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PICSET

“Sansa!” she heard her name called through a crowd, as the crowd splits and she see’s Arya, waving with a cardboard sign reading, Sansy Pants

Sansa laughed, as pushed her cart to Arya, pulling her in for a hug. Gods, its good to be home, with family, safe. “I’ve missed you!”

“We’ve missed you too! We’re so happy you’re back, also fair warning Mom is throwing you a surprise welcome home dinner tonight!” Arya shrugged, “I wasn’t supposed to tell you, but you hate surprises.”

Sansa laughed and shakes her head, “Of course she is, I appreciate the heads up. Can we stop at your apartment on the way home then?” She looked down at her velour track suit and Uggs, “this really isn’t mom surprise dinner appropriate

They both laughed, heading towards the parking garage, “of course!”

It has been years since Sansa’s been home, she left years ago for College in Dorne and got a really great job right of school. She didn’t think she would ever come home, not for good at least, but … well she had to come home.

Sansa’s dad owned Stark Development Enterprise, a property development firm, focusing on both residential and commercial properties, he was currently acting CEO. Robb, Sansa’s older brother and Jon, her cousin but basically brother, were both brought into the company out of college.

Robb was currently a VP of residential properties, while Jon was VP of commercial. Both being groomed to eventually take on when Ned decides to retire. Arya was currently working under the head of marketing; she would eventually move up in the company as well.

Sansa didn’t see anything wrong with working for the family business, she just never really wanted to. She wanted to make something for herself outside of the name Stark. So, she went to college in Dorne instead of Kings Landing like her siblings.

Sansa had graduated with a degree in financial management and the completed her master’s in economics. She got a job offer right out of school, in Dorne, and was finally making something of herself.

Once she made the decision to come home, she knew her parents would insist on her working for the firm. She applied as an independent contractor directly to the VP of finance for an open position, and she applied under a fake name. Alayne Stone.

The VP, Davos Seaworth, was new and didn’t know who she was when she did her interviews virtually. The job was a year long contract, where Sansa would be acting as an independent financial analyst. In other words, Sansa was her own business and Stark Enterprise was contracting out to her. It was the only loophole she could work within.

Ned had such trust in his upper management team, that despite being CEO, didn’t feel the need to micromanage and vet each hire, so It was only after Mr. Seaworth hired her that she revealed who she was, explaining her reasons for the secrecy. Luckily for her, this made Davos respect her more.

She came clean to Ned after that, while he doesn’t love that she won’t come into the family fold, he respects her independence. Sansa had spent her last week in Dorne hibernating in her hotel room and going over the company’s financial statements.

“So dad really brought in a contracting company, eh?” She turned to Arya, who was driving. Usually a bid goes out to the contracting companies for development jobs, however a few months ago they had brought in one specific contractor and named them partner on all commercial properties.

Arya laughed, “he did, trust us it was a shock to us too!” It is rare for development companies to partner with a single contracting firm, and until a few months ago Ned never entertained the thought.

“Why, what made him finally do it?”

“Literally no idea, I mean Jon was obviously involved in all the discussions around it and trust me. These are not the type of guys I expected Dad to partner with.” Sansa tilted her head to the side, confused. Arya continued, “they are, well they’re a little rough around the edges. But Dad loves em’, Jon too. Hell, even suit and tie Robb hangs with them now. They’re good guys!”

Sansa nodded, not sure what to say, what does Arya means by rough around the edges? If Sansa has learned anything over the last year, don’t judge a book by its cover, even the nicest of guys can be total assholes.

“So, why’d you come back? Not that we aren’t happy to have you home, we are, it just seemed really out of the blue!” Arya eyed her quickly, before turning her attention back to the road.

Sansa gave a little smile and shrugged, “It was just time to come home, you know?”

Arya eyes narrowed, “mhm, okay… what about the boyfriend?”

Sansa looked out the window, digging her nails into her palm, “That’s done, so so done.”

---

The rest of the drive to Arya’s was quiet, Sansa assured her she’ll be quick and just grabbed a pair of jeans and a nicer shirt. Casual, but cute Sansa said, so mom doesn’t know Arya let her know about the party.

When they walked into Arya’s condo, they were greeted by Nymeria, Arya and Gendry’s massive husky. Sansa laughed and crouched down, “well hello to you too!”

Gendry joined them from one of the back rooms, giving Sansa a hug after she stands, “Welcome home! We’ve missed ya.”

Arya and Gendry have been together for years, not engaged or married, Arya despises anything traditional so they just happily live in sin, as Catelyn would say. They’re place is the definition of modern, a concrete loft, with concrete floors, wall, counter tops. To Sansa it feels a little cold and industrial, but it suits them.

“So Sans, are the rest of your things being shipped to Winterfell?” Arya asked as she grabbed a drink from the kitchen

“Uh, nope. This is it.” Gendry and Arya both stopped and looked at her, baffled looks on their faces.

“Sansa, you have like 4 suitcases.”

Sansa sighed, “yes.”

Arya comes closer to Sansa, a puzzled look on her face, like she doesn’t understand the riddle. “Sansa, when you left you had 4 suitcases for just your shoes.”

Yes, well. Now I have 4 suitcases in total. I didn’t, I.” Sansa stuttered, unsure of how to continue. She sighed, “I didn’t want any of it anymore. Can I use your washroom to change?”

Gendry comes up behind Arya and puts a hand on her shoulder, “Second door on your left,” pointing to the hall.

As Sansa made her way to the washroom, she heard Gendry say, “Just let it go Arry, she’ll tell you when she’s ready.”

Arya sighed just as she closes the bathroom door, “What the hell happened down there.”

Sansa pressed her back up against the bathroom door Breathe, one. Two. Three. Breathe. She turned her head to look at herself in the mirror and takes a breath. Coward

---

Twenty minutes later and the three of them pulled up to Winterfell, her parents’ estate. The property was massive but truly an architectural beauty. It helped that the Starks were one of the wealthiest families in Westeros.

The main house sat far back from the road, the driveway lined with matured trees that opened to show the beautiful French Provincial style home. Ned had commissioned the property 20 years ago, when Stark Development first became a Fortune 500 company. Sansa loves it here. Here is home

Arya turned to face Sansa in the back, “Remember, you know nothing. If mom found out I told you, she would kill me.”

Sansa laughed as she patted Nymeria, “Your secret is safe, Arya.”

Arya looked at Gendry, “I’m fucked, she was always a terrible liar.” Sansa smiled sadly, If only you knew Arya, if only you knew.

Sansa managed to pull off her lie as she walked into the family home and was ‘surprised’ to see all her friends and family in the backyard. Arya hadn’t lied when she said Cat had invited everyone. All her siblings, their significant others, her old friends, some of the staff. Sansa instantly noticed a small group over very, very large men. They were dressed well, but not like the rest of them. There was a tall red-haired man, his long hair pulled into a neat manbun, a shorter yet no less built brunette and a very tanned, very large man with a scar across his eye. She had never seen these men before.

Sansa is pulled from her musing by a loud scream, as her best friend Margaery rushed towards her, she and Margaery had met at Dorne University, and became very close. She had oddly enough accepted a job in Westeros following graduation, so Sansa made sure she introduced her to her friends and family. Margaery fell in with the close group perfectly. “Sansa!” She pulled Sansa in for a hug, “Gosh, I’ve missed you! I am so happy your home!”

Sansa laughed and hugged her back, “I missed you too!”

They were soon joined by Robb, his wife Talisa, her cousin Jon and his girlfriend Ygritte. Sansa loved Ygritte, she was fucking crazy and the perfect contrast to Jon. Jon was in his usual black faded jeans and tight black t-shirt, he hugged her and whispered, “Welcome home, Sansa.” Sansa loved Jon, they weren’t always close when they were younger, but they grew much closer later on.

Sansa turned to Robb and roughed up his hair, “Robert Stark, why the hell are you in a suit.” She laughed.

Robb pouted and attempted to fix his hair, “I just came from the office! Give me a break, Sansa.”

His wife laughed as she hugged Sansa, “You know I’ll be listening to him bitch about his hair all night now, right?”

Sansa laughed, “sorry” and hugged Robb.

Sansa looked at the three men again and asked, “Who are they?”

“Ahh, actually you should probably meet them,” Jon said as he moved in front of Sansa, gesturing for her to follow. “They are 3 out of 4 of the contracting company we partnered with,” Ahhh Sansa mused, she now understood the rough around the edges part. “Tormund, the red head, he and Sandor own the company, Sandor couldn’t make it tonight.”

They made their way over to the men, who had turned when they saw them approaching. “Mr. Snow, nice place your uncle has here.” The dark-skinned man with the facial scar said.

Jon nodded in response and looked at Sansa, “Sansa, I’d like you to meet Tormund, Bronn and Drogo. Boys meet Sansa. She’s Ned’s eldest daughter, and the one that’s been combing through your financials.

Sansa had been looking over the financials for a week and already had some questions, she had emailed with a Clegane but hadn’t heard back yet.

She waved and shook hands with each of them. “I’ve actually emailed one of you I think, Clegane?”

Bronn laughed, “Ahh, no that’s Sandor. Him and Tormund own the company. He wasn’t able to make it tonight.

“Sandor isn’t a fan of parties, he’d rather just work, fuck and sleep.” Tormund said, Sansa’s eyes shot to his a little taken aback by his language.

Robb laughed and patted Tormund on the shoulder, “You’ll get use to the language, it kind of came with the package.”

Sansa smiled politely and excused herself to the kitchen, needing to refresh her drink. She was putting the gin back into the freezer when a voice behind her scared her. Sansa jumped and dropped the bottle, it shattered on the tile. She turned around to see Bronn standing behind her. He took a step back and raised his hand, “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”

Sansa closed her eyes, willing her heartbeat to slow. “Uhm no, I’m. I’m sorry!” She said shakily. “Sorry, sorry, I got some on your shoes!”

Bronn looked at her skeptically as he reached for paper towels, “Don’t know why you’re apologizing, I’m the one who should know not to sneak up on people. It happens to me too.”

Sansa quickly grabbed the dust broom from the pantry, “What happens to you too?”

Bronn grabbed the broom and ushered her away, Sansa was in sandals and she appreciated him cleaning up the glass, “the scares. Loud noises, surprises.”

Sansa kneeled when Bronn finished, cleaning up the gin, “I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

Bronn raised his eyebrow but yielded, “never mind, I must be mistaken. I just came in to apologize for Tormund’s behaviour before I left. He’s crude, you’ll get used to it. Sandor is worse, just to warn you.

Sansa huffed out a laugh, “Wonderful, thanks for the warning.” Sounded like ‘Sandor’ was a freaking peach. Davos had told her Sandor was the one who handled most of the financials, Sansa knew she would be dealing with him a lot.

She said goodbye to Bronn and finished cleaning the mess in the kitchen before heading back outside. She wasn’t sure what, but she felt like change was coming and it made her nervous.

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sandor groaned while reading the follow up email from non other than Sansa Stark on Sunday morning.

Good Morning Mr. Clegane,

I am following up on the email I sent on Wednesday regarding the financial statements from last quarter. If you could reply as soon as possible I would appreciate it. I would also like to meet on Thursday to review your submitted budget for the new Reed Keep development, Jon and Tormund as well.

Thank you,

Sansa Stark

Sandor roughly closed his laptop and pushed it aside on the counter. This is why he went into business for himself, he fucking hates answering to anyone who isn’t the client. Especially little girls who only got the job because it’s daddy’s name on the door.

It hadn’t been his choice to sign onto Stark Developments, and even though the firm was given a lot of freedom within their contracts, they were still required to review financial statements with a member of the Stark team. Sandor liked Davos, blunt and to the point. Then they brought on Sansa Stark.

Sandor was a hard man, he knew he was, stubborn and difficult but he worked hard for everything he had. Tormund and him had built The Wall Contracting from the ground up, starting with basement renos and odd jobs. The last thing he had any interest in doing is sitting in a room with a stuck-up rich girl who had something to prove.

Ned was decent enough, as a CEO of a large enterprise he was surprisingly more relaxed than one would assume. He expected perfection and was far from a push over, but he cared about his employees and he cared about the clients. Robb alright to, young and ambitious but even he was a bit pretentious.

He liked Jon quite a bit, which was good considering they reported directly to him. He was quiet, reserved but smart. He respected where Sandor and Tormund came from, Sandor suspected he had hardships growing up as well, he never spoke of his parents and he was raised by his uncle. Arya was just wild and crude, Sandor liked her the best, she was quite the spit fire. She didn’t give a shit and Sandor could connect with her on that.

He had met most of the Stark’s by now, all except Sansa Stark. When he had gotten her email about being the new financial point person for commercial development, he googled her. She seemed smart enough, having graduated with a masters from Dorne University. It wasn’t hard to get good grades and focus only on school when you have Daddy paying your bills and credit card for you though but even he was impressed that she graduated top of her class. His distain for her only grew when he stumbled upon her Instagram. She was beautiful. He didn’t have an issue with beautiful woman, he had been with pretty girls in the past, but her feed was littered with beautifully poised photos and it bothered him.

Sandor groaned and sat down on the stool, reluctantly he opened his laptop and looked over Sansa’s questions, it was Sunday and he knew he should get back to her by Monday morning, especially since she had scheduled a meeting for Thursday afternoon. He may be pissed about it, but he was still a professional.

---

Sansa was furious, absolutely furious. She had gotten Sandor’s reply on Monday, it was short and to the point and she had given the benefit of the doubt that maybe he just didn’t enjoy emailing or maybe she was reading too much into his snappy reply. She wasn’t.

Jon and Tormund were in her office, Sandor had emailed Jon that there was an issue at one of the sites and he would need to dial in. Sansa bit her tongue although it drove her nuts that he hadn’t emailed her directly.

Sansa was standing, leaning against the windowsill looking angrily at her phone. This man was simply crass, difficult and rude. They had gone way over budget on supplies for the last project and it was Sansa’s job to have a reasonable explanation as to why. Not for her, not even for her father, but to satisfy the board. She wasn’t being difficult, but he sure as hell was. Not that he was being particularly vicious, but he didn’t try to cover his annoyance with her either.

“Listen, girl,” Sandor barked at her through the phone, Jon and Tormund completely fine with sitting back and letting the two of them go at it.

Sansa interrupted, “It’s Sansa, or Miss Stark, actually.” Who did he think he was calling her ‘girl’, she wasn’t some petulant child.

Sandor growled, “Listen, Sansa . The materials we originally quoted were no good.”

Sansa cut him off again, “You keep saying that, but no good how? No good isn’t going to satisfy the board. Were they defective?”

“No.”

“Were they the wrong material?”

“No.”

Sansa tossed her hands in the air, god this man is arrogant. “What then? What was no good about them that you went 7% over budget?”

“They were just no good, fucking shit quality. Could I have used em’, yeah probably but your warranty numbers in 6 months would have been through the roof. I’ll tell you what, Miss Stark , in 6 months when your warranty budget is 7% under budget, you can apologize.” Sandor barked at her, a smugness to his voice that drove her crazy. He knew that he was getting to her, and that was a catalyst for him to continue.

This time Sansa growled, “Well, while I hope that’s the case, Mr. Clegane but I doubt very much that the board is going to be happy that we hope to see a return in 6 months.”

“I don’t give a fuck if they’re happy or not, I’m not going to compromise the development with shit materials.”

“I’m not asking you to!” Sansa rarely let herself lose her cool with a colleague, but this man was infuriating. Even more infuriating because she kept getting distracted by the incredibly sexy rumble to his voice.

“Listen here, girl,” he stopped mid sentence and Sansa heard muffled voices on the other end. “I have to go, I will write an email explaining why we went with the other material to appease your board, okay?” he snapped.

“Again, my name is Sansa, and fine but do me a favour this time? Be sure to email it to me and not Jon.” Sansa forcibly ended the call.

Jon and Tormund said nothing, but their faces gave them again, their lips pursed tightly and Tormund near shaking while trying to control himself. Sansa sighed and turned around to look out the office window. “Oh, let it out then.” She said, and laughter invaded her office. She knew they would have jumped in his Sandor was being completely unreasonable, and maybe Sansa was too frustrated to understand the humour in the situation.

She didn’t technically need to be given an office, but she appreciated her father doing so since she wasn’t closing on her house for a week. Sansa stared out the office windows overlooking Westeros while Jon and Tormund composed themselves.

Sansa turned when the snickering had receded, “you two finished?”

Tormund wiped a tear from his eye and looked at Jon, “Well shit, this is gonna be a fucking blast Johnny Boi!” He turned to look at Sansa, “I have seen very few people get that deep under Sandor’s skin, but you’ve managed to fuck yourself nice and deep in there.” He started laughing again.

Sansa wrinkled her nose at Tormund’s crass language, “well, that’s a very… colourful way to put it, Tormund,” he smiled proudly at her, “but I don’t know what I did!”

Jon stood, “he’ll come around, Sansa. He’s good at what he does, really good, they both are. He’s just gruff, and you haven’t gotten to know his tone yet. That’s just Sandor, he barks at everyone”

Sansa huffed, “but I wasn’t questioning his ability to do his job, Jon. I was just questioning the numbers. Which is my job, by the way.” She had dealt with plenty of jerks. Men who don’t respect her because she’s young, pretty and a girl, who try to railroad her because they are stronger. She had dealt with it enough, she sure as hell wasn’t going to lay down and take it at work.

“Ahh darlin’, don’t take it personally. Sandor doesn’t love answering to people who haven’t earned his trust and his respect, those aren’t freely given with Sandor.” Tormund stood and left Sansa’s office, leaving Sansa to seethe by herself.

Respect may be earned, but professional curtesy should be freely given,

Sansa grumbled as she went back to work. As the day passed, Sansa was no less irked by Sandor Clegane and she couldn’t shake her annoyance with him. She didn’t demand respect, and sure as hell didn’t demand trust. If anyone had a reason not to trust people, it was Sansa but never had she dealt with such a crude, unprofessional human being. With a voice like a Greek god, Sansa shook her head. No, no. He was rude and incorrigible; Sandor Clegane was NOT going to be a Sansa Stark fantasy.

---

By the time Saturday rolled around, Sansa was tired. It had been one hell of a week. Starting a new job was always exhausting, but Sansa had been pouring over financial statements and budgets for all the current and upcoming commercial developments, trying to gain some traction before the quarterly board meeting in a couple weeks.

As promised, she had Sandor’s email by early Friday morning. It was amazing how polite and professional he could sound when he wasn’t speaking with her. Sansa scoffed, recalling his polite explanation in the email. Would it have been so difficult to have just spoken to her that way?

Sansa knew dealing with Sandor would be a rocky road until they came to some mutual understanding about the appropriate way to communicate with each other. Not that Sansa couldn’t handle it, she could. She knew her stuff and was good at her job, she just hadn’t been prepared for it.

Margaery had texted Sansa Friday about going out Saturday night. Just old friends and her siblings, Margaery had promised. Sansa wasn’t thrilled with the idea of going out, she just wanted to curl up with a pint of Hagen Dazs and Game of Thrones on the TV, but even she knew going out wouldn’t be the worst idea.

It had been a long time since she had just gone out with friends and enjoyed herself, and she worked hard this week, she deserved it. She agreed and headed over to Margaery’s place to get ready.

“So, I really want to hookup with that construction worker,” Margaery said casually as they finished getting dressed.

Sansa nearly spit out her drink she sputtered, “What? Why?” Margaery shot her a shot, “No, I didn’t mean it like that, but that never used to be your type... Also, which one?”

“Bronn, and I know. But I’ve done the pretty boy thing, plus aren’t you curious? Those boys are hugee , Sans. Don’t you wonder if that includes their fun bits?” she winked at Sansa.

Sansa rolled her eyes, “really, Margaery?” Suddenly it dawned on her, “Margaery… who else is coming tonight?”

Margaery sheepishly looked away and Sansa twirled to face her, “no! no, no no! You didn’t!” Margaery smiled and Sansa groaned, “you invited them, all of them? Please tell me all of them doesn’t include Sandor Clegane.”

Margaery smiled and shrugged, “I mean, I don’t know for sure that he’s coming…”

Sansa huffed, “ughhh, the last thing I wanted tonight was to hang out with Sandor Clegane. The guy is a jerk, Marg!”

Margaery came over to Sansa and put her arms on her shoulders, “I’m sorry! It was the only way I could get Bronn to come and Sansa, I realllly realllly need to get laid!”

Sansa exhaled and shot Margaery an incredulous look, “You owe me! Big time!”

Margaery squealed, “Oh yay! Also, if he doesn’t show you don’t have to worry about it and if he does,” Margaery spun Sansa towards the full-length mirror, “if he does, you look fucking hot!”

Sansa had finally settled on a pair of high waisted jeans and a white bralette and her leather jacket. It was a little riskier than Sansa usually dressed, but she was single, and she looked good!

---

A few hours later and a whole lot of drinks and Sansa was surprisingly having a really great time. All her siblings had come out, with their significant others, a few other friends from high school and the contractors, sans Sandor, which was the best part.

Sansa was really beginning to like the newbies in the group, she figured the change of scenery was probably at their influence, they were really the type of guys to fit in at posh boujee clubs. Tormund was even more crude with a few drinks in him, but Sansa did eventually get used to it, she didn’t like it, but she stopped caring as much. Luckily for Margaery, Bronn seemed just as interested in her and she was in him, the two of them off in their own little world. Drogo had brought his girlfriend Dany, she was a little fiery but sweet, and so tiny compared to Drogo he basically devoured her.

She turned from the bar after grabbing another drink and was headed back to the group when she walked right into a wall, or at least what felt like a wall. She sighed, realizing the contents of her drink were spilled all over the floor.

“Watch where you’re going.” Came the rumble of a voice in front of her.

Sansa shook her head, “Sorry, I’m so sorry, I wasn’t paying attention, clearly,” she laughed nervously and looked at the man standing in front of her. He was huge. Sansa could see the way his shirt stretched across his muscular chest, he had a short beard and Sansa could see scars on the right side of his face. He was handsome, but not in a usual way, just in a really freaking hot way. “Did I spill your drink, I can buy you another o-”

The man cut her off, “Quit your chirping, girl.”

“My name is San..” no, no freaking way, that voice.

“Sandor! My main man!” Drogo came bounding over. “you made it!” Sandor held out his hand to Drogo and pulled him in for a hug. Drogo looked at Sansa with an amused look on his face, “I see you’ve finally met Sansa.”

Sandor looked at Sansa and unapologetically looked her up and down before taking a pull from his beer, “so it would seem.”

Sansa narrowed her eyes, “the appropriate greeting would be, hello.”

Sandor hummed in response, she saw his lip quickly tilt upwards. He was teasing her and it bothered her, “is that so?”

Sansa was annoyed, this man, this arrogant arrogant man. “Yes, normally that’s a usual response when meeting someone for the first time.”

Sandor gave a small, smug smile and shrugged, “okay,” he turned and walked away.

Sansa was left stunned; did he just walk away from her?

---

Of all his fucking luck to run, literally, into Sansa Stark at the bar. He obviously couldn’t acknowledge who she was, what was he supposed to say, ‘ya I googled you, I know who you are’. No, that wouldn’t be happening.

He knew she would be there tonight, Bronn had told him when he called. He’s all hot and heavy for Sansa’s friend and told him it would be fun. Sandor had every intention of not showing up tonight, he had no interest in seeing Sansa quite yet, not following their conversation on Thursday. But the fuckers wouldn’t leave him be, texting him all fucking day until he agreed.

Watching Sansa get flustered and eye him up like a piece of meat what interesting though, girls like her usually goes for pretty boys and not ugly old dogs with fucked up faces, although she hadn’t looked to closely at his face and was mostly looking at his body, which was in peak physical condition he would admit. Partially from his job, mostly just because he enjoyed working out and being healthy.

The woman got flustered at the drop of a hat and watching her annoyed scowl when he didn’t immediately greet her was entertaining. Spoiled rich girl was clearly used to rich boys raised with perfect manners. He had manners, he held doors and he was respectful but something about Sansa, god the woman made him rage. He knew he was toying with her, but hell if he had to spend the next 12 months answering to her, he may as well get some amusement out of it. He actually enjoyed going toe to toe on Thursday and ruffling her feathers, and hated that it was cut short due to a problem at the site. She could hold her own at least, he'd give her credit for that.

He watched as she sauntered over to Margaery, clearly still aggravated by their previous interaction he watched as she expressively told Margaery something, their meeting he assumed. He rolled his eyes, such a brat he mused. A hot brat . She was beautiful, possibly one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen, tall but still tiny compared to him with legs that went on for days. She knew she was though, and that drove Sandor crazy, her tight jeans and little top, he hadn’t even been in the bar 10 minutes and he had caught man after man leering at her.

Drogo clapped a hand on his shoulder, “My man, did you need to be such an ass?”

Sandor looked up and saw Tormund and Bronn shaking their heads. “I wasn’t as ass.”

Tormund snorted, “I’m sure you were. What do you got against the she wolf? She’s not bad, smart, pretty, nice.”

Sandor shrugged, “don’t like people who think they are worth more because of how much money Daddy puts in their accounts.”

“You like all the other Starks,” Drogo said.

Bronn nearly choked on his beer, “no fucking shit, you think she’s hot. That’s why you’re such an asshole. Like a bully picking on his crush at school.”

Sandor shook his head, “Fuck off, no I don’t. She’s hot, yeah, you’d all say the same. She’s stuck up, the other Stark’s aren’t.”

Sandor looked back over to Sansa, she was laughing now with some nerdy looking kid he didn’t know, he watched her arch her back slightly when she laughed which accentuated her curves. He swallowed as he listened to her laugh prettily and give this chump a blinding smile. No, he definitely didn’t like Sansa Stark, and even if he was attracted to her she would never like an old dog like him.

Chapter Text

PICSET

“Sansa, pleaseee,” Margaery begged.

“No, Marg. I already went out last night. I don’t want to go to a party next weekend, especially not one with Sandor Clegane.” Sansa shook her head, “besides, Bronn invited you.”

“No, no technically he invited us. Please Sansa, I don’t want to go alone!” Margaery whined.

Sansa casually sipped on her morning coffee, breakfast after a night out was a Margaery Sansa ritual since University.

“Besides, its Tormund’s birthday! You like Tormund.”

Sansa would admit she had fun last night, these new guys are crude and loud and huge, but they’re a lot of fun. Knowing they all came from the army, Sandor and Bronn being ex seals, Sansa felt safe, having men like them around, having them as friends wouldn’t be the worst thing.

After Sansa had vented to Margaery about Sandor’s lack of decorum at their little introduction, Sansa couldn’t help but notice Sandor throughout the night. She was fairly certain that he enjoyed bating her and toying with her, as if Sansa was going to allow herself to be a toy for another man’s amusement, no that would never happen again. Even so, Sandor was every bit as gruff and crude with his buddies, but it was better natured, he joked and drank and looked like he was enjoying himself.

Good god, the man was built, and incredibly handsome even with the scars. I wonder what it would be like to be on the receiving end of all that male energy, Sansa blushed at the thought and shook her head. No, Sandor Clegane was a jerk, the last thing she would ever do again was be with a man who didn’t deserve her. She deserved someone kind.

Sansa sighed, “Okay, fine. I’ll go.” Margaery smiled at Sansa, “where is this party anyways?” Sansa asked.

Margaery’s smile fell and she looked away sheepishly, “uhmmm.”

Sansa groaned, Oh no, Sansa knew her friend. Margaery was unapologetically confidant and Sansa had a feeling she knew exactly what the cause of her hesitation was.

“Oh god, where?”

Margaery smiled shyly, “well it’s so of, at Sandor’s house.”

Sansa scowled and looked at Margaery in disbelief, of course she left of this tidbit of information until after Sansa had agreed.

 “ugh, Margaery!” she groaned.

Just her luck, not only would she have to see Sandor, she would be in his house. Even if Sandor seemed to lack basic manners, Sansa did not, and she would remain respectful towards the owner of the house, even if she didn’t want to.

Well damnit.

Still, Sansa found herself curious about Sandor’s home, what was his style, was he neat, is it somewhere Sansa could see herself. Hold up, where the heck did that come from!

---

Sandor sighed, pushing the architectural drawings aside on his desk, unable to focus on anything because his mind was plagued by thoughts of Sansa fucking Stark, and they had been since two nights ago at the bar.

She was even more beautiful in person, stunning really, but that’s not what had him so unfocused, it was the fact that she was nothing like he imagined, and that made him feel like a fucking prick.

Watching her at the bar that night with her friends, her family, she was nice. She wasn’t stuck up or pretentious. She didn’t even seem to realize quite how stunning she was.

If anyone had been on the opposite end of being judge by their appearance it was Sandor. The scars on his face, though they were significantly better thanks to modern equipment and plastic surgery, were always cause for people to judge him. When he was younger, in high school, they either sent people running or were target practice for shitty jokes.

It’s why he joined the army. He was so pissed off and all he wanted to do was do something decent but he was never going to get a shot in hell with his face.

Once he was discharged with honours and he had some money for once in his life, he had any surgery the doctors thought would repair his face. It had helped a lot, enough that people adjusted to his face quicker, he was able to grow a beard to cover the burns by his lip and lower jaw but even with all the plastic surgery in the world, he’d never forget what it was like to be judged, stared at or avoided because of the scars.

That’s exactly what he had done with Sansa, judged her because of her looks. Which didn’t even make sense to him. He had nothing against pretty women. He sure as fuck wasn’t a virgin, surprisingly the scars didn’t cause woman to go running and screaming, especially once they found out he was an ex-seal. They didn’t usually last for more than one or two fucks but that was usually his choice, he never wanted to get serious, he had no interest in wifing anyone up, the domestic life just wasn’t for him.

Still, something about Sansa stirred this feeling inside of him, and the mere thought that she would reject him caused him to go on the defensive. He’d never felt like that, he never gave a shit if a woman would reject him or not, especially a woman he had no plans to actually go after.

Sansa Stark was off limits for him, the bosses daughter, the other bosses cousin. She wasn’t the type of girl you just fuck, she was the kind of girl you marry. House, ring, wedding, kids, a fucking dog maybe. She wasn’t what Sandor wanted and he could never offer her all that – so he had to stay away.

Sandor threw his head back and closed his eyes, taking a deep breathe before getting back to work. Despite knowing he misjudged her solely based on her looks and whatever fucked up insecurities she caused him to feel, he still didn’t like his business decisions being questioned, and that’s all Sansa seemed to do.

He was good at his job, damn good at his job, as were all the guys he and Tormund employed. They were straight, didn’t do shady shit like a lot of other contractors did, she needed to trust that they knew what they were doing and would do what was best for the clients and the firm.

---

On Wednesday, Sansa was in her office reviewing files when Ned knocked on her door and she waved him in.

“Hi San, how’s it going?”

Ned walked into her office and sat down, Sansa knew how happy he was to finally have her at Stark, even if it was on her terms and she knew a part of him respected her need for independence.

“Good, I’ll have those reports to Jon for review before sending the off to you before Friday.”

Ned nodded; she knew she didn’t need to explain herself to him. Despite her name, Ned knew how talented Sansa was. How smart she was.

“Good, good. So, do you have some time for your old man today?”

Sansa assumed Ned wanted to go out for lunch or grab a coffee, she nodded.

“Of course.”

Ned stood and clapped his hands together, grabbing her bag off her coat rack and handing it too her.

“Great! We’ll grab Jon and we’ll go. I wanted you to see the new development, the one you’ve been reviewing the financials on. Jon mentioned he was due to go check out the site today and I thought we’d join him.”

Sansa frowned, “Dad, I’m not really dressed to visit a job site.”

Sansa looked down, she was wearing a white blouse, black pencil skirt and a pair of stilettos. Not exactly constriction zone appropriate.

“You’ll be fine, we’ll get you a hard hat and keep you on the perimeter.”

Ned popped his head out of the office and shouted, “Jon, ready to go?”

Sansa sighed, knowing there was no way of getting out of this little visit, she could only hope Sandor wouldn’t be on site today.

“Ready, Sandor is going to meet us at the site.” Jon said as he joined them in the hall.

Well, crap.

The drive over to the site was relatively quick, only 15 minutes, Jon drove as he and Ned chatted about the development and Sansa responded to emails in the back seat. Ned turned to Sansa.

“I heard you got a chance to meet the Sandor, finally.”

Sansa trained her face not to display her true thoughts on the man.

“I did, yes. Over the phone last week and in person on Saturday.”

“And?” Ned probed, “what did you think?”

