I’m – I’m at Robb’s right now. But – er, let’s say that when I got there it was obvious that they were up to other things.”

“Kinky things?”

“Maybe? I don’t know. Anyway, uh, we were discussing about who was going to stay with whom and it was getting embarrassing and I might have asked them if we could settle the entire thing by – by just making me watch. While they. You know. And they actually agreed and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.”

“Woah. Hey, hey, slow down. You said they agreed, right?”

“Yeah. They’re in the other room. Probably getting back into the mood. I don’t –”

“Jeyne. Calm the fuck down. Now, I need you to take a deep breath and stop thinking that you just did something very perverted. Then I need you to go there and sit back and enjoy the show.”

“Enjoy the show?”

“Why, how else would you call it? You have two extremely hot guys going at it in front of you, sure thing you should enjoy it.”

“I’ll die of embarrassment.”

“Trust me, after five minutes you’ll forget what embarrassed means. Oh, and tomorrow, I want details.”

Jeyne stares at the screen of her phone saying the call has ended and takes a deep breath. Right. It was her idea. She can do this. And if they said yes, they aren’t exactly being coerced into it.

Okay. Good. She takes another deep breath and gets out of the room.

--

When she’s in front of Theon’s room, she takes a moment pondering before knocking on the door – it seems ridiculous but better to be sure.

“Come in,” Robb answers, and she does.

For a moment she’s half-relieved that only a bedside lamp is on – if it had been lights on it’d have been a hell of a lot more embarrassing. She can’t make out anything more than bookshelves full of LPs, a (fairly large) bed and an armchair in front of it, which – well, is quite convenient. She won’t have to get a headache over where to sit – said chair is at a reasonable distance from the bed, but still near enough that she’ll be able to see most of what there’s to see. Meanwhile, Robb and Theon are both on the bed; they still both have their shirts and their pairs of old, soft jeans on. When she gets in, Robb has his back to her, his hand on Theon’s shoulder, while Theon is with his back against the headboard and they’re apparently having a conversation, but low enough that she can’t hear any of it. So she closes the door and stays there – it’s not like she’s moving forward if she isn’t told that she can.

“You can come over, you know,” Theon says from somewhere in front of Robb and she does, her bare feet quietly padding over the worn out carpet on the ground until she’s sitting in the armchair, one leg bent towards her chest.

She takes a better look at the two of them, noticing that Robb has both his knees around Theon’s legs even if they’re not doing anything yet, and that – well, it doesn’t surprise her because what does she know, but for some reason she had thought that Theon would be the one on top. Or at least her subconscious did, since that was how – yeah, right, not going there.

It doesn’t change the basic fact that the sight isn’t making her jealous at all. And they do make a gorgeous picture.

“Should we –” Robb starts, and she startles out of her daydream.

“Right. Sure. Whatever you’d do if I wasn’t here.”

“Kinky,” Theon mutters again, but he doesn’t sound very displeased. Good. She really hopes this doesn’t end up being uncomfortable.

“Shut it,” Robb says, not unamused, and then he leans down and kisses him.

In her dream, if and when they kissed, it was a messy, quick thing that seemed like some kind of contest, and that was hot, but that’s not how it goes. They kiss slow, easy, Robb’s hands on Theon’s face and Theon’s fingers curling in Robb’s shirt, nothing like what she had imagined, and – and it’s even hotter than what she had dreamed about. Not just because she’s here and she can hear all the muffled, small noises and moans the both of them are making as they kiss, but because it’s so painfully obvious that they care for each other even beyond the making out.

Which isn’t getting any less interesting, by the way. The moment Theon slips his tongue into Robb’s mouth it becomes slightly more heated and a whole damn lot deeper, and when Robb moans into Theon’s mouth loud enough that she can hear it, her first thought is I’m glad that he’s getting this from someone else when it’s not with me and – her mother would be horrified. But she’s not, and for fuck’s sake not, thinking about her mother.

Robb’s hands move down to Theon’s shirt and he tugs it up – Theon moves his hands away from Robb’s back long enough for Robb to take it off and throw it on the side of the bed. At that point Theon pulls off Robb’s shirt as well – inside out as it was, it takes him seconds to undo the few buttons left to undo – and she can’t help noticing that he avoids touching another dark bruise on Robb’s shoulder. Which is less visible than the one on his cheek, which has abandoned burgundy to turn into a less worrying shade of purple, but still.

Somehow, she isn’t surprised when Robb starts working on Theon’s jeans and pushes them down and there’s no underwear under. She’s slightly more surprised when Robb gets rid of his own and he has no underwear either, but then she realizes that if she had interrupted before maybe they dressed up in haste and didn’t bother with that. She knows she’s flushing, and she’s also moderately thankful that neither of them seems to be paying attention to her or noticing. Because that’d have been embarrassing. And maybe awkward.

Back on point, now they’re both naked and maybe it’s just her perception, but the moment she takes a good look at them, she thinks that the temperature in the room raised a whole lot. And it’s ridiculous, because for now they’re just touching, and from what she sees they’re both half-hard bu not there already, and she can’t be hyperventilating when they’re barely even started. Except that apparently she is, and she’d better come to terms with it.

Meanwhile Robb has his hand wrapped around Theon’s cock, his fingers stroking slowly, but he’s in some kind of weird position – Jeyne doesn’t know why he’s half on the side rather than just staying on top, but she can worry about logistics later. It’s their business after all. She doesn’t know if Theon is moaning low in his throat because he’s keeping himself from being too vocal in her presence or whether it’s just the way it is, but the sight is still making her lips go dry. Theon’s right hand is fisted in the sheets, while his left is grabbing at Robb’s hair, and he’s telling Robb to stop being a fucking tease.

Robb completely ignores the protests and starts rubbing his thumb at the head of Theon’s cock, and by now neither of them is half-hard anymore and Jeyne can positively feel her cheeks burn. On one side she feels like she should close her eyes and look away, but on the other she can’t. She can’t stop looking at the way Robb’s free hand first runs against Theon’s side before settling on his neck, his thumb rubbing a circle at the base, while Theon brings his head down so they can kiss. Not the refined kind of kiss, it’s open-mouthed and kind of sloppy but Robb is moaning into it as well and she just can’t look away.

Then Robb moves his hand away and leans down, still staying at that random-looking angle – he has one leg in the middle of Theon’s knees but not the other one, still half on top and half not, and then ohjesuschristalmighty he’s rubbing his erection against Theon’s and Theon is cursing a whole lot and Robb’s other hand is cradling the back of his head as they kiss each other again (and she can see tongue) and Jeyne doesn’t know that she’s pressing her legs close together until she’s doing it so hard that it aches.

She can’t help noticing that this thing here is different from both her dream and what goes on between her and Robb, but it’s not the latter that is making her feel surprised. She doesn’t know why she had assumed (at least) that they’d do this a lot more roughly and that Robb wouldn’t be on top for it, or that they’d be a lot louder. But apparently she had it wrong all over the line. Robb is still more or less on top, Theon looks absolutely not interested in changing it, there’s no screaming going on and there’s nothing rough about the way they’re moving.

“You’re killing me,” Theon sighs (but it was a very pleased sigh) while Robb keeps on with the ridiculously slow motions. Not to mention that she can see that they’re both hard enough that they’re leaking and now she knows that her face is literally on fire.

“Drama queen,” Robb replies before moving his hand downwards again and wrapping it about the both of them and giving it a firm, long stroke that makes Theon moan very loudly and – she can’t take it anymore.

She’s glad, really, that they aren’t looking her way, because the last thing she thinks she wants is to be seen with her hand below the waistband of her pjs. But – it’s too much. She’s not a saint and she’s definitely not about to try and be one now, and she almost sighs in relief when she presses her fingers against her wet underwear.

Fuck.

Enjoy the show has an entire new meaning right now. Meanwhile, Robb reaches over for the nightstand’s first drawer and grabs a tube of something without even looking – right. Right. Lube. He opens the tube using one hand and then manages to put some of it on his fingers without having to move the other one.

“You want to turn over?” Robb asks, and for a moment that strikes her as weird too – from the little she knows of this, it’s not the question you usually ask at this point.

Theon seems to be thinking about it for a moment and then he gives Robb a nod. “As long as you make it quick. Fuck. You’re a sadist.”

“Well, you’d be lying if you said you didn’t like it,” Robb answers, his voice so low that it sends a shiver through Jeyne’s spine, and then he moves on Theon’s side and they flip over, Theon with his knees around Robb’s and Robb leaning up against the headboard. A moment later Theon leans down, his head against Robb’s shoulder. Robb asks him something, but it’s a whisper and Jeyne can’t hear, and Jeyne thinks Theon’s nodding, and – and then Robb puts some more lube into his fingers and pushes two of them inside Theon at once and Jeyne bites down on her tongue because she’d have moaned out loud right along with Theon if she hadn’t. In the position she is she can see the entire thing perfectly and before she even knows it she has her fingers inside her probably ruined panties, and touching herself is a relief but not enough. Still, she just wants to hold on until she can get to Robb’s bed because she isn’t bringing herself off right now, and then Robb’s fingers are sliding in and out and Theon is still cursing against Robb’s neck. Robb’s free hand is buried in the hair at the back of Theon’s head and carding through it and for a moment Jeyne wishes she wasn’t there because that looks pretty fucking intimate and she’s not sure she should be there to see it. Except that her blood is not going towards her brain right now, and she couldn’t close her eyes even if she wanted.

When he pushes in the third finger, Jeyne thinks she’s going to faint. She can’t see Theon’s face but from the way he moves his hips to meet Robb’s fingers she thinks that he has no issues with the way things are going.

“Robb, the hell is with you today, just get on with it –”

“Patience,” Robb cuts him before taking his fingers out. Theon leans back a moment, looks down and hisses when Robb tugs at his hair sharp enough to stop him. “You’re not pulling that stunt again. Go slow, damn you.”

Go slow…? Jeyne wonders for a second. But then – oh. Right. Of course. Apparently they’re doing this – well, not the way it’s usually done. Or so she thinks. Theon lowers himself down on Robb’s cock and apparently that was what Robb meant with going slow. Since he is doing it – well, it’s not painstakingly slow, but he’s obviously forcing himself not to go down at once.

Jeyne’s mouth is completely, utterly dry.

Robb’s hands go towards Theon’s hips when he stops because he can’t go further. Theon’s back is plastered in sweat and he’s breathing slow and deep, his hair falling all over his face, and he’s still for now – probably getting adjusted? Jeyne doesn’t know, but she sees that one of Robb’s hands is splayed on the small of his back.

“Tell me when –” Robb starts, but then Theon shakes his head.

“Now. Whenever you want. Just – just go,” he blurts, his voice almost a rasp, and then Robb start moving and Jeyne is glad that her hand was already in position because she can’t not touch herself at this. Robb’s hips thrust up the moment Theon tells him to, and then Theon is meeting each thrust with not much faltering, his arm around Robb’s shoulders while Robb’s head is hidden somewhere against his chest. And then Robb starts going faster and Theon starts moaning out loud (so he was trying to keep himself quiet before), and all that comes out on Theon’s mouth is yes, there, please, fuck, Robb. She can’t hear whatever Robb’s saying because he has his mouth against Theon’s shoulder, but she’s sure it can’t be that different. And then Robb thrusts up harder, Theon lowers himself down with a single, deep shove and then his shoulders are shaking and ohdearhe’scoming and then Robb lets out a moan loud enough that it can be heard even if it’s muffled, and he’s arching up and no, Jeyne thinks, whoever thinks this kind of thing is disgusting has it all wrong because it’s the hottest thing she’s ever seen in her entire life. She has to start rubbing herself at least enough to ease the burning pressure and resist the temptation to just shove a couple of her fingers in and be done with it, but seriously, she’s going to wait for that. Theon’s shoulders are shaking a lot less now, and she can’t take her eyes off the scene as he moves upwards so that Robb can pull off him before crashing down on the mattress against Robb’s side. The two of them are panting by now, sweaty hair plastered to both of their foreheads. A moment later, Robb turns towards her, squinting his eyes, and she hopes that her cheeks aren’t ridiculously red as she sends a small smile his way before nodding and standing up. Robb nods back and turns his head back towards Theon, and the last thing she sees before leaving the room is Robb moving away strands of hair from Theon’s forehead.