Sansa narrowed her eyes at the sudden line of questioning, wondering why her Dad cared so much about what Sansa thought of his new partner.

“Hes… passionate about the projects, why?”

“You know, when I first met the man and we were negotiating on a project, he basically told me to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.” Sansa arched her eyebrow; Ned usually wasn’t the type to take disrespect like that, let alone offer long fought for partnership. Ned continued.

“I see something in him, and Tormund. Not sure what it is, but just give him a chance.”

Sansa huffed, she had given Sandor a chance. She did her job, and she did it respectfully. He did his job, and he did it like a jerk.

“Yes, Dad.”

“We’re Here,” Jon said as he parked the car, Sansa could see the smirk on face. Why in the seven did he keep smirking, what in the heck was so damn amusing about her and Sandor?

Ned and Jon greeted Sandor, Sansa slowly getting out of the vehicle. Sandor turned to her as Ned and Jon were talking,

“I’ve heard the appropriate greeting would be hello,” Sansa narrowed her eyes at the smirk forming on his face, his handsome, handsome face.  

It took everything in Sansa not to respond, going against every manner screaming at her not to be rude, but instead of responding she gave Sandor a sarcastic grin, to which he scowled and narrowed his eyes as he looked her up and down.

“You are not dressed for a job site,” he barked. “You’re gonna break an ankle in those heels.” The he turned and walked away.

Sansa again left stunned, and annoyed. No crap she wasn’t dressed for a job site, she knew that, she wasn’t an idiot. Part of her wanted to shout after him and inform him that she was aware she wasn’t properly dressed, because she was annoyed that he got the drop on her.

Again.

---

Ned was asking about some of the structural supports on the interior of the building, luckily Tormund was on site today because Sandor sure as fuck couldn’t concentrate when she showed up looking like that.

He figured she had probably come straight from the office, considering Ned was a last-minute addition to the meeting, he assumed Sansa was as well, so he hadn’t needed to snap on her for the way she was dressed, but fuck. Sandor had committed to staying away from her and then she showed up looking like hot for teacher and Sandor couldn’t focus on anything except Sansa.

Naked

Naked except those fucking heels.

For the first time ever, Sandor felt like he couldn’t control herself around a woman. That never happens, it is always on his terms and no one has gotten his blood up like she did. It drove him fucking nuts and pissed him off.

 It wasn’t because he liked her, of course not, because he didn’t.

Sandor was dragged from his daydreaming by Tormund,

“Right, Sandor?”

Sandor stuttered, “uh, what? Sorry, I was just thinking about the supply order,” Sandor lied. I was just thinking about fucking your daughter in the trailer with her skirt pulled up to her waist.

“The plans, we’re on target for timing and budget?” Tormund clarified as he arched and eyebrow and gave Sandor his ‘what the fuck’ look.

“Yeah, that’s right, on time and on budget.” Sandor confirmed.

Sansa looked at Tormund, a satisfied smirk on her face.

“Well, that’s nice to hear.” She smiled sweetly, and turned back to Jon.

Tormund snorted and Sandor had to use every ounce of control not to literally growl. She was fierce, feisty.

He liked it.

No, no, no. He didn’t like it, he respected it. That’s right, boss’s daughter. He respected the spark.

Sansa kept her face plastered with that fake smile the rest of the meeting, something about Sandor hated it. Her pretending. She was too good at it, too good at smiling as if nothing were wrong. It made him wonder why she had gotten so good at it. She didn’t seem like the type who liked masking her emotions, not that he knew her very well but something deep inside Sandor prayed that she would never look at him that way.

What the fuck is happening to you?

 ---

By the time Saturday rolled around Sansa really didn’t want to go to this party. She really, really didn’t want to see Sandor. Something about him made her feel so… out of control. Which was not something Sansa ever wanted to feel again. She needed control right now. She needed to know that every choice, every decision, every move was on her terms.

Sansa looked at her phone and sighed, be there in 10 minutes! Margaery had texted her. Sansa knew how excited Margaery was about tonight, she was totally smitten with Bronn which was slightly surprising considering he was not Margaery’s usual type. Granted Margaery dipped her toes in different pools now and again, but she seemed genuinely interested in something more with him.

Sansa didn’t even know what her type was anymore, Arya had once told her she was an over corrector, which had made her mad but wasn’t untrue. Sansa’s first boyfriend was a nice guy, really nice – too nice. Pod was kind and gentle, but he was boring, Sansa broke up with him before she left for Dorne and he’s now married with two kids.

After Pod, Sansa overcorrected with Joffrey, a golden-haired pretty boy. Joffrey was anything but nice, he was cocky and smug and could be downright mean, although towards Sansa he was none of those things. At least at first.

Sansa was attracted to his confidence, which looking back was closer to ego. Sansa was a virgin and after they’d had sex he let his true colours show. Sansa caught him cheating and she broke up with him immediately.

Then Ramsay. No. Sansa shook her head to keep the tears at bay. No, she wouldn’t think about him tonight, she wouldn’t think about him ever. She was stronger than that and he didn’t deserve anything more than being a footnote in Sansa’s story.

Sansa’s phoned chimed, Im here! Sansa grabbed her phone and her purse and went down to meet Margaery, sliding into the passenger’s seat.

“Jesus, Margaery. You look great!” She had pulled out all the stops wearing a very tight, very short, very low-cut white dress and a leather jacket.

Margaery smiled and winked, “think Bronn will like it? He likes leather!”

Sansa laughed and shook her head, Margaery was nothing if not confidant. Sansa envied her ability to shamelessly go after what she wanted. Sansa smiled sweetly,

“Yes, I think he will love it.”

“I want to hookup with him tonight Sansa.” Sansa was surprised she hadn’t slept with him yet. “But, I won’t if you need me to drive you home.”

Sansa waved her hand and dismissed Margaery’s statement. She was a big girl who could very easily take a cab home if needed or catch a ride with Jon or Arya who were also going to be there tonight.

“It’s fine, you get yours, girl.” Sansa blushed even saying it, but Margaery laughed and winked.

---

Sandor’s house was not what Sansa expected. It was an old cabin set back in a clearing amongst trees, Sansa assumed he must own a decent bit of land considering the vast forest surrounding the property. It looked like he had done extensive work to the landscape and exterior of the home, given what he did for a living she wouldn’t be surprised if he had done it all himself.

What did surprise her though was how warm and welcoming the place felt, it was almost calming.

Cozy

Safe

She wondering how wonderful it must be to wake up surrounded by nature each morning, and she couldn’t wait to get into her own home and experience it for herself. How could a man with all this be such a grouch, she mused as she and Margaery walked to the house. Sansa took a deep breath as Margaery knocked on the door.

“You cunt you don’t have to knoc-“ Sandor laughed as he opened the door, quickly stopping when he realized who it was. Sansa swore she saw him blush under his beard

He stepped out of the way, gesturing for them to enter.

“Well, I have to say that was the most enthusiastic greeting I’ve gotten, Sandor” Margaery scolded jokingly.

“Ahh, yeah. Safe to say I wasn’t expecting it to be you at the door.” He scratched the back of his neck and looked at Sansa and nodded once.

“Sansa.”

Sansa smiled politely, not quite trusting her voice right now. Sandor was wearing tight distressed jeans and a tight grey Henley. He looked comfortable and hot.  

Even through his shirt you could see how well defined his chest was, Sansa was surprised his biceps hadn’t ripped his shirt. She had to bite her tongue behind her pursed lips to stop herself from involuntarily licking her lips.

“Well hey pretty ladies!” Bronn said as he came up behind them,

Sansa jumped slightly at the surprise as Bronn draped his arm over Margaery’s shoulder and kissed her. Sansa awkwardly looked at Sandor as they quickly became third and fourth wheels.

Sandor raised his eyebrows and smirked at the sight of them before taking a long pull from his beer, his shirt hitching up jus enough for Sansa to see the very defined V of his hips. She looked away quickly and prayed she wasn’t blushing.

Sansa had never been happier to see Ayra then when she saw her in the kitchen, Sansa politely excused herself and made her way to Arya, Gendry and Jon, thankful for the excuse to leave before she made a complete fool of herself.

She had never drooled over a man before and definitely not for someone who all but despised her, not that she liked him any better. Sansa scolded herself, You have the worst taste in men. Stupid. Stupid girl who never learns.

---

It was late, the party was in full swing and Sandor headed to the porch for some air, he needed some space and he needed to get away from her.

Sandor couldn’t stop looking at Sansa, like a fucking puppy. He watched her laugh and drink all night and the woman fucking infuriated him. All he wanted to do was throw her over his shoulder, take her upstairs and ravish her.

Sex.

This was only about sex, he told himself.

He wasn’t interested in her, he sure as fuck wasn’t falling for her, she was difficult and maddening, and not his type. Clearly his attraction stemmed from little Sandor, the fucking traitor, Sandor groaned. He leaned on his patio railing and roughly ran a hand over his face.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know anyone was out here.” You have got to be fucking kidding me.  

Sandor couldn’t believe his luck when he turned and saw none other then Sansa fucking Stark standing behind him.

She was a god damn vision.

Her cheeks were slightly flushed, her little shorts were tight and showed off legs that went on for fucking days and she had some sort of little lace top tucked into her shorts which hugged all her curves perfectly.

Sansa bit her bottom lip and Sandor swallowed, holy fuck, this woman was going to kill him.

“I’ll just go back inside, sorry again.” she said and Sandor swore he heard a hint of sadness in her voice.

“It’s fine, you don’t need to fly away little bird.” Sandor barked, he hadn’t meant to sound harsh, but it was taking all his control not to pop a raging boner.

Sansa’s eyes narrowed and she walked forward to stand beside Sandor, she leaned back against the railing and crossed her arms.

“Little Bird?” she challenged as she arched her eyebrow.

Fuck, had he really said that out loud?

“Yeah. You chirp,” Sandor shrugged.

Sansa nodded thoughtfully and tilted her head to the side.

“I chirp?” she repeated slowly.

“Even when your pissed, so fucking polite with your please and thank yous. Like a bird.”

Sansa hummed in response and tuned around and leaned over the railing.

“It’s very beautiful here.” She said, thought she sounded distant.

“You don’t need to use your manners with me. I don’t require small talk, I’m a big boy. Save your chirping” Sandor scoffed.

“I’m not chirping.” Sansa snapped.

Sandor smirked, there is it. There’s her fire. Sandor leaned his back against the bannister and looked over at her.

“It’s not just because you chirp, the nickname” Sansa shot him sarcastic look. Sansa chuckled lowly. “It’s not, you get your feathers ruffled. When you’re pissed off.”

Sansa scowled but Sandor knew he saw a hint of amusement flash over her features, and a hint of something else. Something he couldn’t quite place. Perhaps she loved their little game as much as he did.

The stayed in an oddly comfortable silence, it was peaceful as the sounds of nature washed over them, with a buzz of the party inside.

“I wasn’t chirping, it really is beautiful here.”

Sandor’s lip curled upwards and he turned to mirror her as he leaned over the railing.

“It is, quiet. I had my eye on this other place, needed a lot of work but it was closer to the water.” Sansa cocked her head to the side and Sandor knew she didn’t understand. “I was going to sell this place, and buy the other place, but it sold.”

“Why would you ever want to move when you have all this,” Sansa gestured to their surroundings.

Sandor shrugged, “When I bought this place it needed a lot of work, I did most of it myself and I liked it. This other place was a little bigger, with a private dock on Blazewater Bay.”

Sandor had seen this property listing online and something about it called to him. It was livable, but it definitely needed some work to be comfortable. Besides the view of the water, the landscaping was overgrown, the house needed exterior and interior renovations. Still, it had a great layout, it was set far back from the road so it was private and it had private bay access.

Sansa looked at Sandor with wide eyes, the look of pure shock over her face before she started hysterically laughing. Sandor had no idea what the fuck was going on, but he had never seen Sansa so carefree. He was confused as hell but couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was, her smile was infectious.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Sansa paused and tried to compose herself before her face split into the biggest grin and she started again, Sandor was sure she had to be wasted since nothing he had said was funny.

Once Sansa had finally gotten control of herself she wiped the tears that had fallen, Sandor couldn’t help but smile at how utterly ridiculous she was.

Adorable.

“I bought your house.”

Sandor’s smile fell as his head snapped to look at her.

“What?”

Sansa smiled proudly, “the cottage on Blazewater Bay, with the private dock, and rotten floorboards? Yeah, I bought it.”

No fucking way, she had to be thinking of a different property. This place needed work, it would be amazing, but it needed some serious HGTV action, Sansa wouldn’t’ be happy in a place like that but he also knew properties rarely came for sale on the bay and he hadn’t seen any other listings in months.

“No, I doubt it.” Sandor said as Sansa pulled out her phone and flipped through photos. She turned the phone around, and Sandor’s jaw dropped. She had bought the house.

Sansa smiled triumphantly.

“What the fuck do you want with a place like that?”

This time is was Sansa’s turn to shrug.

“I fell in love with it, it needs work, but its all I could afford.”

Sandor scoffed, all she could afford? Her daddy was Ned fucking Stark, her trust fund could probably by that house 10 times over. Sansa scowled and narrowed her eyes at him, as if she knew exactly what he was thinking, she pushed off the railing.

“Despite what you think, I’m not some spoiled trust fund kid. I could be, if I wanted to be I guess but I’m not. No wonder you’re such an ass, if that’s what you think of me.”

Sansa turned and started inside before Sandor gently grabbed her arm, although he was incredibly shocked that Sansa used the word ass, he also currently felt like one.

“Sansa, wait.”

Sansa turned back to him, she was angry but Sandor could see the hurt behind her eyes too. He was beginning to realize that everything he thought he knew about her had been wrong so far. He knew nothing about her and she was constantly surprising him. When he didn’t say anything, she arched her eyebrow.

“That wasn’t fair of me to say,” he could see that his lack of apology was getting to her, and he couldn’t help himself.

Maybe it was the booze, maybe it was the way her chest heaved when she got mad, all he knew is he needed to see her fire. Sansa’s eyes bore into him, her lips pursed together.

“You’re right it wasn’t, and?” she stepped towards him.

He had to physically stop himself from smirking, but he said nothing.

“You know, it wouldn’t kill you to apologize.” She snapped at him

This time he did smirk, “no, it wouldn’t.”

He took a sip of his beer as he watched Sansa’s eyes flashed, her nostrils flared just a little bit and her lips parted slightly. Sandor realized that it wasn’t just anger he was seeing - it was desire that flashed behind her eyes. She did like their games as much as he did. Her gaze moved from his eyes to his lips subtly, but he caught it.

He set his beer on the railing and stepped forward, Sansa’s eyes returning to his. Her head cocked to the side, but she didn’t move. He stopped when he was inches from her, despite her long legs she was still significantly shorter than him and had to crane her neck to look him in the eye.

“Sandor, what- “

She stopped talking when his hand came up to cradle the back of her neck as he pulled her to him and smashed his lips onto hers. It wasn’t hurried but it wasn’t soft or gentle either. Sandor slanted his mouth to consume more of her, god she was intoxicating, he pulled her flush against him and demanded entrance to her mouth, swiping his tongue against the seam of her lips. Sansa moaned as she granted him access.

Holy fuck. What I wouldn’t do to hear her make that noise while screaming my name.

---

Sansa had no idea how this happened. One minute he was being a complete jerk, as per usual, and the next she was kissing him and holy crap, could this man kiss. His kiss was just has dominating and commanding as he usually is and Sansa could feel her mind getting cloudy.

She gently pushed on his chest, urging him to stop, which he did immediately and took a step back, his hand behind her neck dropped to his side.

They stayed, staring at each other for what felt like minutes, when really it was only a few seconds. Sansa knew he wouldn’t make another move, she had stopped the kiss and it was her choice now.

Her choice. Just the concept of having the choice gave her a thrill she hadn’t expected.

Sansa hadn’t felt desire like this in a very long time. No, if she were being honest she had never felt desire like this. Her belly clenched at the lingering feeling of his hands on her, the rough feeling of his slightly scarred lips on hers.

She wasn’t broken.

Sansa stepped forward and that was all Sandor needed to claim her mouth again, any slight hesitation he had before was gone. Sansa’s arms wrapped around his neck as he roughly kissed her. One hand retuned to the back of her neck, to hold her to him, the other moved down to her ass as he squeezed. Sansa could feel his arousal against he stomach, and she moaned in delight that she was doing that to him.

Sandor’s other hand travelled down to her ass and he lifted her with ease, Sansa instantly wrapped her legs around his waist and ground down into him.

Sandor groaned, “Sansa.”

Giving both ass cheeks a tight squeeze, she felt him smile against her lips as he turned and set her on the railing, settling himself between her legs.

His mouth was relentless as he kissed and nipped at her. Sansa had never felt so alive from a kiss as she matched his pace.

He gently but firmly buried his hand in her hair and tipped her head back, giving him access to her throat, moving down to her collarbone before kissing the swell of her breat and moving back to her mouth. Sansa shifted, trying to relieve the ache he was causing between her legs against her jeans as Sandor chuckled and moved his hand up her thigh, knowing exactly what she needed.

Thigh.

Shorts.

Very small shorts that had ridden up her legs.

Sansa stilled, sheer panic washing over her. Sandor’s hand stopped mid thigh and he pulled back to look at her, his eyes were dark with desire but he looked concerned. She pushed at his shoulder until he stepped back, allowing her to hop off the railing. She brushed past him quickly.

“I’m sorry, Sandor. So sorry.”

Sansa was barely holding back tears when she made her way through the house and out the front door as Arya and Gendry were getting into their car.

“Arya, can I get a ride!” Sansa called.

Arya nodded and Sansa scrambled into the back, she turned to grab her seatbelt and caught sight of Sandor, standing on the front porch watching her, he must have followed her as she fled. He looked confused and concerned

I’m sorry. I’m broken.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sansa sighed at her desk, resting her forehead in the palm of her hands.

Stupid.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

She had spent the better part of the Sunday trying to actively keep her mind from venturing to Sandor Clegane and the disaster that was Saturday night. What was she thinking? Kissing Sandor and then running off. She must have looked like such an idiot.

There was no use in denying that she was attracted to him. Which didn’t even make sense to her. He was gruff, rude and lacked tact. Yet, she had felt such a gentleness in his touch and even though he was huge and could easily snap her like a twig, she felt unexplainably safe around him.

Sansa even found herself suddenly unfazed from his less than stellar attitude. She had watched him with his friends, people he actually liked, he was still gruff and dry. That was just Sandor apparently and Sansa found herself pulled more towards it than put off by it.

She really wasn’t ready for a relationship, did she even want a relationship with Sandor?

She had no idea.

Aside from wanting him physically, which was never something Sansa did. Every relationship she ever had was emotional attachment first, physical attraction later- not that she had any mind-blowing experiences to compare Sandor to, the ‘physical attraction later’ part was far from passionate.

Yet, he had her lady bits screaming. From nothing but a few kisses, albeit a few amazing kisses, he had her craving his touch. His hands, rough and calloused, so unlike anything she’d ever felt on her skin before. So… manly.

So hot.

Sansa groaned. She was so screwed.

---

Sansa had buried herself in paperwork for the rest of the day, when a knock on her office drew her attention, it surprised her since most of the staff was at a training seminar, she wasn’t technically on their payroll, so she hadn’t needed to attend.

Sansa looked up to see the last person she expected.

Sandor.

“Hi,” she said, pushing her papers to the side.

“Hh, hey. I came by to see Jon, but I forgot about the training thing. You got a minute?”

Sansa nodded, feeling even more stupid and awkward than previously.

“Yeah, of course. What’s up?”

He came into the office and for the first time Sansa noticed the folder in his hand, he reached it out to her.

“I was going to bring these to Jon, but since he’s not here and I figured he would probably just give it to you anyways”

Sansa felt disappointment wash over her that he was only here for work. What had she expected? She had kissed him back, she had given him the okay to kiss her a second time and she’s the one who freaked out and ran off.

Her frustration at the entire situation took over.

She schooled her face and smiled, taking the folder from him.

“Thank you.”

He nodded and turned to leave. Sansa wanted to ask him to wait, she felt this overwhelming urge to explain things to him, to at least try, but how could she? If she told him bits, she’d have to tell him everything. She was surprised when he stopped at the door and turned back to her.

He sighed, “Sansa. Listen about last night.”

He closed the door slightly and sat in the chair across from her, he leaned forward with his forearms on his knees, hands clasped by his mouth.

“Sandor, I’m sorry.”

He barked out a gruff laugh. “You don’t need to apologize for not being interested, Sansa.”

Is that what he thought? That she wasn’t interested?

She could almost have laughed at how wrong he was. Despite their rough start, and the fact that even Sansa couldn’t figure out why. She was interested.

She shouldn’t be, but she was.

“Sandor, that’s not-”

“Sansa,” he held up his hand to stop her, she was thankful because really she hadn’t a clue where she was going with that. “It’s fine, really. Look we didn’t get off to a great start.”

Sansa raised her eyebrow suggestively, regardless of how she felt or was starting to feel about Sandor, not a great start was an understatement.

Sandor barked out a laugh, a real laugh, not the sarcastic laughs she was used to. The rare glimpse of a smile, that Sansa would bet even people he liked didn’t see often. She liked it.

“Alright, fine. I was an asshole.” Sansa nodded in agreement and Sandor shook his head. “You’re quite the pain in the ass too, you know.”

Sansa smiled sweetly and shrugged, “so I’ve been told”

His eyes softened slightly, and it looked like he was about to continue with their banter before his face closed off again.

“Look, we’ll forget the other night happened, no hard feelings. Maybe, we could start fresh, be friends?”

Sansa narrowed her eyes playfully at Sandor, leaning forward slightly on her desk.

“Friends...” She repeated slowly.

Sandor smirked, “okay, not friends. Maybe I could try to be less of a fuck, and you could try to be less of a pain in the ass?”

Sansa wanted to sigh, to tell him he was wrong, that she was interested… but was she? Was she enough to do anything about it? Was she ready? Could she move forward?

She wasn’t ready or prepared to answer any of those right now so instead she just smiled.

“I think we could manage that.” She said jokingly. Really, she thought they could probably manage being friends.

Maybe friends with benefits…

No, Sansa. Bad, Sansa.

God, what was wrong with her?

---

Friends.

Friends?

What the actual fuck was he thinking?

Maybe we could be friends?

Who the fuck says stupid ass shit like that? He sounded like a goddamn pansy.

Sandor slammed his hand down on the steering wheel of his truck, shortly after leaving her office and hightailing it from the building.

Sandor had no idea what Sansa fucking Stark was doing to him. He knew he was attracted to her. No questions asked. Not even just her looks, although the woman was goddamn beautiful. No. Though he would be hard-pressed to admit it out loud, he was attracted to Sansa’s fire, her no nonsense business sense.

Her pain in the ass personality.

He liked it.

All of it.

Her looks? Those were just icing on top.

Still, what the hell was she doing to him? Turning him into some sort of attention starved puppy. Watching her literally run away from him last night, well that was fucking painful.

He hadn’t missed the fear and shock that had crossed her face when she pushed him away, kissing an ugly mutt like him. He hadn’t seen her drink all that much at the party, but clearly her ability to make decisions had been compromised, with her only realizing too late.

He should have just fucking left it alone, instead of making shit even more awkward by asking her to be friends but he couldn’t help himself, not when he saw her sitting in her office. As if his feet suddenly had a mind of their own and he couldn’t stop himself from going to her.

No woman had ever made Sandor lose his head. He had been turned down before, as all men had, and sure sometimes it would sting a bit, and he would usually lick his wounds with a drink and find some other woman to take his mind off it. Yet, he found himself not wanting to do that this time.

Did he want Sansa, as something more than just a night? Did he want her enough to pursue her? She was attracted to him obviously, and there is always the possibility of turning a yes into a no, with the right person.

But did he want to?

Perhaps. Maybe.

Would he?

No.        

Even though the other night had felt so right, so inexplicably right. Holding her, kissing her, feeling her. The way his hands fit perfectly in the curve of her hips as if, despite their size difference, she was made for him. Her ass, the perfect handful. The way she tasted. The little noises she made. All of it threatening to completely unhinge him.

Still, he needed to let this go and find some way to shake Sansa from his system. She was a colleague, his partner’s daughter, his friend’s cousin and sister. He could manage being friends, as fucking stupid as that sounded, but that’s it.

Nothing more.

---

“What I don’t understand is why you won’t give it a chance, Sansa?” Margaery asked as she drove her and Sansa to lunch.

Sansa had held off on telling Margaery for almost a week and a half, about the kiss, about Sandor, about all of it, but she was at the point where she needed to talk about it. So, when Margaery suggested lunch the following Tuesday, Sansa had rambled off all the details of the party and their little office chat by the time Margaery had pulled out of the parking lot.

Sansa hadn’t seen Sandor in a week, since he stopped by her office last Monday. They had exchanged a few work-related emails, and she would admit that he was trying to be more polite – which she appreciated. Still she found herself missing their banter, which even she found surprising.

“Its just, I just, its complicated.” Sansa sighed.

Margaery shot her an incredulous look before looking back at the road.

“Complicated how? You’re hot, he’s hot, you’re obviously both attracted to each other, what’s the problem?”

Sansa didn’t know how to explain why she was apprehensive with Sandor without explaining everything that happened in Dorne. Which she wasn’t ready to do but she knew her best friend, and she knew she wouldn’t let it go.

“I’m just not ready.”

Sansa had told Margaery she had been dating someone before leaving Dorne, and that it hadn’t ended on the best of terms, the same story she had told Arya, her parents, Robb, Jon. No one knew who, she never told them about Ramsay specifically, and she left all the details blank.

Bless her soul, Margaery seemed to let it go when she smiled at Sansa.

“Okay, I hope its alright, but I asked Bronn to join us for lunch, I’ve told him about the burgers here and he wanted to try.”

Sansa laughed and shook her head, anyone else may find Margaery’s actions selfish or thoughtless but Sansa knew better. Though Margaery could be both those things, her intentions were always good. They had been friends for too long and Sansa knew there would be a but, if or and following soon.

“mhm..” Sansa prompted.

Margaery smirked, “anddd he was working on a job site with Tormund and Sandor, so they’re coming too.”

Of course.

“Really? How did you even have time, I literally just told you?”

“oh, sweetie please.” Margaery laughed. “I saw you two at the party, I was planning this long before you told me, now it just seems even more perfect.”

Sansa laughed, leave it to Margaery. The woman loved setting people up, though she was rarely successful. Sansa was, despite all her better judgement, excited to see Sandor. After all, they had agreed to be friends hadn’t they?

She could be friendly.

---

Could this place be anymore ‘hipster’, Sandor thought as Bronn pulled into the parking lot. Off the beaten path was an understatement as they pulled into a near abandoned building, with the only signs of occupation being the bikes out front.

He rolled his eyes, assuming this was most definitely the place where they only serve grass fed organic burgers, on a lettuce bun with some sort of aioli. Sandor snorted when he watched a group of twenty somethings exiting the building. The girls wearing the shortest shorts, oversized baggy sweatshirts and toques, despite it being one of the hottest days of the year. The outfits did nothing but confuse him.

“What the fuck are we doing here?” Sandor asked as he got out of the truck.

Bronn laughed and patted him on the shoulder, “come on buddy, apparently the burgers here are amazing” he said in air quotes, Sandor knew he must have been repeating verbatim what Margaery had told him.

Just as Sandor was about to make some wise ass rebuttal, he saw Margaery pull in with Sansa. Now it all makes sense, Bronn suggesting lunch here instead of the food trucks down the road from the job site, why he had been so insistent on not being late.

Sandor would bet his left nut that Bronn and Margaery were no doubt playing match maker. Little did they know the rejection he had already faced after their rendezvous on the porch two weeks ago, how Sandor had suggested being friendly and was met with not an ounce of push back from Sansa. It was clear she wasn’t interested, and he would respect that. The two of them would just need to back off and not push it.

“Stark,” Tormund greeted as the girls headed over to greet them. Sansa just laughed and shook her head, but gods if she didn’t have the most radiant smile, especially when she just let loose and dropped her poised façade. Margaery instantly went to Bronn for a kiss and Sansa smiled up at Sandor.

“hi,” she said quietly.

Sandor hummed in response, not to be rude but because at this moment he couldn’t trust his voice. He knew it would squeak, or sound nervous and while Sansa may not have picked up on it, Bronn and Tormund certainly would have.

“Sandor here is worried this place doesn’t actually serve meat.” Tormund laughed as they headed inside, throwing his arm around Sansa. Sandor tried, yet he couldn’t quite push down the jealously he felt towards Tormund. Although he wasn’t sure if that was because he was touching Sansa, or because Sansa didn’t mind.

Both.

Definitely both.

“I didn’t say that,” he grumbled.

Sansa laughed and turned towards him, “no, trust me. They have the best burgers. Prepare for meat, and cheese, and real bread. Unless, you’re Margaery. She eats her burger with grass.” Sansa winked.

“Hey! I don’t eat carbs, thank you. Also, it’s a lettuce bun not grass and its healthy for you. Not all of us can chow down a big mac and stay looking as beautiful as you, darling.” Margaery joked and Sansa stuck her tongue out at her.

Sandor could do nothing but shake his head. What was it about this woman constantly surprising him? Constantly taking every assumption he made about her and obliterating it.

When their orders arrived at the table he could see Sansa had not been exaggerating when she said to expect meat, cheese and bread. These burgers were massive and even he had to admit they looked delicious. The five of them chatted easily as they ate.

“So, Sansa. How’s the search for a contractor coming along?” Margaery asked as she cut into her burger with a knife and fork.

Sansa gracefully finished chewing and wiped her mouth, “don’t even get me started. I haven’t been able to find anyone who sees the space like I do, every plan I’ve had drawn up I have hated,” she sighed.

Sandor could see the frustration wash over her face, and he got it. Most contractors were stubborn, stuck in their ways, and a good handful would probably try and take advantage of her because she’s young and a woman.

“I have some drawings, from when I initially saw the place,” he shrugged. “I could show them to you, if you like them I do odd jobs on the side all the time.”

Sandor watched as Sansa’s eyes widened, nervous she was going to instantly reject his offer. He inwardly cursed himself for being so forward, he had agreed to be friendly, yet somehow she managed to turn him into a fucking house pet.

“Truly?” she asked in complete shock, as if his offer was the greatest gift. He wondered what had happened to make her so leery of people’s generosity. He got it, he was the first one to suspect ulterior motives from people, but he had grown up in a shitty little world.

But, Sansa?

She had a great family and group of friends who loved and supported her. She was beautiful, smart and friendly. What caused her to suspect bad intentions, he wondered.

“Sure, I mean the plans are just sitting there. If you like them, it may take me a little longer to get it done for you, but you could also just have them and find someone to do it for you,” Sandor offered.

He would let her have the plans if she liked the layout even if she wanted a different contractor, but he secretly hoped she wouldn’t want to work with anyone else. Not just because of Sansa, but because he really did see such potential in the house and would love to see the project through to completion. He had thought about stopping in once the new owners had the property, before he knew the new owner was Sansa, and offering his services. Something about this house had stuck with him.

Much like Sansa.

Sansa just looked at him for a minute, blinking rapidly as if she was sizing him up before her face broke out into the sincerest smile.

“I would love that! When are you free?” Sansa beamed, and Sandor had to stop himself from having the dopiest grin plastered across his face.

“Saturday?” he asked.

“No. No. No. Sansa you’re coming out on Saturday! To the pub remember!” Margaery interrupted, for a second Sandor had forgotten the others were still there.

“So are you, Hound.” Tormund interjected.

Sandor shrugged, “I could come by in the afternoon, before heading out.” He suggested.

“Fuck that, mate. I know how you get about these things,” Bronn said. “You get so caught up in it, you definitely won’t make it out.”

What the actual fuck.

First they obviously attempted to get Sandor and Sansa together and now they are cock blocking like champions. Sandor glared at Bronn, who quickly took a sip of his beer to cover the grin emerging on his stupid face.

Sandor nearly jumped from his chair when he felt Sansa’s delicate little hand reach across the table and gently rest on top of his, drawing his attention back to hers before pulling her hand back.

“Sunday then?” she asked.

“Sunday.” Sandor nodded.

This was what friends do, offer to help other friends out, this was Sandor attempting a friendship with Sansa. Or at least that’s what he told himself, over and over, convinced if he said it enough he would believe it.

---

Sansa had been over the moon since Tuesday, at the prospect of FINALLY beginning work on her house. She had seen Sandor’s renovation of his own house, the beautiful layout, the finishing details, the obvious meticulous care he took with every aspect and she had no doubt that she would love the plans he had for the little cottage on the bay. He seemed just as passionate about the property as she was.

Sure, given her trust fund and her parents stature she could easily afford ‘more’. A bigger house, a finished house, any contractor she wanted, except she didn’t want that.

She had never wanted to live off her Stark name, and she had already been fortunate enough that they paid for her college tuition and housing expenses – a luxury many of her friends never had. She was so thankful for that and for her family’s generosity, but that is where she drew the line. She had worked during school to ensure every dime she spent was hers, refusing to ask her parents for a spending allowance on top of everything else. Once she had graduated and gotten a job, she stopped receiving any financial help them.

Every dollar invested in the house so far and any work done on the house was simply by her own means. She was lucky she had gotten an amazing job directly out of college, and had lived a simple life in Dorne, so she had a fair sum of savings, but she was no by no means rich and she was money conscious by nature.

Sandor’s offer was generous, and despite everything Sandor Clegane ‘appeared’ to be, she was quickly learning of his giving nature, and not just with her. Margaery had told her that after getting out of the Navy, Bronn had struggled.

PTSP. Drinking. Depression. All of it.

Yet, Sandor had never given up on him. He would come in late and drunk to a job site, Sandor would just send him home, though completely within his power to have fired him, laid him off, presented him with all sorts of ultimatums. Still, Sandor refused to give up on him.

She also learned that as part of their partnership with Stark Development, 1% of all profits from each commercial development was to be donated to charity. Specifically, to a local charity which supported youth from homes with domestic violence and substance abuse.

Sansa wondered what else lingered beneath the tough exterior of Sandor as she caught him entering the pub on Saturday night. Sansa couldn’t quite figure out what about Sandor had her so unhinged. Obviously she had been attracted to men in the past, but no one had ever had the effect on her that Sandor does. He was just all ‘man’ and Sansa was all for it. Tall, strong, handsome, hairy – a word Sansa never thought she would use to describe what made a man handsome, but oh, she couldn’t help it.

So, when he showed up Saturday night in his signature black Henley shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and tight faded jeans that tugged in all the right places, she couldn’t help but stare.

“You’re drooling,” a man said behind her, Sansa instantly recognized the smug teasing tone of Jon.

Sansa spun to see Jon standing behind her with a smug smirk on his face, yet eyes staring directly at Sandor. She gently swatted his chest.

“I am not staring,” she scoffed.

Jon snorted, “I could see it you know.”

“See what?” Sansa asked, in truth she knew exactly what Jon was referring to. Her and Sandor.

The possibility of them as a couple.

Still, she felt the need to question Jon and pray to god that he would expand on his reasoning, and not just call her out for her curiosity.

Jon rolled his eyes but gave into her anyways.

“You and Sandor, Sansa. Don’t ask me why, you two couldn’t be more different and I’m not even entirely convinced you two could go a day without bickering. But, I still see it.”

Sansa allowed her eyes to drift back to Sandor, he was listening to Tormund as he waved his arms about, clearly very enthusiastic in whatever tale he was weaving. Sansa watched as Sandor rolled his eyes, yet even from a distance she could see the small smirk of his lips as he tried to maintain his stoic demeanour.

“There is nothing going on between Sandor and I,” she said with as much finality as she could muster, turning back to face Jon and taking a sip of her beer.

Jon frowned, and cocked his head to the side. “Sansa, what happen-“

“Stark!” She heard the loud voice of Tormund seconds before she felt his drape his arm over her, much like he had at lunch earlier this week. Extending his other hand out to Jon. “Johnny boy, where is that kissed me fire girlfriend of yours?”

Sansa looked up at Tormund and laughed, “what is your fascination with redheads?”

“They make him feel validated.” Sandor joked, pulling Sansa’s attention to him as he sat in the stool across from them. He had one leg bent, foot resting on the bar of the stool, which did nothing but emphasize is massive thighs as the jeans tugged tighter.

Tormund placed his free hand over his heart, “its true, I feel so lonely,” he jokingly pouted.

Sansa couldn’t help but laugh as she slowly moved away from Tormund and closer to the bar. Standing beside Sandor, with her back resting against the cold wooden surface.

Sansa looked over at Sandor, who was looking right back at her, and unreadable expression over his face that gave nothing away. Sansa momentarily struggled with her feelings, after all it was her choice to accept Sandor’s offer of friendship, and yet she seemed to do nothing but drool over him and think about him. She had never been so physically pulled to someone, her body had never ached or burned at the thought of someone’s touch. It was completely new to her, and it completely terrified her.

“Speaking of kissed by fire,” Jon said as he gestured to the bar where Ygritte had just walked in, Tormund instantly jumped to his feet and went to greet her, making some ginger lovin’ comment that had Jon scowling as he followed.

Sansa felt a shock as Sandor’s hand gently grazed her hip and she jumped slightly. He immediately retracted his hand and cleared his throat.

“Do you still want me to stop by tomorrow?” he asked.

“Yes please. I am so excited to see your plans,” she said, and she smiled at him, his lips curled upwards slightly, and he nodded.

“Okay, I’ll be there at 10. Do you-”

Before he could finish his sentence Margaery came bounding over to them, Bronn hot on her heals. Sansa could tell she was drunk as she basically dragged Sansa to the woman’s restroom with her, to which the men just rolled their eyes and Bronn made some snarky comment about woman always going to the washroom together.

Sansa looked back over her shoulder as Margaery dragged her away, Sandor watching her intently as he sipped his beer, before turning his attention to Bronn who was talking to him.

Sansa sighed, she missed the feeling of his touch. She hadn’t meant to jump, he hadn’t scared her, it was just the intensity of the touch – the spark. She wanted to know what he was going to ask her, ‘do you…’, did she what she wondered.

---

Sansa should have known Margaery had dragged her away to discuss her and Bronn, and their super scandalous hookup in the bathroom at the bar. Sansa glanced down at the counter she was resting her hand on and looked at Margaery.

“This bathroom?”

Margaery smiled innocently and Sansa knew that was a yes. She grimaced and quickly lifted her hand, wiping them together.

“Seriously, Marge,” Sansa frowned and washed her hand.

Margaery laughed, “oh, Sans. Don’t be such a prude, you think we’re the first ones to have sex in here?” She paused and cocked her head to the side, “You should try it sometime, letting loose, living on the edge. It’s fun.” She shrugged and wiggled her eyebrows.

Sansa rolled her eyes and laughed, as they made their way out of the ladies room. To say Margaery was a ‘free spirit’ would be an understatement, still Sansa admired her confidence and although she personally didn’t want to have sex in a pub washroom, she wished she could harness some of Margaery’s boldness.

They made their way back over to Bronn, who was with Tormund, Jon and Ygritte. Sansa discreetly scanned the bar for Sandor, wondering where he had gone when her eyes landed on his form at the bar.

He was leaned over the bar talking to the waitress, she was smiling at him and he smiled back. Sansa instantly felt her blood rise, never had she seen Sandor so openly pleased while talking to someone, gone was his standoff-ish demeanour as he talked with her. She was… she was..

Jealous.

Sansa recognized the emotion, though had rarely ever felt it before, and certainly never because of a man. Who was she to be angry if he flirted with the waitress, she had been the one to reject him? Though she never actually said the words, she hadn’t corrected him when they spoke either. She had absolutely no right to be jealous.

But she was.

She definitely, definitely was.

The woman had red hair, Sansa was naturally a red head although she had been blonde for several years, the woman’s hair was more copper than her natural colour. Still, the fact that Sandor was attracted to a woman with red hair stung a bit. Her shirt was very low cut and left very little to the imagination, and her jeans.

No.

Sansa stopped herself. She would not be that girl. The girl who harshly and unfairly judged someone based off appearance because of her personal feelings. Sansa was a firm believe in women supporting women, and she instantly become frustrated with herself for unfairly judging another woman because of her jealousy.

Something she had never done before.

What was is about Sandor Clegane that made her so off center. Part of her wished she had given it a chance, to explore what about this man affected her so much, wondering briefly if it could have been something big and cosmic. Another part of her justified her decision to keep it friendly, she had always needed control and she needed it even more so now, after Ramsay and everything that happened in Dorne, Sandor left her feeling out of control. She couldn’t handle that right now.

“I’ll see you next Tuesday then,” she heard Sandor’s deep voice over the music, as she watched him straighten and grab his drink.

She saw the waitress nod and she quickly turned to the group, unwillingly to let Sandor see she had been staring.

Tuesday.

Sandor had a date next Tuesday.

She reminded herself that she had no right to care, reminded herself that she didn’t want to care.

But she cared.

Sandor came to stand beside Sansa, rejoining the group and Sansa could almost feel her skin prickle from the sheer presence of him. She learned that the waitresses name was Ros, and that clearly Tormund and Bronn were both very familiar with her.

Was she a girlfriend? A friend with benefits thing? All theses questions raged through Sansa’s mind as she tried to engage in conversation and finished her beer. What did it matter what she was? They weren’t together, heck they weren’t anything and now knowing that another woman was in the picture in some capacity, even in a casual sense, Sansa knew they needed to remain nothing.

She thought back to their kiss a few weekends ago, was Ros causally in the picture then? Sandor didn’t strike her as a cheater, but who the heck knew at this point, she hadn’t been the best judge of character when if came to men.

Feeling overwhelmed and slightly drunk, Sansa knew it was best to leave. Quickly finishing the rest of her beer and ordering an uber on her phone, she turned to the group and cheerfully said she was heading home, that she was tired from a long week.

Sandor’s hand came to rest on her lower back, and she fought the urge to sigh at the contact, he lowered his head and voice.

“I’ll see you tomorrow at 10?”

Sansa quickly nodded and moved away, “yup, tomorrow at 10. Bye!”

Her phone chimed as soon as she made it outside, and she quickly slid into her uber and headed to her parent’s house. She closed her eyes and sighed, slumping back into the seat.

What had she gotten herself into, she wondered?

---

As Sandor drove through the weaving streets towards Sansa’s house, he couldn’t help but feel that pang of jealousy that she had bought the house, the area was beautiful, you could hear the waves coming off the shore from down below, it was private and peaceful.

He glanced down at the two Starbucks cups in his center console cup holders and shook his head. He truly was a dog.

He had been ballsy that morning and taken Sansa’s cellphone number from her email signature and had texted her quickly before changing his mind.

Sandor [8:37am] – Hey Sansa, it’s Sandor. Want me to grab coffee on the way to your place today? Starbucks?

As soon as he had hit send he groaned and wished for a delete feature. It was too bold, too needy… too not him. It was so stickily sweet, at least for him, that even he felt nauseated. Especially after last night. He hadn’t missed the way she jumped when he touched her hip at the bar, she didn’t want that kind of attention from him and yet he found it hard to keep his hands to himself, especially after the energy he felt when she had briefly touched his hand at lunch.

He rolled his eyes as he headed to the shower, having already looked at his phone twice since sending the message, each time feeling more like an idiot when he didn’t have a response. At least in the shower he couldn’t check his phone over and over like some lovesick teenager.

Get a grip, man.

He sighed as the hot water rolled off his shoulders, he had woken up hard as a rock after dreaming of Sansa last night… again. It felt like an ongoing thing for him now. Which only added to his frustration, since he refused to do anything about it. He would not be the guy who jerks off to the girl that doesn’t want him.

Especially since that woman was Sansa Stark.

He had quickly finished his shower and he heard his phone chime. He quickly wrapped a towel around his hips and hopped out – sliding on the now wet tile floor as he all but lunged for his phone.

What was she doing to him?

Sansa [8:52am] – Hi! That would be amazing actually, I just got here. 1 cream no sugar? I assume you don’t need the address.

Sandor [8:54am] – I don’t need it.

Sandor turned into Sansa’s driveway just after 10, he parked his truck and grabbed is bag off the passenger’s seat when Sansa came out on the porch. He swallowed to avoid groaning at the sight of her, she was in a white dress, her hair was up so it showed off her neck and chest. Sandor had never been more turned on by a woman’s clavicle before.

“Hey,” he said, breaking what was quickly becoming an awkward silence.

She smiled but he instantly recognized it as the tight, fake smile he had seen her use so many times before. He wondered when she was suddenly using it on him.

He handed her the coffee.

“Hi, thank you,” she took a sip and sighed, “mm, yeah I needed that.”

They headed inside, but Sansa was quiet. He had expected her to be chirping about all her plans for the house or something, but instead she seemed almost standoffish.

“Everything okay, Sansa?” he asked.

“hmm? Oh yes, just tired,” she said, setting the coffee down on the counter and turning to him.

He frowned, “we can do this another time? Or I could just leave the plans, I’m sure you know how to read them,” he offered.

Sansa waved her hand and made her way over to him. He had put his stuff down on the kitchen table. He recognized if from the pictures of the listing, so the sellers must have left it here because besides the table and chairs the place was empty.

“No, no I’m sorry. Please, I’d love to see the plans,” Sansa made her way over to him as he unrolled the drawings.

---

Sansa listened as Sandor talked her through the plans for the house, watching his hands gently glide over the papers.

Masculine hands, Sansa thought. Instantly shaking the thoughts away. Seriously, Sansa. Pay attention.

She had been cold to him earlier because of her jealously (the jealously she has no right to hang on too), but what surprised her most was that he noticed. Most didn’t. If she was in a mood, she could easily hide her true feelings with almost everyone else, or at the very least they let her think she was – why not him? How could he so easily see through her defenses?

Sansa tore herself away from the rabbit hole of thoughts she was headed down, instead focusing on the amazing plans Sandor had drawn up. It was like he had seen this place exactly how she had.  Open concept living, dining, kitchen on the main floor with new kitchen and island. Sansa couldn’t help but smile down at the plans.

“What do you think?” he asked, Sansa swore he sounded almost nervous, unsure.

“I love it,” she looked up at him and paused, “Could you really do all this? It’s so much..”

Sandor shrugged, “as long as you would be okay with the renovations taking a little longer, I could do it. Some of the larger jobs I would need to pull my crew in for, but most of them never turn down overtime. Otherwise, I can do that majority myself, to keep the costs lower.”

“Could I make one small adjustment?” she asked, he nodded, and she led him upstairs.

“I know this place was listed as a 4 bedroom, but the one bedroom is so small. I was wondering if it would be possible to reposition the door and make it a walk-in closet instead?” She wasn’t a vain woman, but the idea of having a beautiful walk in closet was so appealing to her, especially since one day she would like to share her space with someone, and you can never have too much storage.

Sandor didn’t say anything but walked into the smaller bedroom, Sans didn’t know what we was inspecting but he tapped his knuckles along different areas of the wall and stuck his head into the master bedroom. She leaned against the wall in the hallway and just let him do his thing. There was something so attractive about watching him work, Sansa was content to just watch for as long as he needed.

A few minutes later he came back and nodded, “Yeah, should be doable without any major structural changes, do you want the ensuite entrance to be from the bedroom, or the closet?”

“Could you do it from the closet?” She asked, the idea of having less doorways in the main bedroom was appealing.

Sandor nodded and led them back downstairs, he said he would draw up new plans and send them and a quote over to her next week, and if she was comfortable with things he could start next weekend.

Sansa couldn’t believe how easy it was, outside of the bedroom change, there was nothing in his plans she wanted to change – it was everything she had wanted when she saw the property.

“Can I live here during the renovations?” she asked as Sandor was packing up. She could stay with her parents if she needed of course, but she desperately wanted to be in her own space, in the house that was hers. 

Sandor looked at her, his brows furrowed, he looked surprised. Or shocked maybe, she wasn’t sure. He scratched the back of his neck.

“I mean, I can hang up plastic sheets to keep the dust contained, and you’d have to stay in one of the spare bedrooms until the master renovation is finished” he paused before continuing, “and I’d probably be here most evenings and weekends. If you’re okay with all that, then I don’t see why not.”

Sansa laughed and smiled, “I’m okay with that.”

Most definitely okay.

Chapter Text

PICSET

By Monday morning Sandor had already emailed Sansa her new plans, and the quote for the work. Something about this house and the renovation had his creative blood pumping. The house had such great bones, obviously the property was great, and once these renovations were done he knew Sansa would have an amazing piece of real estate.

Normally the thought of a side job and spending countless evenings and weekends made Sandor miserable, but this house. This side job, it excited him. Even more so at the thought of Sansa being there.

Sandor found that the more he spent time with her, the more she let her defences down around him, the more he liked her. Not even just in the ‘pretty girl’ kind of way, but he liked spending time with her as a friend. Although he still wished she wanted to explore the option of more, he could settle with getting to know her for now.

Just as he arrived at their current commercial job site, his phone dinged.

1 New Email – S. Stark

To: sclegane@houndconstruction.com

From : sstark@starkdevelopments.com

Subject: Re : New Plans & Quote

Hi Sandor,

These plans are amazing! Seriously, everything I mentioned you included. If the offer still stands I would love for you to do the work. The time frame is no problem, I can handle the constant evenings and weekends, I’m not sure how much help I’ll be, but I’m not totally useless either – put me to work!

 

Sandor had to stop reading and close his eyes for a minute, trying to keep his thoughts from drifting into the deep dark corners of his mind where the part of ‘putting Sansa to work’ sparked an unrestrained desire in him.

 

One little issue though. The quote. Sandor, I have gotten 8 different quotes for this renovation, most for far less work than what you are proposing and yet your quote is only marginally more expensive than 2 of the 8.

If I am going to allow you to spend most of your free time, you need to charge me like any other client. Don’t forget, I’ve seen your bills – I know your rate.

Once we finish working out these small issues, I would be happy to sign the statement of work and get it over to you.

Thank you,

Sansa Stark.

Sandor laughed, cheeky girl, she brought out the big guns with her ‘business Sansa’ coming out to play. Yes, he did lower his rate for her, a decision he knew he was not going to budge on. He also removed all markup on the materials.

Would he make money off the job?

Some. Not much.

Okay, very little.

Was that negotiable?

Absolutely not.

Still, he had anticipated this from her, she was smart – brilliant actually – and he knew she wouldn’t miss the final number.  He also knew she was too proud to ever accept a handout, that he learned quickly when she had put him in his place about her job and how she got it.

 

To: sstark@starkdevelopments.com

From : sclegane@houndconstruction.com

Subject: Re : New Plans & Quote

Sansa,

Great, I am glad you are happy with them. I’m sure I can find a few little jobs for you to help me out with.

Sandor grinned and rolled his eyes at his response, still he couldn’t help himself.

As for the quote. Sorry, this is non-negotiable. The rate you’ve seen is for business and I don’t need to explain to you the profit margin is much different on commercial jobs.

My offer is firm.

Take it or leave it.

Sandor

---

Sansa sighed at her desk, reading Sandor’s last email.

While she was incredibly thankful that he hadn’t sent her some outrageous quote that she wouldn’t have been able to turn down because this was everything she wanted and more, she also wasn’t a charity and neither was Sandor.

The last thing she wanted was for him to feel like he couldn’t charge her like a normal client because of who she was, who her father was, or who he worked for. Sansa would feel awful knowing that Sandor was charging her less on obligation.

If he wasn’t, if he was truly just being a nice guy and offering her a bit of a break, well Sansa never wanted to be viewed as a charity case. She had moaned and whined a bit at lunch about the concerns she had with outrageous quotes, and she didn’t want Sandor to feel as though he needed to cut her a break.

 

To: sclegane@houndconstruction.com

From : sstark@starkdevelopments.com

Subject: Re : New Plans & Quote

Sandor,

Can we increase your rate, since you won’t be charging markup?

Please don’t feel like you need to charge me less because of my father or the business. I don’t want to be any type of burden.

Sansa

 

His reply was almost instant, as if he had been anticipating her reply.

 

To: sstark@starkdevelopments.com

From : sclegane@houndconstruction.com

Subject: Re : New Plans & Quote

Sansa,

Quit your chirping.

This has nothing to do with who your father is.

Care to define non-negotiable for me, clearly you need a refresher

Sandor

 

Sansa rolled her eyes, and there he is. God, he can flip from being sweet to incorrigible like the drop of a hat. ‘Care to define non-negotiable for me?’ Sansa pursed her lips and repeated the sentence in the most annoying voice she could muster.

 

To: sclegane@houndconstruction.com

From : sstark@starkdevelopments.com

Subject: Re : New Plans & Quote

Sandor,

I don’t chirp.

My father always taught me everything is negotiable.

Please send me a higher quote

Sansa

 

 

To: sstark@starkdevelopments.com

From : sclegane@houndconstruction.com

Subject: Re : New Plans & Quote

I’ve reattached the statement of work.

Sign it.

Ps. I’ll be there Saturday to bring my tools and start taping off the rooms

 

Sansa opened the new attachment, to no surprise it was the exact quote he had sent before. He was insufferable.. but sweet. He drove her crazy and a part of her loved it – another part of her wanted to shake him.

It was good that he was with Ros or whatever, sleeping with her, wanting something casual, Sansa really had no idea. Regardless, it was a good thing because Sansa knew that without that roadblock, she would end up falling into Sandor’s arms once again, and not just physically.

Even though she wanted him physically, and their physical connection to each other seemed to go both ways, she knew they would be like ice and fire. He drove her nuts, she knew she could drive him crazy, any relationship with them would be tumultuous at best … right?

Right.

There was no way that their extremely opposite personalities could be the best thing to ever happen to either of them, it wouldn’t keep them both on their toes or keep their life together fun.

No.

They wouldn’t work.

Besides, he was with Ros or whatever and she wasn’t sure she even wanted to date.

Who said anything about dating, Sansa? He conscience screamed. How had her purely lustful thoughts turned into something more?

Sansa groaned and reluctantly esigned the document before sending the file back to him. She closed her laptop forcefully, needing to clear her head of all things Sandor Clegane.

---

By the time Saturday rolled around, Sansa was buzzing with excitement. She was having a couple things delivered to the house to make it livable – bed, some clothes, linens. The basics.

She knew living at the house during construction wouldn’t be ideal, especially once Sandor started on the kitchen and bathrooms, but honestly she didn’t mind if she wasn’t an inconvenience to him. She really wasn’t home much, and could live without TV and a stove for a while, Sandor had offered to bring over a BBQ for her to use, and him while he was there, which was more than enough to keep her comfortable and fed.

Margaery had wrangled Bronn into helping move Sansa’s stuff over since it wasn’t much, and Sandor of course offered to help as well. The bed frame and mattress fit in Sandor’s truck, and she had brought her suitcases over herself. Its not like she had much anymore anyways, although she had done some shopping since being home.

Bronn and Sandor went directly to Sansa’s to start unloading, while Sansa and Margaery went into town to grab some food and beer.

“Seeeee,” Margaery droned, “if you and Sandor just dated we could do this stuff all the time, like double dates or whatever.”

Sansa laughed as she left the Chipotle parking lot, “Yes, I’ll get right on that. Just date him so you and Bronn have another couple to eat with.”

The thought hadn’t been lost on Sansa though, how very couple-y it felt when Sandor and Bronn were moving her stuff, while Sansa and Margaery loaded boxes. Sansa brushed the thought away as Margaery continued.

“Seriously, I don’t understand. He can’t keep his eyes off you, what’s the problem?” Margaery asked, she could tell over the last few weeks Margaery was getting more curious about Sansa’s time in Dorne and why Sansa was so opposed to the idea of dating. Sansa tried to deflect as much as she could.

“Besides,” Sansa continued, “I’m fairly certain he is seeing someone, or has a casual something going on.”

Margaery eyes narrowed, “Are you sure?”

Sansa frowned, secretly she was hoping that Bronn would have somehow brought the conversation up and Margaery would have known the details.

Sansa nodded, “Pretty sure, but it doesn’t matter. Honestly, I am not ready to date. Let it go, please?”

Margaery gestured to zipping her lips and smiled, Sansa knew she wasn’t going to let it go but appreciated her dropping it for now. Today was going to be a good day.

The arrived at Sansa’s house just in time to see Sandor remove his sweater by his truck, revealing his very tight tank top underneath. It had been a chilly morning but was quickly getting hotter. Sansa licked her lips before she could catch herself and heard Margaery all but purr.

“God, he is a specimen of a man isn’t he? Don’t get me wrong, Bronn has a great body, but Sandor he.. he’s..”

“Freaking huge,” Sansa supplied.

“Freaking huge,” Margaery agreed. “and hot. Like almost dirty hot, you know?”

Sansa tuned to Margaery and arched her eyebrows. “Dirty hot? Really, must you though?”

To her credit, Margaery just shrugged as she opened the door and got out of the car, making her presence known by holding up the beer and sauntering over to Bronn and Sandor. Sandor, for his part, looked completely uncomfortable with Margaery and Bronn’s unapologetically physical hello. Sansa decided she should do her part and save him.

“Hey Sandor, could you help me with some boxes,” she called as she got out of the car and opened the tailgate.

Did she need help?

No.

However, by the eager nodding and how quickly Sandor made his way over to her, Sansa figured Sandor was as eager for the escape.

“Thanks,” Sandor whispered and gave an animated shiver.

Sansa laughed, “Anytime, they certainly are..”

“Disgusting?” Sandor supplied.

Sansa playfully swatted him on the chest before handing him a box of clothes.

“No, I was going to say into each other.”

“Like I said, disgusting” Sandor chuckled.

Sandor winked and hip checked her lightly into the bumper with an oof as he made his way to the house. Sansa quickly grabbed a box and caught up to Sandor.

“You’re terrible,” she whispered as they passed Margaery and Bronn, who were still saying hello against Sandor’s truck.

Sandor frowned and sadly shook his head, “My poor truck.”

Sansa laughed as they placed the boxes in the foyer, she gently patted him on the chest as he sighed.

“I think she’ll live.”

“She?” he asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

“He?” Sansa countered.

Sandor gave a single nod, “He. That’s all-American muscle, Baby.” 

Sandor smirked and headed outside, and Sansa was left retracting her jaw from the floor.

Never.

Never had some simple teasing had this effect on her before. Not that she was blowing her own horn, but she had been the subject of seriously flirting in her day, yet no one had ever affected her this way. A deeply physical reaction that slammed into her without a single touch.

---

“Son of a bitch, watch where you’re going, Bronn!” Sandor barked from the top of the staircase following a loud thump.

Sansa winced, reminding herself that if anything had been damaged Sandor would be ripping it up anyways. She also made a future note to not allow Sandor and Bronn to move things in together when the place was finished.

She had spent the better part of an hour watching Sandor bring his tools into the house, she assumed they had to be quite heavy the way his biceps bulged. She couldn’t help herself, it was like a moth to the flame, watching him.

What was interesting to Sansa was how comfortable Sandor seemed, how in his element. It was fascinating to watch him in the zone, and she quickly learned how much of a perfectionist he was. Suddenly their work interactions became clearer, why he was on edge when she had questioned his reasons for things – he wanted things perfect, and he wouldn’t settle for less.

When Bronn and Sandor emerged from upstairs, Sansa had to stifle a giggle at Sandor’s scowl as he glared at the back of Bronn’s head.

Drama Queen, she thought.

“I could order pizza, if you guys are hungry,” Sansa offered, it was almost 5 and they were close to finishing, just needing to plastic off the upstairs now that her furniture was in the guest bedroom, she was sure they would be hungry.

Both men nodded eagerly, and Sandor guzzled a bottle of water.

“What do you guys want?”

“I’m good with anything darling, except no pineapple,” Bronn said as he wiped his neck and forehead with his discarded shirt.

Sandor grunted, “Get pineapple, Little Bird.”

Bronn scowled, “Pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza.”

“Pineapple on pizza is fucking delicious,” Sandor countered.

“okaayyy,” Margaery interrupted, “one with pineapple, and one without it is.” Margaery said on the way out of the room to call for delivery

Sansa hopped up on the countertop, crossing her legs and sipping her beer, Sandor leaned against the fridge with his signature arms crossed over his chest, and Bronn slumped down in a kitchen chair.

“When do you want to start ripping out the kitchen?” Bronn asked, gesturing to the cabinets.

“When are you free?” Sandor asked, sparing a glance at Sansa. Sanaa nodded, giving her permission to start whenever. The sooner the better in her books but she appreciated Sandor checking with her first.

“Tuesday night?” Bronn asked.

Sandor quickly glanced at Bronn, he looked sheepish. Sansa realized why… Ros. The girl from the bar, she had told Sandor she would see him next Tuesday.

Next Tuesday was now this Tuesday.

Sansa suddenly felt her heart sink.

“I can’t Tuesday, Wednesday?” Sandor asked.

Sansa excused herself and went upstairs, she just needed. Something. She needed something.

A minute, maybe

Feeling like a complete idiot at caring so much and feeling like an even bigger idiot for her seesaw of emotions. Hell, she was confusing even herself.

I don’t think I’m ready for a relationship, but the thought of him with anyone else makes me jealous.

As if she had any claim over Sandor at all, which she knew she didn’t.

I accepted his friendship but being in the friendzone isn’t what I want.

Well what did she want then?

He’s not even single, and she was no cheater.

Sansa sighed, and looked down at the unmade mattress. Well, I may as well make the bed since I’m up here.

Sansa carefully dug through the dozen or so boxes in the corner of the spare bedroom, finding the box marked BEDROOM LINENS. Digging out her new sheets, she made her bed when again her thoughts drifted to Sandor. As they almost always seemed to lately.

She was angry at herself that, despite knowing Sandor had something going on with another woman, she still wanted him. This had always been a hard cut off for her, casual or exclusive, the minute another woman was involved Sansa’s interest immediately died – as it should have been. It was different with Sandor, and that bothered her.

It may have been because Sandor didn’t act like a man in any sort of relationship, he acted single and Sansa swore she felt him flirting with her, she sure as heck had felt and seen the way he looked at her and she definitely didn’t imagine their kiss the other week.

He didn’t seem like a cheater.

So lost in her thoughts, Sansa hadn’t heard the creak of the stairs when Sandor had come upstairs.

“Should have known you’d have white sheets.” Sandor rumbled behind her and Sansa jumped.

Hand flying to her chest she laughed lightly,

“Gods! You scared me!”

Sandor chuckled and pushed himself off the doorframe. How long had he been standing there, she wondered.

“Guess I don’t need to worry about fixing the squeaky staircase, apparently you’re deaf,” he joked, hands in his pockets he came over to stand beside her.

Sansa looked up at him, noticing just how close he was standing to her. Gods, he smelled good, which was something she never noticed before on a man, outside of when they had used to much cologne or aftershave. The way his tight white tank top clung to his body she could see the definition of his abs beneath the fabric. The contrast of his tanned skin against the white shirt. For the first time she noticed both his biceps were completely covered in tattoos, that seemed to cover his chest and back as well.

When she finally looked up at him she noticed him staring down at her, eyes nearly black. She shifted slightly under the intensity of his gaze and blushed, he had clearly just caught her checking him out.

“Just came up to make sure everything was okay, you disappeared quickly.” His brows furrowed, he seemed concerned, Sansa couldn’t help but wonder why.

She shook her head and gave a small smile,

“I’m fine. Just wanted to get things ready for tonight. Its sort of nice, you know. First night here. In my house.”

She smiled to herself, despite everything that had happened in Dorne, despite all her confusion over Sandor, this was hers. She had done this, on her own.

It felt good.

Sandor hummed in agreement, “You did good, Sansa.”

 He grabbed the sheet that Sansa was holding between his two fingers, moving the material between them, all the while staring at Sansa with a slight smirk on his face.

“Soft sheets,” he finally said.

Sansa felt her cheeks warm, her whole body warm really, and she was sure she must have been blushing. She bit her bottom lip, a nervous gesture she had since she was a child and drove her mother nuts and looked up at him.

“Sansa,” he growled, actually growled and Sansa swore his eyes blackened with desire.

Sandor was just about to say something when Margaery called up.

“Pizza’s here!”

Sandor smirked and shook his head, releasing the sheet, he leaned forward so his face was beside hers, Sansa stared straight ahead over his shoulder.

“Always getting interrupted,” he whispered.

Then he was gone, and Sansa finally released a breath she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding. What was he going to say?

Why had he come up in the first place?

She looked down at the bed and the sheets in her hand. She would never ben able to sleep in those tonight without her thoughts on the fact that Sandor was in her room, touching her sheets, staring at her… like that!

With one last deep, calming breathe Sansa put the linens down and headed downstairs.

---

He didn’t know how long he had stood there watching her from the doorway. At least a few minutes he’d guess, she was fascinating to watch.

He hadn’t missed the shift in her downstairs, the suddenly closed off Sansa when she’d left although he had absolutely no idea what caused it.