The moment the door is closed, she runs towards Robb’s room and takes off her pajamas. Thankfully the bathroom is right next to it. She pulls off her definitely ruined underwear, runs the hot water and gets under the shower and the moment she’s under the warm water she stops stalling. It doesn’t really take much – she can’t remember the last time she was this wet, damn, and she’s going to have to think about it. She’s clenching around her own fingers not long after she starts the shower, and it just takes thinking about the last three minutes in the other room to make her come with a not exactly dignified moan that she hopes was covered by the running water.

When she gets out of the shower, she feels almost drained. She dries her hair as fast as she can, puts on a clean pair of panties before doing the same with her pajamas, and when she gets into bed she can still feel her cheeks burning hot.

She sincerely, sincerely hopes that it doesn’t make things awkward in the morning.

And the worst thing is that if asked whether she’d be up to do it again, she’s probably say yes without blinking twice.

--

When she wakes up it’s ten AM and she feels – well. Good. Still sort of embarrassed if she thinks about the night before, and definitely tired, but – apparently the previous night’s activities have also left her feeling quite sated and a lot less inclined to care about her own embarrassment. All things considered, it could have gone worse. She goes to the bathroom, washes her face and puts on some comfortable clothes, and then she leaves the room, not knowing what she should be hoping for.

Well, surely no one is practicing – there’s no sound coming from the former spare room turned studio. Or coming from Theon’s room. She goes straight for the kitchen, craving some coffee, and she ends up in front of a very much shirtless Theon who’s apparently unloading the dishwasher.

“Oh, you’re up,” he says nonchalantly, and Jeyne doesn’t know how he’s even doing it. “Robb’s out, apparently there’s something he needs to straighten out with his brother. About that time he went to jail, I mean. But he should be back before lunch. Do you want some coffee?”

“Right. Yes, thanks. That’d be lovely.”

“No problem, I was about to make myself some, anyway. And this doesn’t have to be awkward, you can stop looking at the tabletop.”

Jeyne knows that she’s blushing when she looks up at him. “It’s just – I still don’t know what possessed me to ask that. I’m sorry if –”

“Don’t even go there. If I hadn’t wanted to, I’d have said no.”

“You really don’t mind?”

He shrugs as he fiddles with the coffeemaker. “Not really. And – well, when I’m into it, I really don’t register anything else. Someone could have started playing Metallica in the next room and I wouldn’t have noticed, and as stated, I didn’t care about being watched either way. What can I say, I have lax boundaries.”

Jeyne tries not to blush harder. Awesome, Westerling. For the love of everything, try to be a bit smoother.

“Oh. Good. I’m coming off like some kind of prude, don’t I?”

“Considering that you were the one suggesting it, I’d say that you aren’t. And if you feel like returning the favor…”

“Seriously?”

“Why not? I get the appeal. But I was joking, you don’t have to.”

He hands her the coffee then, and she already feels better smelling it. “Still, thanks.”

“Enjoyed the show at least?”

Jeyne, miraculously, does not spit her coffee on the table. “What?”

“Hey, it’d be a blow to my ego if you didn’t.”

What is my life? she thinks.

“Well then, I did.”

“That’s good to know,” he replies as if he’s actually very pleased to hear it, and – okay. Good. Not awkward. Doesn’t have to be. And he doesn’t look like he’s lying. Jeyne also does not need to think about how nice to look at his back is when he’s not wearing a t-shirt.

It’s normal. You can be attracted to other people even if you’re in a relationship. It’s not like you have to act on it. She doesn’t want to act on it. It’s just evident.

Except that you usually don’t feel like this when it’s your boyfriend’s boyfriend.

And still, she wouldn’t do things differently if she could go back to last night.

--

Robb gets back home one hour later or so, and Jeyne doesn’t know what to expect. She’s just hoping that it doesn’t have to be awkward for a second time, but Theon makes himself scarce with an excuse about needing to tune some guitar or whatever, which at least means they don’t have to do the entire thing where the three of them are in a room and no one knows what to say.

Robb sits in front of her at the kitchen table and takes off the sunglasses – at least the black eye isn’t looking terrible anymore. His cheek still does though.

“So, about last night,” she starts. “Uh, thanks. Really. I just hope it wasn’t too weird.”

“Not really. I mean, I wasn’t expecting it’d end up in that, but it wasn’t weird. Seriously, he was more into it than me, and I think it showed that I was into it.”

“Oh. Good. I just – I didn’t even know I was going to ask until I did. And – gosh, I’m overblowing this, right?”

“Maybe some,” he chuckles. “But I get it. I mean, you don’t even know how much I did the same thing before we started this whole thing. Maybe we should just stop worrying until someone has real issues.”

“Right. Sounds – sounds pretty reasonable. And – listen, do you want me to call Arianne? Yesterday I just didn’t feel like braving her place, also because it’s a week-end and she probably had company, but –”

“You don’t have to. I mean, if you want to then sure, but – we did sort of discuss it. Yesterday. Or this morning. The details are kind of hazy. But I mean, if you want to stay for a while you can. And we can – er. I suppose we can do arrangements.”

Jeyne suddenly has a very sharp picture of she and Theon working on some kind of timetable where it’s stated whose turn is it to share the bed that evening and she almost starts laughing hysterically, but she manages not to at the last second.

“I suppose we could. Right then. If in two weeks I didn’t solve the situation with my parents, we can talk about it then. Is that fine?”

“Sure. And – right, listen, we need to go talk to some people about possible gigs next month. When hopefully I won’t look like I just tried to run for the lightweight championship. If you don’t want to waste time here or if your friend is busy you could drop at my parents’, I’m sure –”

“Oh, that’s fine. Really. I have to sort things out and try to see if my dad will answer the phone and the likes. Just go do your thing, I’ll let you know if I’m going somewhere.”

He nods, and they kiss not-so-briefly before he leaves the kitchen and calls for Theon saying that he should hurry up, they can’t be late. When they’re gone, Jeyne fixes herself another cup of coffee and decides that she should just worry about one thing at a time.

Most urgent, see if her parents have come around. Whatever the outcome is, call Arianne before her head explodes. Sounds like a plan.

--

Ten minutes later, she knows that her parents are not coming around anytime soon.

It’s not like she had thought that they would do that quickly, but it takes five minutes of conversation (mostly on her mother’s side) to make her close the call without even saying good-bye and while her mom was talking – not that Jeyne was hearing much of it, anyway.

Jeyne calls Arianne and they agree to get lunch together and maybe do some therapy shopping later, and then she shuts off the cellphone completely – it’s not that she’d answer if anyone related to her called, right now, but it’s better not to think about it in the first place. They go to lunch at the very first Sunspear shop that ever opened (then Arianne says that she isn’t sentimental. Yeah, right), and Jeyne derails the conversation from the my parents kind of hate me right now to well I’m staying at Robb’s, which was probably a very bad idea because then Arianne wants details and Jeyne isn’t even sure that she’s ever going to be able to put it into words.

“It was – it was hot, okay? I can’t really go beyond that.”

“Just hot?”

“Fine, no. It was the kind of hot that fries your brain circuits. Satisfied now?”

“Not really. Do you think you might film them next time?”

Jeyne pretends to throw her tea at Arianne’s face and then she answers no way as she laughs herself silly.

Fine, if this is supposed to be distracting her, it’s working.

--

She goes back home with – well, the results of what seems more like compulsory shopping born of OCD rather than therapy shopping. She definitely didn’t need three new pair of shoes, a new dress and new jeans, but it’s not her fault if it’s sales season and if Nymeria Sand’s boutique is full of lovely things. And if Nymeria always insists on taking ten percent off her purchases.

Also it’s not her fault if just talking to Nymeria makes you want to go buy even more clothes and that while she pretends to be in some kind of contest with the shop in front of hers for who has the shiniest shop window, she actually approves of what it sells – mainly, men’s clothes from the same brands that she sells. It’s run by some family friend of theirs named Gerrold Dayne – actually, Jeyne thinks that he’s Arianne’s friend with benefits, but she never dared asking. And Nymeria isn’t beyond closing her own shop for half an hour just so that she can give her advice on what to get Robb.

She ends up getting him two silk green shirts of different shades from the one he already has – yes, fine, green looks great on him, so what? – but then she decides that she needs to get Theon something, too.

“I mean,” she explains when Arianne looks at her questioningly, “it’s also his house. And I mean – it kind of seems rude that I’m getting myself half a new wardrobe and I’m getting Robb stuff and I’m not even getting him a thing.”

“Sure,” Arianne says, and Jeyne knows that she is keeping something for herself. “Sounds very reasonable. So, you two, do you have any suggestion?”

Clearly both Gerrold Dayne and Nymeria start sort of arguing – someone with dark hair should wear dark colors, he says, while she’s outraged because that’s exactly why they should wear light, and after five minutes Jeyne goes rummaging through a row of clothes that obviously belonged to collections that have all been sold. There isn’t one item that has a matching one, not even two different sizes. And then she sees a leather jacket at the back of the row. She takes a look at it – it’s nice, not too flashy and without any of the usual studs. Well, it doesn’t look like the kind of leather jacket anyone would wear in a metal group, if anything. And the size is just about right – Theon is more or less the same as Robb, maybe a bit slimmer, but that jacket would definitely fit Robb, so it’d fit him. She looks at the price.

Apparently it’s a real bargain – it was in last year’s winter collection and by now it has 75% off.

Jeyne smiles to herself and buys it. She is resolutely not thinking that Theon would look good in it.

Nope. She’s not. She’s really not.

--

“Did Christmas come early?” Theon asks when he walks inside the living room. Oops. Jeyne had arrived five minutes before the two of them were back and she hadn’t managed to bring her bags to her room yet.

She smiles sheepishly. “No. I just needed to let off some steam.”

“Well, woah,” Robb whistles. “Then again, Sansa used to do worse.”

“Gosh, the nightmares. At least those bags aren’t pink,” Theon comments.

“Yes, and I also got you two something,” she interrupts.

“You didn’t have to,” they answer at the same time, and then she can’t help it – she’s laughing harder than she has any right to. It was also their matching expressions, but she just couldn’t stop herself.

When she’s more or less done, she shrugs and hands the two of them their respective bags. Which are smaller than hers, but then again she didn’t re-do half of their wardrobe.

Robb opens his first.

Theon looks down at the shirt with a look of approval. “I vote that she goes buying your clothes from now on,” he says casually.

“I can buy my own,” Robb replies defensively before shaking his head and kissing her. “Thanks. I suppose it’s also a hidden suggestion that I should wear more green?”

“You did everything yourself,” she replies, failing to sound anywhere near innocent.

“And you shouldn’t just ogle at my shirts,” Robb says after, glancing at Theon.

“Right, right, let’s see. And hey, it’s not my fault if green looks good on you.”

He takes the jacket out of the bag, and a number of things happen.

First: his eyes go wide as if he had been expecting something a lot less formal. Okay, not that it’s formal, but it’s still not in the same league as a ten pounds t-shirt.

Second: it’s obvious that Robb is totally thinking that he’d look hot with that on.

Third: Jeyne is finding herself in agreement with it.

“Wow – that’s gorgeous,” Theon finally says after a good amount of staring. “Are you sure? I mean –”

“I think you should not say what you were about to say and put it on,” Robb interrupts him.

“I think he’s totally right,” Jeyne chimes in – she likes that approach.

Theon shrugs and puts it on.

Jeyne is pretty sure that her lips go dry at once – it fits him like a glove.

It’s normal, she thinks to herself. It’s normal. He’s an attractive guy wearing something that suits him. It’s normal. You don’t have to feel bad about it.