He wondered if it had anything to do with him, and he had spent at least 10 minutes thinking about it after Sansa headed upstairs. When Bronn had gone outside to ‘talk’ with Margaery, Sandor had taken the opportunity to go check on Sansa.

It was remarkable how quickly she seemed to get lost in her own thoughts. Still, it confused the fuck out of him. She could be so open, almost toeing the line with flirty and then she would just shut down and close him out.

He was certain of one thing though, as certain as he’d ever been, more certain than he is of most things in his life.

They’d spent the next couple hours eating and laughing. Once Sansa had come downstairs, with Bronn and Margaery there, she’d opened up again and for the first time he got a glance at relaxed Sansa.

This was her home, she could let down her façade and just be Sansa. She laughed and joked with Margaery, who apparently had a great fondness for reliving all their most embarrassing stories, she unapologetically gulfed down at least 5 slices of pizza, and she always left at least an inch of her bottle of beer.

“The last bit always tastes like pee,” Sansa had said, she was a little tipsy and it was fucking cute.

Sandor never used the word ‘cute’ to describe a woman before.

But she was fucking adorable.

“And you know what pee tastes like?” he countered.

Sansa huffed, “ok fine. It tastes like what I would imagine pee to taste like.”

“Better,” Sandor had said with a nod, and Sansa stuck her tongue out at him, he bit back a groan.

What he was certain of and had become more certain of as the night wore on was, although she tried not to be, she was interested. Once he had gotten the thought in his mind, he paid closer attention. The way she’d looked at him, acted around him, her gestures.

He needed to figure out why she kept shutting him out, was it purely physical attraction to him? She didn’t strike him as that kind of girl.

So, what was it?

He had no idea.

What he did know though, was he wouldn’t push. He offered Sansa his friendship, which she had accepted. He wouldn’t push for more, but he wouldn’t hold back when he felt an opportunity to toe the waters a bit either – but he wouldn’t seek those opportunities out.

She would have to come to him, of that he was sure.

---

Sansa moaned as he kissed her neck.

“Sansa,” he growled when she gently thrust her hips upwards, craving more contact.

She needed more.

He used his big hands to push her hips into the bed, pinning her down… keeping her still.

“Sandor…” she moaned, trying to wiggle in his grasp, her body screaming for relief. She heard the faint ringing in the background when she felt him smirk against her neck.

Slowly he began kissing down her neck, across her collarbone, and just as he reached the swell of her breast the ringing got louder.

“Answer the phone, Sansa” he whispered.

Sansa shot awake, still groggy from her dream and sleep, but eyes open. It took her a minute to realize it was her phone ringing from the floor beside the bed.

She groaned and leaned her upper body over then bed, blindly searching for her phone and making a mental note to find something to act as a bedside table.

When she finally felt her still buzzing phone, she immediately answered it without looking at the screen.

“Hello?” she grumbled, still half asleep.

No answer.

“Hello?” she asked again, more awake now.

No answer.

Her heart began to race and her hand trembled as she pulled the phone away from her ear.

Unknown Number

Sansa quickly ended the call and she dropped her phone on the bed. She just stared at it, her hands shook, and her heart pounded in her ears.

Ramsay.

 

Chapter Text

PICSET

When Sansa pulled into the driveway Monday after work she immediately recognized Sandor’s motorcycle in the drive. Sandor hadn’t been back on Sunday, which he had told Sansa before hand, he needed to get somethings done around his place, since most of his free time would now be spent at Sansa’s house.

If she were being honest, she was relieved to have Sunday to herself. Following her late night phone call, she had worked herself into quite the state and needed Sunday to unwind and analyze the situation. Truth be told, she had no idea who called her. She hadn’t heard from Ramsay since she left Dorne months ago, not a peep.

That call could have been anyone, a wrong number, telemarketer.

Still, she had contacted an old ‘friend’ from university on Sunday morning, Jaqen. She had met him in one of her economics classes, she wouldn’t exactly call them friends because he honestly creeped her out a bit with his ‘skills’. Still, she had heard from her old university friends that he had become some kind of underground hacker, and could do anything for a price.

Once Sansa had figured out how to reach him, she had given him all her carrier information and a couple hundred bucks to find out anything he could on the caller. There was nothing she could do now but wait, and what are the odds it was actually Ramsay?

A loud tapping on her driver’s side window broke Sansa from her thoughts and scared the living daylights out of her. Looking to her left, Sansa was met with the very sexy picture of Sandor’s muscular and slightly sweaty abs. She blushed, remembering her dream from the other night.

Good lord, the man was built.

Quickly composing herself, she opened her driver’s door and Sandor moved aside.

“Hi,” she said getting out of her car and grabbing her work bag from the passengers seat.

“Hey, taking an afternoon nap in your car?” he teased, clearly he had seen her sitting in her car for the last 10 minutes.

She blushed and laughed softly, “No, although I could use a nap.”

Sandor’s lips slightly turned upwards before dropping into his signature scowl.

“So, don’t be alarmed, the main floor looks a little different,” Sandor said with a grin.

Sansa nodded, following Sandor inside. What she found was a surprisingly open room, Sandor had already removed the walls of the little foyer, opening the space up completely to the living and dining rooms.

“Sandor!” Sansa said, completely astonished in the work he had already done. When did he get here? How did he have time for all this already? It was a mess, but it already looked so different.

She turned to him and her shock gave way to the biggest smile, so big her cheeks actually hurt.

“Sandor! Sandor!” she repeated enthusiastically. “This looks amazing!”

Sandor chuckled, “I haven’t done barely anything yet, quit chirping. The job site today closed early, so I had a bit of time. Plus, it’ll make getting those kitchen cabinets out easier if we aren’t walking through doorways.”

Sansa just nodded, barely listening to him and rather looking around her space. She had seen the plans, of course and had envisioned what the space would look like open, but now that it was finally happening she almost couldn’t believe it.

The tiny cottage looked so much bigger!

She was so in awe of the space around her, she hadn’t realized Sandor had been talking to her.

“Sansa?”

“Hmm,” she asked, finally drawing her attention back to him. He cocked his head to the side and arched an eyebrow, chastising her for not paying attention. She giggled, “sorry, what were you saying?”

Sandor rolled his eyes playfully and headed towards the kitchen, Sansa followed.

“I was saying, that Bronn and I will rip the kitchen out on Wednesday and the I’ll be here Thursday, Friday and Sunday. I can’t come out on Saturday.”

She had already given him a key, and free reign to come whenever he’d wanted, but she noticed he still liked to tell her ahead of time, it was thoughtful and she appreciated the extra effort, although unnecessary.

Sansa felt her heart sink a little. Saturday.

Saturday is a prime date night day.

Sandor would probably be with Ros.

“Oh,” Sansa said quietly, she felt herself falter slightly “yeah, okay. That’s fine!”

Sandor frowned, “are you sure?”

Sansa cut him off, waving her hand, “honestly, that’s fine! I told you I was fine with a looser timeline, you have your own life too. I was just distracted is all.” She smiled up at him, hoping he wouldn’t press any further and not wanting or willing to lie herself out of his questions.

Sandor narrowed his eyes but didn’t ask anything further, he gestured for her to follow him to the table in what used to be dining room.

“I do need you to make some earlier decisions though, so I can start getting things ordered. Flooring, cabinets, countertops, you know.”

Sansa swallowed thickly as she looked down at the piles and piles of samples and books Sandor had laid out for her, obviously she had certain things in mind and knew for certain what she didn’t want, but still the choices seemed overwhelming.

“You still want to strip and refinish the original floor, right?” Sandor asked, they had discussed this briefly the other night. He tapped one of the books on the table, it was a sample book of different flooring stains. “If not, I can get you some flooring samples this week.”

She felt him move closer standing behind her and just slightly, very slightly, off to one side. She could feel the heat of him through her blouse.

Sansa shook her head, she loved the idea of keeping the original floors everywhere but the kitchen and bathrooms. They were in surprisingly decent shape and were wide – 8-inch planks- which was unusual for a home of this age. Sandor had mentioned that though it would be a little more work and messier, that refinishing may be a nicer finish and Sansa had agreed.

“No, I do. Want to refinish them, I mean.”

Sandor nodded, “I marked a few pages in the book, for the type of wood so you’d get a better idea of what the finish would be.”

Sansa turned slightly and looked up at him.

“What..” Sandor asked, looking sheepish at Sansa’s sudden inquisition. Serves him right, he constantly does the same to her.

“You’re just different… than I imagined.” Sansa mused. He was different, from their earlier interactions she hadn’t expected him to be so kind.  He was still gruff, and he liked to grumble, and every other word out of his mouth was usually a curse.

Still, he was kind.

Sandor snorted, “I’m still an asshole, Little Bird. Don’t you worry.”

Sansa looked down at the table and back at him with an innocent smile, taking the opportunity to tease him back just a little.

“Oh trust me, I know.”

Sandor playfully pinched her waist and she yelped, “Don’t be rude now, Sansa. Remember your manners.”

Suddenly the playful moment took a much less playful mood and Sansa’s body hummed at the commanding and raspy tone of Sandor’s voice.

Manners, like a good girl, she thought.

Sansa’s gaze dipped down to Sandor’s arm that was resting on the table beside her, effectively caging her in.

Arm porn.

It’s a thing, at least for Sansa it was.

His arms were tanned, hairy and tattooed. His fist gently griped the edge of the wood table, she could see the muscles flex. He was strong, strong enough to lift her up as though she was light as air, she wondered if he would –

All thoughts completely interrupted by the sudden ringing, a ring tone she didn’t recognize. Sansa glanced down at the buzzing on the table, glancing over the screen that didn’t belong to her without a second thought.

ROS

“Sorry, I have to take this,” Sandor sighed, he quickly grabbed the phone and answered it on his way out with a grumbled hello.

Sansa took a deep breath and frowned, slowly running her fingers over the cabinet samples. What the heck was she doing.

Never.

Never had Sansa been the type to flirt with a taken man, yet she constantly found herself forgetting about Ros. She was disappointed in herself, for being that girl. Woman need to support woman, and yet she constantly drooled over another woman’s… something.

She needed to figure out what Sandor and Ros were, officially. Maybe with a label on it she could get over whatever this whole Sansa/Sandor thing was.

She needed to.

---

By the time Wednesday rolled around Sansa was crabby. No. Crabby was an understatement, she was miserable.

Despite everything she had told herself, every mantra she repeated, all her guilt over the situation, Sansa couldn’t help but grow increasingly agitated yesterday.

Especially in the evening.

Sansa had worked late, keeping herself busy, and yet still when she finally got home and made dinner, sat down at the table crowded with beacons of Sandor, Sansa couldn’t help but think about how empty the house was.

No Sandor.

No Sandor because he was with Ros.

What is wrong with you! Sansa had said out loud, as she poured her second glass of wine.

Sansa had spent the rest of her night trying to distract herself, but by the time Wednesday rolled around her mood hadn’t improved at all. In fact, it had gotten worse around 8am, when a traitorous thought popped into her head.

What if Sandor was waking up with Ros right now?

The thought came and went in an instant, but it was enough to make Sansa sour.

She furiously reminded herself that she had no claim to care, not a single care. Yet, simply the thought of him waking up next to another woman was enough to feel a deep seated jealously in the pit of her stomach. Sansa had never felt jealousy like this, she wasn’t remotely close to a jealous person, and yet the thought of anyone with Sandor hurt.

Hurt more than she was willing to admit.

She probably needed to do some serious self discovery, and analyze why it hurt, but she refused.

In the middle of her second… third?... spiral of the morning, Sansa’s phone chimed.

Mom [9:50am] – Hi sweetheart. Don’t forget lunch today. 12 pm at Volantis. See you soon. Love mom.

Sansa laughed softly at her desk, no matter how many times the Stark siblings had told Cat that she didn’t actually need to start or end a text message by acknowledging who she was, not since the invention of saved contact lists and caller ID, she always did.

Sansa was thankful for the reminder, since she had forgotten about lunch, luckily she didn’t have any meetings this morning, or she most likely would have been late.

Halfway into lunch Sansa aimlessly listened to her mother chat about the upcoming charity event. This big event that Stark Development hosted each year, each year for a different charity. It was fancy, and each ticket was over a thousand dollars, but every cent went to the charity.

The event had started small, years ago when Sansa was much younger, but it had grown to be one of the most looked forward to events of the North, with other larger corporations now sponsoring the event and giving sizable donations to the charities as well.

What had started as Ned’s way to “give back” to his community, had grown into a huge charitable event. This year the charity chosen was the same charity specified in Sandor’s contract, she had no doubt that he had organized them being the chosen for the gala.

“So, my dear, will you be bringing a date this year?” Catelyn asked. Sansa looked up from her half-eaten salad to see Catelyn smiling at her over her wine glass.

Sansa groaned, “Mother, its still a while away.”

Cat gently set down her glass and hummed in agreement, “It is, you’re right. Never too early to start thinking about it though. Are you seeing anyone?”

Sansa eyed her mother and wondered about the sudden inquisition. Catelyn Stark was many, many things however coy was not one of them.

“Why…” Sansa asked slowly, both curious and nervous of Catelyn’s response.

“Oh, I’m glad you asked. You remember Martha Hardyng of course.”

Oh no.

“Well her son, Harry. He is back from Essos, he’s a doctor now you know.”

Ugh. Harry Hardyng.

Sansa had known him by name mostly, he was in Robb’s grade but even she knew of his reputation. He was nice, or at least the times that she had met him he was, but full of himself.

“Mom..” Sansa warned.

Catelyn sighed, “Sansa, he’s a nice boy and he just got back. Would it kill you to go to dinner?”

Ding ding ding.

Sansa quickly looked for her phone from her purse.

“Sansa, it’s rude to check your phone in the middle of a conversation,” Catelyn chided.

“I know Mom, I’m sorry. I’ll shut it off.” Sansa said, searching through her bag to find her cell phone.

Catelyn continued talking about Harry. Nice boy, just got out of a relationship, hasn’t been back to town in a while, good family blah blah blah. Sansa was barely listening when she found her phone.

New message: Jaqen

Jaqen [12:33pm] – Sansa. Looks like the call came from a telemarketing agency in Dorne. Probably had your number on file from when you lived there. Couldn’t trace anything beyond the call, best guess is it was automated.

Jaqen [12:34pm] – don’t forget to delete this message and my number.

This was good news, still it made Sansa nervous the call had come from Dorne, considering she had changed her number since she lived there, but call agencies always had a way of getting your phone number.

She decided the best decision was to not get in a tizzy over it, as far as she was concerned it was nothing. She was home, far from Dorne and surrounded by family. Her dad, her brothers, her terrifying little sister, Sandor.

Sansa felt inexplicably safe with Sandor, and not even just because he was huge and ex-military - although that helped. Knowing he would be at her house most nights and weekends helped, just knowing he was around.

Except last night when he was with Ros.

There is was again, the red hot, nagging feeling of jealousy that Sansa had been able to ignore for the last hour. Yet it hit her hard, again.

“Sansa. Sansa are you listening to me?” Catelyn asked, Sansa hadn’t been listening at all.

“Yes mom, I’m listening,” Sansa recovered quickly.

“Okay, so will you?”

Shoot, she hadn’t been listening at all but knowing Catelyn she had most likely just asked a yes or no question, safest answer always being yes.

“Uh, yeah. Fine mom.”

Catelyn smiled… uh oh.

“That’s so great, Sansa! I’ll call Martha and get Harry to call you. I think it’ll be a great way to spend your Saturday night! A date with a handsome young man.”

Sansa deadpanned, what in the bloody heck had she just done. Gods damnit, she had just agreed to a date with Harry.

Son of a…

Damn it!

Sansa sighed, what is done is done, there was no getting out of it at that point without admitting she lied, and she really wasn’t ready for a lecture on proper etiquette right now. After all, her mom was right, there were worse ways to spend a Saturday night. Specifically, this Saturday when Sansa knew Sandor would be on a date himself.

This may be just what Sansa needed, a little palette cleanser, something to finally get past whatever this was with Sandor.

At the very least she may possibly have a decent time with a friend.

---

Sandor pulled into Sansa’s driveway just before 5pm on Saturday. She hadn’t replied to his last text, but he was hoping him coming by was okay anyways.

He had been helping his old neighbour, Mrs. Mordane, fix her bathroom pipes. The woman was nearly 90 and Sandor tried to help her out as much as he could, even after he had moved to his place in the woods.

She was sweet, although a little intrusive, and had always been there for him. Making extra casseroles and stockpiling his freezer, bringing him cookies. She had two sons, but they were fucking useless. Nice enough guys but never offered to help their mom out, so Sandor took that role upon himself. Who lets their 85-year-old mother cut her own lawn?

Fucking cunts, that’s who, Sandor thought.

The job had taken less time than he had expected, so he had texted Sansa asking if he could still come by tonight. He wanted to get started on stripping the floors before anything else started getting done, since it was going to be dusty as fuck while he was doing it.

Bronn and Sandor had gotten the entire kitchen ripped out on Wednesday, leaving a small portable section of cabinets and some plywood as a countertop. Other than that, Sansa was basically living in the middle of a full renovation zone – with only a fridge, microwave and BBQ. Though she seemed to be managing just fine and he was impressed.

He saw Sansa’s car in the driveway, which was good, and took a chance that she wouldn’t mind the intrusion, she had given him free reign to come and go as he needed to. They had fallen into a sort of easy rhythm. She had always gotten home later, and she didn’t seem to mind him being in her space, she usually just read or worked on the porch.

It was nice.

Being around her was nice and Sandor hadn’t had that feeling in a very, very long time. The ease and enjoyment of spending time with someone.

Sandor knocked, Sansa had given him a key, but considering she may not have seen the text message, he didn’t want to startle her by just walking in. He heard her rushing down the stairs and the door flew open.

Sansa looked surprised.

“Oh! Sandor, uh what are you doing here? I thought you couldn’t come tonight?” Sansa said, she was a little out of breath and Sandor suddenly regretted not trying to call her a couple times before coming over.

“Sorry, I did text you,” Sansa waved him in as she started rummaging through her purse on the stairs. “I was helping out my old neighbour today and it didn’t take as much time as I thought, I was hoping to get a jump on the floors tonight.”

Sansa pulled out her phone from her bag, seemingly checking his text massage from earlier. She sighed and stood up, “I’m sorry, I didn’t have my phone on me!”

Sandor suddenly noticed his surroundings. Sansa was dressed up, tight skinny jeans, some sort of silky tank top. He looked down and saw a pair of black heels by the door, along with one of those little purse things woman always brought on dates.  She had more makeup on than usual, and her hair was curled.

She looked stunning.

Holy fuck. She’s going on a date.

“Is it okay that I’m here?” he asked slowly, suddenly feeling like a complete fucking idiot and trying to control his temper.

Sansa bit her bottom lip, she looked nervous.

“Yes of course, although I feel bad that you will be working so late. I uhm, I have a” she paused.

“A date,” he supplied, trying to sound as unaffected as possible.

Sansa frowned, “yeah a date, my mother-“

They were interrupted by a knock on the door, Sandor moved further into the house to make room and Sansa opened the door.

“Hey,” Sandor heard a guys voice from the porch, he sounded like a cocky son of a bitch, an irritating attempt to be ‘smooth’.

“Harry, hi,” Sansa said as Harry stepped slightly into the doorway and took notice of Sandor.

“Hey man,” he said. Seemingly trying to size up the situation, Sandor would admit he wouldn’t be totally comfortable picking up a woman for a date when another man was in her house, so he understood the tense response.

He had assumed Sansa was single, single and interested in him, so clearly his judgement was way fucking off.

“Harry, this is Sandor. He’s my friend and he’s doing the renovations on the house.” Harry smiled, apparently pleased and he extended his hand to Sandor.

“Harry, nice to meet you,” he said.

Sandor took his hand and muttered same. The dude had a weak ass handshake.

“Ready to go?” he asked Sansa.

She paused and looked at Sandor before nodding her head, “yeah. Thanks for coming by, Sandor.”

Sandor waved her off and made his way into the house, hearing the door close behind him he scowled.

What in the actual fuck had just happened?

He had actually thought that Sansa was interested in him. Nervous and apprehensive about doing anything about, she definitely didn’t seem open to any sort of relationship and he still hadn’t figured out why she bolted from the party that night. Yet even with all that, she seemed fucking interested.

Really fucking interested.

Why would someone like her, be interested in a dog like you.

The way she looked at him, those little moments when she let her guard down with him, the breathy little moans she made that he was certain she hadn’t even realized she was making.

Yet, she was out on a date with another fucking guy. Who couldn’t be more opposite from himself.

Sighing and resounding to the fact that he was miserable as fuck, Sandor figured he should at least get to work and work out some of his frustrations on her floor.

He removed he sweater, leaving him in his typical jeans, tank top and work boots, and he opened the windows – knowing it was about to get sandy as fuck in here.

Starting up the floor sander, he set to work as his thoughts continued to be plagued by Sansa fucking Stark. He wasn’t resentful that he was here, he really did want to work on this project regardless of the two of them, still it drove him fucking mad.

The place smelled like her, like lemons and cinnamon and just screamed Sansa. Even with barely any furniture and no stuff he could feel her. Her running shoes neatly placed on the stairs, her workbag haphazardly swung onto the kitchen table where she had left it Friday night when she had come home, stressed after a long week of work.

What the fuck had he been thinking. That a girl like that could be interested in a man like him.

In the midst of sand, sweat and dust Sandor let his insecurities surface.

He was nothing compared to her.

He was halfway to 40, and she still had her whole adulthood ahead of her.

She was beautiful, fucking gorgeous in an effortless way that he bet she didn’t even realize, and he was a half-scarred dog.

She was smart, brilliant really. He was smart enough, but not on her level.

She had an amazing family, he had no one.

What could he have offered her?

She may have been physically attracted to him, to his body because she couldn’t want his face, but that was it.

Sandor grunted, never had a woman made him feel this way. He wasn’t a cocky son of bitch, but he was confidant enough. That’s when it hit him.

Hit him like a fucking freight train.

He cared.

He wanted Sansa to want him.

He hadn’t given a shit about any other woman because he hadn’t really given two flying fucks if they cared or not, but with Sansa he cared.

That just pissed him off.

Pissed him off that he cared this much, when they weren’t anything. Would never be anything.

God, he was a dumb fucking dog.

So lost in his thoughts and his frustrations, and too busy taking those feelings out of Sansa’s floorboards, he hadn’t heard a car pull into the driveway, or the drivers door slam. He hadn’t heard the stomp of stilettos come up the porch or the front door unlock.

It wasn’t until Sansa was standing in the doorway, looking as frustrated as he felt that he took any notice. Quickly glancing at the radio clock in the corner, it had been barely an hour since she’d left.

Sandor quickly flicked off the sander and removed his goggles, wiping the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand.

“Sansa?” he asked. “Everything okay?”

Sansa huffed but said nothing, hastily toeing off her heals she headed into the kitchen. Sandor stayed put for a minute, confused by her sudden return home. She didn’t seem angry or upset, so the date couldn’t have been that bad, but she certainly didn’t seem happy either.

Sandor wiped a hand down his face and watched as she wretched the fridge door open and grabbed two beers. Placing one on the table, presumably for him, the other she opened after she jumped up on the makeshift plywood counter top.

Sandor made his way to the table and took a long sip of his beer, as Sansa nearly chugged hers and he chuckled.

“Everything okay, Sansa?” he asked again.

Sansa looked at his with a blank stare before bursting out into a completed unsuspected fit of laughter. Sandor couldn’t help but smile,

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” he was totally perplexed, when he’d first seen her come home he had figured he would have to go find this Harry and give him a strong reminder on how not to be an ass to woman, but now he had no idea what was going on.

“Oh my god, Sandor. He just, I just” she tried to say over the laughter. “God, he was such a douche bag!”

Then, Sansa showed Sandor a side of her he’d never seen – her completely unfiltered, no bars held, word vomit.

“Gods, not only did I not want to go on this date to begin with, I mean Mom basically cornered me into it when I wasn’t paying attention, I only agreed to go at that point because I lied and said I was paying attention – goes to show what good lying does, none. It does no good – and then he is literally the definition of douche on our date.”

Sandor was quite certain by this point she hadn’t taken a single breath, he hadn’t realized she could talk to much without breathing, she must be able to swim laps under water. He had never heard her so open, so unfiltered. She wasn’t thinking before she said the words, she literally had no time to by the rate at which the words were leaving her mouth.

“He put his sunglasses on in the car, which was fine the sun was setting, except he didn’t take them off… he didn’t take them off inside the restaurant, not until I mentioned them. I now have the lyrics I wear my sunglasses at night stuck in my head, and I probably will for days thanks to him! Oh my god and then the wine, the wine!”

She sang the lyrics, it was adorable and she was an awful singer. Another new thing Sandor was learning tonight.

“There was some wine, I don’t even know which one because I told him I didn’t like red – although he was so busy talking about his fantasy football league that I doubt he heard, but some red wine listed under the French section of the menu and apparently it wasn’t a French wine… Sandor” Sansa finally took a breathe, although it was more of exasperated sigh.

“Sandor, he called over the manager, to speak about the wine and acted like he was doing them a favour. Gods and he was so condescending about it! Have you ever been to that area of France? Well I have. Blah blah blegh”

Sandor continued to listen to her rant until finally she took a few deep breathes and stopped, like she just realized how completely unrefined she had just been, like she had finally said everything she wanted to say without the nagging voice in her head telling her to mind her manners.

It was refreshing, and Sandor felt like he had finally seen the real Sansa. A glimpse of just Sansa, without all the pedigree.

Sansa’s eyes went wide, and she covered her mouth, “I’m … I’m so sorry! That was so rude, I’m not usually so rude, I don’t judge people.”

Sandor made his way over to her and placed his hand on her thigh, she removed her hand from her mouth and glanced down at where his hand sat mid thigh and looked back at him.

Interesting.

He gave her leg a little squeeze, “Sansa, stop fucking apologizing.” He took note that her beer was near an inch from the bottom, knowing she wouldn’t drink much more he gently took her bottle by the neck and grabbed her another.

“Thank you,” she said shyly.

Sandor grunted and spun a chair around from the table, sitting with her forearms resting on the back.

“Keep going.” he prompted, Sansa’s eyes widened, and she feverishly shook her head.

“No, no I couldn’t. It’s fine.”

Sandor narrowed his eyes and lowered his voice, “Sansa. Keep going.”

Like hell he would let this Sansa sneak away tonight, he might have just made it his mission to break through every wall that had been built up because of ‘minding her manners’ and ‘appropriate conversation’.

Sansa hesitated before shaking her head again slightly, less sure than last time.

“Sansa,” he growled slightly. “Keep. Going.”

He saw he shoulders fall and knew he’d won; knew she would relent.

“Ugh okay fine, so.”

And with that she was off, into more rants about all the things this asshat had done, he really did sound like the definition of douche.

Sandor smiled, completely captivated by her.

---

By midnight Sandor was home and left pondering over his evening with Sansa.

She was surprisingly easy to have hours of conversation with. They had spent hours talking, laughing, exchanging stories.

At some point Sansa had ordered pizza, and he quickly learned that the girl got hangry, maybe had her date fed her first she wouldn’t have faked ill and left. Once she started eating her mood had improved considerably, although Sandor hadn’t minded. Unrestrained Sansa was interesting and entertaining, something he hoped to see more of.

He wondered if that’s what a life with Sansa would be like, laughing and joking during their evenings together.

Their evenings.

Fuck, shit, god damnit. Once again he was envisioning himself in her life, in a capacity far greater than he currently was or would ever be.

Despite trying to deny to himself, and anyone who questioned him, this girl had the possibility to completely unhinge him. He had no idea how it happened, or why, but he knew she was working her way into him – and deep.

Sandor sighed and dropped into his bed.

He needed to be smarter than this, look at the facts.

The facts were she had been on a date.

Rejected him twice and gone on a date.

The fact was she was beautiful, and more than skin deep beautiful, and he was… well he was The Hound.

Had his mind made up the ‘signs’ he thought he saw? Was he so clouded by his lust for her that he’d made himself believe the attraction was reciprocated?

He had no idea.

What he did know was that he needed some serious protection around his heart, he needed to retreat into his old defence mechanisms with her. She had weaseled herself into him, and he was dangerously close to openly allowing himself to let her, which he refused to do.

He needed to back the fuck off, and if that meant being a cold son of a bitch so she backed off too, then that’s what he needed to do.

To protect himself.

Eventually, he’d move on from her.

He had to.

Chapter Text

PICSET

“Oh god, Sweetie.” Her mother laughed, “I am so sorry, I would have never set you up with him had I known.”

Sansa was out for brunch with Catelyn, Talisa, Arya and Margaery, and was still reeling from the absolute ridiculous date she had last night. She couldn’t resist rubbing it in her mothers face a little bit, who had a bit of a reputation for bad set ups.

“I mean really, Sansa. What did you expect from mom?” Arya quipped, taking a bite of her breakfast.

Her mom always meant well, she really did, but unfortunately since they came from a good family name and all of her boys turned out to not be total goons, Catelyn blindly assumed a solid family name meant manners and chivalry – when Sansa had found it usually the opposite.

“I am not that bad,” Catelyn griped, she hated when the kids teased her.

Sansa, Talisa and Margaery all giggled quietly, while Arya howled at the statement.

“Mom!” she huffed, “you are the anti-cupid. Your setups are the worst!”

“I’m sorry Cat, but its true. You tried to set Robb up with Margaery.” Talisa laughed.

Sansa adored her sister in law. She was good for Robb, she centered him and focused him. Before Talisa, Robb was completely unfocused, he had a pedigree and good looks, which he used to his advantage. Robb had always been smart, and while Ned and Cat had never spoiled their children per say, Robb was the most spoiled of them, and he loved it.

Sansa was always surprised that a woman like Talisa even gave a cocky, spoiled, man-child like Robb a chance. She was beautiful but besides that she was kind and good natured.  When Robb had met Talisa, she was finishing up her residency in pediatric medicine and now she was one of the most sought after pediatricians in Westeros.

Talisa had a good influence on Robb though, mostly because he was desperate to win her over. Still, he got his shit together, finished his degree and started working for their Dad. No one was surprised when he’d popped the question, and he’s a great husband.

Sansa was sure kids would follow soon.

Part of Sansa was envious, Robb and Talisa were engaged when they were her age and yet that seemed so far off in the future for Sansa. She’d wasted so much of her time on the “wrong ones”, men she knew would never be the one, who were never going to be the ones she’d married or have kids with. Now she was doing the same thing with Sandor.

She’d felt awful, him showing up on Saturday, she had kissed him and rejected him and then she left with a date right in front of him. Not that he cared, although part of her hoped he cared enough to not want her dating other men… even though he was something with someone else.

She wanted what Robb had, what Arya and Gendry had. Heck, even Margaery and Bronn seemed to be building something stable. Yet she was making all the same mistakes again by focusing on an unavailable man.

Sansa continued to sip her drink while the girls teased Catelyn about all her terrible failed attempts at playing match maker, Sansa smiled to herself. She’d missed this, her relationships with these people, while she was gone. She hadn’t realized quite how much she’d missed the North and everyone in it.

“Well I am sorry, Sansa. No more setups, I promise.” Catelyn vowed, although she was pouting slightly because even though she was terrible at it, she loved setting people up.

Sansa gave a single nod and smiled, “you’re forgiven, but no more,” she joked.

Brunch went on as usual, the topic of discussion shifting primarily to the charity event coming up, although Margaery had also happily scandalized Catelyn with tales of her and Bronn and their experimental relationship.

Although she was enjoying herself, as the morning went on, she found herself more and more anxious to get home knowing that Sandor would be at the house by now. Last night, coming home and having him be there, it had been nice. She found an ease with him, talking to him. She didn’t need to fake anything with him and if anything, he seemed to prefer it when she wasn’t. She had been so unhinged by her absolutely ridiculous date last night, that she hadn’t even though about how completely awful she was coming across.

So judgemental and rude.

Not that he’d seemed to mind, it would seem.

He challenged her, to keep going, to just say what she felt. Not that she had much more to say, and they barely stayed on the topic of Harry for more than a few minutes, but still.

Gods, the way he all but commanded her.

She had sensed he was a man who liked to be in control. Men like Sandor, they demanded respect from just their sheer presence and stature. She couldn’t help it, it did things to her.

What was it like, to be with a man like him, she wondered. Given her more recent history, you would think that the idea of giving herself over to someone would be a hard no, but there was something about Sandor, something told her that he would see to the woman’s pleasure as much as his own.

She let her mind briefly wonder into her deepest, darkest desire. There was something so sexually appealing about a man who took charge and with Sandor it was almost… almost dirty, in what Sansa imagined the best possible way.

“So, Talisa are you and Robb still heading up to the cottage in a couple weekends?” Catelyn asked, derailing Sansa from her current train of thought.

The Stark Cottage on Bear Island was one of Sansa’s favourite little escapes. Of course, as the Starks were, the cottage was basically a second estate, and though it was smaller than the family home, it definitely didn’t lack space. Ned had always said he built it large enough for his kids to bring their kids, and it most certainly was. One of only a handful of cottages on the island, it was remote enough to feel almost completely secluded, and it was right on the Bay of Ice. 

Talisa nodded,

“We are, just for a long weekend,” she paused looking at Margaery, Arya and Sansa. “Oh my god, you guys should come with us! Yeah, we can make a little weekend out of it, we haven’t done this in so long!”

It was true, Sansa and her siblings used to spend most weekends in the summer on Bear Island, slowly adding friends and eventually boyfriends or girlfriends to the mix, but it had been awhile since the had all gone up together.

“Gendry and I are in, for sure!” Arya eagerly agreed to come.

“I’m sure Bronn will come, if not, I am!” Margaery exclaimed.

The girls all turned to Sansa and waited, eager eyes waiting for her to agree to come. Sansa laughed,

“Yes, of course I’ll come!”

Talisa clapped her hands and took her phone out quickly, “Great, I’ll text Robb to ask Jon and Ygritte as well!”

Jon had confided in Sansa last week that things had been ‘off’ with him and Ygritte lately, Sansa wondered if inviting her was the best idea. When Jon and Ygritte were good, things were great, but when they weren’t? Well, she could have a temper and she wasn’t the type of woman to reign in her thoughts or feelings just because they were around his family. Things could be come explosive quickly.

“Maybe we should see if Tormund and Sandor want to join us,” Margaery smirked behind her champagne glass with a nonchalant attitude, but Sansa hadn’t missed it. Sansa knew she had just become one half of an impromptu set up.

“Well, that will be such fun!” Catelyn exclaimed and once again playfully turned her attention to Sansa. “See, if you were dating you could have someone to go to the cabin with as well.”

Sansa groaned, if only she knew.

---

Sandor had been relieved when Sansa had texted him that she wouldn’t be home when he got there. After last night he just needed a minute. The talking, the possible teetering on the edge of flirting.

Her date!

Sandor was resigned to the fact that he needed to keep Sansa at arms length. Last night, once he had gotten home and he had thought about all the ways that she had already buried herself deeper than any woman had in a long time, and that she was dangerously close to having parts of him – dangerously close to him giving her whatever part of him she wanted.

Sandor was lost in his thoughts of Sansa when he’d heard her come home. He was up on the ladder where the wall between the living room and foyer once stood, taping off the drywall repair at the ceiling, from his vantage point he watched through the window as she grabbed her bag from the passengers seat and headed inside.

Gods, this woman was beautiful. She was wearing light skinny jeans, with a skintight black tank top tucked in. Her hair was up in a ponytail, which did nothing except empathize her chest and cleavage.

Sandor groaned and quickly diverted his attention back to the ceiling before she walked in.

Arms length, Sandor. Arms length.

“Hi!” Sansa said, as she whirled into the house, quickly toeing off her small booties to slip on her shoes she wore around the construction zone and placing her purse in its usual spot on the dining room table.

“Hey,” Sandor replied curtly, she stilled for a moment before continuing into the kitchen.

“Do you want a water or anything?” she asked.

“No.” Sandor replied, Sansa grabbed a bottle of water for herself from the fridge before turning to him.

“Everything okay, Sandor?” she asked, Sandor could see the little crease in her forehead, the one she got when she was confused.

Sandor sighed and made his way off the ladder, wiping his hands on his work cloth. He pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Fine. Did you choose a cabinet design yet?” he questioned.

He had asked her last week to have an answer for him as soon as she could, while flooring and lighting generally came in quicker, the cabinets were going to take a while longer.

He was learning that his idea of as soon as possible and Sansa’s, were very different. He got it, he did, this was going to be her home, these choices were important, and she wanted to get them right but holy fuck, the woman took forever to make a choice.

Sansa sighed and looked down at the floor, kicking a piece of drywall to the side with her foot. She looked up at him with a sheepish frown.

Sandor let out an exasperated sigh and Sansa rushed forward with her hands up.

“Okay, I know, I know. You asked me to make a choice. I know I need to, but the samples are all so small! And it’s hard to make a choice on the cabinets without making a choice on the flooring.”

“So, pick a fucking tile then, Sansa,” Sandor snapped.

Sansa startled and took a little step backwards. Sandor assumed she would retreat now, most people did when he snapped at them, usually because they were nervous of his temper. He half expected her to go pick a damn cabinet choice.

What he hadn’t expected was the stone-cold scowl she gave him when she met his eye. Her eyes were narrowed, and he could tell she wasn’t pleased with his outburst.

“What’s gotten into you?” she asked with an unmistaken edge to her voice.

Arms length.

“Well fuck, Sansa. You have to make some decisions, you can’t wait for one choice to be completed before making the next one. Otherwise this place won’t be done for a year, I have a life I’d like to get back to at some point too.” He barked.

Even he was surprised at his words, fuck they were harsher than he expected them to be. Also, who the fuck was he kidding? He didn’t care if he was here every weekend for the next year, hell he didn’t care if he was here every weekend for the next 5 years.

Sansa frowned before she turned, silently grabbed her bag and left.

Just walked out the door and drove off.

Sandor had expected her to snap at him, or slink away from him.  He hadn’t expected her to just leave, leave her house.

He felt like a right jackass, his attitude had literally driven the girl from her own home. He wanted to keep her at arms length, he didn’t want to push her away completely.

So why had he?

Was it purely out of self preservation?

As much as he wanted to say yes, admit to himself that his shit attitude was because he needed to protect himself, he had nearly convinced himself as much last night but seeing her completely squashed that mentality.

He was jealous.

He was fucking jealous that she was out with someone else. Shitty date or not, second date or not. She was still on a fucking date.

He wasn’t just acting miserable, he was fucking miserable.

Twenty minutes later, deep into Sandor’s seething at his ridiculous and inappropriate jealousy, Sansa was back. He watched her grab a bag from the back seat, a bag she hadn’t left the house with. He could tell by the exaggerated movements that she was still pissed off, which was further confirmed by her slamming her car door and all but stomping to the house.

Once inside, she stopped and waited for him to give her his full attention before tossing something at him. He hadn’t been expecting her to send anything flying his way and fumbled to catch it.

“what the fuck, Sansa?” he asked, completely dumbfounded by her response.

Why couldn’t she just, for once, behave like he expected her to. Respond like he expected her to. He never had any idea what she was going to do because he was always fucking wrong. It was maddening.

It was endearing as fuck.

She was endearing as fuck.

She said nothing as she made her way back into the kitchen, completely disregarding his question.

What the fuck.

Sandor looked down at what it was she threw at him.

A burger…?

She brought him a burger?

He was a complete ass to her, and she brought him food…

If he wasn’t confused enough by her response to him before, he was sure as fuck confused now.

“What is this?” he asked again, making his way into the kitchen. She was already leaning with her back against the remaining cabinets, dipping nuggets into some sort of dipping sauce.

“Eat.” She replied before popping another nugget into her mouth.

Sandor frowned, “what?”

Sansa sighed, “When I’m hungry, I get grumpy. I figured if I fed you, you would quit being such a mega jerk.” She said, matter of fact-ly.

Sandor couldn’t do anything but stare at her and blink. Was she real?

She was quite possibly the first person in history to meet his asshole temper with such resistance, outside of maybe Bronn and Tormund. He had seen it at work before, of course, the way she went toe to toe with him, but that was business.

This was just her accepting him for who he was, he was a grumpy asshole, who did in fact tend to get ‘hangry’ sometimes. He could almost laugh at the comical hell he was currently living in, to finally meet his possible match and have her so wholly unavailable to him.

 Sandor sighed and took a seat at the table, he had actually been hungry, though that wasn’t the cause for his attitude, but he couldn’t reject lunch.

The ate in relative silence for a while, Sansa aimlessly scrolling through her phone while she ate her lunch, Sandor staring out the kitchen window while he ate his, forcibly keeping his eyes plastered to a tree outside to avoid looking at Sansa.

When he was finished he cleaned up his mess and stood, Sansa looked at him with an arched eyebrow, challenging him and his mood.

“Thanks, Sansa.”

Sansa smiled and nodded though she didn’t say anything more. She cleaned up her garbage and came over to the table. She sighed, looking at the mountain of samples Sandor had brought over.

“Could you help me?” she asked shyly, she looked over at him and he could see the hope in her eyes.

“What?” he asked, he wasn’t entirely sure what she was asking of him.

“With the cabinets and the tile.” She sighed, aimlessly running her finger over the one cabinet choice, “there’s just so much, and it’s a little overwhelming, could you help me?”

She seemed almost unsure of herself for asking, like she was bothering him. He supposed he had brought that on himself, the way he snapped at her earlier, but he didn’t mind helping her.

He was surprised that she wanted his opinion, or cared, but he didn’t mind.

“Sure, I can help.” He said softly, making his way over to her although he made sure to put some physical distance between them.

For the next hour the two of them talked design and Sansa let Sandor pour through photos she had pinned to her Pinterest board, design elements that she liked, colour schemes etc. It hadn’t taken long to realize that Sansa liked neutral colour schemes, little to no colour, she hated yellow, and she liked clean lines but nothing too modern.

Within the hour, Sansa had chosen a stain for the hardwood, a kitchen tile, cabinetry and countertop choices and a backsplash.

Sansa gently placed her hand on Sandor’s forearm and looked up at him, her eyes beamed with happiness.

“Thank you, for helping,” she said, and she meant it.

Sandor cleared his throat and stepped away, he couldn’t think straight when she touched him.

“Yeah, no problem,” he grunted, needing to get back to work and away from the temptation he felt around her. Knowing that keeping her at arms length was going to be a challenge, Sandor knew that for him to succeed he needed to put as much physical space between them as he could.

---

Margaery had texted Sansa asking her to meet her downtown on Wednesday at lunch. Margaery and Bronn were headed into the city this weekend and she had wanted Sansa to go shopping with her, of course the first store she had dragged Sansa into was a lingerie boutique.

“It’s our first weekend away, and I needed to pick up a few pieces for the cottage next weekend too.” Margaery had reasoned.

The cottage trip had quickly turned into a whole thing and Sansa had to admit she was looking forward too it. It had been a long time since she had spent uninterrupted time with her siblings. They had all grown up, gotten jobs, started their own lives outside of the family but one thing couldn’t be denied – the Starks were fun.

Robb and Jon were trouble once they got going, they would let loose for a couple days and then moan about being too old for this shit and vow never again. The greatest part was that all the ‘additions’ as they called themselves – Talisa, Ygritte, Gendry – did nothing but add to the dynamic, though maybe Ygritte less than the others, she never fully fit. Sansa longed for that, to have someone who not only fit with her, but who could handle her family as well.

Sansa wondered briefly if Sandor could have been that guy, if he’d been single and if she hadn’t pushed him away.  Sure, he wouldn’t be as boisterous as Ygritte, or as involved as Talisa. Which would be okay, Sansa always longed for independence outside of her family. Still, he got along with her dad and brothers, and Arya liked him, which was a bit of a miracle.

After Margaery had spent the better part of 30 minutes in the dressing room while Sansa replied to emails on her phone, she had finally settled on a handful of outfits and Sansa could grab a quick lunch to bring back to the office.

Margaery was busy describing, in detail, the lingerie she had bought when Sansa first noticed him.

Sandor was walking right towards them, he was wearing his typical jeans, t-shirt and work boots and he looked as though he just came from a job site. What caught Sansa’s attention though wasn’t the woman Sansa knew to be Ros walking beside him, but the little boy holding Ros’s hand.

 “Sandor!” Margaery greeted casually when she saw him.

Sansa looked at Sandor who couldn’t meet her eye, instead he leaned over and quickly whispered something in Ros’s ear, who then looked directly at Sansa. Sansa felt like she was being sized up and suddenly felt very uncomfortable. The group stopped awkwardly in the middle of the sidewalk.

Sandor scratched the back of his neck and looked just as uncomfortable as Sansa felt.

“Uh, hey Margaery.” He looked at Sansa, “Sansa.”

Sansa offered back a small smile and a wave, all she could muster as she was still trying to dissect the fact that Sandor was dating someone with a kid.

“Ros, this is Margaery and Sansa.” Sandor offered.

Ros smiled at them both,

“Ahh, Bronn’s new girlfriend, nice to meet you. And Sansa, I’ve heard so much about you.”

There was a bit of an edge to Ros’s tone when she greeted her, something Sansa couldn’t quite place. Teasing, perhaps? No, that wouldn’t make sense. Sansa smiled back.

“Nice to meet you,” she said.

“Hi, I’m Bowie,” the little boy greeted from down below and Sansa couldn’t help but smile.

Sandor chuckled and looked down at the young boy, “yes, Bowie, I was getting to you. I hadn’t forgotten. This is Bowie, Ros’s son.”

“Sure, seemed like you forgot,” Bowie grumbled.

Ros gently pinched the boy’s shoulder, “Hey, Monster. Manners.”

“Sorry,” the little boy whispered.

Sansa laughed and crouched down, extending her hand to the boy.

“Hi Bowie, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Sansa”

The boy beamed at Sansa and enthusiastically shook her hand.

“Sandor, we should get going, the time,” Ros said, and Sandor quickly looked at his watch. Sansa stood and smoothed her skirt.

“We should, we’ll see you guys later.” Sandor looked at Sansa, “Sansa, I’ll see you tonight.”

Sansa nodded, “sounds good.”

Margaery linked arms with Sansa and waved as the headed down the street, Margaery pulled Sansa away as fast as she could without being obvious and as soon as they were far enough away, Margaery let go of Sansa and slowed.

“Was that who Sandor is seeing?” she asked.

Sansa sighed, “I think so.”

Margaery seemed shocked, “he’s never mentioned he’s dating, let alone dating someone with a kid!”

“I know,” Sansa checked her phone, noting the time. Crap. It was quarter after 1 and Sansa had a meeting at 2. “’Listen, I need to head back to the office, I’ll call you later!”

Sansa quickly hailed the first cab she could and headed back to work, desperate to put the whole awkward run in behind her.

---

Sansa was in the middle of a run when her phone chimed the first time, which she chose to ignore. She was too busy taking out all her day’s frustrations on the sand under her shoes. She hadn’t been able to shake the Sandor run in the entire day, and she was positively frustrated.

She had come home, relieved that Sandor wasn’t at the house yet, and had quickly changed into her running gear and left.

Needing to clear her head.

She was angry.

Angry that she continued to entertain the thought of Sandor when someone else was involved, even angrier that she had done that when a child was involved, even if she didn’t know.

If Sandor had been with Ros when he’d kissed her, then she was angry with him too.

Chime.

A minute later.

 Chime.

Sansa stopped abruptly, feeling annoyed that someone kept messaging but needing to make sure it wasn’t an emergency.

Margaery [7:07pm] – Sansa! I have news!

Margaery [7:10pm] – Sansa!!

Margaery [7:11pm] – I have gossip! Its about Sandor!

Sansa sighed, keeling over slightly from being out of breath. She really wanted not to care, she would love to be completely unaffected, but she wasn’t. She was nosy.

She cared.

Sansa [7:13pm] – What is it?

Margaery [7:14pm] – Sandor isn’t dating Ros.

Sansa stared down at the phone, what?  Annoyed that Marge hadn’t provided more context, which Sansa was sure was on purpose. Sansa sat down on a large rock nearby, she needed to sit and catch her breath.

Sansa [7:15pm] – what? How do you know?

Margaery [ 7:16pm] – So, I’m at Bronn’s right now and I asked him what was up with that. I’ll tell you more when I see you, but basically Ros is the widow of one of the guys from Sandor and Bronn’s old battalion. Her husband died, and Sandor helps them out, checks in, makes sure they’re okay.

Margaery [7:17pm] – and before you spiral, Bronn said that there is 100% nothing going on, or will ever go on with Ros and Sandor. She’s apparently dating someone, but her son really likes Sandor, so he makes time for them.

Sansa couldn’t help herself as her lips slowly turned into a smile.

Sandor was single.

All her hesitation that was caused from Ros was gone.

Was she still hesitant in general? Yes.

Was she completely ready for something all in and serious?

She wasn’t sure.

Was she willing to explore what she and Sandor could be?

Yes.

If he was.

Her adrenaline pumping, Sansa wasn’t sure exactly what to do but she started finishing her run anyways. Nerves and excitement pulsing through her. Everything was suddenly clearer. He hadn’t acted like a man in a relationship, because he wasn’t in a relationship.

Sansa frowned, she still rejected him, she still friend zoned him. She didn’t know Sandor well, although she was getting there, still he didn’t seem like someone who always handled rejection the best. He was confidant sure, but there was always a slightly insecurity lingering in the background. Sansa wondered how much of his confidence was a defence mechanism, a shield he used to give his ‘I don’t give a shit’ appearance, when really he did.

Would he give her another chance?

If he did, Sansa could almost guarantee he wouldn’t make the first move, not again. Not after the night at the party and not after her hot and cold signals over the last couple weeks. She hadn’t been playing with him, considering she thought he was happily taken, she had just been protecting herself, still she guessed what it looked like to Sandor. That she couldn’t make up her mind, that she may not have wanted him.

How did this all become so confusing?

How deep did their misunderstandings of each other run?

Sansa slowly ran up the pathways to her house expecting to see Sandor’s truck or bike in the driveway and she was disappointed when she realized he wasn’t there, since he usually was there now. Deciding not to dwell on it, or speculate, she headed upstairs to quickly have a shower.

She had assumed, speculated, and hypothesised Sandor long enough, rather than just taking at face values his actions and words, that ended now. He said he would see her tonight, so without saying otherwise that meant he would be here tonight.

And she couldn’t wait.

---

Sandor glanced at the radio of his truck, 7:35pm, he was way later than he normally was getting to Sansa’s and the sun had already began to set. Bowie had insisted Sandor stop by his T-ball game after work, and of course kids’ sports seem to take forever – a little crowd of distracted squirrels.

Of course, Ros had taken the extra time to hassle him about Sansa.

She’s pretty.

She’s nice.

You like her.

Sandor rolled his eyes, he never should have told Ros about her weeks ago, but Ros was that platonic female friend who gave him way better advice about woman than Bronn or Tormund. Had he listened to her advice from the start he may not be in this mess of confusion with Sansa to begin with.

She had told him from the beginning to just be honest with her, tell her what he wanted and see if she reciprocated, if she didn’t then move on. The problem was, Sandor had no idea what he wanted, beyond getting to know he better and seeing If there was something there.

You should have said that, you Big Brute! Ros had told him this afternoon at the ball diamond, after he filled her in on Sansa’s ‘date’ on Saturday.

She was right.

Sandor had gotten close to Ros’s husband, Thoros, during his time spent in the military. They had come into the SEALS around the same time, done their training together and become friends. Sandor was deployed elsewhere when he found out Thoros had been shot and killed and he felt like he owed it to him and Ros, and to their son, to be there for them and help them however he could.

Bowie was great, Sandor wasn’t one that loved kids, kids of his own scared the fuck out of him, but Bowie was exactly like his Dad. Sandor often wondered how hard that must be for Ros, to have a carbon copy reminder of her dead husband, not that Sandor expected her to act any different, but it must have been hard.

Lost in his thoughts, Sandor barely saw something black in the road until it was right in front of him. He looked in the other lane and quickly swerved to avoid hitting it, missing it only narrowly. Sandor slowed down and pulled onto the shoulder, hopping out of his truck to move whatever it was in the road before it caused an accident.

Sandor frowned when he got a few steps closer and realized it was nothing but a garbage bag. Fucking people, he grumbled before turning back to his truck, the bag would blow away with the next gust of wind he reasoned, he wasn’t much for picking up other people’s trash.

Yip.

Sandor paused at the noise and listened, when he didn’t hear anything further he took another step towards his truck.

Yip yip.

Sandor paused again, wondering where the noise was coming from, it sounded like a pup or some sort of other baby animals.

No. He thought. That wasn’t possible.

Sandor turned to see the garbage bag laying in the same spot in the road, despite the breeze coming off the bay it hadn’t blown away. Quickly, Sandor made his way over to the garbage bag in the middle of the road, luckily the streets were rarely travelled except by those who lived up here.

He swallowed, having no idea if his mind were playing tricks on him, and if it wasn’t than what he would find in the bag.

Yip.

Sandor opened the garbage bag to a ball of dirty white fur.

“Fuck,” he cursed, it was a fucking puppy. Young too, if he had to guess, 6 weeks maybe. Sandor gently lifted the dog in the garbage bag and carried it to his truck. He grabbed a pair of his work gloves from the backseat and slowly lifted the pup, he had no idea what sort of disease it may have, and wasn’t exactly prepared to take his chances, and the poor thing was filthy.

It yipped and cowered, clearly afraid of him.

“Hey now, you’re okay.” He soothed the puppy, bringing it closer to the cradle of his chest. “You’re okay.”

He was only a couple minutes from Sansa’s and knew the pup needed to be seen by a vet as soon as possible. Sandor grabbed a spare towel from the back seat and made a make shift bed on the passengers seat, sliding any papers laying there onto the floor.

“Alright, you’re alright,” he said softly as he drove to Sansa’s, the puppy just sat their shaking and watching Sandor. “You’re a curious little thing aren’t you?”

 He pulled into Sansa’s driveway and quickly scooped the pup up, forgetting about his gloves as the thing seemed calm enough. He swiftly made his way into Sansa’s house, not bothering to knock and luckily she had left the door unlocked.

“Sans!” he shouted, momentarily noticing the ease at which the nickname came but deciding to evaluate that later, now wasn’t the time.

He heard Sansa’s hurried footsteps upstairs,

“Sandor? Everything okay?” she asked as she came down the stairs. Pausing briefly on the landing when she noticed him.

She gasped and quickly made her way downstairs, “oh my goodness, who is this?”

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sansa slowly bent down to be eye level with the dog and gently cradled its little face, she looked up at Sandor with her wide blue eyes.

“Where did you come from?” she spoke softly to the puppy, who was eager to escape Sandor and go to Sansa.

Not that he could blame the thing.

“Found it on the road, need to see if any vets are open still. Pup could probably use some water,” Sandor stated, Sansa stood and gestured for Sandor to hand her the puppy.

Sandor hesitated, noticing the very white t-shirt Sansa was currently wearing,

 “Sansa, the thing is filthy.”

Sansa scoffed at him and waved her hand dismissively, “psh, I don’t care about my clothes, Sandor. Give me the puppy.”

She tenderly took the puppy from him, and Sandor grabbed his phone to google nearby emergency vets, given the time most clinics would be closed by now. While he scrolled through google he couldn’t help but notice Sansa in the kitchen.

She was cradling the puppy close to her chest while she filled a bowl with some water, he couldn’t hear what she was saying because she was speaking so softly, but he watched as she gently soothed the white ball of fur.

Sandor rang the number of the closest emergency vet and scowled looking at the pup. Who the fuck puts a puppy in a garbage bag and leaves it in the middle of the road? You don’t want the fucking dog, bring it to shelter. Fuck put the thing in a box somewhere people would see it at the very least. Not in a garbage bag like trash on a nearly abandon road..

Sandor kept the puppy in a trash bag part to himself, knowing that it would upset Sansa if she knew how the pup had been found, she didn’t need to know and he didn’t want to be the one to hurt her.

“Hello?” came a female voice over the phone.

Finally, thought Sandor.

“Uh yeah, hi. I found a pup in the middle of the road, don’t know how long the things been out there.” Sandor said.

“Oh, the poor thing. Does it appear hurt?” the woman asked.

“No, not hurt. Scared though.” Sandor answered.

The vet asked a few more questions, was it drinking, did it seem sick, and so on. Sandor answered quickly all the while watching Sansa encourage the puppy to drink some water. She caught Sandor’s watchful eye and smiled.

Fuck, that smile.

---

Sansa happily pet the little pooch as it drank some of the water she set out for it, the little thing was scared, but Sansa didn’t blame it, being out alone in the dark and cold. The pup was pretty dirty, so she figured it had been out on its own for a while.

Sansa frowned, some family was probably missing it, a child maybe? She hoped they could get the puppy looked at and a vet or the animal shelter could help find its family.

If not, I could always adopt it.

No.

Sansa had always been a bleeding heart for animals, bringing home every stray cat and dog she found, any wild animal she could catch. It had always driven Ned crazy.

Still, this dog had a family somewhere, it wasn’t Sansa’s. Maybe one day, when the house was done and she had settled a bit more she would get another dog, maybe a husky again, like Lady. Lady had been one of the two family dogs growing up, though really she was Sansa’s at heart, they were bonded – Sansa had been devasted when Lady died and hadn’t entertained the thought of another dog - until now.

“Sansa,” Sandor interrupted, “I found a vet, they’re about 20 minutes away, I’ll take it there now.”

Sansa had been so lost in her thoughts she hadn’t noticed him approach. She giggled quietly at the memory of Sandor cradling the tiny ball of fur. The puppy wasn’t small, if Sansa had to guess it was a large breed dog, still it had looked so tiny in his big arms.

Sansa stood and brushed the dust off her lululemon leggings,

“I’m coming with you.” She stated, her tone brokered no argument.

Sandor only nodded, “alright, lets go.”

Sansa quickly brushed past Sandor and darted upstairs, “hold on while I grab a softer blanket!” she shouted.

The poor thing had already been traumatized enough, the least Sansa could do was make sure she was warm.

She heard Sandor snort from below the stairs but Sansa didn’t care, the scratchy work towel Sandor had wrapped it in was fine, short term and in a rush, but if they were going to take he or she on a long car ride, Sansa at least wanted it to be comfy. Sansa grabbed a soft cashmere blankey from one of her opened boxes.

Once they had settled in the car and they were on their way, Sansa turned to Sandor.

“Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” she asked, looking down at the puppy sleeping on her lap, gently stroking its back.

“Fuck if I know, the thing is filthy, didn’t really entertain getting too close” Sandor replied.

Sansa scowled over at Sandor.

“It’s not its fault it’s dirty,” she mumbled, feeling even more sad for the cuddly fluff.

Sandor laughed softly and placed his hand on her knee, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“I know, Sansa.”

Sansa instantly missed the pressure when he’d taken his hand back, what was it about this man that she craved even the simplest of touches.

Sandor glanced over at them quickly before putting his eyes back on the road and ruffling the pups head a bit. The puppy stirred and lifted its head, looking directly at Sandor. Sansa was certain the dog was chastising Sandor for waking it up, and Sansa giggled softly.

The vet assistant greeted them as soon as they walked into the emergency clinic and brought them into one of the exam rooms. Letting them know the vet would be in soon.

Sansa aimlessly pet the puppy who was busy wiggling and trying to jump off the exam table until Sandor came over and picked it up. He held the puppy up, so they were face to face and the little thing wiggled before stretching forward and licking Sandor’s nose.

“Okay,” Sandor grumbled, giving Sansa back the puppy, “that’s enough of that.”

Sansa couldn’t help but notice this softer side of Sandor, though he was trying to hide it with the grumbling and mumbling, but she had seen it earlier too, with Ros’s son.

Sandor Clegane had a soft side.

Though he tried to hide it, and it was easy given his size and stature.

Was he a soft man?

No.

But the man could be gentle.

“Sandor,” Sansa started to say, unsure exactly where she was going and knowing it wasn’t the best time but her mouth and her head seemed at odds with one another.

Knock knock.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Rayder,” the vet came in and Sansa stilled.

“Val?”

“Oh my god, Sansa!” the vet cried.

Sansa couldn’t believe it, Val Rayder.

Sansa and Val had been nearly inseparable until tenth grade when her family moved to Milkwater Lake. They had kept in touch on Facebook and texting for a while, but they were young and had drifted apart. Each liking the odd photo here and there on each others Facebook, but after Sansa had gotten rid of hers the two had lost touch completely.

Sansa didn’t even know she moved back home.

Val engulfed Sansa in a hug when she set the puppy back down on the table, which Sansa happily returned. Sansa wasn’t surprised in the least that Val had become a vet, she knew through social media that she was studying veterinary medicine, and from what Sansa remembered about her it was the perfect fit.

“Well okay then,” Val laughed, “who do we have here?”

She went over to the puppy and began a basic exam. The puppy wiggled and yipped at the attention.

“Well, you are just the sweetest little girl, aren’t you?” Val cooed.

“She’s a she?” asked Sansa.

“She is in fact a she,” Val confirmed, continuing to look over the puppy.

Sansa made her way over to Sandor as Val looked over the puppy. He was standing with him arms crossed over his chest, she gently nudged his side, he looked down at her with soft eyes and smirked. Sansa didn’t need to say anything, there was so much she wanted to say of course, but now wasn’t the time.

“Alright, well. She seems to be about 7 or 8 weeks old, which is good since she would have been weaned from mom by now. Seems to be in pretty decent health, although she’s a little skinny.” Val continued typing notes into her iPad as she talked, not looking up at the two of them. “She looks like a purebred Great Pyrenees, pretty rare breed in these parts. We will probably have to give her to the shelter while we try to search for the owners, since she doesn’t have a microchip and no tags.”

Sansa frowned, the though of the little pup at the shelter. Shelter’s always seemed like such a cold place, kennels with concrete floors and tons of other dogs. Sansa’s mind immediately went to Lady and the Tramp.

She felt Sandor shift beside her and looked up to see him frowning.

“Uh, Doc?” he said, “I don’t think anyone is going to be looking for her.”

Val looked at Sandor, she looked confused and Sansa imagined her face was a mirror for her own.

Why wouldn’t anyone be looking for her?

“Mr?” Val prompted.

“Sandor, just Sandor.”

Val nodded, “Sandor, she’s a purebred, believe me when I say her breed isn’t cheap, I think her family would be looking for her.”

Sandor sighed and racked his hand through his hair, he looked down at Sansa, she frowned back at him. What wasn’t he telling her?

“She.. I almost ran her over in the middle of a country road because she was in a black tied up garbage bag.” Sandor snarled, Sansa could clearly hear the distain in his voice “she wasn’t accidentally lost, she was abandoned.”

Sansa gasped, how could anyone do that to an animal. She looked at the puppy wiggling on the table as tears welled in her eyes.

Someone just left her.

Put her in a trash bag and tossed her on the side of the road.

Sansa’s bottom lip trembled, and she willed herself not to cry when she felt a heavy hand land gently on her shoulder. Sansa sniffed and turned her body slightly into Sandor, appreciating some shelter as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

Sansa turned back around to Val, who looked positively enraged as she stroked the puppy. As a vet, who had dedicated her life to the health of animals, Sansa could imagine how angry something as cruel as this would make her.

“Well,” Val sighed, “she’ll still have to go to the shelter, at least until we can find a foster or a clinic that will take her until she finds a better home.”

Sansa could tell by the disappointment in her voice that she didn’t want the puppy going to a shelter anymore than Sansa did.

“I’ll take her.” Sansa blurted out, not really thinking it through before hand.

“What?” both Val and Sandor asked at the same time.

Sansa looked at Sandor and then Val, she walked over the puppy and picked her up, cradling her as she playfully nipped at her fingers.

Yeah, this is the right choice.

“I’ll take her.” Sansa stated again, this time with more strength behind her words.

“I mean, I could probably find a foster or clinic for her in a couple days, so if you took her until then...”

“No,” Sansa said sternly. “I will take her, for good. I’ll adopt her. I have a whole house to myself and tons of land, I work for myself so I can make sure I’m home more often. I will take her.”

Sansa felt Sandor’s eyes boring into the back of her head, but she met Val’s eyes instead.

“Are you sure?” Val asked.

Sansa felt herself beginning to falter, did she not think she would be a good fit for the dog?

“She’s sure.” Sandor said, his deep voice rumbling behind them, Sansa turned and looked at him. He offered her a small smile with a nod and Sansa beamed, he was in her corner.

“Yup, I’m sure.”

Val smiled, she had known the Stark’s for a long time and knew both Lady and Summer. Sansa doubted she would so easily allow someone to adopt a dog without proper checks, but with Sansa it was different.  