She isn’t sure that it’s working, but when Theon thanks her again he really sounds like he’s flattered, and she has to fall back on the obvious ‘it was nothing, really, and you’re welcome’.

When he gets out later saying that he’ll leave the two of them alone since it was his turn yesterday and all, he keeps the jacket on.

The thought makes Jeyne extremely pleased for reasons she isn’t sure she wants to know.

--

During the following week, nothing exactly huge happens. Every attempt of Jeyne’s to talk to her parents ends up going abysmally bad, but that’s no news. No one needs to write charts in different colors to declare who sleeps with Robb (thankfully) – both she and Theon unspokenly seem to agree that it’s one night for each of them and they don’t even discuss it out loud once. Arianne keeps on giving her those looks that say I know something you don’t – that’s no news either. She starts to work again and it feels amazing – when no one has implied that she’d give out sexual favors to whoever for three hours straight she almost wants to weep in joy. The only thing of import that happens is that she doesn’t see either Robb or Theon for five days straight because they had ended up playing at some kind of folk festival that one of Theon’s uncles had recommended – from what she gathers, it was a bust or a poor excuse for a folk festival. The one thing she knows, since they both refuse to talk about it in detail, is that they had ended up singing a song about two krakens hooking up in a Scottish lake – someone put a video on youtube and Sansa had been quick to link it to the facebook page. Jeyne had thought that it was adorable, but they both seem to be about to die of embarrassment whenever she mentions it, so she doesn’t ask for further information.

Two weeks have almost passed when shit does, in fact, go down.

The day when it happens, she comes back home exhausted – for some reason she was more tired than usual today, and covering for another therapist who had to leave two hours before the end of his shift for some kind of family reason hadn’t helped. She’s relishing the idea of getting some tea and curling up on the sofa, maybe watching some mindless tv. Also today it’s her turn, which means that she’s most definitely looking forward to some quality time with Robb – not that the day before yesterday was bad, mind it – and that’s when she walks into the house and finds Theon sitting at the living room table with his had between his hands and the most dejected face she’s seen on anyone lately.

“Hi,” she says quietly. “Did – did something happen?”

“Let’s say that I might have come out to my dad. About this thing with Robb. Accidentally, mind it.”

Jeyne feels a pang of sympathy. She’s suspecting that she can relate to it.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

He snorts. “Not much to say. A month after my uncles find out that I’m in a band with Robb he finally shows up to complain, and it’s not like I was up for letting him win it.”

“Wait, he was here?”

“Long gone,” Theon replies before taking a drink from an already open beer bottle. “There was arguing. Which most probably upset half the neighbors. Among said arguing he mentioned that I’m still living with Robb, at which I clearly couldn’t stop myself from replying that it might be because I’m dating him, which I definitely should not have said. At which there was even more arguing, and then there were doors slamming. Whatever, I knew that it’d go bad the moment it was out in the open.”

She takes a seat at the table, as well.

“Believe me, I get you. My mother didn’t make too much noise because clearly the neighbors shouldn’t hear it, but she wasn’t much more supportive. Except that she keeps calling to ask if I’ve changed my mind.”

“Good luck to her. I’m suspecting it’s going to be hard.”

“As hard as changing yours, maybe?”

“Point taken. Shit, I have a headache. Shouldn’t have screamed that much.” She can believe it – he sounds hoarse.

“Listen, do you want to switch tonight?”

“What?”

“Well. Uh. It’s not like we ever said it, but in theory – this evening, you know. But I’m thinking that you might want to switch. That’s cool. Really.”

His eyes go wide when he gets what she’s hinting at.

For a moment she’s sure he’s going to refuse – he has the same expression he has whenever he refuses to stay for dinner if it’s just her and Robb.

“Would it be?” he asks instead, as if he’s almost ashamed of having asked it.

“Sure. I can wait a day, you know. And –”

She never finishes that sentence – Theon’s phone rings. He looks at it as if he’d rather smash it than answer, but the name flashing on the screen is Robb’s, so of course he answers.

Jeyne kind of admires how he manages to sound as if everything’s absolutely fine.

“Hey, what’s going on? What? Wait a moment, is he all right? Oh. Yeah. Right, sure, I get it. Of course. See you tomorrow, and don’t wear yourself out.”

He closes the call with a deep sigh. “Apparently that’s on hold anyway,” he jokes. It falls flat. “Not that he doesn’t have reasons. I mean, he’s not coming over at all.”

“What happened?”

“Jon ended up stabbed in the side trying to break up some fight, I didn’t catch the details. He’s fine though – they already discharged him and he’s going to be good as new if he stays put for a week, but it’s not like they can have everyone named Stark at his place. Considering that he has a studio apartment. Ygritte said she’d be up to move there for the week, but Robb said he wanted to give her a hand just in case at least tonight, and considering that he’s the only one in there who’s actually older than twenty-one it’d probably be a good idea that it’s him.”

“You know, you could have told him.”

“Nah. It can wait. If I had he’d have come back here anyway. And his brother got bloody stabbed, he should be there if he wants to.”

He isn’t bothering to hide how miserable he sounds, though. And then the phone rings again. He answers it with the face of someone who’d rather jump off a bridge.

“Asha. Yes, he dropped by. No, don’t talk to him – if it goes well he’s going to disown you regardless of your sales. No, I mean it, I don’t need you to do it – if he’s that angry about it fuck it, he can stay angry about it. I said no. Yes, I’m sure. Whatever. Thanks.”

He looks at the phone and then turns it off after he closes the call.

“Fuck, and now my sister sounds concerned. The apocalypse must be fucking coming,” he mutters before finishing his beer.

Then he stands up and shakes his head. “Right, I’m probably making your evening miserable. I’ll just – maybe I should call it an early night.”

“Why?”

“Sorry?”

Jeyne doesn’t even know where the question came from, but apparently a part of her is saying that leaving him to wallow in his own misery would be a very shitty thing to do.

“I mean, it’s not like I have anything planned. And if Robb isn’t coming over it’s not like switching is an issue. I don’t know, maybe we could go see a movie and grab some disgusting food on the way? Whatever you want. At least you get your mind off it and I don’t spend the evening watching bad television.”

For a moment he looks at her as if he isn’t sure that he heard it right.

But then he seems to have taken a decision. “You know what, you’re right. Let’s do it. I’m not giving any stupid relative of mine the satisfaction of ruining my evening.”

“Likewise,” Jeyne replies thinking about the text she received on the way home and that she promptly deleted.

He grabs the leather jacket as they head out and Jeyne feels irrationally pleased about it.

--

They go to the first multiplex they find and Jeyne looks at the possible choices – at least there are some fifteen movies to choose from.

“Oh dear,” she says as her eyes fall on the fourth, “please tell me you don’t want to go see The Expendables, part two.”

“You asking that because it’s exactly what Robb would pick?”

“Er, yes?”

“Well then, I suppose you’ll be overjoyed to know that between the two of us he’s the one liking that crap. I pretend that I do, though. I mean, I could see worse stuff, but you can stay assured that I’m not going to pay eight quid for that movie.”

Jeyne doesn’t even try to hide the breath of relief she releases – she really wasn’t up for more explosions.

Not that anything else looks particularly tempting.

“Well, well, look at the one in the sixth hall.”

The Possession? It looks like crap.”

“Yes, but look at how many free seats it has.”

Jeyne looks and – oh. No one has bought a ticket for that one yet.

“And it starts in five minutes,” she says.

“Exactly what I thought.”

“Fine. Get that one, if no one else buys a ticket first.”

No one gets a ticket first and no one gets it after. Theon buys a ridiculous amount of popcorn before getting in, while she gets some soda and a couple of packets of French fries just in case.

The movie is exactly as horrible as predicted.

But no one else is in the room, which means that they can talk out loud.

“Well,” she says after the first ten minutes, “at least the leading guy is hot.”

“At least,” Theon agrees. “Is this what even passes for a horror movie these days?”

“Hey, it’s original! At least it’s not the usual exorcist.”

“If that’s the only original thing it has going for itself…”

He never finishes the sentence and steals some popcorn from her.

At the middle of the film, Jeyne thinks that the level of the conversation must have fallen through the roof.

“Since when you can see demons from an MRI?” she asks when she can’t hold herself back from stomaching the ridiculous.

“Why, you’re still paying attention to the plot?”

“Well, and what are you doing?”

“Wishing that Jeffrey Dean Morgan doesn’t stop wearing glasses before this piece of crap is done, what should I be doing?”

“… good point. Hand me the chips. Damn but he has a nice ass.”

“Except that he did this better when he was on television.”

“What?”

“You don’t know? He was on a show where he hunted monsters. Not bad at all, even if I haven’t managed to catch up with it in ages – oh, shit, come on, that’s supposed to be scary?”

“I suppose…?”

“Oh, fuck, I think I need alcohol.”

Jeyne doesn’t disagree and steals more chips from him.

By the end, he’s laughing as if he’s just seen some kind of groundbreaking comedy and she doesn’t even attempt to stop him.

“No, come on, seriously? He gets back with the wife? Clearly these people never get divorced, do they?”

“Why, were you even trying to pretend that this made any fucking sense?”

“No, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is hot.”

“Amen,” Jeyne agrees, and when it ends for real she can’t help it – she starts laughing too. She doesn’t think she’s seen anything as predictable in entire life, but then again… they aren’t thinking about their respective families right now.

And Jeffrey Dean Morgan is scorching hot. Nothing to argue about that.

--

After getting out of the cinema, Theon declares that he needs some alcohol after what he’s just seen. Jeyne agrees wholeheartedly and they both get a decently sized beer from the pub at the corner – at least everything is within walking distance.

When they get back upstairs, she feels the good kind of buzzed. Not drunk, definitely not, but she’s had just enough alcohol to feel good and know that she won’t have a hangover.

“You know,” she says, “I thought I’d watch bad television this evening. I suppose there’s still time. If you want to join…”

“Well, why shouldn’t you watch good tv instead?”

Which is how they end up on the couch, with a couple of other beer bottles from the house’s fridge, watching said show with Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Just the episodes with him – she has no idea of how Theon actually had them somewhere but it’s not relevant. And he was right – guy’s fucking hot as burning and this is miles better than that movie.

“The tall guy isn’t bad either,” she proclaims at two AM and episode the third.

“You can have him. I’ll go for the older brother. Other than being a whole deal hotter, his character’s got better music taste.”

Jeyne almost spits the beer while she tries not to laugh out loud.

--

She has no idea of how they actually end up falling asleep halfway through some episode about vampires – it wasn’t bad at all, but it was three AM and they’re beat. In the moments before she actually crashes, she supposes that it’s a combination of alcohol, the sofa being comfortable and warm already and laziness on both their parts.

Thing is, she ends up passing out with her head on his shoulder, a short while after he falls asleep, and she’s too tired to even think that it’s an extremely compromising position.

--

When she wakes up the following morning, she’s aware of two things.

First: her back hurts. Then again, she slept on a sofa.

Second: she’s pressed up against a very warm body that is not Robb’s, since she has a strand of dark hair right in front of her eyes.

Third: Theon is awake and looking down at her.

In theory, her first instinct should have been moving away.

But they’re centimeters away from each other, his hair is tangled in a way that screams adorable (it’s long enough to give that impression) and he’s looking down at her with wide eyes, and it’s obvious that he’s still half-asleep.

Fuck, she’s still half-asleep for that matter.

She doesn’t know who starts it. Really. But one moment he’s staring down at her and the following they’re kissing, slow but not tentative at all, and for a second Jeyne feels kind of relieved, as if she has just stopped holding back something that she hadn’t known about, and it doesn’t matter that he tastes like alcohol and that she probably doesn’t have the nicest morning breath of her life.

And then the two of them break it off at the same time the moment they realize what they were actually doing.

“Shit,” he says under his breath. “Oh, shit. I just – I’m sorry, I didn’t even think – woah. That’s so not – oh, fuck.”

“Just – no, don’t – I mean, I wasn’t exactly saying no, was I?” Her voice sounds small all of a sudden.

“Okay. Okay, just – let’s – I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking, I just –”

“Why, do you think that I was?”

For a moment, neither of them says anything.

But she knows it’s in the air, and so she takes a breath and says it because someone has to.

“It – it didn’t feel wrong, did it?”

He looks straight at her and shakes his head. “No. Fuck it didn’t. But – was it just – I mean, I’ve been – I kind of had been thinking about it. For a while. And I feel like shit, but –”

“Don’t. I mean, I should feel like shit with you, then,” she replies, and – while this complicates this entire thing further, she can’t deny that some part of her obviously is attracted to him.

And she doesn’t know what the fuck she should do about it, because the last thing she wants is upsetting the balance when everything had been going so well.

“Should we tell him?” Her voice still sounds small.

“Fuck if I know,” he replies. “I mean, in theory – maybe it’d be fine, it’s not like we didn’t agree to this, but – it’s not like he did.”

The worst thing is that Jeyne feels horrible because the last thing Robb deserves is the two of them trying to see if it’s serious behind his back, but another part of her is screaming kiss him again and she isn’t sure that she should give in to it.

“Maybe – maybe we should just forget it?” She doesn’t sound that convinced, truth to be told, but maybe it’d be the best option.

“Forget what?”

That’s when Jeyne realizes that it’s damned midday and that Robb has come back home and that the two of them haven’t even noticed, and that they’re still pressed side by side on the sofa.

--

At least, Robb doesn’t look angry. Or angry the way someone should be in his situation. He’s leaning against the door, looking mostly curious about this entire ordeal, and Jeyne has no idea of what she should do. A part of her wants to go there and kiss him stupid, but the other still wants to kiss Theon again and – oh, shit.

Maybe that’s what Arianne was laughing about. Jeyne wonders if she had predicted that this would happen.

And then Theon clears his throat and looks at Robb with the most serious expression she’s seen on him.

“That – okay, listen, I’m just going to start from the beginning. Yesterday – uh, I had a conversation with my dad after you called – it didn’t exactly go well.”

Jeyne doesn’t call him out on the small lie.

“And she heard it, and since you were – well, not here, she said that we could catch a movie instead of sulking.”

“… then why do you look like you’ve just committed some kind of crime?”

“Well, then we came back here and we started watching crap TV and we kind of fell asleep on each other.”

“Yeah, and?” Robb doesn’t look fazed at all.

“And – and it happened that we woke up maybe five minutes ago and – oh, fuck it, it happened that we kissed and I still have no idea of how it went.”

Robb’s eyes go wide a moment, but he doesn’t… get angry. Or anything. He nods once and then glances at her, too.

“Did he miss anything?”

“No. I just – I’m sorry, I don’t know –”

“Right, right. Can I ask you both a question?”

She nods. Theon does as well. She can see that he’s gone pale again.

“Do you two genuinely think it was some kind of mistake or would you consider doing it again, possibly in front of me?”

Jeyne is pretty sure that she’s never expected an answer less in her life.

“… what?”

Robb looks apologetic for a moment before looking at the both of them again. “Well, I worded it badly. I mean, do you two want to forget it or you actually… like each other? Because if that’s what it is, if you think that I have a problem with it then you’re totally wrong.”

“You don’t have a problem with it,” Theon replies, sounding completely dumbfounded.

“No! I mean, whenever I worry about stuff the only thing I’m afraid of is that at some point – I mean, uh, it’s that –”

“Oh, dear,” Jeyne groans, having just guessed from the way he’s obviously trying to word it nicely. “He was worried that we’d get jealous at some point, were you?”

“… I was going to put it less crudely, but yes. I mean – fuck, seriously? Seems clear to me that I’m on board with doing this in threes. If you want to – if you don’t want it to be just me with the two of you – then you don’t even need to ask. Do you think that I’d get angry about it?”

“But – I mean, we shouldn’t have –” she starts, and then he shakes her head.

“Right, because from what I hear you were both doing that intentionally. I’m not that close-minded, you know.”

“So – so you want – you’d want it – like that?” Theon asks cautiously.

“I’m dating the two of you, why the fuck shouldn’t I want it like that?”

“Well then,” Theon says, his lips suddenly curling up into a grin. “And who are we to deny you anything? If she agrees, obviously.”

And – shit. This wasn’t the way Jeyne had pictured it going.

And she knows that she has to take a decision now – it’s not like she can say that she’ll take a week to think about it, considering the situation, and considering how long they danced this dance.

Thing is… why the fuck not? She loves Robb. Denying to herself that she likes Theon would be useless, and apparently for him it’s the same, and to be honest it’d be better than this halfway thing, and she has no idea of how they should make it work… but then again, they made this work until now, did they?

“Well, I say why not,” she answers, looking at Robb first and Theon after.

“Then I suppose we owe it to him,” Theon says, and she doesn’t even have time to blink before he moves forward. And kisses her again.

For real, this time. And – well. He’s different from Robb, there’s not the same kind of heat, and he has thinner lips, and he still tastes like alcohol, but he knows how to kiss. He moves his tongue over her lips and then slips it in between, keeping it slow, making her moan when it touches hers, his hand going up to her neck and wrapping some of her hair between his fingers, and when he moves away she feels her cheeks burn and she’s almost without breath.

Then she looks at Robb and his eyes are dark blue and he looks the farthest from upset. Fuck, he looks as if he’s just been given birthday and Christmas presents at once for the next ten years.

“Well,” he says, his voice almost hoarse. “I should hope that there’s room on that couch, because I’d be very displeased if there wasn’t.”

Theon glances at the two of them and then at Robb.

“I should hope that if you want this to go beyond an R rating, and I’m totally on board with it, that you’d have the decency to bring this to my bed, which is a lot bigger than yours and the sofa.”

“Do you have anything against that plan?” Robb asks her.

Well, Jeyne doesn’t think she’ll ever take another decision in her life that will require less thinking.

“Why are we still here in the first place?”

--

Robb has left his jacket and shoes behind them by the time they arrived in Theon’s room – they really don’t need to shed that many clothes since they hadn’t gone to sleep with their shoes on. Jeyne can’t help finding that ridiculously hot, but she keeps her mouth shut because she isn’t even sure that she has the presence of mind for speech.

Robb shuts the door and it closes with a sound of finality – or so it feels, anyway – and Jeyne tries not to hyperventilate as she sits down next to Theon on the bed. He’s taking off his t-shirt – he only has his jeans on now. Robb glances their way and then gets out of his slightly too tight button-down. Most probably borrowed from Jon, considering that it’s a bit too small for him. Jeyne’s lips go dry.

She can’t believe that she’s doing this. From the way Robb is looking at them, she’s half-sure that he can’t believe that either – well, at least it’s two of them.

“Wow,” Robb says under his breath. “Wow. Okay. So, uh, anyone’s ever done this?”

Then both Jeyne and him turn towards Theon at once.

Theon looks halfway between amused and about to laugh hysterically. “Why is everyone looking at me?”

“Uhm, because you’re the one person in this room who might have some experience in this kind of thing? And who owns a book about it anyway?”

“Oh, fuck you, you think I read it? And – well, uhm, there was a time, but it was two women. And I was drunk. Well. Not too much, but it’s not like I’m an expert.”

“He owns a book about it?”

“Long story,” Robb huffs. “Okay, seriously? I mean, this can’t be rocket science. Except that –”

He’s looking at Theon as he speaks, but Theon shakes his head and stops him before he can finish. “Listen, I don’t think anyone here has the time or patience to instruct her on the finer points. What about we do it with me on top and that’s it?”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, yeah, it’s fine.”

“Uhm, is there something I should know?” she asks, suddenly worried. Not that it’s doing much for the heat between her legs.

“Not now,” Theon cuts her short. “It’s fine by you if I top, anyway?”

“Er, everything is fine by me, I suppose? It’s not like I ever did this before.”

“Right. Then I think we should get this party started before we all lose the mood talking,” he answers, and then grabs Robb by the waist of his jeans before tugging him down.

Robb falls gracelessly on the bed, but before he can protest Theon has flipped over the both of them and his kissing him down the mattress, his hips slowly grinding against Robb’s.

Jeyne’s mouth is completely and utterly dry.

She also has no fucking clue of what she should do, but to be honest she’s perfectly fine with watching. For now. She sees Theon running his tongue over Robb’s bottom lip and she groans out loud.

Robb flushes red as Theon breaks the kiss and turns to look at her. He narrows his eyes and Jeyne really, really hopes that he’s forming some kind of plan. Because she’d be totally down with someone telling her what the hell she should do.

“Jeyne? You mind doing me a favor?”

“Yeah? Sure. What?”

“Second drawer. There are condoms and there should be lube. Bring ‘em over?”

Okay. Good. She can do that. Perfect. She jumps down the bed and opens the first nightstand drawer. Yep. Condoms and lube. Good. She closes the drawer.

“And since you’re there, you can lose your jeans,” Theon says from behind her. “I have something in mind and you don’t have to be clothed for it.”

Jeyne goes red at once, she knows, but then she takes a breath, tosses the condoms and the lube in the bed’s direction and then she gets rid of her jeans and shirt. Then she takes off her underwear and her bra too – no point in doing it later.

When she turns back towards the bed, they moved so they’re in the middle rather than lying horizontally at the end. Theon, who was still kissing Robb, breaks it off and moves up so that he’s with both his knees around Robb’s thighs.

“Why, I like how you think. So, move up here.”

Jeyne is thankful that someone in here seems to know what the fuck they’re doing.

She climbs up on the bed, grabbing the condoms and lube along the way.

Robb is lying down with his cheeks slightly flushed and looking up with almost a dazed quality to his eyes. Which by the way are moving between the two of them.

Then Theon grabs her by the neck and hauls her in and kisses her again and well fuck his lips are half-swollen and he was kissing Robb until a moment ago. Jeyne feels slightly grateful when Robb’s hand somehow grabs hers and squeezes.

When they break apart, Theon’s cheeks are slightly flushed, too, and when she looks down at Robb again he’s staring up at them like someone who really, really likes the sight.

“I think,” Theon says, “that I need to get rid of my jeans and you need to get rid of his.”

“All right,” she answers, seeing where it’s going. “Uh – and then?”

“Well, I had planned as far ahead as… we all put condoms on like nice, responsible people, and then he goes in between us. Nothing farther, but I’m pretty sure that by the point we get there, we should be able to manage. If everyone’s on board.”

“Fuck yes, I’m on board,” Robb moans from below.

“Good plan,” Jeyne agrees with what coherency is left in her, and then Theon moves away so that he’s kneeling on Robb’s side. Jeyne takes his position while he presumably gets rid of his clothes – she doesn’t know, since she has her hands on Robb’s jeans, opening them and pushing them down along with the underwear. She swallows when she sees that Robb is already hard, not that her underwear wouldn’t be soaking wet if she were still wearing it. She moves back so that she can tug everything off and throws it down on the ground.

“Forgetting something,” Theon says as he throws something in her direction. She catches the condom.

Right. Yeah. Sure.

She has no idea if she should give it to Robb or do this herself, but – oh, damn it, this is sex, not rocket science. She should show some fucking initiative in here, or they won’t get anywhere. So she rips the packet apart, takes out the condom and instead of handing it to Robb she puts her knees around his thighs again and puts it on. Robb groans, a strangled fuck yes coming from his throat – Jeyne leans down and kisses him, catching another moan as it leaves his mouth. Her hands go to Robb’s shoulders as she breaks it off a minute or so later, leaning upwards, and then she notices that there are freckles on Robb’s cheeks. Which weren’t there before. Then again it’s been uncharacteristically sunny lately, and his skin hasn’t looked bruised just for the last few days when she barely saw him (for the most part) – stands to reason that she’d notice now. She runs the back of her hand along the line of freckles on his cheek as Robb grinds upwards, his cock searching friction against her thigh.

She’s so not sure that she won’t faint before this is over.

“Nice,” Theon says from her left. They both turn look at him – he looks extremely appreciative.

“You were saying something about him being in the middle?” Jeyne asks, sounding out of breath.