“Well, okay then. I can set you up with basic supplies tonight, some kibble. I’m going to prescribe her an antibiotic just to fend off any possible infections, just in case. She’ll need to come back in 3 weeks for her shots.”

Sansa nodded and listened as Val piled Sansa with information, all the while patting the playful puppy in her arms. The night had taken an incredibly unexpected turn, but Sansa couldn’t help but feel a sense of calm wash over her. Things finally, finally, seemed like they were falling into place for her.

---

Sandor watched Sansa with the puppy the whole way home, talking to her and cuddling her, reminding her she was safe now. Luckily she’d gotten a hose down at the clinic, or Sansa would have been covered in mud.

His truck was packed full, leash and collar, a dog bed, more food than the dog would eat in months, some toys the clinic had, and a spare crate for tonight.

Sansa was scrolling through her phone, looking up information on the dog’s breed when she gasped.

“Holy, Sandor! She’s going to be massive!”

Sandor chuckled, he had known that simply by looking at the thing.

“Calm, affectionate, gentle, independent,” Sansa quietly rambled off qualities of the breed.

“She’s probably going to need a name eventually,” Sandor said, and Sansa nodded lifting the puppy to be eye level.

“I know, I haven’t thought of one that suits her,” Sansa said thoughtfully.

Sandor rolled his eyes, he never understood that, people waiting to “get to know” their pets before naming them but he said nothing because Sansa’s excitement was endearing.

Ten minutes later they were home, Sandor unloaded his truck, while Sansa clipped the leash onto the puppy and took her for a walk around the house. He couldn’t help himself as he watched her, smiling and playing with the puppy in her extremely overgrown lawn – Sandor made a mental note to start the landscaping soon.

Though the dog was small now, she would eventually grow, and Sandor felt good knowing that Sansa would have the dog around, as a protector.

She’ll probably have a man by that point, Sandor scowled at the thought. A woman like Sansa, she wouldn’t be single forever, he was surprised there wasn’t a lineup of men waiting for her already. Although, maybe there was, how would he know?

It was getting late and Sandor didn’t think there was any point in starting any work now, not unless he wanted to be here until midnight. He walked over to Sansa and the puppy, Sansa was crouched down playing with her in the grass, Sandor sat down with them.

The puppy prodded over and nipped at him, he gently pushed it back, it yipped at him and came back, wrestling his hand. Sansa laughed and Sandor couldn’t help but grin, the thing was fucking cute as it wrestled him.

“Alright, alright you win,” he scowled at the puppy, he swore the thing smiled before triumphantly prancing over to Sansa and sitting demurely in front of her.

A pretty pup for a pretty girl.

Sansa gasped, “Sandor! That’s it!”

 “What’s it?” Sandor frowned.

“Her name!” Sansa picked the puppy up and held her in the air, “Winnie!”

“You sure you don’t want to name her Hefty? Or Glad?” Sandor teased. Sansa playfully swatted his arm and scowled at him.

“Oh, you are horrible!” she paused and let Winnie settle in her arms, “No, Winnie is good.”

“Winnie is good,” Sandor agreed. “I’m going to head out, it’s getting late,” he said as he stood, dusting the dirt off his jeans.

Sansa frowned, standing with him, “Oh, okay. You could, uhm, you could come in for a coffee if you wanted?”

He wanted to, gods did he want to, but he knew that went against every boundary he had set for himself. Watching her, in this house that was slowly becoming just as much his perfect home as hers, with the dog he’d found – no it was all just a little too much.

He was halfway to gone over this girl already.

“No, I think I should just head out.” He said, as the made their way over to his truck.

Sansa looked disappointed, though Sandor couldn’t figure out why. He thought she’d appreciate her space and settling in with Winnie. For a minute it seemed like Sansa was going to try and talk him into it, closing her mouth and opening it a couple times before sighing.

“Okay, no problem,” she stated.

“I’ll come by tomorrow morning after work, if that’s okay?” Sandor asked, he knew it was fine and he didn’t need to ask but her disappointment made him feel awkward. Like even though he was the one leaving he needed to fill the silence.

“Yeah, I won’t be going into the office tomorrow, just working from home with Winnie, so come by whenever,” Sansa said, though there was still an edge to her voice that Sandor hated. “Thanks for everything today, Sandor.” She added meaningfully.

“Come on, Winnie,” she called to the dog as she walked up the porch, Winnie followed easily.

Smart Dog, thought Sandor.

“Bye,” Sansa gave a backwards wave when she went inside.

Sandor sighed, unsure of what he had done for Sansa to close off on him again but knowing it was for the best, he got in his truck and headed home.

Alone.

Even he couldn’t ignore the fact that he felt like he wasn’t going home, but rather leaving it.

You’re a dumb dog, Sandor Clegane.

---

Sansa had spent the day working and happily telling anyone who would care about Winnie. Working with a new puppy was proving to be essentially be working with a newborn, needing to take her outside every two hours, making sure she wasn’t chewing on anything, the constant crying for attention- but Sansa didn’t mind a minute of it.

Winnie was incredibly intelligent, already being familiar with basic commands in the 18 hours since Sansa had adopted her. Val had called Sansa to check in, which turned into an hour long talk about what they had been up to in the years that had passed, the two had ended on the note to catch up for coffee at Sansa’s soon.

She had asked about Sandor of course, assuming that something was going on there since they had come into the clinic together.

“I don’t know, Sansa. Even I could see the way he was looking at you and comforting you,” she had said when Sansa told her the two of them were merely friends and colleagues.

Sansa was disappointed last night when Sandor had left. When he was working on the house he was always there close to ten or later, so Sansa had been surprised when he had said no to coffee, especially since she had felt that was putting herself out there, at least a little bit, and testing the waters.

She knew he wasn’t with Ros and that he was single, but he seemed to have pulled back recently. Sansa thought it was because he was unavailable but now she wondered if that’s because his interest had faded, or because she had closed herself off to him and now he was doing the same.

She wanted to be open with him and tell him everything. How she was feeling, why she rejected him in the first place, Dorne.

The problem was, now there was a very real fear for Sansa, that if he’s suddenly backed off because of a lack of interest, and she put herself on the line like that… well that could just get awkward and it would hurt.

Sansa sighed and picked up Winnie, cuddling her lap as she flipped through financial reports. She knew the assumptions and general lack of communication had already caused this thing with her and Sandor to become more complicated than it needed to be, but was she brave enough to risk putting herself on the line?

Gods, I want to be.

She heard the very familiar rumble of Sandor’s motorcycle pulling in as Winnie squirmed out of Sansa’s grasp and ran to the door, spinning in a circle before sitting down and waiting patiently, tail beating against the wood floors.

“Good girl,” Sansa praised.

Sandor let himself in and seemed shocked by the eager, yet patient, puppy  waiting for him by the door. Winnie barked lightly, as if to say “Okay, you’re home, now give me love.”

Sandor chuckled and picked her up, “Demanding little thing aren’t you.”

Sansa smiled at him when she got up from the table.

“Hey,” she said.

“Hey, how was she today?” he asked when he set her down to take off his jacket, Sansa had to look away to stop the whimper that built at the back of her throat. Not just at the domesticity of it all, but more so for the sight of Sandor’s arms flexing out of his leather jacket.

Sansa filled him in on all things Winnie, before he asked how her days was. Something they had become accustomed to doing over the last few weeks, either before he started working or after Sansa got home if she had been the later one, they always checked in – asked how the others day was.

It was nice.

Today however, Sansa did have something specific to talk to Sandor about, about the renovations. Despite her best efforts and the reassurance from Jaqen on the call, it had still rattled Sansa. She knew she should probably tell her family at some point what happened. Sure, here she was surrounded by friends and family, but she was also alone and while the call very well could have been nothing, since there had been no other events in months, Sansa wanted to make sure she was protecting herself.

She had done a lot of research on home security systems, not just your average alarm on the windows and doors, but a full system. Cameras, motion detection, wireless access via her phone.

She wanted it all.

Sandor had just started getting things set up to start on something in the kitchen, considering they’d gotten the cabinets and flooring ordered, so Sansa though now might be a good time to ask. She knew it would be extra work, installing it all, but she would pay him for his time.

“Sandor, do you have a quick second? Something I wanted to ask you about the house.”

Sandor looked up from whatever he was doing and nodded, he made his way over to her and Sansa pointed to the research and pamphlets she had printed off on the table. She let him peruse the information before speaking. He was in commercial business, so she knew he would know immediately what she was showing him – he was also an ex SEAL, so the concept of security was not lost on this.

She watched as he frowned and wiped his brow before he turned to her.

“Sansa, if you want an alarm system, I can install a more basic system.” Sandor offered, although Sansa sensed something in his voice, though she had not a clue what it was. It was almost like he was testing her. He was intently flipping through the information. His face full of concern and Sansa almost saw anger flash behind his eyes.

Sansa shook her head, “No, I’d like this one.”

Sandor nodded and took out his phone, snapping a few pictures of the product information and specs. She had expected a little push back from him, most people would have questioned it, but he didn’t. He didn’t even ask why.

“Alright,” he finally said. “I’ll get it ordered, I’ll be able to install the alarm and porch cams as soon as they come in, the exterior stuff will have to wait until I start on the landscaping.”

Sansa nodded and he went back to work, the rest of the night was eerily quiet. Sandor seemed lost in thought and immersed himself in work. Besides agreeing to watch Winnie while Sansa went for a jog, he really didn’t say much, and Sansa didn’t push.

She wanted to talk to him about Ros and had almost convinced herself to before he came home but she sensed today wouldn’t be a good day – not anymore.

She could wait…

For a while at least.

---

Sandor was in a fucking mood come Monday, and he knew it. The weekend had passed relatively quickly, having spent most of his weekend at Sansa’s as he normally did. The tile for the kitchen was delivered, and he had to finish rerouting some plumbing to where the island will be before he started laying the tile this week.

Sansa had spent most of Saturday with her parents, and Sunday at Robb’s to keep Winnie out of Sandor’s way. Though the dog was really no problem, Sandor was relieved Sansa wasn’t around.

Ever since she had shown him that fucking fort Knox of a security system, Sandor had felt a pit in his stomach. This wasn’t the average system you came across on google.

It was expensive and intricate, a system normally only discovered by those looking to keep someone away. It had motion sensors for not only the house, but the surrounding perimeters, cameras for all access points to the property, and emergency response units located in various places inside the house.

He had his suspicions for a while, way before this, that Sansa was hiding something. Nothing big, but that fake fucking smile she plastered on her face sometimes had told him enough. That at some point she had learned how to fake it properly. Everyone can plaster on a fake smile, and usually they are shit and people see right through them, Sansa was good and even her family didn’t notice, or if they did they didn’t say anything, which Sandor couldn’t see the Stark Clan doing.

The day had finished, and Bronn walked over to Sandor with a beer, something they did occasionally when one of them was having a shit time with something.

“How was your weekend with Marge,” Sandor asked, hoping to break the long stretching silent tension as Bronn waited for him to start talking.

“Good.” Bronn nodded; Sandor knew he was waiting on him to tell him what the fuck was up.

After a long pull of his beer and a deep breath, he finally did. He told Bronn about that night at his house, the way she had run off, how she closes herself off randomly. He didn’t need to say how he felt about her, Bronn knew. Then handed him his phone, with Sansa’s chosen home security system.

Bronn sputtered his beer, coughing and mumbling something about the wrong tube. He scrolled through the browser on Sandor’s phone, brows furrowed, and jaw clenched.

“That’s one hell of a security system,” he sighed and handed Sandor back his phone.

“Yup,” Sandor nodded, he knew Bronn’s mind had gone directly to where Sandor’s was.

“That’s not your average just in case system.”

“Nope.”

“That’s what you get when you know somethings coming.”

“Yeah,” Sandor sighed and ran his hand through his hair and down his face.

“The first night I met her, that BBQ at the Stark house that you couldn’t come to,” Bronn started, and Sandor looked at him questioningly, Bronn hadn’t even mentioned speaking to Sansa that night.

Bronn continued, “I accidentally startled her and she dropped her glass on the floor. Her glass in her house, you know, yet she looked at me like I was going to flip, like she was scared that she’d made a mess in her own house.”

Sandor sighed, he knew the signs, he knew what they all pointed to. He didn’t know the depth of it though, for all intents Sansa seemed to be okay, but he didn’t know. The thought of anyone hurting her, physically or emotionally, even worse both. It brought a rage in Sandor he hadn’t felt in a very long time, perhaps ever.

From everything Sandor had come to learn of Sansa, she was good.

Just a good person.

A good friend, a good daughter, a good sister. She was just good. No one deserved pain, not ever, and never by someone else’s hands, but the thought of someone like Sansa being hurt.

Gods.

“What are you going to do?” Bronn asked, Sandor knew he could see the rage barely beneath the surface.

“I have no fucking idea,” Sandor said, and he didn’t. He didn’t know how to approach Sansa, or if he even should, he didn’t know what he would do if he found out what happened, most of all if he found out who.

“I know one thing though, I’m going to the fucking Stark cabin next weekend, and I’m going to try to figure out a few more pieces.”

Jon had invited Sandor and Tormund up to the cottage with all of them next week, which initially Sandor said he would think about and planned on turning down this week.

Not that he didn’t like the Starks, he did, over the last year of working together they’d become friends, He knew Jon and Ygritte were having trouble, and Jon always seemed comfortable talking to Sandor about her. Still, it wasn’t really his scene and even more than that it was the opposite of keeping Sansa at arms length.

Now, he was sure as fuck going. He needed to start piecing things together and not just for his sanity. If there was something, or someone, Sansa feared. If there was something that could hurt her or would try.

He needed to know because he needed to make damn sure that he was in a position to never let anything happen to her again and he would kill anyone who tried.

Of that he was sure.

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sansa sighed and flipped her phone over.

10:01am

She was supposed to pop quickly into the office this morning and had intended to leave no later than 9:30, so she could go home and get things ready to leave for Bear Island with Robb and Talisa. Of course, as soon as she had gotten into the office, she had been swamped by questions and meetings, meaning there was no way she would get out of here before 11am, at the earliest.

Sansa would have to drive up by herself, which was fine, but she didn’t relish in the 4 hour drive by herself – with Winnie. Sansa quickly texted Robb so that he and Talisa could head up and weren’t waiting on her.

Sansa [10:11am] – Hey, I’m stuck at the office, I’ll drive up this afternoon by myself, you guys should head up with everyone else!

Robb [10:14am] – That sucks, San! I don’t like you driving up alone though, I think Sandor is still at a job site, he said he would be coming up later. Can you text him and see if you two could drive together?

Sansa wondered if she should bother Sandor, he had been distant since last week and Sansa wasn’t exactly sure where she stood with him right now. She had spent the week trying to create a time to ask Sandor about Ros, although she already had the answer she had hoped that by asking him about her, that he would sense her interest.

It was immature, she knew, she could just grow up and ask him, or better yet, grow up and tell him what she was feeling – now that she had figured out what it was.

She still wasn’t sure she could handle something really serious right away, but she did know that she wanted to get to know him better. She liked him, she was obviously attracted to him, and she really just wanted to date him, hang out with him and get to know him better… exclusively.

But, the thought that he may not want her stopped her from telling him any of that.

The whole situation was frustrating.

Still, she really didn’t want to drive up to Bear Island alone, and the thought of driving up with Sandor was appealing.

Sansa [10:23am] – Hi! I’m stuck at the office and Robb mentioned you were going up later to the cottage, any chance you want a road trip buddy?

Sansa waited for a reply anxiously as those 3 little dots flashed, showing he was typing, when the disappeared a minute later she decided to change tactics.

Sansa [10:29am] – I’ll bring snacks….

Sandor [10:30am] – What time are you working till?

Sansa laughed, not at all upset because she knew he was probably going to agree to drive up together either way, but she could appreciate a man who appreciated snacks.

Sansa [10:32am] – I’m hoping to be home by noon…

Sandor [10:33am] – K sounds good.

---

When Sansa pulled into her driveway a little before noon she was surprised to see Sandor’s truck, she had assumed he would just pick her up, but he was already inside.

Sansa was completely packed and had left hers and Winnie’s stuff just inside the front door for Robb to grab, so all she needed to do was change and breakdown Winnie’s crate, she was shocked to see Sandor had already done that.

It wasn’t intrusive at all, it was actually quite thoughtful, and Sansa was hard pressed to remember the last time she had been the one being taken care of, she was usually the caretaker.

Sansa greeted Sandor when she got inside, he was busy installing the foyer light fixture. He was a pair of tight-fitting jeans and a soft grey t-shirt and Sansa couldn’t help but laugh to herself. He may be rough and tough, and most days come home covered in sweat and dirt, but the man could dress – she recognized the logo on the butt on the jeans and it was a higher end brand.

“Hey, I got the truck packed, I assumed it was the stuff by the door, hope that’s okay,” he asked, though he didn’t look down at her, too busy doing whatever he was doing up there.

“That’s fine, thank you. I just need to change,” Sansa said, kneeling down to give Winnie a quick pat before heading upstairs.

“I just need a couple minutes to finish the light anyways, just figured since I was here I’d get it done,” Sandor said as Sansa made her way to the spare bedroom.

As Sansa changed she couldn’t ignore the butterflies in her stomach, like she was a teenager again, Sandor just made her nervous – in the best possible ways.

Sure, they had spent a lot of time together, getting to know each other but there was still so much left to uncover about each other and Sansa hoped that eventually Sandor would begin to open up to her. She had never asked about his scars, and she never would, that was his truth to tell when and if he wanted to.

She found herself usually forgetting about them completely.

She had assumed the scars weren’t from his time in the military, the scars looked older than that, and she assumed he had a fair bit of cosmetic surgery to help some of the scarring. Though outside of the scars most likely being from childhood or adolescence, she didn’t know. Perhaps a car accident? There is always the possibility of something far worse, especially considering he never mentioned family – maybe he no longer had a family?

All these elements that Sansa didn’t know, and which could be really hurtful to talk about, left the ball fully in Sandor’s court – if, and only if, he wanted to talk about it Sansa would be there to listen. Until then, there was plenty more for them to learn about each other.

Sansa walked downstairs to see Sandor and Winnie outside on the lawn. Sansa smiled to herself, Sandor may seem like this hard, crude man, and is to almost everyone else, but Sansa was constantly catching a glimpse of the softer side in Sandor.

He caught her eye as she made her way onto the porch and locked the front door, meeting Sandor and Winnie at the truck. Something on Winnie’s beige leather collar caught the sunlight and Sansa’s eye. Sansa kneeled and told Winnie to sit, which she did because she had already learned sit, stay and lay down, and Sansa gently grabbed the new silver tag hanging on her collar.

It seems someone had decked Winnie out with her new bling. Around her neck hung a bone shaped, stamped pewter dog tag. With her name engraved on the front, and Sansa’s information engraved in the back.

Sansa flipped the tag over between her fingers, thing wasn’t your average dog tag picked up a local PetSmart, it was beautiful and custom.

Sansa looked up at Sandor, who sheepishly looked away and scratched the back of his neck.

“Was this you?” Sansa asked as she stood, lifting Winnie up with her and gently scratching her scruff.

Sandor cleared his throat, “uh, yeah. Just thought she needed a tag, since you don’t have fences up out here. She’s already been lost once.”

Sansa smiled, “that was very thoughtful, Sandor.”

“Don’t make a big deal out of it,” Sandor grunted. “It’s just a fucking dog tag, still need to get the fuckin’ thing chipped.”

Sandor made his way around the truck and Sansa looked down at Winnie with a small smile. Sandor could try and brush it off all he wanted, he could swear to deflect from the gesture, but Sansa saw right through it all.

“Thoughtful man, huh Winnie?” Sansa whispered to Winnie before settling her in her dog bed on the back seat and getting in the truck herself.

---

Driving up with Sandor was surprisingly easy, not that Sansa had expected it to be long drawn out moments of silence but being stuck in the car for hours with nothing to do but talk, Sansa hadn’t been sure what to expect.

Sandor gracefully avoided talk of his family, only giving small tidbits of information here and there when he couldn’t dodge mentioning them – Sansa wouldn’t push. She learned more about his decision to join the military, his discharge and why he went into contracting.

It was no surprise to Sansa that a man like him would want to go into work for himself, she learned early on he was a man who wanted to be in control. He was passionate, dedicated and strong but he also liked things done the right way – usually his way.

“Where are those snacks?” Sandor quickly glanced over at her and raised his eyebrow in question.

Sansa went to grab the cookies from her bag by her feet but quickly stopped herself and shrugged.

“So, about the snacks…”

Sansa glanced over at her and frowned.

“You promised me snacks. I need snacks, Little Bird.”

Gods, that nickname. It wasn’t a particularly affectionate name, but perhaps it was the notion that he gave her a nickname at all that gave her butterflies. Still, she couldn’t help herself by not giving in to him.

Sansa grabbed the bag of cookies from her purse and Sandor quickly snatched them from her lap. Sansa laughed at his playful quip, for a very large man he could be awfully childish.

“Are you going to share?” Sansa asked, she cocked her head to the side and narrowed her eyes at him – challenging him, she knew.

“Nope.” He said as he popped another cookie into his mouth.

“Really? Not a single cookie?” Sansa challenged.

“Say please,” Sandor shrugged.

Sansa felt a shock of heat go straight to her core. Dear god, the mere thought of him making her beg.

“What?” she managed to choke out, her mouth was dry at the sheer undertone of this conversation.

“Say please” Sandor paused and glanced at her quickly, his mouth turned up into a very obvious smirk. “Ask me nicely. How badly do you want the cookies, Sansa?”

Sansa swallowed, she wasn’t entirely sure they were talking about cookies anymore, but also wasn’t certain what exactly the were talking about either. Sansa decided that if he wanted to play, she could play too.

She playfully turned in her seat to face him and watched as his hand tightened around the steering wheel, his other hand resting by the window clenched.

Suddenly, and on par with their usual timing of interruptions, a ringing came through the speakers on Sandor’s truck. Sansa looked at the media console to see it was Tormund calling, he had driven up with Margaery and Bronn – glancing at the time Sansa knew they would have arrived a while ago.  Sandor sighed and answered the call.

“Hound!” Tormund exclaimed before Sandor even had a chance to greet him, he shook his head and laughed slightly.

“What do you want?” he barked, Sansa could see the little smirk that had formed and the gleam in his eye.

“Where are you and Little Stark at?” he asked before adding in how everyone was already there, sans Ygritte and Jon was ‘broody as fuck.’

“We’re about an hour away,” Sans chimed in, she had figured Jon would have gone up alone, but it hurt her that he was hurting.

After Tormund had finally gotten off the call, Sansa decided the moment between her and Sandor was gone and she was distracted by the thought of Jon and Ygritte.

She liked Ygritte, she did, but her and Jon never really worked. Ygritte was a little too much for the kind-hearted Jon, and she would often get frustrated with his reserved side, the angrier she got, the more reserved Jon became – it was sort of a vicious cycle.

“Where’s your head at, Sansa?” Sandor asked, his brows furrowed when he glanced at her before he looked back at the road.

She hadn’t realized she had become so stoic, looking out the window. She sighed and turned back to him.

“I feel bad for Jon,” she shrugged, knowing all too well the effects of a negative relationship. Jon was a good man, and although he’d gotten lucky with Ned being his uncle, he hadn’t been dealt the best hand growing up. She knew how much Jon looked up to Robb, though they weren’t far apart in age, knowing Robb was married and on his way to becoming a family man, Jon wanted that. Although truthfully she never saw Ygritte being that person.

Sandor nodded, as if he were figuring out what to say. Sansa assumed talking about relationships wasn’t really his ‘thing’, and he wasn’t much for gossip, but he had become quite close with Jon and had spent more time with them in the last year that Sansa had.

“I’m not surprised really. Those two never seemed to work. Always fighting” Sandor paused and glanced at Sansa again, it looked like he was contemplating just how much to say.

“What?” Sansa urged.

Sandor sighed, “she was fucking nuts, Sansa. A god damned emotional yo-yo that one.”

Sansa laughed and agreed, she was a little bit much some days.

“Who would want a relationship like that?” he continued, “always worried about the others mood, having to watch what you say so you don’t piss them off, a total lack of respect.” Sandor added, and Sansa saw he was watching her from the corner of his eye.

Something about his words shut her down, she knew all too well what it was like to be on the short end of a relationship like that. Sansa bit her bottom lip and turned back to the window, she hummed in agreement and hoped Sandor wouldn’t push it any further.

He didn’t and they spent the rest of the drive in relative silence and small talk, which would normally feel uncomfortable but with Sandor it wasn’t.

“Next laneway on the left,” Sansa said, directing Sandor to the cottage, GPS systems didn’t work for the last 10 minutes of the drive, since the area was too remote.

Sansa always loved this part of the drive, the last 30 seconds, pulling into the laneway that was lined with massive forests on either side, until finally the drive opened up to the view of the cottage with the lake behind. It never ceased to amaze her, a little piece of relaxing heaven.

“Holy fuck,” Sandor muttered as the treeline opened up.

---

Of course, Ned would have built the fucking Cadillac of cottage’s, Sandor thought as he parked the truck.

The place was fucking stunning, and Sandor couldn’t understand why the family didn’t spend more time up here, he would never leave.

Over the last year, Sandor had gotten comfortable around the Stark’s wealth, spending many Sundays and weekends at the Stark estate, but that feeling of inadequacy never fully went away. He did well for himself, but he would never have this level of success, few would without coming from a solid family as Ned and Cat had. Ned had opportunities Sandor could only ever dream of, as did Robb and all the Stark kids.

The thought that he wasn’t good enough for a woman like Sansa was always bubbling ever so slightly beneath the surface, even though he made a conscious effort to push it down.

 At first, the thought of flaunting wealth made him defensive and uncomfortable, but the more time he spent with Ned and his family, he realized they weren’t at all what he expected.

Yes, they were wealthy and no, they didn’t try to hide it. Their house, their cars, their clothes – everything about these people screamed wealth but they were warm and inviting, and surprisingly down to earth once you got to know them.

Sandor understood, in Ned’s case, he had built his company from very little, yes he and Cat had both come from money, but the industry was new territory with lots of players.

Lannister, Baratheon, Martell.

To be taken seriously, and to have built his company into what it was, he needed to join the ranks. The house, the cars, the suits, they were all a part of the game – a game Ned was winning.

Sandor felt Sansa’s hand gently cover his on the center console, he looked to see her staring at him, an understanding look washed over her face.

“I know it’s a lot but come on, lets get settled!” Sansa said as she jumped out of the truck at the same time that everyone came bursting out of the cottage.

Sansa was busy grabbing Winnie and chatting with her sisters and Margaery when Bronn and Tormund came over to him, they leaned backs against his truck and looked at the estate that they called a cottage.

“Pretty fucking wild ain’t it,” Tormund said, he wasn’t shy about letting his true feelings be known.

Sandor and Tormund weren’t struggling by no means, having owned a successful commercial business for quite some time, and even less so since signing with Ned Stark but this was above and beyond what they were use too.

Sandor merely grunted in response because he was too busy watching Sansa head into the house, still reeling from their discussion on the drive. He had purposefully put more emphasis on the shitty parts of Jon and Ygritte’s relationship to judge her reaction – which ended up being exactly what he had expected. By revealing nothing and closing off, she revealed more than she realized.

Sandor was convinced more now than ever that Sansa had a shit ex boyfriend lurking in the shadows. The picture was slowly becoming clearer, and it was a picture that made him want to rage, force her to tell him everything and go kill the cunt.

He wouldn’t though, and he would never ask Sansa about it without more clarity. Clarity he was hoping Arya, Jon and Margaery could provide him this weekend, they may not have all the answers, but he needed to know what Sansa was up against.

Or at least find out all that he could.

“Hey,” Sansa called from the double wide front doors where she stood, he looked at her and she smiled, “you coming? I’ll show you your room.”

Sandor nodded and Bronn clapped him on the back with a smirk, he grabbed his duffle bag from the truck bed and met her in the doorway. She didn’t immediately move when he met her, but rather took a step closer and looked at him.

“You okay?” she asked.

He was significantly taller than her and she had to crane her neck to look him in the eye, he couldn’t help but imagine how easy it would be to lean down and kiss her like this. He cleared his throat and stepped further into the house.

“I’m fine, just a long drive. I’m a big guy, you know.” He winked at her and smirked when he saw her instinctively lick her lips. “Long legs,” he added.

He knew exactly where her mind had gone, and it took everything in him to keep his face expressionless.

“Uhm, yes. Right,” Sansa shook her head and laughed nervously, “long drive, long legs, I got it.”

The little birds’ feathers were ruffled.

He fucking loved it.

“Rooms are this way,” she added, and he followed her down the hall to the guest rooms.

The cottage looked massive from the outside, but it was nothing compared to the sheer size of being inside. All the Stark’s had their own bedrooms on the upper levels of the house, which looked down into the grand open concept living area. Complete with a massive stone fireplace. Down the hall from the main area was all the guest bedrooms and family room, which held a large pool table and fully stocked bar.

Sansa gave him the quick tour and showed him to his room. He placed his duffle bag down by the door and instinctively walked to the wall of windows on the other side of the room. Sandor could barely believe the view, a fully open view to the side of the lake where the sun was beginning to set.

It was breathtaking.

Sandor felt Sansa come up beside him.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she asked.

Sandor hummed in agreement, it was, but right now all he could picture was fucking her up against these windows while the sun was setting.

“I have the same view, of the lake, from my room upstairs.” She said. Sandor turned to her now, looking down at her now, she had a peaceful smile across her lips as she gazed onto the bay.

“No better view,” he said, although he wasn’t talking about the bay.

Sansa turned to him slowly and he could see the distinct flush of pink across her cheeks, she was biting that damned bottom lip again. If only she knew what the did to him, or maybe she did. 

“Sandor, I” she started.

“Sansa, Sandor. Dinner!” Margaery called from somewhere down the hall, Sandor could have thrown a fucking vase.

Every fucking time they got somewhere, every time Sansa was going to open up to him, they’d get interrupted.

“Fucking cunts,” Sandor muttered quietly under his breathe.

At this point he wasn’t exactly sure if they wanted him and Sansa to get together, or if their plan was to just slowly drive them both to the point of madness.

Sansa laughed softly and headed towards the door,

“We should go,” she said, and Sandor could see the uncertainty pass her features.

Uncertainty in him, he wondered.

Now wasn’t the time to find out, since he was certain someone would come looking for them soon, so he merely followed her to the kitchen.

---

If Sansa believed in signs and fate, she would sure as hell think the gods were doing everything possible to keep her and Sandor from talking. Every time the conversation between them lead into something more, every time she thought there may be a time to talk to him about them – they are interrupted.

Sansa knew the conversation needed to be at the right time, because she needed the time to explain things to him and yet that moment never seemed to come.

Luckily for Sandor, she didn’t believe in the gods or signs anymore.

They’d done nothing but guide her astray in the past.

Even if the conversation went south, even if the outcome wasn’t what she wanted, she was nothing if not a stubborn woman. She had spent so much time obsessing over Ros, and now that she knew she had been wrong, she couldn’t not talk to him – but the conversation had to come organically. She didn’t want it to feel forced, or awkward.

As the night had gone on, surrounded by friends and family, Sansa felt a sense over overwhelming peace come over her. Being in this place, with these people – she was exactly where she needed to be. She often wondered if coming home was the right choice, even though she knew it was the necessary choice, she wondered if it were the right one.

Now, more than ever, she knew it was.

The entire night had been the perfect start to the little weekend getaway. After dinner they had all settled in around the massive firepit out back for a relaxed first night. The drinks were flowing and sounds of music and laughter filled the air long into the night.

Very early into the next day, Sansa and the rest of them had finally wondered into bed.

Often the midnight hours were Sansa’s favourite on the lake. It should be black, but the lake is beautifully lit by the millions of stars. Away from the city lights and obstructed views, the sky completely illuminated by the light of the stars. She would always open her windows slightly, to hear the call of the loons through the night, and the peaceful splashes on the wildlife in the water, the calls of the owls.

When Sansa had opened her window, she had glanced down below and saw Sandor’s casement windows opened as well. Sansa laid on her side, with her hand tucked gently under her head, and looked out onto the lake as her thoughts slipped downstairs to Sandor and wondered if he was fast asleep or if he was enjoying the view and sounds too.

A soft whine from the floor beside the bed drew Sansa’s attention to Winnie. Sansa moved over to the edge of the bed and glanced down at the white puppy sitting pretty at the end of the bed, her face almost near begging to come up with her. Sansa picked Winnie up, placing her in the curve of the bed next to her, Winnie licked Sansa’s hand playfully before circling once, twice, and settled down for the night.