“I can work with an alternative,” he says, winking.

“No, I think it’s good.”

“Don’t I have a say in this?” Robb says.

“Please, have a say,” Theon answers as he lies down and moves closer. “You have a better idea?”

“… it was just because,” Robb replies kind of lamely.

“Stark, shut it,” Theon says fondly, and – yeah, right, maybe they should get down to it. Jeyne isn’t so far gone not to notice that if Robb goes in the middle it’s the safest position for all three of them and if Theon has to be on top for whatever reason. So she takes a breath and climbs off Robb, switching them over – a moment later Robb is lying above her, his hands going to her hips.

She feels the mattress dipping somewhere behind Robb – right. Obviously it would. Robb moves one hand to her breast, and she groans while he kneads under it with his thumb – he’s going slow, but she can see dark hair behind his shoulder and when he almost whimpers into her mouth she’s pretty sure she has an idea of what’s going on behind him.

Her mouth goes dry all over again at the thought and she can’t help it – when Robb moves slightly downwards, his frame brushing against hers while he kisses her neck, she moves her head so that she can have a good look at what’s going on.

Which would be, Theon with a couple of fingers up Robb’s ass, and – it shouldn’t be half as hot as she thinks it is, but the point is that it is and it’s time she stops thinking that she shouldn’t like what she sees. She does evidently like it, so she should just stop making a problem out of it.

Especially when all her blood is going downwards in the first place.

Theon notices her looking a moment later and she has to give him credit – he doesn’t even wait more than a moment before moving to her side and kissing her over Robb’s shoulder while pushing inside what looks like a third finger. Robb kind of stops trying to hold himself up, but Jeyne can work with it for the moment.

“Fuck,” Theon says under his breath when he moves away – he has kiss-swollen lips that are bordering on an obscene shade of red. “Right. Robb, try not to crush her, won’t you?”

“Sounds easy to you,” Robb mutters from somewhere between her neck and her breast before he makes a half-hearted attempt to move some weight off her.

“It wasn’t too bad,” she replies.

“Yeah, repeat that in the next five minutes. ‘m just looking out for you,” Theon replies with a wink, and then he moves his hand away. Robb whimpers in dissatisfaction – and then there’s a moment that Jeyne doesn’t know how to call, but she looks at Theon who looks down at Robb who looks down at her and she somehow knows that they’re about to go there and if they get the timing wrong it won’t work as well as it should.

She also supposes that she should go first, all things considered, and so she reaches up with her ankles and puts them behind Robb’s knees and – yes, she groans as Robb takes a deep breath and pushes inside her. She’s so wet that it’s barely painful, and then Robb lets out a moan that the neighbors must have heard for how loud it was.

When he opens his eyes, he looks completely dazed. And now he’s crushing her – he’s not even trying to hold himself up, and – well, in his position it would be hard.

Then he’s not crushing her anymore – not as much anyway, since Theon put an arm around his waist and pulled him slightly upward.

“Sorry,” Robb says almost sheepishly, but he doesn’t look like he can be more eloquent than that.

“Don’t – don’t mention it,” Jeyne breathes, barely even remembering what he’s supposed to be sorry about – the position is perfect now, with enough space to breathe and possibly move but close enough that she can feel Robb breathing against her neck. No sense in not taking advantage of it, and so she pushes her hips upwards when she feels Robb moving again – he moans out loud again, and she’s suspecting that Theon is matching his thrusts to their current rhythm, but checking would take too much effort and she isn’t sure that she wants to ruin their perfect position with trying to look behind Robb’s shoulder.

She thinks she hears Theon swearing a moment later, but it’s the good kind of, and then – then Robb thrusts deep inside her as she puts an arm around his back. Her other hand, which was running over Robb’s chest, stops over his abs and closes around Theon’s wrist – he’s still holding Robb up – and then it changes. Three hours later she won’t know how to put it into words, but right now – right now it feels like the three of them were some kind of lock and someone put the right key inside it. Robb is still deep inside her, his mouth placing messy kisses over her collarbone, and when she arches her neck backwards so that he can do that to his leisure, she meets Theon’s eyes – they’re dark and wide and his cheeks are flushed, and when she moves her hand from Robb’s shoulder to his hair, he hides his face against Robb’s neck as he gives another thrust – she can feel it. And it feels different from all the sex she’s hand until now – fine, she’s only had it with Robb, but that’s not the point. There’s something else that is making this a million times better and she has no fucking clue of what it might be, but it’s not as if she’s planning to find out now.

Robb comes first – no surprise about that, probably – he groans again, saying something so slurred that she can’t even distinguish it, and then he goes tense for a moment and then she feels him coming inside her with a last, hard thrust, and seconds later he starts shaking and thrusts forward again even if in theory there would be no need and of course he would. She can feel Theon’s arm shaking as he swears all over again (but it’s muffled since he’s saying everything against Robb’s neck still) and – it’s too much. She thinks she can almost feel it, Theon coming as well, and there’s no way she can hold back now. She barely has the time to feel surprised when instead of a moan the only thing that comes out of her mouth when she opens it is a low whimper – and then she’s clenching around Robb (who’s still buried deep inside her and she doesn’t think she’s ever been this wet in her entire life) and if the two of them fell down on her at once she probably wouldn’t feel it. Her nails dig into Theon’s arm as she shakes all over, and then she thinks, it’s never felt this good before. She could swear that all her nerves are on fire right now, and then it becomes too much and she falls down against the mattress as she trembles, her hand still closed in a fist around Robb’s hair.

When she opens her eyes, wondering if this is how it feels when you’re high, she blinks twice before realizing that Robb is half-lying on top of her and half on the bed while Theon is taking long, deep breaths from Robb’s other side.

At least they’re both awake though – Robb looks passed out.

She pokes him in the shoulder – no, he doesn’t look passed out, he is.

“Well,” Theon says, his voice sounding hoarse, “I can tease him forever about being the one out of the three of us who actually fucking fainted.”

Jeyne snorts as she pulls herself upwards – Robb’s head ends up on her thigh, but he merely makes a displeased sound and keeps on sleeping. She’s about to answer, then she looks at Robb’s legs and sees that there’s what looks like dried come somewhere on his inner thighs and she swallows instead – she can feel blood rushing up to her face.

“Did that just gain me points in your appreciation chart?” she asks, and she sounds breathless to her own ears.

“Fuck yes,” he answers, and then he pulls himself up in a sitting position as well, moving closer to her. She doesn’t even think about it when she moves forward and he does the same and they kiss – it’s not long and nowhere near refined but it’s nice and slow, and when they part there’s a nice, healthy flush on his cheeks.

“Should we wake him up?” she asks a moment later.

“Nah. The more he stays out, the more I can tease him later. Except that I’m kind of starving here.”

Now that he mentions it, Jeyne realizes that she could eat as well – it’s well past midday now, and the last thing she ate was junk food at the cinema more than twelve hours ago. Not to mention that now that she’s coming down from the best sex she’s ever had, it’s hard not to notice that her stomach is empty.

“Good point. Should one of us –”

He shakes his head and opens the first drawer on the nightstand, then grabs what looks like a Sunspear menu.

“What’s the point of having a Sunspear that delivers your food home if you don’t take advantage of it? I’m just going to call them – I can’t even think about putting breakfast together. You want anything or do I pick?”

“No, I’ll take whatever you two are having. You can’t ask me to pick food right now.”

“Point taken.”

He grabs his cellphone and orders coffee for three and six cinnamon rolls – good choice, she could totally eat two. Then Robb groans against her thigh and blinks some five times before finally opening his eyes for good and attempting to sit up.

He doesn’t manage as far as that and he opts to go back to his previous position.

“You fainted,” Theon tells him with a certain satisfaction.

“I didn’t.”

“It’s been ten minutes, Stark. It’s safe to say you did.”

“Oh, shut it, you haven’t slept three hours total in the last day or so. Damn, I’m starving.”

“That’s covered already,” Jeyne replies, unable to stop herself from grinning. “And I have to give it to him – you totally fainted, Robb.”

“I hate you both,” Robb groans, but he doesn’t even attempt to move.

“Sure thing,” Theon replies cheerfully as he reaches down with a hand and messes up Robb’s hair – if it wasn’t messed already.

Jeyne has no fucking clue of what they’ve just gone into, but right now she feels like it’s the best idea the three of them have ever had until now. And it’s been long enough that it can’t be just endorphins talking.

Then she thinks about what’s going to happen when she tells Arianne and she has the distinct feeling that she will die of smugness, but then again until she doesn’t ask to watch, there’s nothing wrong with it.

--

A ridiculous quantity of coffee and two cinnamon rolls later (and it’s going to be fun to clean the sheets, considering that now other than with various body fluids they’re also covered in crumbs) Jeyne decides that she’s coherent enough to actually put two sentences together. Robb looks on the verge of passing out again.

“How is it that you slept three hours total, by the way?” Theon asks, preceding her.

“We didn’t get to Jon’s until eleven PM,” Robb replies drowsily. “And his couch is against the wall in common with his bedroom.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So have you seen his girlfriend? Do you think that someone sleeping in the next room or her boyfriend having a knife would on his hip would stop her from taking his mind off it?”

“So they –” Jeyne starts.

“More than they, she. I mean, she did most of the work, from what it seemed, but I didn’t need to know that my brother is a bloody screamer. And after half an hour of that, you think I was in a hurry to go to sleep? Then it became four rounds of it.”

“Wow, I’ll have to congratulate her next time – hey, wait,” Theon says, “what time is it?”

Jeyne looks at the alarm clock. “Two PM?”

“Shit, and it’s Saturday?”

“Uh, yeah. Or so it says. Why?”

“Oh, fuck my life. Robb, get up.”

“Like hell.”

“No, we’ve got to. You remember that we were supposed to go grab the demos today? At four PM? It’s five hundred of them and Sansa is set on opening the darned online shop before next month, I’m not doing that on my own.”

“Oh, fuck, I had totally forgotten that. Can’t we –”

“It takes one hour to drive there and we both need a shower. Since I suppose that we’d only lose more time if we took it together I can go first and give you another ten minutes, but that’s it.”

“Right, right, fine, go first, knock yourself out. Shit, today I’m going to bed at eight,” he mutters while forcing himself to turn over and get his head off Jeyne’s thigh – not that she minded, but if he has to wake himself up then she supposes it wasn’t an ideal position. Also she’s glad that this was her one Saturday off in the entire month or she’d be in trouble.

Robb also doesn’t protest when Theon leans down and kisses him quickly before getting out of the bed and heading for the bathroom.

A moment later, Robb groans and forces himself to sit up straighter. “Damn. I need a lot more coffee. But then again it was worth it.”

She grins, unable to keep it in. “It’d better be. So – you’re really fine with – with things being like this?”

“I shouldn’t dignify you with an answer. Actually, I won’t,” Robb says before kissing her down into the mattress.

It doesn’t last much because they’re both too tired to do anything more than kissing and a few minutes later Theon is shouting from the hallway that the shower is free and they don’t have all the time in the world. Robb sighs and forces himself to stand up – he gets out of the room a moment before Theon gets in. He’s wearing just a towel around his waist and his hair is wet, with droplets of water falling on his chest, and Jeyne doesn’t even try not to stare. She knows it’d be a lost cause. Not to mention that after what just happened, she thinks she’s allowed to.

“Liking the sight?” he asks without a problem as he opens drawers from the closet and grabs what looks like underwear, a pair of jeans and that almost worn-out shirt of his own group’s.

“Why, is there a problem if I do?”

“Please, feel free to stare as much as you want,” he replies, sounding smug, as he puts on underwear and jeans. He uses the shirt he had on the night before to wipe out the water on his neck before putting on the new one, then he checks his cellphone.

“Well, he didn’t call to say to come earlier, at least,” he mutters before putting it in his back pocket. “Anyway. It shouldn’t be too long of a thing – we already paid him. I guess we’ll be back by six? I was thinking that we should eat out or something, but I’m half-sure that he’s going to crash the moment he’s back here.”