Sansa lightly stroked Winnie’s head, she was a constant reminder at the man lurking below the surface of Sandor Clegane. The kind, thoughtful, protective man.

The man Sansa wanted to know better.

The man she wanted to take that chance with, even if she were still a little lost.

The man who was worth the risk.

The man who deserved her truth – they both did.

In the peaceful calm of the night, Sansa slowly drifted off to sleep – her thoughts resounding firmly on Sandor, hoping that maybe, just maybe, he was doing the same with her.

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sandor had woken up early, too early considering when they had all called it quits last night, but unable to fall back to sleep. It took him ages to finally drift off last night, thinking of Sansa a mere 15 ft above him.

Fully awake, frustrated, and craving some solitary time before the masses woke up, Sandor had gotten dressed and headed out on a jog along the lake. Cardio alone wasn’t Sandor’s workout of choice, but it would do for this weekend and at least he could have some time to himself, which was always something he craved. There was something serene about the Stark property and the island, with only a handful of estate cottages, it was very uninhabited. Untouched and undisturbed nature.

Peaceful.

When he’d finally made it back to the cottage, his mind was much clearer. Sansa Stark had a way of invading his senses and mind completely, something he’d never had before with a woman – often times she rendered him a complete idiot.

When he’d walked into the kitchen and seen her standing there, casually sipping her coffee and scrolling through her phone, he nearly stumbled in from the porch. Dressed in small denim shorts with a white tank top tucked into them, she was fucking stunning. Her legs alone could bring a man to his knees, and Sandor wondered how they’d look wrapped around him, nearly getting hard at the thought.

He cleared his throat and walked further into hell as he neared her, she turned her attention to him and he saw the lowcut back of her shirt. Gods, he wanted to fucking worship her.

“Good morning,” she smiled at him, her smile could make even the unholiest of men believe in something more. Stunning, yet sweet. Being at home and working – either at the office or at her house – it was easier to distract himself from her, but here he had no choice and he was getting caught up in her.

“Morning,” Sandor muttered as he grabbed a cold water from the fridge. He’d almost missed it, but didn’t, as Sansa quickly scanned his body and licked her lips before quickly glancing back at her phone.

Sandor smirked, it seemed he wasn’t the only one distracted by the other. Although he wondered if her attraction stopped at his body, which fucking rattled him because that would mean his face too.

“Sansa, ready to go?” Margaery asked when she practically skipped into the kitchen, Talisa and Arya not fair behind.

Just as the girls entered, it seemed everyone else in the cottage had emerged as well when all the men, except Jon, had come into the kitchen.

“Where you dolls heading off too?” Tormund asked, he looked fucking wrecked. He’d gone hard last night, no fuck that, he’d gone hard like he does most weekends and he looked like fucking crap

Wilding whiskey, Sandor chuckled at the thought, the shit’s dangerous.

“We’re doing breakfast and shopping in town, and then grabbing some groceries. We’ll be back in the afternoon,” Talisa said, when Robb came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Don’t spend all my money, babe,” he said jokingly as he kissed her cheek, he winked at Jon and Sandor as he said it.

The man child loved getting his wife going, which Sandor had learned at the many Stark dinners he’d attended over the last year. When he’d finally asked Robb why he fucking dug himself into such massive holes all the time, he had simple replied that Talisa was ‘feisty’ when angry – that had been enough for Sandor to just not ask anything more, knowing Robb worked her up on purpose for a good fuck.

“Your money?” Talisa seethed, turning in his arms ready to say more before Robb silenced her with a kiss.

“Our money, baby,” he said as he dipped her down into another kiss. Talisa merely laughed and swatted his chest; she gave him the typical ‘you’ll pay for this’ side eye most woman had.

“Why do you put up with him, my exotic princess,” Tormund drawled, draping his arm around Talisa’s shoulders and pulling her into him. Sandor shook his head, Tormund only ever had good intentions, but the man was fucking relentless, and a cocky son of a bitch. Always looking to get a laugh out of people.

Robb playfully pushed Tormund off her and dragged Talisa back to him, “fuck off Wildling.”

“Alright, are we going to go or not?” Arya barked, although she couldn’t fully hide the smirk as she said it, the runt had a fire in her, that’s for sure.

Sansa made her way around the kitchen to grab a water from the fridge and came up beside him.

“What are you guys doing today?” she asked, though to no one in particular.

“It’s boat day, fuckers,” Tormund exclaimed, the man had no tact. Sandor chuckled. He hadn’t planned on going on the boat, more than comfortable to just hang back on his own for a bit. He knew Tormund, Bronn and Robb were a little rowdier and Jon usually as well – although he didn’t seem up for much this weekend.

Speak of the devil, when Jon had finally made his way to everyone he looked like complete crap. Hungover and heartbroken, he was the epitome of a bad country song right now.

“Oye, Jonny boy,” Bronn whistled, gaining Jon’s attention. Bronn tilted his chin to the lake, he arms slung over Margaery’s shoulder, “you comin’ out on the lake today?”

“No,” Jon shook his head, Sandor felt for the guy, he did. Jon was a good man and he had watched how Jon tried to make Ygritte happy over the year – but sometimes, fuck, that woman was unpleasable. She wanted dependable; Jon was the embodiment of dependable. Then she’d want fun, so Jon would plan fun things. Then she’d want comfort, and Jon would do that. Yet, from an outsider’s perspective it never seemed enough.

“Alright, lets head out,” Arya clapped her hands and rubbed them together, getting anxious to get out of the house.

Impatient Runt.

---

The morning had passed quickly after the girls had left. Bronn, Tormund and Robb headed to the dock not long after, Sandor had showered and then him and Jon had cooked up some burgers for lunch.

Sandor sat on the patio, from a distance he could see all the boats on the lake and enjoy the property.

Leave it to the Starks, to have a place like this.

It was prime real estate.

Sandor raised an eyebrow as Jon returned to the patio and passed him a beer. It wasn’t “early”, but it was earlier than they usually started. Although he figured they were probably the last ones to start, knowing the girls would’ve happily been sipping mimosas at brunch and the guys were most definitely getting lit on the boat.

Jon just shrugged.

“So,” Jon broke the silence, “what’s up with you and Sansa?”

Sandor took a sip of his beer and turned to Jon, “What do you mean?”

He knew exactly what Jon meant, Jon was quiet but observant, much like himself.  Jon snorted and rolled his eyes, there was a bit of an edge to him today, Sandor figured because of the breakup.

“Don’t be an ass, you know exactly what I mean.” Jon grumbled.

Sandor sighed, knowing that the only way to ask Jon about Sansa and about her life before she came home, he’d have to offer Jon some of his own truths as well. For the first time, he didn’t want to play coy about Sansa, it had been fucking exhausted. This cat and mouse game for months.

Even though Jon was her cousin, Sandor knew anything he said would stay between them, and really he also needed someone to talk to about it. Bronn was there, but Sandor always watched what he said because things had a way of getting back to Marge. Tormund was always around too, but he had a big mouth sometimes and he didn’t always get it. To Tormund, ‘you like her, you get with her’, and to Sandor it wasn’t quite so simple.

So, Sandor opened up, filling Jon in on the short version of their story. The night at Sandor’s house, the weird on/off tension they both had, all of it.

Jon nodded thoughtfully, “So, you like her.” He offered, because Sandor hadn’t given that up, but it wasn’t hard to figure either.

Sandor didn’t reply, just hummed instead. Jon knew, he didn’t need to go confessing his feelings like some love-struck green boy.

“You two are both fucking stupid.” Jon said. Sandor was taken back, rarely was Jon so bold. Sandor knew Jon was is a mood today, but even he hadn’t expected Jon to call him out on all their shit.

“What happened in Dorne?” Sandor asked, “Why did she come home?”

Jon sighed and it was at that moment that Sandor realized that Jon had also had a bad feeling about it, that he’d suspected something had driven her home.

“I don’t know.” Jon said, “I mean she always wanted to find success outside of the North, outside of the Stark name.”

Sandor understood that, the Stark name alone held so much merit in the North. It afforded the family so many opportunities and opened doors for them, but it also came with a level of responsibility. Sandor respected her for wanting to find her own success, though he doubted she fully got away from the name.

Jon continued, “So it wasn’t surprising when she chose not stay after graduation, but eventually we just started hearing from her less, not that she disappeared completely, just… less.”

Jon stopped and sighed, rubbing his temples in his hand.

“What was weird, was how she came home. She just, came home. Not a warning, no talks about it before hand, no reasoning or explanation, just I’m coming home.”

Sandor nodded, that was the part that seemed to get to him too, the sudden shift. The idea that it was just because she missed home, with everything he knew about her and her family, seemed odd without a conversation.

“Was she dating anyone?” Sandor asked.

Sandor watched the look cross over Jon’s face, and Sandor knew he’d already thought the same thing that Sandor had. On one hand, Sansa seemed fine. Happy, healthy, confidant but there was always something lingering beneath the surface, a reason for leaving Dorne.

“She was,” Jon nodded, “we didn’t know who, we never got a name because she said it wasn’t serious, she really didn’t talk about it much. But now… now she doesn’t talk about it at all.”

Sandor hummed in response and a silence fell over them, each considering the possibilities that something, someone¸ had happened to Sansa. Maybe nothing terrible, gods hoping it was nothing physical, but something.

“You know,” Jon started, an eerie calmness to his voice. “If someone hurt her..”

Jon trailed off, he didn’t need to finish, Sandor knew. If someone had hurt her, that person would be dealt with. Sansa had a team of men behind her, who wouldn’t be able to lay down and ignore it.

“I know.” Sandor afforded in response.

Again, left in silence, the two talked no more of it. The talked about Ygritte and work, letting the pieces and revelations of the topic linger, but it required no more discussion. Eventually Jon got up to shower, but not before turning to Sandor.

“You know, I could see it – you two.” He stopped and looked Sandor dead in the eye. “But, if you two are too different, or too stubborn to compromise – don’t fucking start anything. Stay the fuck away, because it just bloody hurts when it ends.”

Sandor let Jon’s words wash over him. Him and Sansa were different, very different, and there was no doubt they would have their problems. Each of them stubborn in their own ways.

It could be great, the two of them, challenging each other but at the same time supporting each other and he knew the sexual chemistry was there.

But what if they couldn’t, what if the both tried but just ended up making each other miserable? Although, he couldn’t see that happening and tried not to let Jon’s jaded love advice linger.

Sandor scoffed to himself and muttered “dumb dog.”

What was he doing? He wasn’t sure what the fuck Sansa even wanted, she had everything so twisted in him he could barely see straight, let alone think straight.

Wondering how they’d be together when the weren’t together and showed no signs of ever being together was just a new form of self torture.

Still, as he sat there alone, he couldn’t help it. Caught in the ‘what ifs’ of Sansa Stark.

---

Halfway through brunch, the girls were all happily into their mimosas, town was only a 15 minute walk from the cottage, so no one had driven and they had all concluded they were on vacation – no worries, no cares.

They had covered off the boring stuff right away – work, parents, etc – and had easily moved into the topic of boyfriends and husbands. An obvious topic of discussion at any girls brunch, woman definitely talked more about men than the men did about the. It was just a fact.

“Okay, but San, did you see his body,” Talisa asked, she was far less invasive than Margaery, but Sansa knew the minute Sandor walked into the kitchen shirtless this morning he would come up for conversation.

She had in fact seen his body, as she had casually over the last few weeks when he was working at the house, but damn if it didn’t get her every time.

Sandor obviously took impeccable care of himself, ate right, worked out, and his job was incredibly physical, so he was always active. Still, very few men could achieve… well that. His height, his stature, his build was all unmatched by most. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. His tanned skin from working outside, his near black hair.

Sansa knew she needed to answer, avoiding the question would be like putting a fox in a hen house.

“Mhm, I did.” Sansa said, sipping her mimosa and the girls all looked at her with raised eyebrows. “What? There is no denying he has a great body, so I’m not going to try.”

“Sansa is modest because she sees his body all the time when he’s working at her house,” Margaery rolled her eyes.

“Do his scars bother you?” Arya asked and Sansa nearly fell off her chair. Arya didn’t mean anything by it, the girl was just blunt, but Sansa felt an overwhelming need to defend Sandor, which surprised her a bit.

Arya!” Talisa hissed, and Arya rolled her eyes defensively.

“You know I don’t care about them, but you can’t ignore them either, they are there.” Arya crossed her arms over her chest defensively.

She wasn’t wrong, though Sansa felt her heart ache that his scars are the topic of discussion for anyone.

“No. They don’t bother me.” Sansa said sternly, brokering no argument and making it clear how she felt. “Why, do they bother you?” she pushed back. She knew they didn’t of course, but she felt protective.

Arya shrugged, “No, not at all. Though I’d love to know how he got them.”

Arya!” Talisa huffed.

“Oh come on, like you’ve never wondered?” Arya scoffed. Sansa could respect Arya’s honesty, though most wouldn’t talk about it, it was human nature to wonder.

Sansa scarcely noticed the scars anymore when Sandor was at the house, they did nothing to deter from his good looks, and most of it was covered by his thick stubble. She thought back to that night on his back deck, when he’d kissed her, the way his lips felt. A combination of soft on one side, and rough on the scarred side, it was electrifying and satisfying.

“The man is still hot.” Margaery chimed in, smiling at Sansa as she said it. “You should bone him.”

“Really, Margaery? Bone him?” Talisa chastised playfully and Sansa just laughed. Talisa wasn’t a prude by no means but compared to Margaery most people were much more reserved.

“Sorry,” Margaery said, turning back to Sansa. “You should fuck him.”

The garnered a howl from Arya, who nearly spit out her drink and Talisa looked positively scandalized.

Maybe, I should. Sansa thought despite herself, knowing that whatever may happen between her and Sandor was far more than just physical.

---

Arya aimlessly wondered around the artisan cheese shop while Sansa cashed out, Margaery and Talisa had gone to the bakery since brunch had ran long and they were eager to get back to the cottage. Two birds with one stone so to speak, which Arya appreciated.

Her mind stuck on the conversation at brunch about Sandor, it was obvious to anyone who knew Sansa closely that she liked Sandor, Arya doubted she would even deny it at that point, and even though Sandor did try to deny it the big man was half way to gone already.

What confused Arya, and worried her more than anything, was Sansa’s hesitation, it was more than just their initial clashing. Sure, they didn’t get along when the first met, Sansa and Sandor, but that wasn’t what was keeping Sansa away from him and Arya knew it.

Sansa had never been promiscuous like Margaery, or as confidant as she was, but she had always known who she was and what she wanted, and she had never been shy about telling people what she wanted. Not in a bad way, of course, but Sansa had this very subtle confidence and always had the ability to let it be known what she wanted without repercussions, even if things didn’t go her way.

That all changed at some point in Dorne, though Arya had no clue when and only assumptions as to why.

Sansa had told her that she was dating someone just before she graduated, although she had said it wasn’t serious and in Arya’s opinion didn’t seem overly invested in the relationship. Once Sansa got her job, which kept her more than busy, Arya figured the relationship was more of a casual thing and Sansa would move on from it eventually.

Eventually they started hearing from Sansa less, she didn’t disappear by any means, but less and at the time everyone assumed it was due to work – for all she knows it was work, but there was something else in Dorne, something that drove Sansa home.

She wanted to know what it was.

When Sansa and Arya left the shop to wait for Margaery and Talisa by the coffee shop, Arya couldn’t help herself. She had been like this since she was a child, once there was something on her mind she couldn’t stop it from surfacing if she tried.

“Are you ever going to tell me about Dorne?” Arya blurted out, and she grimaced at how much harsher it sounded than she intended it to.

Sansa turned and looked shocked.

“Excuse me?” she asked, and she frowned, Arya knew she didn’t want to talk about it but right now she didn’t care.

“Why’d you come home?” Arya pushed, like word vomit she couldn’t help herself. She’d spent months waiting for Sansa to open up.

For anyone meeting Sansa, she seemed fine, she didn’t act like a victim, but Arya knew Sansa the best out of anyone and she knew something was off, something was different.

Sansa sighed and Arya could see the frustration lingering beneath the surface.

“I wanted to come home.” Sansa stated, offering her nothing more in hopes that the conversation would end.

“So, you just left? The job you loved, the boyfriend. Why didn’t you tell anyone you were planning on coming home? We talked all the time and you never mentioned missing home or wanting to come home.” Arya pushed, letting every question she had just fly out of her mouth.

“Enough, Arya.” Sansa finally snapped. “I wanted to come home, I am an adult and don’t need to run my decisions past you before doing them.”

Arya could feel herself getting angry, frustrated that Sansa wouldn’t open up to her. Her anger definitely fueled by the hurt she felt that her sister didn’t trust her enough to be honest.

“I know something happened, something that made you come back.” Arya finally said, and based off the look on Sansa’s face, Arya knew she was the first one to ever call her out on it, the first one to admit what everyone wondered.

“Nothing happened.” Sansa said coldly, shutting herself off to Arya and turning away from her.

“Bullshit,” Arya scoffed.

“Arya, I swear to god if you don’t-” Sansa started before they heard the familiar laugh of Talisa and Margaery rounding the corner to the parking lot.

Sansa sighed and immediately stopped talking, Arya knew the conversation at this point was over, not wanting to have this talk around anyone else. The conversation useless anyways because Sansa wouldn’t answer anything.

The walk home was silent between them, both of them barely speaking to the other girls as they walked ahead with an uncomfortable silence that lingered between them. Arya looked at Sansa who had a blank expression on her face, but from the angle and the glare of the sun, Arya could see the tears that rimmed her bottom lashes.

She hadn’t meant to hurt her, but if getting her angry was how she finally got her to open up, she was willing to take that chance.

---

 By the time they’d made it back to the cottage, Sansa was in an awful mood. Angry at Arya for bringing it up, angry that she hadn’t opened up to her family or anyone before this and now feeling awkward and embarrassed.

She should have told them when she came home, she knew that. Not only because the family was close and they would have supported her, but also as a precaution. She felt embarrassed that she hadn’t, that she hid it. That wasn’t what the family did, they were open and honest, and an unbelievable support system.

When they’d entered the cottage, Sansa heard the familiar rattle of a dog tag as Winnie excitedly made her way over to Sansa. Sansa bent down to play with her in the foyer, while the others made their way into the house.

She heard Talisa ask if the boys were back from the lake yet and the rumble of a familiar voice told her it was Sandor who she had asked.

“No, not yet. Think they’re on the way back though.” He answered, his voice got slightly louder, and Sansa saw him round the corner towards her.

Sansa closed her eyes briefly, really not in the mood to deal with Sandor and their confusing relationship right not. She felt completely drained from her conversation with Arya, and honestly just wanted to take Winnie and go for a nap. Which was exactly what she planned on doing.

“She was good today, Jon and I taught her something new,” Sandor said, finally having made his way to them.

He crouched down beside Sansa and told Winnie to sit, after a couple times she finally did and Sandor opened his fist, showing the treat inside.

“Winnie, wave.” He commanded, the puppy did nothing, just cocked her head to the side and looked at the cookie.

“Winnie, wave,” Sandor said again, and this time she lifted her left paw off the ground in a waving motion.

Sansa smiled, feeling only marginally better but impressed with the puppy. Not to mention it was adorable. Yet it just made her unfairly frustrated with Sandor. The whole thing between them so confusing and when he did things like this, she just fell harder for him.

Knowing her reaction was on her and in no way, shape or form Sandor’s fault, she wanted to go and just be alone for a while, she was agitated and knew she was a bit of a lose canon.

“Good girl,” Sandor praised and gave Winnie the treat.

They stood and Sansa picked Winnie up when she was done, saying very little to Sandor.

“I’m going to grab a nap before dinner,” Sansa said and made to head to her bedroom.

Sandor gently grasped her elbow and frowned,

“Hey, everything okay?” he asked, he was concerned. Which did nothing for Sansa’s mood.

Why did he have to care so much.

“Fine. Just tired.” Sansa answered, it wasn’t a lie, she was tired.

Sandor’s frown deepened and he took a step towards her.

“You don’t seem fine. Tell me what’s wrong.”

That did it, Sansa knew it wasn’t Sandor’s fault and he was just being supportive, but between Arya’s insistent pushing today and now Sandor’s, she was just done. She roughly pulled her elbow from Sandor’s grasp.

“When I say I’m fine, Sandor. When you ask me a question and I answer, don’t question it.” She snapped.

She watched as his eyes narrowed and he looked pissed, she hadn’t meant to snap, she shouldn’t have snapped on him because he didn’t do anything to deserve it.

“Right, glad you’re fine then,” he snarled at her and walked back into the kitchen.

Sansa felt awful, instantly regretting her choice of words and how she said them – never one to be rude on such an epic level.

Sansa went to her room and curled up in bed with Winnie, using the remote to close the automatic shutters, wanting the quiet and the darkness. She would be fine, when she woke up, knowing that the sleep would bring her emotions in check.

She would need to apologize to Sandor for snapping and knew she had been so totally out of line and rude, which she hated – especially to Sandor when they had finally just found their footing. She had been unnecessarily hurtful because of the emotions Arya had unraveled in her, and she took it out on the first person she could, something she rarely did and felt unimaginably guilty about.

As she laid in bed, sleep slowly taking her she wished he was there, to hold her and be a comfort.

Protect her.

Forgive her.

She had hoped to talk to him tonight, and steal a moment of privacy with him, but she couldn’t today, she just couldn’t.

It’ll have to wait.. again.

Frustrated, Sansa finally let the sleep take her.

---

When Sansa had woken up from her nap, she felt better, the initial reaction of frustration was replaced with a sense of appreciation that she had family and friends who cared, who worried, so many didn’t, and she had taken that for granted today.

Still, her head was in a place, just an overarching funk because of everything this afternoon. She’d busied herself with helping prep dinner, and luckily Sandor and Jon had gone for a run. She woke feeling so guilty for how she treated him, and not having to face him right away was easier.

It wasn’t until after dinner had been eaten, dishes done and bonfire started that there was finally a minute to find Sandor and apologize – she hadn’t wanted to make a big deal about it in front of everyone because they were nosy and she felt she owed Sandor a private apology.

She watched him, talking with Jon and Gendry on the other side of the fire, just before the tree line. It hadn’t surprised her that he had gravitated towards the two of them this weekend, considering the other 3 had spent most of their times half in the bag – which was fine, it was their vacation too. Jon and Gendry were more low key, much like Sandor, not wild and crazy, perfectly content to spend their time having a couple drinks and ‘shooting the shit’, as Gendry had put it.

She was happy that he seemed relaxed enough to come this weekend, she knew that he’s known her family for a while now and had time to get closer with them, same with Bronn and Tormund. There was a certain comfort level between them, and Sansa’s treacherous mind thought of how great it would be for Sandor to already know her family, if something more were to happen.

They could be a lot, her siblings and her parents, it was a lot to come into as a newcomer, a lot of different personalities to mesh with and he had already done that.

Waiting for Jon and Gendry to leave, or for Sandor to step away, Sansa waited while she sipped on her hot chocolate and baileys in her cup – it was chilly tonight but not cold. The perfect weather for shorts and a sweater… and a warm boozy drink.

Sansa heard a snap of a twig and turned to see Arya standing off to the side, she looked sheepishly at Sansa and asked if she could sit. They had barely spoken to each other all night, Sansa knew both of them were in a weird spot, neither really owing an apology but knowing something needed to break the tension.

Arya sat on the bench beside Arya and offered a little smile.

“Sansa, I’m sorry.” Arya started, but Sansa didn’t want an apology. She really didn’t. Yes, Arya pushed, but she did it out of concern and worry and Sansa knew that. Although the two weren’t close growing up, they were close now, and Arya could read Sansa like a book some days. In all honesty, if Sansa thought Arya was hurting or if something were wrong, she would probably push as well.

Sansa shook her head and raised her hand to stop her.

“Arya, stop. Honestly, we’re fine.” Sansa said softly with a smile.

Arya narrowed her eyes; Sansa was sure she was trying to figure out if Sansa were being honest or if she was just placating her. She seemed satisfied that Sansa was telling her the truth, which she was.

“You’ll tell me when you’re ready?” she asked quietly, it was Arya’s way of letting Sansa know that she knows there is something she’s not telling her and that she is here when she wants to talk. Sansa took it for the promise to stop digging that it was, and she appreciated the gesture.

“Yeah, I’ll tell you when I’m ready,” Sansa replied, and leaned to rest her head on Arya’s shoulder briefly, taking in the comfort of Arya’s unwavering support.

---

Sandor had come around the fire to grab another beer from the cooler just in time to hear the tail end of Sansa and Arya’s conversation. He was pissed at first, with how Sansa snapped at him, but it didn’t take long to realize Arya was in a bitchy fucking mood too – and it didn’t take a genius to figure out something had gone down between them, though Margaery and Talisa seemed completely oblivious.

Hell, who was he to judge, he barked and snapped at people constantly and usually to people who deserved it, but sometimes not. He’d done the same thing to Sansa when she’d first started at the company and with the tail end of their conversation, Sandor was more concerned than anything.

Sansa hadn’t been avoiding him all evening, but he could see that she was nervous and assumed she probably felt bad for snapping, if he’d learned anything about Sansa over the last few months, it was how much she cared about people. He’d wanted to try talking to her, but wasn’t sure how she was feeling, so he’d decided to just let her come to him when she was ready.

Watching Sansa get up and head to the cottage, Sandor took a chance to talk to Arya.

I’ll tell you when I’m ready.

The words playing like repeat in his head. He had known for a while something had happened, but she’d just all but confirmed it and Sandor felt sick. Not knowing exactly what or who, made him feel anxious and pissed off.

“Runt,” he muttered as he came to stand beside her by the fire. She looked up at him with a smirk.

“Hound,” she replied back to him.

He snorted, he liked her, she was audacious. He quickly looked around to make sure Sansa hadn’t come back, when he didn’t see her, he sat next to Arya. A leg on either side of the bench, so he could watch the pathway from the house.

“Where’d Sansa go?” he asked, trying to find leeway into the conversation.

This time it was Arya’s turn to snort, as if she saw right through him, which she probably did. She shook her head and raised an eyebrow,

“How much did you hear?”

Observant indeed.

“Just the end,” Sandor said honestly, no point in lying.

Arya nodded, “Something about it isn’t right, you know?” She paused at looked at him, he could see clear as day the concern on her face.

“About why she came home?” Sandor asked to clarify.

“Why she came home, how she did it, how none of us knew, the 4 suitcases. All of it.”

Sandor shot his eyes up to hers from the fire he’d been staring at. Four suitcases was new information, a piece he hadn’t heard yet.

“What about four suitcases?” he asked.

Arya sighed, “You know, Sansa. The girl, well the girl loves clothes, shoes, bags – all of it. When she left home, she had 4 suitcases for just her shoes, like she had most of her shit shipped to Dorne.” Arya said, and Sandor knew Arya wasn’t exaggerating, Sansa had a immaculate wardrobe, although he’d seen the boxes at her house and she didn’t have a crazy amount of clothes, at least not anymore.

“When she came back,” Arya continued, “she had 4, only 4 suitcases, and when I’d asked her if the rest was being shipped she said no, this was it. It made no sense to me!”

It didn’t make sense to him either, where had her stuff gone?

“Was she living with someone?” he asked, trying to figure out the piece of the puzzle.

Arya shook her head, “no, she had her own apartment in the city, and we would facetime, so I know she still had it and I never saw the boyfriend.”

“Hey Arry,” Gendry cooed coming over to them, he paused when he saw the serious and solemn looks on their faces.

He came over to stand beside Arya and put his hand on her shoulder, she looked at him and gave a small smile. Sandor liked Gendry, he was young, but he was solid and he could handle Arya at her worst, so he got Sandor’s vote.

Gendry looked between them and frowned, “what’s up?”

“Sansa,” Arya said, and Sandor watched as Gendry nodded. Clearly he and Arya had talked about Sansa before, Sandor had noticed this quiet stable relationship between Sansa and Gendry over the last few months.

“It was all really off, man. Something about it, even when Arya got her from the airport – something just seemed off.” Gendry said, looking at Sandor. Sandor knew the look on his face, it was the same look Jon had early, the same look he was sure he had as well.

“We should know, she should tell us. So, we can help.” Arya said, Sandor could hear the frustration in her, the same frustration he was sure had caused whatever spat happened between them in town today.

Gendry squeezed her shoulder lightly, “she’ll tell you when she’s ready, babe.”

“So, you like her,” Arya said blankly, looking at Sandor. There was no chastising, no question – just fact.

“ohhhh kay,” Gendry intervened and began tugging Arya to her feet, Arya shrugged him off of her.

“Stop, it’s not like you hide it all that well – neither does she. You like her right?” Arya waited for Sandor and when he never answered she continued, “how are you ever going to tell her if you can’t say it out loud?”

Sandor smirked, fucking nosy little thing she was. He stood from the bench and looked down at Arya.

Sandor wasn’t sure exactly what he’d learned today, not really much other than his concerns being all but confirmed but the fact that her family had wondered to, told him more than enough.

He struggled with understanding why the ones that had noticed stayed quiet, and he didn’t for one second believe Robb or Ned hadn’t wondered as well. But he also knew Sansa’s need for independence, she craved it, she never wanted to be viewed as weak and what he didn’t know was how far you could push her, and if you pushed too far would she shut down completely – is that why everyone had waited for her to decide to share her truths?

They knew her longer; they knew her better.

Did he need to be patient and wait for Sansa to open up to him, or to someone at least, or did he push. He wondered if this thing between them would help or hurt. Would she be more willing to trust him, to put her faith in him protecting her? Or would she be nervous he would think less of her, so she’d keep it to herself?

He wasn’t sure.

What he did know was he would do everything he could to make sure it wasn’t the latter.

“Ever think maybe I should tell her first, runt,” Sandor winked at Arya who smiled triumphantly at Gendry, as if she had just won some big prize. Competition was a shared Stark trait, he’d learned that long ago.

Sandor headed up towards the house, where Sansa was yet to return, feeling a need to just check on her and make sure she was okay.

---

Sansa had gone inside to grab a thicker pair of pants as the cold chill set in, although it was summer the nights up here could be cold with the chill off the bay – much like her place at home as well, but a little more so.

Winnie had followed Sansa inside, and before she had set to head back outside she had remembered the trick Sandor showed her this afternoon. She was in such a god-awful mood that she hadn’t fully been able to appreciate it, she hadn’t appreciated how smart Winnie was, but also the fact that Sandor had spent his time teaching it to her.

She could picture Sandor, sitting on the floor, a pile of cookies in his hand, encouraging Winnie and praising her. She smiled, a reminder of the man who lingered beneath the surface.

“Winnie, wave,” Sansa said again, praising the puppy when she waved her little paw.

Sansa laughed and repeated it time and time again before she heard a low chuckle behind her. Turning she instantly saw Sandor smirking from the doorway, leaning against the frame. She couldn’t help but admire him in the soft moonlight, the tight black sweatshirt her wore that stretched by his biceps and his dark forearms crossed over his chest, sleeves rolled up to his elbows.

Suddenly feeling shy, Sansa stood, shifting her weight from toe to heel slightly.

“How long have you been there?” she asked, wondering how long he’d been watching her.

Sandor shrugged in response and pushed himself off the doorframe, he gave Winnie a little pat before settling in on the island stool. When he sat on the stool, Sansa noticed how they still weren’t quite eye level, even sitting he was taller than her, and she was considered tall for a woman.

Sansa looked away, still embarrassed by her earlier behaviour.

“Sandor, I,” she paused and sighed, trying to gather her thoughts before continuing. She met his eyes and noticed how soft they had become, though his face remained permanently straight, his eyes were unbelievably soft.

“I’m sorry, Sandor. For earlier, my behaviour was so uncalled for and so inappropriate.” She tried to stop it, she heard her breath hitch slightly and felt the tears begin to settle on her lower lashes, she resisted the urge to wipe them away, knowing then they would fall freely. 

She felt Sandor’s calloused fingers on her elbow as her gently tugged her forward, she didn’t even know if he realized how he positioned her as she stood in between his wide thighs.

“Sansa, it’s okay,” he said, and she knew he meant it, but she definitely didn’t think it was okay.

She shook her head slightly, “It’s not, I was so rude, and I’m so sorry.”