It’s oddly sweet, she thinks. “Maybe tomorrow? I should hope that if he sleeps some twelve hours it’d be enough.”

“Sounds like a plan. Also – uhm, should we even tell anyone about the new arrangements?”

“Gosh, good question. I don’t think I’m in a hurry to share with anyone that isn’t my best friend. I mean, my mother still hasn’t come to terms with me dating Robb, let alone telling her I’m dating two people.”

“Yeah, not that I’m in a much different situation,” he mutters. He stares at his phone for a moment, then he shakes his head and takes a pair of shoes and socks from the other side of the wardrobe. He keeps on staring at the phone as he puts them on, and then Robb stumbles back into the room. He’s already dressed at least – probably dropped by his room.

“Oh, I was just waiting for you.”

“What?”

Theon tosses him his cellphone. “Before you tell your family, and you should before they find out on their own, make me a favor and call my sister? I’ll go get the car – I’m meeting you in the front in ten,” he says, and then he walks out of the room before Robb can yell I’m not your bloody mailman behind him. Robb does that anyway.

“Fuck it,” Robb sighs as he scrolls through the contacts. “One day I’ll lock him and his sister in a closet until they admit that they give a shit about each other and stop calling me when they need to talk.”

“Sounds interesting?”

“You don’t know the beginning of it. Right, I’m going to go downstairs and make the damned calls. We shouldn’t be too long.”

“That’s fine. Arianne is going to ask for details, I’ll be busy if I call her.”

“Don’t ever tell me what she says,” Robb mutters before leaning down and kissing her fully again, and then he moves away and leaves, still cursing under his breath about dysfunctional families.

For a moment, everything seems ridiculously quiet. Then she figures that yes, maybe she has to tell someone, if only because her head is starting to spin and she doesn’t think she can believe that it really happened. (Except that it’s obvious that it did, just by looking at the sheets.)

She calls Arianne.

--

The first thing Arianne says after Jeyne tells her is at last, I had been waiting for that for months.

Jeyne knows better than asking her how did she know that it was going to happen, and she knows better than letting Arianne explain all the reasons why she can see this kind of thing coming from miles. Then she has to promise her that she is going to introduce her to her supposed boyfriends soon – then she remembers that they’re playing some other concert with minimum retribution next week and she figures that at this point she can tell Arianne to come over.

Arianne sounds delighted. Figures.

When the conversation ends half an hour later she decides that it’s high time that she grabs a shower.

Except that Sansa calls her and the moment she answers it’s a long sequence of oh my gosh Robb just called and told me the news and I’m so excited for all of you and are the three of you coming over anytime soon and Jeyne wishes her own mother would be a tenth as enthusiastic.

“Er, well, I suppose we could drop by tomorrow? I mean, they said they were coming to discuss something about the group’s Facebook page with you, so I can go with them. But – are you sure that everyone’s fine with it? I mean –”

“Are you joking? Mum is delighted, dad shrugged and said that it was high time you all fessed up and while the others could do with showing a bit more enthusiasm –”

On cue, Jeyne hears Arya shouting not everyone in this house has to give a shit about Robb’s sex life, you know!

“Right, as I was saying, no one has a problem with it. Oh my gosh it’s all so lovely!”

Jeyne keeps on wishing her family could be half as happy, but then again at least someone is, right?

--

No one calls after Sansa and Jeyne goes to take her hard-earned shower, then she figures that since she’s here she can put the sheets in the washing machine and clean the mess of junk food containers left in the living room.

By the time she’s dried her hair, put on some clothes and finished everything she had in mind, the door opens and Robb gets inside carrying a carton box – Theon follows with another.

“Right. Sorry, but I really –”

“Stark, go crash, I can get the others,” Theon replies without letting him finish. Robb saunters towards his bedroom with the air of someone who will fall asleep on his face if he doesn’t lie down soon and Jeyne doesn’t even take offense that he didn’t say hi.

“How many others do you have?”

“Another two,” Theon answers.

“Right, I’ll go with you. Saves you a trip, right?”

“Thanks.”

“Oh, by the way, Sansa called me.”

“Could she contain her excitement?”

“No. Also – do you mind if Arianne comes with me to see the two of you next week?”

“Why the fuck should I?” Theon answers as he walks out of the house – he locks the door behind him and Jeyne follows him into the elevator. “I mean, hey, if she knows and she’s cool with it, good. If she actually likes us enough to buy a demo that’d be even better.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” she answers, but she knows she’s grinning. They bring up the boxes quickly enough, leaving them near the entrance – Theon says that he’ll sort them out tomorrow.

“Well,” he says looking at the clock, “and that’s six thirty PM. Seriously, he can’t be sleeping at this hour. Also why the hell would he leave the door open if he wants to sleep?”

She follows him towards Robb’s room – the door is indeed open. And Robb is unceremoniously passed out face down on his bed.

Theon groans, though he obviously tries to keep his tone down. “Christ, he didn’t even take off his shoes.”

“I’m never, ever sleeping in the same house as his brother if he really kept him up that long,” Jeyne says under her breath.

“No shit. Right, listen, I say we go in there and at least take off his shoes and turn him on his back. And then since maybe neither of us is three and has to be in bed by eight PM, we can finish those two episodes we had left of season one and have dinner? At least we’d kill time until a reasonable hour before joining him.”

Jeyne can’t see one fault with the plan. At the beginning they try to be as silent as possible as they get inside the room, but then when they realize that Robb doesn’t even stir when Theon kneels down to take off his rather heavy boots they stop putting too much effort in it. Robb is still dead to the world when they leave him lying on his side and with a blanket over him – Jeyne thinks that he looks adorable, but she doesn’t risk speaking out loud.

They close the door on the way out.

“Right,” Theon says, “I suppose I can put something together for dinner since there’s time to kill.”

“Are you sure? You always –”

He insists that it’s fine and it ends up with him putting together some cous-cous while she cuts the vegetables – at least they’re done faster. They end up eating it in front of Supernatural’s season one finale and in front of the season two opener – after all, there was Jeffrey Dean Morgan and it still was seven-thirty in the evening.

“Christ,” Theon says when the episode is over, “I didn’t remember it being that painful.”

“You didn’t?!” Jeyne asks trying not to give into the urge of crying at least a bit.

“Hey, the last time I watched this was when they were still in season three! And they’re at like, eight. Or something. I didn’t!”

“Fine, fine. Damn you. That was fucking horrible though. And seriously, even with all the screaming going on here Robb hasn’t woken up?”

“When you’ve lived here enough time to actually sleep in with him, you won’t be too surprised about that. And I haven’t gone to bed before ten for years, I refuse to join now.”

“We can watch a couple more episodes?”

A couple more become four, and at that point it’s ten PM and Jeyne isn’t sure that she can’t take more punches to her heart from a stupid tv show. Theon agrees with a grunt and declares that ten PM is in fact at least acceptable, and while he goes to the bathroom she goes to find a fresh pair of pajamas. She joins him while he’s brushing his teeth, doing the same – he’s already wearing pajama bottoms with an oversized shirt of his sister’s group. Jeyne thinks she’s beginning to understand why Robb keeps on complaining about those two not communicating, but she doesn’t comment on it. He doesn’t blink as he moves away to the left side of the sink – he’s done before her.

“I’m going to wait outside,” he says, and she nods before spitting out toothpaste.

When she’s done, she drops the brush along with the other two already in the glass, realizing a moment later that she forgot to put it in its own glass.

Actually, there are three different glasses on the sink – until now the toothbrushes have always been separated.

She looks at the three in the single glass on the left and she doesn’t put hers out before leaving the room. Meanwhile, Theon has opened the door to Robb’s room – Robb is still dead to the world, though at some point he managed to bring the blanket over his head.

“Well, I’m not sleeping over the covers,” Theon declares.

“You’re going to wake him up?”

“Oh, it’s not going to last,” Theon replies smugly before walking towards the bed and shaking Robb’s shoulder.

“Stark, you think you can wake up for the two minutes it’s going to take you to put on something that isn’t jeans and let us sleep live civilized people?”

Robb groans something not very intelligible from under the covers, but he does roll over. Theon visibly shrugs before helping himself to Robb’s closet and throwing a pair of pajamas at him. Upper part included. And it’s… fake silk, she thinks, but it’s a lovely shade of deep red.

“I hate you,” Robb mumbles as he stands up and takes off his jeans and shirt – he sways a moment, but then he manages to undress without falling asleep on his feet.

“Sure you do, just go back to bed and stop bitching at me if you want peach cobbler for breakfast.”

“You don’t play fair,” Robb answers as he tries to glare at Theon, but he’s obviously not even putting the effort to sound angry about it, and a moment later he goes back under the covers.

“Don’t try to hog the covers, it’s three of us,” Theon warns before sitting on the bed on Robb’s left side. Jeyne takes the right, marveled at how no one didn’t even think about discussing the sleeping arrangements – then again it’s not like she has an idea of the etiquette, and no one is complaining about it. She’s smiling when Theon turns off the light – for a moment the three of them turn around trying to find a decent position. Or better, she and Theon – Robb is already asleep again or on his way to it. In the end she’s pressing herself behind Robb, her arm around his stomach and coincidentally touching also Theon’s frame, while Theon has an arm thrown over Robb’s waist. His fingers are touching her arm as well and before she falls asleep, she thinks that there’s nothing that feels wrong about it.

--

When she wakes up, the first thing she sees is the alarm clock showing that it’s eleven AM. Well. At least it’s Sunday. Then she realizes that there must have been a lot of turning, because Robb is on the opposite side from the one he’d gone to sleep on, Robb’s legs are tangled with hers and his head is somewhere under her neck. She tries to turn on her side without being too abrupt – when she does, she sees that Theon has his arm around Robb’s waist and – right, so the third foot touching her calves must be his.

A moment later she ears Theon groan out loud – a moment later his face appears from behind Robb’s shoulder, obviously he’s propping himself on an elbow.

“’Time is it?” he asks, sounding more asleep than else.

“Eleven in the morning.”

“Woah, we slept twelve hours straight? And he’s still out? Unfuckinbelievable. Well, fine, not so much.”

Robb doesn’t even stir.

“Not so much?”

“I’m the morning person, of the two of us. Seems unlikely, but I had to make peace with it. Right. Okay. I’m gonna go make breakfast. Or lunch?”

“Just go for the huge breakfast?”

“Good point. How do you like your pancakes?”

“Uh. Blueberry, but anything’s fine. Wait, are you going to –”

“I’m the morning person who also cooks. Sure, I’m going to. If you wanna join, be my guest. He’s not waking up anytime soon.”

For a moment Jeyne considers just staying in bed, but… well, she’s awake by now and her stomach feels close to empty.

“All right, I’m coming.”

She makes sure that she doesn’t wake Robb up as she slips away from under his arm. He turns his face into the pillow, but that’s it. She shakes her head fondly before following Theon inside the kitchen – he has already put the pan on the stove.

“Should I get the coffee?” she asks as he breaks an egg into a bowl already full of flour and sugar. “I mean, if you’re already doing that –”

“Oh. Yeah, sure, go ahead. If you need milk for yours just get it after I’m done.”

“I take it black.”

“Two of us then.” Right. Robb always took it with sugar – the prospect of the two of them doing some harmless teasing on the subject shouldn’t make her feel this giddy.

“Right. I’ll go – I’ll go get the coffee.”

She loads the machine and looks at him while it brews – he’s barely even looking at the pan as he flips the pancakes over. As if he’s done this so many times that he doesn’t even need to check his motions.

“You ever thought of asking to be hired at that bakery?”

Theon snorts before flipping over the fifth pancake. “Are you crazy? I’d get disowned for real. And I’d probably go crazy before one week. Nah, I’m perfectly fine with buying stuff from them, thank you. But I’ll consider it if my alternative is starving.”

“Right, good point. Should I get you anything?”

“Uh, just maybe a tray, forks and plates? First drawer on my left for the forks and upper left cupboard for the rest.” She grabs the tray and the plates from the cupboard first, puts them on the table and goes for the forks. She walks up next to him, their hips brushing as she opens the drawer and takes out three forks. And – well, she’s pretty sure that he’s checking her out as she walks back to the table.

She also doesn’t think she minds at all.

Wow. She’s surprised that she’s not freaking out about this. Mostly.

She waits for him to be done, it doesn’t take him much. He throws the pan under the sink before opening another cupboard, grabbing what looks like syrup and bringing it to the table. Right. Maple, blueberry and strawberry.

“The strawberry isn’t for me,” he informs her without being prompted as he puts syrup bottles, pancakes and forks on the tray. She doesn’t tell him that it’s almost cute and instead her eyes go to the flour sticking to his cheek.

“There’s flour on your face, wait –”

She reaches up with her thumb to wipe it away, but when she’s done she realizes that her other fingers are cupping his cheek.

She doesn’t even let herself linger on it – when he leans down to kiss her, she goes along with it, morning breath be damned.

When they part they’re both flushing – fine, it lasted longer than both of them had thought. “Woah. If all mornings started like this,” he tells her before winking and grabbing the trail. She shakes her head and grabs the coffee pot and another tray with cups before following him.

Then he walks into his room without even bothering not to make noise.

“Stark, it’s almost fucking noon. You can turn on your side and go back to sleep, but we’re eating your share if you do.”

“What – noon? Fuck, how long did I even sleep? And you made pancakes? Shit, I love you, did I ever tell you that?”

“Someone needs coffee,” Theon replies, but Jeyne can see that his cheeks have become slightly more pink.

“Right, there you go.” She hands Robb a mug along with the sugar before climbing back into the bed. A minute later they have more or less sorted the trays out so that nothing falls down and no one gets burning coffee all over themselves. Robb pretty much drowns his pancake in strawberry syrup, Theon pretends to be disgusted as proceeds on doing the exact same thing with his own except that he’s drowning it in maple and she laughs at the both of them. She stops when Robb kisses blueberry syrup from the corner her mouth, and it’s a miracle that they don’t end up forgetting the food altogether in the next ten minutes.

Not that they don’t spend the next half hour or so more or less kissing all over, and even if it’s three of them it doesn’t feel weird at all.

Jeyne thinks she could get adjusted to this.

--

From then until the next concert – the one Arianne is supposed to attend – Jeyne wonders if she has somehow ended up in some alternative fairytale universe, because things are going far too well for it to be without a catch. For some reason she can’t quite pinpoint, nothing goes wrong even if they’re officially doing this in threes. She had thought that something would happen, it’s not like you jump into that kind of relationship without any knots to adjust, but – maybe it’s that they had been dancing around it for so long, but it just goes so smooth that she has to pinch herself to make sure that it’s all real at times. The only downside is that it takes her thrice the time to get ready in the morning, but considering what she’s getting in exchange she’s not going to complain about it.

Then the concert happens and Arianne drives her – Robb and Theon had driven there earlier obviously, and Jeyne tries not to give out too many details. Arianne complains that she’s no fun whatsoever, but by the time they arrive at the House of the Undying (again, but the owner had wanted them another time) Arianne has managed to get some not too specific details out of her. Jeyne just hopes that she keeps her mouth shut when she eventually introduces her friend to her – her boyfriends, she supposes.

Gosh, if someone had told her that this would be her life two years ago she’d have laughed in their face.

The thing is that the moment the concert starts Arianne stops laughing and seems to be awfully interested in it – maybe she had come just to meet them, but after the first song she seems to be digging it an awful lot. Which is all good, obviously, but by the fifth song Arianne is half-smirking and Jeyne can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not.

By the end, she’s outright grinning.

“Westerling, you should have told me that your boyfriends are actually good at this.”

“… didn’t I?”

“Well, you could have given me a demo just to say one. Actually, I think I’m going to buy one or ten.”

“Ten?”

“Why, my little cousins are ridiculously into Mumford and Sons, they’re going to love them. And you are going to introduce us later, aren’t you?”

“Of course.” Jeyne can see that she has some kind of plan – she wishes she knew what it was about, though.

--

Arianne buys ten demos, making Theon very happy, and it takes half an hour before no one is apparently interested in buying them at all. Jeyne notices that they sold about three quarters of them – good, she supposes.

Robb tells her that they’ll be back for proper drinks after they bring the gear back to the car and so Jeyne and Arianne take a table for four and wait for them – they’re back in maybe fifteen minutes.

“So, do I finally have the honor?” Arianne asks when they sit down. “If anything, I should start by thanking you for having made her realize that sex can also not be vanilla.”

“Arianne!” Jeyne flushes red, but Theon is totally snorting as he extends a hand.

“Our pleasure, I suppose. I’m Theon.”

“And I’m Robb. Definitely a pleasure.” Arianne shakes hands with both and takes a sip from her glass of gin before looking back at the two of them.

“So, that was a good show,” she says. “And I mean it. I’m not trying to flatter you just because she’s my best friend and you’re all screwing.”

Jeyne thinks she wants to die of embarrassment.

“I was wondering – you’re still doing this on your own, right? I mean, you don’t have a label.”

“I wish,” Theon sighs. “I kind of tried to send the demos to a couple ones, but – well, let’s say that my name precedes my skills.”

“Meaning?”

“He means that since his entire family plays metal no one thinks that he has the skills to do some other genre and the two labels that answered said that it’s not their kind of thing,” Robb fills for him. “But whatever, at some point someone will listen to that demo instead of just assuming things.”

“What if I knew someone?”

Oh. Oh. Jeyne is an idiot. She’s known Arianne since elementary school and she’s so adjusted to have her around that she never remembers who her uncle is. And mostly, what her uncle owns.

“You know someone?” Theon asks, sounding very interested.

“Right. I didn’t tell you – and I suppose she didn’t either – that my surname would be Martell.”

Both Robb and Theon’s eyes go wide at once and – right. Yes. Of course they would. They’d know that Arianne’s family owns Sunspear Inc., which – well, Jeyne has always read on newspapers that they’re pretty much the ethical version of Lannister Inc., which pretty much makes sense. It’s not the kind of ridiculous stock exchange monster that Lannister Inc. is, but they own the most successful coffee shop chain in the city, a television channel that focuses on what Arianne’s father likes to call intelligent broadcasting and that it’s famous for letting the journalists working on the newscast say whatever they want without giving them orders from above, a publishing house just for struggling young writers and, mostly, an indie record label. Arianne’s dad runs the coffee chain and the television channel, her aunt Elia supervises the contability and her uncle worries about the label and the publisher, but it’s not a family thing like Lannister Inc. – some of Arianne’s cousins work for it, but it was because they wanted to.

“And I really think that my uncle would like to at least hear this,” she says, turning the demo between her hands.

“You’re joking,” Robb whispers.

“Absolutely not. I meant it before – you’re good. And believe me, my uncle wouldn’t give a shit about what his relatives like to play,” Arianne says nodding towards Theon. “And if you’re good, you do deserve a chance at least. So, what about it?”

“If – if you think he’d be interested…” Theon says, obviously fishing for words. “I didn’t even try sending it there because it was way too big for someone starting, but –”

“I’ll let you know then. And now please tell me how did you the three of you end up in the same bed, because she’s not telling me anything.”

It’s obvious that she’s not serious – the four of them break out laughing a moment after she’s finished talking, and then everyone but Robb gets another round of drinks (he’s obviously decided that he’ll sacrifice himself and drive on the way back).

She doesn’t miss that Theon’s left hand shakes a bit even if it’s pressed flat against the table.

--

Arianne calls Theon two days later – they exchanged numbers – and the phone rings during dinner.

“That’d be your best friend,” Theon says as he answers. “Hi. Yeah, sure, everything’s good. What? He heard it? Oh. Oh. All right. Sure thing. Yes, of course we can do that. Woah. I just – thank you, you didn’t have to – oh. All right, all right, I won’t. Yes. Sure. We’ll see you on Saturday then? Perfect. Should we bring anything? Fine. Fine, thanks again.”

He closes the call, looking at the phone as if it’s some kind of ghost.

“Uhm. She says hi to you,” he tells Jeyne. “And Stark? Get ready.”

“What?”

“He’s meeting us this Saturday at two in the afternoon. Oberyn Martell, I mean.”

“Wait. Wait, he’s actually hearing us out?”

“She said that he liked it, but then a couple of his daughters heard it too and they told him that if he didn’t hire us they’d be extremely displeased, so he said sure, he’s going to hear us out. Woah. I think I need a fucking drink.”

“I think I need ten,” Robb declares, and Jeyne doesn’t stop them from breaking out the alcohol.

If anything, they don’t go to bed for a long time after it, and the next morning she feels definitely sore, but it was entirely worth it.

--

That Saturday, she has to be at work – Riverrun has a game against Highgarden – and so she can’t go with them. Pity, because she’d have liked to see the scene, but she supposes that she’ll get a report.

On cue, her cellphone rings during the second half of the game and since there’s no need of her, she answers.

It’s Robb.

“Hey. How did it go?” Jeyne asks.

“Uh. Wow. We – he hired us. Or so it seems.”

So it seems?”

“I just – I’m not even sure it happened for real? And can you believe that he said that he knew he was going to hire us after he saw the video that someone shot that fucking time we sang that ridiculous song about the krakens?”

“Wait, that one of the crappy folk festival where everyone was drunk, no one could play and you invited a kid on stage to help you, and it was about the two krakens hooking up?”

That one. Like, he said that if we could manage to make that crowd wake up and actually cheer at us while keeping a straight face and playing better than everyone else even if it was a horrid song, then we’re automatically better than half of the bands working for him. Then Theon looked at whatever contract he had already prepared and he was about to cry in gratitude or something.”

“Why?”

“According to him, it was actually fair? I have no clue, it’s not like I know how this works, but he does and he said that no one gets that good of a contract when starting out and when they really can’t bargain. Anyway, uhm, we’re supposed to do four records for him with related small tours, I guess, and oh, wait, you don’t know the best part.”

“And that’d be?”

“First he says that the name was pretty damn good. Then – uhm. That was after we signed and everything. So, apparently Arianne spilled something? Anyway, he asks us if we’re in a three-way thing with you, and we say yes, and then he shrugs and says that it was too bad if we were an exclusive three-way thing, and I think I was gaping because then he started laughing and said that he was joking – because we were too young.

At that Jeyne just loses it and laughs loud enough that one of the players on the bench turns to look at her.

“What’s so ridiculously funny about that?”

“That’s just the way he is,” Jeyne manages to say when she regains her breath. “Don’t worry, he wasn’t proposing to you. Though I think that he probably meant it when he said that he’d give it a go if you were available and not half his age.”

She can kind of feel Robb blushing on the other side of the phone.

“Yeah, uhm, so, he also said that since he’s sure he invested his money well we should totally go to dinner tonight, possibly with your best friend attending and possibly with you attending and I didn’t gather who else. You up for it?”

“Of course. And Robb? Congratulations.”

She’d have wanted to talk to him more but they call her because someone just sprained their ankle on field and so she has to go, but she can’t help smiling to herself as she goes back to work.

There’s reason why her mother never liked her choice in friends, and Jeyne supposes that dinners that Oberyn Martell organizes are on the endless list, and now she kind of can’t wait to see Robb’s reaction to the entire thing.

--

Arianne picks her up – they go for what used to be the first Sunspear shop, which is now a medium-budget restaurant on two floors. (Both Doran and Oberyn Martell firmly believe that high class restaurants are a waste of resources and that there’s no point in robbing people of their money, which is why Sunspear prices at the coffee shops are remarkably low for the average and that the only restaurant they own is somewhere most people could afford to eat.)

“Does he always do that? Your uncle, I mean.”

“Do what?” Arianne asks as she parks the car.

“Invite to dinner the people he’s just hired.”

“Oh, that. Most times, yes. He believes in a good environment, not in scaring the living shit out of the people who work for you. Which – well, I can’t disagree with that.”

Definitely not like Tywin Lannister, Jeyne thinks as she feels thankful all over again that she doesn’t work for him anymore.

“Good point. So who else is there? Robb didn’t sound too sure.”

“No clue. The two of them, us, maybe Ellaria? My dad is out interviewing to hire new people for the newscast, so I’m pretty sure he won’t be there. But considering that all of my little cousins were enamored with the demo, I’m afraid you’ll get some concurrence.”

“Arianne, the oldest is twelve. Excuse me if I don’t feel much threatened.”

“… that would also be a point, I guess. Well, considering that they’re probably in already we should go rescue your poor boyfriends. Dorea went completely batshit crazy over that first demo I think, if she’s in already she’ll be scaring them to death.”

Considering that Dorea is six, Jeyne kind of can’t wait to see the scene.

--

As Arianne predicted, they’re in fact the last to arrive – the waiter cheerfully tells them that they’re waiting for them at the upper floor. At said upper floor, there’s a table for twelve with two free places.

And oh dear, Arianne was also right about who’s attending. Oberyn Martell is there, along with his partner Ellaria (they never were married even if they’ve been together for fifteen years or so) and their three girls, going from twelve to six. There’s Arianne’s little brother Trystane as well, and right, Robb and Theon are there already, too.

Jeyne kind of wants to break down laughing at the scene they walk in – Arianne wasn’t lying about her little cousins being into Starkjoy. Theon has apparently gotten it easy – Elia (the oldest) is kind of crowding him and asking explanations about some arrangement, and until that nothing to say. If Jeyne doesn’t remember wrong she’s studying either guitar or piano or something, so it’s not surprising that she’d go corner the one who deals with the technical stuff.

What really takes the crown is that the other two are all over Robb at the same time, and the moment Jeyne walks in, Obella is calmly telling him that his hair is really pretty. Dorea comments that it’s as pretty as his voice.

Robb is blushing as red as said hair and looking like he has no clue of what he should do, especially since they are the boss’s daughters.

And since the boss is a pretty perceptive guy, he doesn’t have to ask himself that too long.

“Don’t mind them,” Oberyn says half-smiling. “Also you two, stop embarrassing him in front of his girlfriend.”

“Hi everyone,” Jeyne says, still trying not to break down laughing. “And don’t worry, I’m fine with it. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

“I haven’t –”

“Stark, I think you really don’t want me to open that can of worms. I have almost twenty years’ worth of embarrassing things to say,” Theon says very calmly before going back to explaining Elia how exactly you play that note in that way – Jeyne doesn’t even attempt to follow. There are two empty chairs, one of Robb’s side and one on Theon’s, which she suspects were supposed to be theirs.

“Girls,” Ellaria says, “come on, make her sit where she was supposed to and stop trying to steal her boyfriend from her, it’s not like he’d look at you twice.”

Robb goes even redder and Jeyne just smiles amiably before sitting on the other side.

“I have no problem sitting here,” she says, “it’s not like I don’t see him every other day. The girls can stay there.”

Arianne sits next to her and Robb sends her a betrayed look before surrendering to the situation and not even blinking when Dorea brings her chair right next to his even if there should be some space between them.

Oberyn merely smirks at him, a hint of white teeth showing. “Don’t worry, this isn’t going to get your fired.”

“I’m so glad I’m here to see this,” Arianne whispers to Jeyne as Robb surrenders to Dorea’s request when she asks him if she can touch his hair.

Jeyne can only echo the sentiment – a moment later Theon winks at her after nodding in Robb’s direction and she winks back. They’ll make it up to him later, she supposes.

For some kind of miracle, they do manage to eat at some point, and after a while Robb just decides to go with it, to the point that when Dorea pulls her how can you refuse me anything face and asks him if she can share the chair with him he rolls his eyes and moves a bit so that she can do it.

Meanwhile Elia is looking at Theon as if he’s sharing some secret of the universe with her, this when Theon isn’t discussing touring and practical contract-related matters with Oberyn, while Trystane is not too subtly texting someone. Arianne rolls her eyes.

“Fraternizing with the enemy,” she whispers to Jeyne a moment later.

“What?”

“New girl friend at school. Incidentally, Cersei Lannister’s daughter. From before she divorced from Robert Baratheon, obviously – I think it wasn’t that much later. At least she’s nice,” Arianne says with a shrug before going back to her food.

“Oh, and Jeyne? I’m not one for that kind of advice, but your boyfriend? You should totally have his kids, if you ever want to.”

Jeyne almost chokes on her Coke.

“Wait – what – which one? And fuck, Arianne, I think it’s a bit early for that?”

“Never said you had to do that now. Just saying. And I mean the one actually dealing with a six year old pulling on his hair, though I suppose the other might have potential.”

Jeyne looks in Robb’s direction, since he’s obviously the one Arianne was referring to.

Oh. Dorea is, in fact, pulling on his hair – not too much though – and he’s letting her without complaining – actually he’s kind of trying to keep a straight face as he eats his chips and keeps an arm around her waist since she’s on the same chair as him and who knows if she could fall down. This while assuring Obella that when they’re done with their record the first copy he’ll sign will be hers – he also sounds as if he really doesn’t believe that he could get to the point where he signs records.

It’s so ridiculously adorable that she thinks that her teeth might rot at once.

“Isn’t that interesting.”

She jerks towards her left, seeing that Theon has just switched places with Trystane – the latter is now talking to Elia, who has apparently had enough of discussing guitar playing.

“That looks like some corny commercial,” Arianne agrees after taking a sip from her beer.

Robb glares at the three of them for a second before going back to his discussion with Obella.

“How is he even real,” Theon mutters.

Jeyne is mentally agreeing with it. Then she shrugs and figures that no one is going to have a problem with it, and she puts her hand on Theon’s over the table – to his credit, he only stiffens for a moment before threading his fingers with hers.

“Oh, but you hadn’t told me!” Ellaria says a moment later, when she notices. Then she glares at Oberyn.

“I thought it was obvious,” he replies with a shrug, and then sends her a look that (in Jeyne’s opinion) would have made a lesser woman faint for the intensity. Ellaria is apparently not taking any of that, though.

“Is – is it a problem?” Robb asks.

Ellaria bursts out laughing. “You’re adorable, do you know that? Of course it isn’t.”

“By the way,” Theon asks, “I was wondering… uhm, should we keep this entire thing under wraps or what? I mean, I didn’t ask what your business policy would be, but –”

He doesn’t finish the sentence – Oberyn has burst out laughing at that, too. As hard as his partner.

“… what did I just say?” Theon asks, confused.

“Lad, that’s the least thing you should worry about. The company policy is that if you want to keep it private then it’s your business, but if you don’t, I can find more than one way to make sure it helps you sell records rather than the contrary.”

Robb flushes red again, and then both girls sitting around him look at Jeyne and Theon.

Then Elia moves behind her little sisters. “Come on, let him go to the other side. And that’s some nice taste,” she whispers in Robb’s ear. Then she nods towards Theon.

Jeyne is seriously having a hard time trying not to laugh so hard that she might cry.

Anyway, they do let him go and Robb goes to sit in between the two of them – by now all the plates are confused, but Jeyne figures that no one is caring by this point.

“I hate you both,” he hisses as he drops down on the chair. The fact that his fingers totally wrap around Theon’s wrist the moment he does completely denies that statement, though.

“You wish,” Jeyne tells him as she puts an arm around his waist.

“Oh, but aren’t they’re so adorable,” Obella sighs from the other side of the table.

 

And she’s eight. Jeyne doesn’t even want to think about it.

He still has the prettiest hair though,” Dorea declares as she grabs one of used-to-be-Robb’s fries.

“I’m not going to disagree with that,” Theon replies amiably as his fingers wrap around Robb’s under the table.

“Me neither,” Jeyne agrees. “Sorry, Robb, mine couldn’t be that pretty even if I tried.”

“Try dying it, I’m pretty sure red would look great on the both of you.”

Robb says that with a perfectly straight face, probably realizing that he can’t win this any other way, and for a moment everyone falls silent.

Then Theon starts laughing and she has to follow and pretty much everyone else does.

“Jeyne,” Arianne tells her while she wipes tears out of her eyes, “don’t ever let your mother convince you to rethink your life choices, all right?”

“Oh, I really don’t think it’s ever happening,” Jeyne replies as she does the same and she feels Robb’s fingers wrapping around hers.

No, she thinks as she looks under the table – Theon’s fingers are still wrapped around Robb’s, too, his thumb drawing circles into Robb’s wrist. No way I’m re-thinking my life choices.

--

“Someone tell me that it really happened,” Robb declares later, when the three of them are walking back towards Theon’s car.

“Everything happened, Stark. Including the part where your hair was pulled on for half of the dinner,” Theon replies, and he can’t seem to stop grinning. Jeyne doesn’t complain – it’s a good look on him.

“Well, if our boss doesn’t hate me after that –”

“He was having the time of his life,” Jeyne interrupts him, just wanting to snicker all over again. “Don’t you worry.”

“Shit, look at us. I can’t believe he didn’t make me sign over all the rights on the songs.”

“What?” Jeyne asks.

“That was what happened with my sister – the first label she was with, they made her sign a contract that gave her a percentage on record sales but that was it. She didn’t get anything from her stuff airing on the radio and I think there was some small print in the contract. She couldn’t perform live anything that she had published with them if it wasn’t approved by the label. Say that she wanted to do that at a wedding, they could have sued her or something. Not that anyone except my relatives would want my sister to play at their fucking wedding, but you get the gist. Then she got out of it someway, but basically they try to screw you over when you’re starting out most of the time.”

“And how was yours instead? I mean, your contract.”

“We get seventy per cent of record sales and forty out of the radio and similar, and there wasn’t any small print about the singing rights over bullshit. It was entirely too good.”

“Well, get ready to sign records for the boss’s daughters, at least.”

“Shut it, Stark, and get ready for touring. You’re going to remember your first for the rest of your life.”

“… let me guess, it’s going to be two months of you and me sharing a truck and sleeping in the back of it with the instruments?”

“Don’t be that grim, they’re paying us enough that we can actually afford a motel.”

“Can’t be worse than the folk festival,” Robb declares.

“Considering that it was what got us hired, I think we should stop pretending that it never happened.”

“I can’t fucking believe that,” Robb agrees, but he sounds almost giddy now.

“You should totally put that song on the record,” Jeyne says – fine, it wasn’t exactly Bob Dylan-like lyrics, but it was catchy and the thing about the two gay krakens hooking up was kind of adorable, if you ask her.

“Like hell,” they both answer at the same time, and then the three of them look at each other and break down laughing – Theon has to lean on a wall to stop himself from falling down on his own feet.

“And we aren’t even that drunk,” Robb mutters as he sits down on the ground next to Theon – Jeyne falls down on her knees in front of the both of them.

“Stark, you’re the only one who’s actually drank something. I have to drive, or did you forget that?” Theon punches him in the side without much effort and Robb shakes his head before standing up. He’s not holding himself too straight though, so Jeyne goes on his other side and puts an arm around his waist – Theon does the same and she shivers when his arm nestles under hers.

“I can walk, you know,” Robb protests.

“Sure, but I don’t think we mind. Do we?”

Theon winks at Jeyne as he says it.

“Absolutely not,” she answers, smiling wider as Robb’s arm goes around her neck.

So maybe it takes them a while to get to the car, and maybe instead of leaving as soon as they get there, they end up crashing on the backseat in a tangle of limbs where Robb is in the middle and she and Theon somehow are still touching each other. This, after Theon turns on the radio.

“Theon, seriously? Joni Mitchell? And Woodstock? Can’t you be more predictable?”

Jeyne doesn’t pay attention about the subsequent Joni Mitchell-related bickering and hides her face against Robb’s shoulder while she feels Theon’s hand grab her fingers.

She has this feeling that going for this three way thing might really have been the best thing that happened to the three of them, and for the first time the thought doesn’t feel scary or too huge at all. It merely feels right. And she’s sure that she’s not the only one thinking the same right now.

End.