“Sansa,” he said again, a little more firmly this time. “We’re okay”

She bit her bottom lip to stop some of her emotions from surfacing, between the emotional stress of today and how sorry she felt, the tension between them was almost becoming too palpable – and it was throwing her emotions for a loop.

Sandor’s eye’s narrowed and he tucked a strand of loose hair behind her head, the feeling of his calloused fingers against her cheeks felt like a million little shocks, sending this electric shock right to her center and Sansa couldn’t stop herself from leaning into it. The gesture would have been nothing but sweet had it not been for the look in his eyes. Sansa recognized the look and could see the near uncontrolled desire behind his eyes, it was the same look he had that night on his porch. Sansa shifted forward slightly, and they were so close.

Sandor’s big hand had come down and settled on her hip and he squeezed lightly but possessively, his eyes never leaving hers. The intensity of his gaze made her shiver and she saw the small smirk appear on the unscarred side of his lips. He liked knowing that he was having an effect on her.

He liked being in control

They were so close, all it would take was one of them to move, to lean forward slightly and she would feel his lips on hers again. She moved her hand to his chest and could feel the steady but quickened beat of his heart, the beat almost completely mirroring the one in her own chest. She closed her eyes for a minute to feel the rhythm, when she opened them his eyes bore into hers. They were darker, with him making no attempt to hide what he wanted from her but challenging her to make the move.

She wanted this.

She wanted him.

Both seemed to lean in at the same time, some unseen attraction dragging them into each other.

Suddenly they were interrupted by the crack of thunder from outside and the charge of everyone else running towards the cottage. Sansa stepped back quickly, and Sandor released her hip, just in time for their soaking wet roommates to burst into the kitchen laughing.

The storms up here were often quick and unpredictable.

“Sansa! You’re still up, great I need you help!” Margaery squealed, clearly drunk, as she pulled Sansa away quickly. Sansa wanted to throw her out in the rain.

She wanted to throw all of them out in the rain. For ruining a near perfect moment.

Knowing that Margaery would probably take up the rest of Sansa’s time tonight, she knew their night was done.

Her body still tingling from their almost kiss, but Sansa didn’t consider the night a loss, in fact it was a win!

A big win!

Sandor wanted her. She knew without a doubt he wanted her, and she doubted almost completely that it was purely a physical need with him – she knew him better than that.

Sansa felt a new found confidence wash over, knowing that when her and Sandor finally got their chance to talk, even if it wasn’t this weekend, the feelings weren’t one-sided,

He felt it too and that was enough for tonight.

 

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sandor groaned as he turned over in bed, away from the window and the intense sunlight coming in. The only downfall to so many fucking windows, all the goddamn morning light.

After Sansa had been whisked away by Margaery last night, Sandor had joined Bronn and Tormund in a game of pool that ran way too long. He’d skipped his morning jog and quickly shut off his alarm when it blared at 530am, as always. He usually kept to the same schedule on the weekends as he had during the week, but fuck if he wasn’t tired.

He’d been frustrated yesterday, once again, that he and Sansa had been interrupted. They were always fucking being interrupted, not that it was anyone’s fault but their own, they’d been alone how many times over the last few weeks, but something had changed recently. They needed to talk because he still couldn’t quite figure Sansa out and it was driving him fucking mad.

She’d been so sincere yesterday, and even without letting her ramble into the fancy and lengthy apology she had surely come up with, he’d seen plain as day the regret on her face for their spat. He wasn’t about to make this girl grovel for forgiveness, given what she’d gone through already, even if he didn’t have the details he so desperately craved.

She’d snapped, taken her feelings out of him when she was pissed at Arya, and apologized. That was enough, it wasn’t as though she smacked him or insulted him or done anything even remotely unforgivable.

She’d snapped and she’d regretted it, it happens.

Although he appreciated her trying to make amends.

She was a good girl like that.

Sandor groaned as he felt himself harden at the thought, but hell if she wasn’t a good girl.

Of course, she was.

Prim and proper, please and thank you – he didn’t imagine that sort of conditioning went away in the bedroom. Part of him felt guilty, wanting Sansa even though she had a past she was keeping tight to herself, but fuck, he’d seen it yesterday.

Desire.

She wanted him just as badly as he wanted her.

What he still didn’t know though, and what drove him to near-complete frustration, was what did she want. Even still he wasn’t sure if it was only physical relief she so desperately wanted, or if it was something more.

Hard and frustrated, Sandor hopped into the shower, albeit a lukewarm shower at first. As soon as he’d open his bedroom door to the hall he was hit with the most amazing smell, like sticking his fucking head in one of Sansa’s girly candles.

Curious he made his way to the kitchen, where he was met with the most domestic sight he’d ever seen. Sansa was in an oversized baggy sweatshirt; she was obviously wearing workout shorts underneath since she was surrounded by people but Sandor imagined in the privacy of her own home she would be completely naked underneath. She had on fluffy slippers and her hair was in a messy bun.

Listening to country music, which Sandor appreciated and enjoyed as well, she moved along to the music completely unaware he was even there, while she paid attention to whatever was on the stove.

“Oh fuck yeah!” He heard Gendry’s voice behind him, he turned to see Arya, Gendry, and Robb making their way into the kitchen from upstairs. “Are those what I think they are?”

Sansa turned quickly, clearly startled by the sudden audience but recovered and smiled.

“You bet they are,” she said with a wink before she turned back to the stove.

Gendry clapped Sandor on the shoulder as Robb and Arya passed them.

“Sansa makes the best fuckin’ Pumpkin Spice Waffles,” Gendry was nearly drooling, and Sandor couldn’t blame him. The kitchen smelled like fucking Thanksgiving pie.

“Did you make the maple whipped cream too, San?” Robb asked her as he poured a cup of coffee and refilled Sansa’s cup for her. He was near pleading that she’d made this ‘maple whipped cream’.

“Of course I did, “Sansa smiled at her brother sweetly, while taking a sip of her now hot coffee. “Thank you.”

The timer chimed and Sansa went to pull a sheet out of the oven, Arya and Gendry glanced at each other and smiled,

“Candied nuts,” they both cried, Sandor had never seen three grown-ass people get so childishly excited over breakfast before.

Clearly, Sansa had made these a time or two, and obviously a family favourite.

Of course, she can fucking cook.

Sandor had figured as much, given how specific she’d been over her kitchen design, but with the construction zone, he’d barely seen her cook. A girl like her though, obviously Cat had taught her growing up, of course, she’d excelled at it – she’d have a family to cook for someday.

“Stark!” Tormund cried, coming up behind Sansa and dipping her down – spatula in hand. “Marry me?” he begged.

Sansa laughed and swatted at him to put her back upright, not flirting but friendly. Sandor wanted to throw Tormund in the lake, as he scowled at the two of them. Tormund wasn’t into Sansa, and he treated her no different than Margaery or Talisa, but fuck if he didn’t wish he could be so handsy with her.

Because nothing was going on with, and would never be anything going on between them, Tormund was free to be as rowdy as Sansa allowed, and it made Sandor want to snarl.

Jealous.

He hated being jealous.

He rarely got jealous.

He was fucking jealous .

Of the damn wildling at that, the thought was almost laughable.

“Ygritte, that’s not fucking fair and you know it,” Jon’s voice carried through the kitchen as he made his way downstairs.

He had obviously hastily, and probably one-handedly, pulled on his top and sweats. He looked frustrated as he ran his hand through his hair and made his way to the patio doors.

He was pissed, it was clear as day on his face.

Everyone’s attention turned to Jon, they were trying to be sneaky about it, of course, trying not to stare, getting some waffles – but the room had near silenced to hear the conversation on the patio.

Sandor made him way over to the breakfast spread Sansa had laid out, like something out of a magazine, she had nearly everything, but Sansa was leaning against the island with a sad look over her face. Everyone else too focused on trying to hide the fact they were focused on Jon, who was now clearly in a heated argument over the phone.

“Everything looks good,” Sandor said to Sansa, he had no interest in knowing what Jon was talking about, he could only guess with a woman like Ygritte.

Sansa smiled softly,

“Thank you.” She scowled looking at the others, watching Jon like the 10 o’clock news. “They’re like little drama vultures,” she said as she wiggled her fork towards the others.

Sandor laughed; they were. Not in a vicious way, holy fuck if this family didn’t care about each other, but they were nosy motherfuckers for sure.

“They’re so nosy,” Sansa whispered, she seemed equal parts impressed as she was disappointed.

Just as Jon’s voice got louder and could be heard through the patio doors, Sansa got a sly smirk on her face. Sandor watched her intently as she walked to the Google Home and cranked the volume of the music, all before shooting Sandor a quick wink.

She was met with groans and moans from the table of eager listeners, but she didn’t seem to care, she settled in on the island stool beside Sandor and quietly ate her breakfast while smiling and clearly proud of herself.

Little Bird’s got jokes.

Sandor dug into his breakfast, which was without a doubt the most amazing waffle he’d ever tasted and let the morning chatter wash over him.

---

The last day at the cottage had passed with near-perfect relaxation. Sansa and the girls had spent nearly the entire day on the lake, floating in their tubes and drinking White Claws, albeit possibly one too many in the dead hot sun.

Sansa had watched as Tormund, Bronn and Robb had nearly killed themselves wakeboarding – for all pretty fit men, they had absolutely no sense of balance, except possibly Robb who had been doing this for years but even he wasn’t graceful.

Sansa had watched closely as even Sandor seemed to be enjoying himself today, Gendry and Jon content to just hang out on the dock with him, drinking beer and jumping in for the odd swim. Watching Sandor descend out of the water, dripping wet, with his jet black hair – holy eff, it was something out of a cologne commercial.

The man was a freaking stud!

Winnie had been content to just lounge by Sandor on the dock, although she had liked paddling around off the rocky shore, she was young yet and Sansa had read that usually the breed didn’t enjoy swimming. Some could, some couldn’t and most preferred not too.

Sansa knew some of Sandor’s history, very little, but whatever the Stark’s knew, she did as well. She knew this was a small tiny morsel of the truth, knowing Sandor well enough to know he shared very little. Still, what she did know, she was surprised that he seemed as relaxed as he did here.

Sansa knew he had gotten to know her family over the time when she was gone, and could all but assume had this trip been suggested a year ago, Sandor would most definitely not be here, and although she could still see his discomfort peeking through here and there, it made her happy that he’d grown closer to all of them and developed friendships outside of the business.

She wasn’t naïve, Sansa knew the extreme wealth that her family presented. They were one of the wealthiest families in Westeros, their name alone demanded a certain level of prestige. It often made a lot of people uncomfortable and it brought out the worst in people. People who wanted to use the family.

They’d seen all types over the years.

Ned and Cat had done a good job at trying to keep as much normalcy as possible, though they didn’t always get it right. Her mom could sometimes be too concerned without people saw them, especially people who ran in the same social circles, it wasn’t because she was a bad person, but she cared about the image her family presented. Still, image aside, her kids always came first to her, and always would.

Robb had been a wild card for a while, once enjoying their prestige a little too much, and using it to his advantage. He’d grown up a lot, thanks to Talisa.

Sometimes it just takes the right person, to make all the difference.

The wind off the bay had really picked up by later afternoon and everyone knew that meant a really cold evening and night, so they had decided that after dinner they would have a low-key last night inside. Pool, music, drinks, games.

Robb and Jon had cleaned out the fire pit and put away the extra patio furniture while the rest of them cleaned up after dinner. Before long the sun had set, the drinks were flowing, the music was playing, and they’d all settled into a fun night.

Sansa was behind the bar making herself a drink as she looked around. Bronn, Tormund, Gendry, and Robb were hanging around one of the high-tops, Tormund had brought out shots of the wilding whiskey, and nearly half of them were in the bag. Margaery was perched on Bronn’s lap and Arya was settled in front of Gendry, his arms draped casually over her shoulders.

Sansa had successfully avoided the dooms of the whiskey thanks to Sandor,

“You don’t want that shit, Little Bird, not if you plan on remembering anything tonight.” Sandor had leaned down behind her and whispered in her ear. She was sure she must have shivered as his neatly groomed beard brushed over her shoulder. 

Jon and Sandor were caught up in a game of pool. Sansa was glad the two of them had each other this weekend, Jon needed someone who just let him be ever so slightly broody and Sandor needed someone who wasn’t as crazy as the others were.

She watched as Sandor leaned over to hit the cue ball, he had an unbuttoned plaid shirt on over his black t-shirt and even with the shirt fitting loose, it stretched tightly across his wide shoulders.

“You know,” Sansa heard the soft voice of Talisa from beside her, she’d been so focused on Sandor she hadn’t even noticed when Talisa had joined her. Sansa looked over at her and noticed she was looking at Jon and Sandor as well. She continued, “he stares at you too.”

Sansa looked over at Talisa, wanting to deny it or play dumb but she knew there was no point – Talisa knew. Sansa was far from drunk, but she’d been drinking, and she was at that point where she started to care a little less.

She did nothing but shrug, what was there to say at this point.

“So, why aren’t you two doing something about it?” Talisa asked, and if she told Talisa she didn’t want to talk about it the conversation would be dropped immediately but something in Sansa wanted to talk about it, and since apparently talking about it with Sandor hadn’t happened yet, Talisa was a good backup.

“I don’t know, there is almost so much miscommunication between us now, and so much build-up that the timing never feels right.. to talk.” Sansa sighed. It was the truth, they were alone together all the time, at the house, in the car. There had been so much time to talk about it, but it didn’t feel like the right time, and every time it did feel right, it was actually wrong because they weren’t alone.

Talisa nodded knowingly and looked over at Sansa, her head cocked slightly to the side and she shrugged.

“Then make it the right time, Sansa.”

---

Sandor needed a break, the night was fun, but it was just a lot of personalities which was amplified by the drinking, and he just needed a minute away from the commotion.

He’d come a long way from years ago, sometimes he could even thrive in social situations where he used to just feel the anger, but now that the rain had died down he needed some fresh air.

Sandor leaned on the porch railing, resting all his weight on his forearms, and his hands clasped together over the railing. The patio was lit by a soft glow of patio lights, the pathway that leads to the water lined with lights as well. Though, the stars lit the sky more than needed to see the water.

He heard the patio door open and turned to see Sansa shyly make her way on the patio. She was beautiful all the time, but tonight?

In this light?

She was stunning.

She had changed into a pair of jean shorts and a tank top that showed off her toned stomach. Her porcelain skin had a soft tan and her hair hung loosely over her shoulders.

Gods, he wanted her.

“Hi,” she said softly, coming up beside him and looking out towards the lake.

“Hey,” Sandor replied gruffly, his voice was hoarse with restraint, as it usually was around her.

He found himself wondering why she was here. Had she come out and he just happened to be here, had she noticed him and meant to join him? He knew she had been drinking but she was far from drunk.

Sansa’s arms crossed over her chest and she rubbed her upper arms. Sandor hadn’t realized how chilly it was tonight, but the breeze off the bay was cold. Without saying anything he shrugged out of his shirt and placed it over Sansa’s shoulders.

Startled she looked over at him before a soft smile covered her lips. She quickly slipped her arms into the sleeves and Sandor chuckled. The thing was fucking huge on her, hanging nearly to her thighs, but damn if he didn’t love her wearing his clothes.

“Thank you,” she said softly, so softly he’d barely heard. He leaned back over the railing as a comfortable silence washed over them. Each seemed lost in their thoughts. Fuck, Sandor thought, he had resigned to the fact that he and Sansa needed to talk, but it would have to wait until they got home, but he knew that in their silence there was the tension of words unsaid.

Just as he was about to open his mouth and say something, although he didn’t know what yet, Sansa started.

“Want to know something funny?” she asked as she turned her head to look at him, biting her fucking bottom lip.

Sandor’s eyes narrowed as he nodded slowly, unsure of what she had to tell him, and not expecting her to be the one to offer up any secrets tonight.

A light pink flushed over Sansa’s cheeks as she looked at Sandor and then back straight over to the bay, he lips pushed sideways in a nervous gesture.

“I thought you were dating Ros.” She said.

Sandor couldn’t have stopped himself if he’d tried as he laughed out loud.  

“What?” he laughed. “How? Why?”

Sansa scowled at him for laughing at her, but he could see the amusement on her face as she shook her head.

“I overheard you, at the bar a few weeks ago. Making plans with her, and then when we saw you and her son...” Sansa shrugged, and Sandor could see it all plain as day across her face because Sansa was a shit liar.

She had been jealous.

Suddenly things made sense. That night at the bar hadn’t been long after their kiss, no wonder she had closed off to him. She thought he was in a fucking relationship.

Sandor nodded thoughtfully, trying to figure out how to approach this without scaring her off again.

“and that, bothered you?” he asked slowly, trying to understand it himself.

“Yes,” Sansa confessed as she looked back onto the bay, offering nothing more of herself. He watched the confidence she’d had previously fade from her face. But the fuck if he was going to let her clam up now.  

Sandor pushed off the railing and walked further back on to the porch which forced Sansa to turn and face him.

“Why,” he challenged, he knew he was pushing her, but he needed to.

 “Why what?” she asked, and he watched her fingers twitch at her sides as her breath quickened

Sandor scoffed and stepped forward into her space, her head tilted upwards to look at him. Sandor placed one hand on the railing beside her, close enough that his thumb grazed her hip bone. He threaded his other through her hair and cradled the side of her neck, holding her gaze to him and keeping her from moving.

“Why did it bother you, Sansa,” he asked again, she needed to say it.

He needed her to say it.

Sansa’s gaze quickly slipped from his eyes to his lips and his grip in her hair tightened when she bit her lip and she looked up at him through her lashes. Her eyes a deep dark blue, the same blue he saw last night, and he knew what she wanted.

“You know why.” She whispered, so quietly he’d barely heard.

She didn’t say it, but she wasn’t wrong. He did fucking know.

Fuck it.

He wanted her.

There was so much left they needed to discuss, but he didn’t fucking care anymore. Not right now.

He growled as he pulled her head forward, finally meeting her soft lips for the first time in months. The hand that was placed on the railed slid under his plaid shirt as rested on her bareback, he pulled her flush into him.

Desire as he’d never felt before coursed through him. It was raw and thick, the tension that had mounted between them all this time finally boiling over. There was so much left unsaid, but he didn’t fucking care anymore because this, this passion, this feeling – this is all that mattered right now, the rest would work itself out.

Sansa’s hands immediately went to his stomach, fisting his t-shirt and Sandor growled when he felt the light scrape of her nails through his shirt. She knew exactly what she was doing as she moaned into his mouth.

Sansa Stark was many, many things, but as Sandor felt her gently dig her claws into the taught muscles of his stomach, he knew that for everything she was Sansa Stark was a fucking minx.

He fucking loved it.

---

Sansa could do little but submit herself to Sandor as he demanded more of her, slanting his mouth over hers, she felt his tongue brush across her bottom lip and Sansa immediately granted him access – she wanted to feel all of him and she felt this overwhelming need to give herself over to him.

Never had Sansa wanted to give herself so willingly over to someone, but with Sandor, she wanted to give him whatever he demanded of her as the contrast between smooth and scarred was driving her insane.

Sandor’s hands found their way to Sansa’s ass and he squeezed. His touches were rough, but not at all painful, and far from timid. This man, despite his introverted demeanor, knew how to kiss and touch, and Sansa felt herself soaking through her panties at the realization that he was making her feel this way with a few simple kisses – what would he make her feel once he finally had her.

Sandor easily lifted Sansa by the back of her legs and hoisted her on to the patio railing, exactly like he had that night so long ago, only this time Sansa wasn’t pushing him away.

She wanted him.

She needed him.

She’d never felt anything like this before with a man, her body craved him, her skin burned where he’d last touched her. Her belly was a combination of heat and butterflies.

“Sansa,” Sandor groaned as his hand came up to the back of her neck again, controlling the angle of her head so he could demand more of her mouth. His other hand squeezed her mid-thigh, Sansa could feel the restraint in his touch – he wanted more, but he knew this is where she fled last time. His grip was so tight, holding her to him, he wasn’t letting her go this time.

She didn’t want him to.

Encouraging him, and letting him know she wasn’t going anywhere, Sansa moved forward slightly on the railing, pushing the apex of her legs closer to Sandor’s hardening bulge. The small movement was enough for Sandor, enough to let him know she wasn’t about to bolt again, and any restraint Sandor was showing disappeared.

His hand fisted in her hair and he drew her head back, giving him access to her neck. Sandor continued to tease her with slow kisses down her necks, alternating between painful little nips and soothing kisses over her bare shoulders and clavicle.

Sansa felt like her core was on fire, she needed friction from him, needed relief. She wrapped her legs around Sandor’s waist, trying to draw him closer to her, his hand on her thigh slowly massaging as close as he could get to her center without actually touching her.

She felt Sandor smirk into her neck,

“No,” he said as he moved his hand from her thigh to her waist, stilling her movements.

“Sandor,” Sansa whined, she actually whined. Reduced to a begging mess by the god of a man in front of her. If he wanted her to beg, gods she would beg.

“Please,” she sighed as he moved from her neck to the swell of her breast.

The hand on his waist stayed put, keeping her from chasing the pressure she so desperately craved while his thumb moved under her cropped top to lightly trace over the underside of her breast.

Sandor growled as he moved back to her mouth, capturing it again in an unrestrained kiss, thrusting his tongue into her mouth. Sansa met him stroke for stroke, he wanted control and she would give it to him because she wanted him just as badly as he wanted her.

Sandor chuckled and his hand finally released its tight hold on her neck and moved slowly but deliberately down her stomach towards the snap on her jean shorts.

Finally,  thought Sansa, knowing the intended destination was her aching core.

Just as Sansa was about to get the relief she needed, their moment was interrupted by the loud shrieking of what sounded like a terrible rendition of a wildling battle cry, both Sansa and Sandor jumped at the noise.

Both patio doors burst open as a completely naked Tormund stood with his arms out like a starfish, howling at the top of his lungs. He had been pretty wasted before Sansa had followed Sandor outside, but he looked absolutely wrecked now.

“Oh my god,” Sansa gasped, hiding her face in Sandor’s shoulder, she was completely mortified for Tormund.

He was naked as his name day, his member soft and swinging about behind his fire red body hair. Sansa had officially seen way more of Tormund than she had ever wanted to.

With one last cry, Tormund sprinted off towards the lake, ass out he stumbled towards the dock. Gendry, Arya, Jon, and Robb followed quickly behind. Sandor had stepped out of Sansa’s space and Sansa felt cold without his heat.

They had been so close.

Sandor quickly adjusted his hardened cock in his pants, not that it did any good, and Sansa’s took the opportunity to quickly steal a peak.

He was huge , she had felt him through his jeans, but seeing the sheer size of him in his jeans was intimidating.

… and exhilarating.

“Tormund!” Jon shouted, “don’t go in the fucking -“

Jon was cut off by the familiar splash off the dock.

“lake…” Jon sighed. “Fuck!”

Gendry looked at Sandor, “he’s fucking wasted man, there’s no way he’ll be able to climb that ladder himself.”

Sandor cursed, obviously aware that it would take the three of them to get the drunk wilding out of the lake.

“Fucking ridiculous, if he pulls me into the fucking lake, I’m letting him fucking drown,” Sandor grumbled, Sansa could tell her was angry and although the others thought it was just annoyance at Tormund’s antics, she knew it was more because of what was interrupted between them.

Gendry, Arya, Jon, and Robb quickly made their way down to the water, making sure that Tormund was still okay, and encouraging him to get out of the freezing cold water. The lake at night was still and cold, really cold, and Tormund was already two shakes to the wind. Although it was funny, they still wanted to make sure the night didn’t take a bad turn.

Sandor paused before heading down to the take, in the cover of shadows and trees, Sandor gripped Sansa’s chin between his fingers, his eyes dark and heady, and glued to hers.

“We aren’t finished yet,” he breathed, his voice low and serious. Sansa felt herself shake in anticipation.

“Okay,” she whispered.

Sandor quickly pulled Sansa’s lip to his for a quick and hard kiss, it was possessive and a promise of things to come. From a distance, they heard Tormund splashing and Sandor knew it was time to go and get the other big man out of the water before he got hypothermia.

“Fucking wildling,” Sandor muttered as he quickly descended the pathway to the lake.

Sansa wrapped Sandor’s shirt tightly around her, it was chilly, and she felt even colder at the loss of Sandor’s warmth. The shirt smelled like him, the faint smell of campfire from previous nights, the lingering smell of his cologne – woodsy, masculine.

She watched from a distance as Tormund tried to climb the ladder to the dock, laughing as he flung himself back into the water. He was drunk and of course found it hilarious, as did Robb and Arya. Gendry and Jon seemed more concerned than entertained.

Deciding there was nothing for her to do and knowing she would only add an unnecessary body on the dock, she headed inside. It was late and she was tired, although there was little else she wanted besides finishing what she and Sandor had started, she knew that they would have to talk tomorrow.

She felt butterflies in her stomach at the thought of their drive home tomorrow, 4 uninterrupted hours. As she fell asleep in nothing but Sandor’s shirt, figuring he wouldn’t mind, she pictured their drive home. Would there be stolen kisses over the middle seat?

Would they tease each other on the way home?

Would Sandor come inside when he dropped her off and really finish what he started?

Would they finally speak all the unspoken things between them?

Anticipation pulsed through Sansa, something completely new to her. Sandor made her feel things she wasn’t even sure she was capable of feeling.

She hadn’t ever considered herself an overly sexual person, not that her previous lovers had been completely blameless in that, but with Sandor, gods the mere thought of being physical with him made her quake. Something about him unleashed an unbridled sexual energy in her that she hadn’t known existed.

She wanted him to take her to all the places she’d never dreamed of.

She knew he could, he was a muscular package of raw sexual energy and she wanted him to show her.

Teach her.

Worship  her.

For a minute, Sansa considered slipping her hand beneath the sheets and trying to relieve some of the ache, but she decided against it. She wanted him to make her come apart.

Knowing the wait would be worth it, Sansa let herself slip into oblivion.

---

Sandor casually sipped his coffee while leaning against the island in the late morning. The cottage was a buzz of people packing up and the Stark’s closing up the cottage. Sandor had already helped Jon and Robb close up the dock, and had packed his stuff in the truck, he was just waiting on Sansa to bring down her bags.

He was anxious to get on the road and have a minute with Sansa, where there could be no interruptions. Just him and her for four hours to figure out what the hell this was, what they wanted, all of that crap.

There was a twinge of trepidation in him that Sansa would expect or want something all in, right away. Not that he wasn’t going to be all in, not that he wanted there to be any doubts about their exclusivity to one another, but he did still want to take it slow.

Date.

Get to know each other more.

Make sure they were a fit before they tried to force it and it all just exploded in their faces.

He wasn’t stupid to believe him and Sansa would be easy, they were different, really fucking different. Different backgrounds, different lives, different people. Yet, he knew if they took their time and tried to weed through the bulk of it, they would have a shot at something solid and real.

He’d been in one serious relationship in his life, and even then it wasn’t all that serious because he never fully saw a future there. They’d talked about a future, planned on a future but he had never been fully convinced of it. Then when she’d up and left, Sandor had basically all but sworn off relationships. Resigned to just have meaningless fucks to take the edge off and it had been working out just fine.

Until Sansa.

Last night had been the start of something more and they both knew it. There was no going back from it, not like that night so long ago. Gods, Sandor wanted to drag Tormund from the lake and push him back into it… a few times over. Fucking idiot.

Everything about Sansa lit a torch in him, and kissing her, gods he wanted nothing more than to spend days kissing her, worshipping her. Her little moans and gasps, so demure. Fuck, how she nearly begged for him to touch her, though no begging was needed.

He had always liked to be in control in the bedroom, not because he wanted his woman submissive, that wasn’t it at all but having someone trust you so fully that they let you bring them pleasure. Fuck. That did something to him. Surprisingly, Sansa seemed to have no issues with him taking control and fuck if that didn’t excite him.

She was so prim and proper, and he doubted any men in her past have ever brought out the fire in her that he knew was simmering beneath the surface, and gods if he didn’t want to be the man to release that side of her.

From the corner of his eye, he caught Sansa making her way down the stairs, suitcase in hand, and Winnie following closely behind. He turned to her and the sweet little thing that she was blushed and shyly looked away. He smirked; she was something else. So pure and innately good. 

“Good Morning,” she said softly as he met her at the bottom of the stairs, a shy smile on her lips. They both knew what their ride home would mean, that they’d need to talk, it would be more awkward not too. Although he could also see the glint in her eye of something more, she wanted him to kiss her and god did he want to, but he would be damned if the slew of people would have a chance to interrogate them before they have a chance to talk.

“Morning,” he breathed, he reached for her bags. “I’ll take these and put them in the truck, and then we’ll get going?” he asked.

She smiled brightly then, a knowing smile that Sandor was eager to leave with just them.

“Yes, please,” she sighed, and he nearly threw her over his shoulder and took her back upstairs.

Fucking minx.

“Oi! Hound, wait!” Tormund called from the kitchen, Sandor hadn’t even noticed him come in. He looked fucking awful, hungover as all hell for sure.

Serves him right. 

“I’m catching a ride with you and Little Stark!” he said, and Sandor noticed his bag in hand. Sandor scowled, what the actual bloody fuck?

No.

No, he most certainly was not.

“Bronn and Marge were fucking sickening on the way up, and I’m already about to puke, can’t handle those two today,” Tormund continued.

Sandor was near about to punch him. He wanted to say no, he wanted to tell him to fuck right off – ride on Robb’s roof for all he fucking cared, but that would draw attention considering Robb, Jon and Arya had all heard Tormund’s ask.

Sandor looked quickly at Sansa, who looked disappointed but shrugged, knowing there was no reasonable excuse as to why not. Sandor felt his anger bubble, he grabbed Sansa’s bag and said nothing to Tormund, who took the lack of response as a yes.

“Sansa,” he asked, “Can I have the front, more space for my long legs.”

Sandor growled and he opened his mouth to protest, fucking sticking Sansa in the back, who did he think he was, but before he had a chance Sansa knowingly spoke first. He figured she knew he was about to blow it.

“That’s fine, Tormund,” she smiled sweetly and gave Sandor a look as if to tell him to just calm down.

I’m going to fucking kill him,  Sandor thought as he roughly put Sansa’s bags in the truck.

---

The goodbyes were quick, as most of them were eager to get on the road and go home. Gendry and Arya both looked like actual garbage and Sansa imagined they felt even worse, she pitied Jon who had to drive them home. To true Robb Stark fashion, he was mumbling about never doing this again and being too old for this, as he quickly took his place in the passenger’s seat with a pillow and bottle of water. Margaery and Bronn were eager to get home as well, although both looked surprisingly refreshed – they had skipped out early last night, but Sansa knew they hadn’t done much sleeping.

Sansa settled into the backseat with Winnie when she caught Sandor’s eyes in the rear-view mirror. She knew he was annoyed, she wasn’t thrilled by no means either. They both had wanted, no needed, this time to talk about what happened and about them. It just felt awkward now, this unresolved tension lingering between them, a tension that was very different than before because something had finally happened between them.

Tormund was oblivious to it all of course.

The car was relatively silent, aside for Tormund’s occasional snoring from his intermittent naps, at least if Sansa had been in the front seat they could have talked a little. Not about anything serious at least, but just chatted.

Sansa spent most of the ride home on her phone, replying to emails that had come in over the weekend, the ones she could at least, she needed to do something to pass that time, since the ride home felt so much longer than the drive up had.

Tormund had been completely oblivious to the fact that neither she nor Sandor had said much, he would nap on and off and chatter mindlessly when he was awake, but neither had been too enthralled with the conversation, each both off in their own little world.

Sansa desperately wanted to know what Sandor was thinking, she had woken up so confidant and sure, but as the drive wore on it gave her insecurities time to fester. What if he didn’t want what she wanted, what if he thought it or her were too complicated.

Sansa’s thoughts were a mess.

When Sandor had turned left off the highway instead of right, Sansa knew he wasn’t heading to her house, meaning he planned to drop of Tormund first. Sansa’s nerves were at a head, he obviously wanted to talk, but about what, where was his head at.

“Dog, drop the pretty lady off first, she’s been stuck in this truck long enough,” Tormund laughed, having also noticed Sandor was not heading in the direction of Sansa’s.

“It's fine,” Sansa chimed in, “I don’t mind”

Tormund scoffed, “no worries, Little Stark. Sandor and I live in the same block, we’ll drop you off first.”

He clapped Sandor on the shoulder he thought he was doing Sansa a favour. Sansa sighed as Sandor turned on his blinker to turn towards Sansa’s place, not saying a word as he did so.

Sandor had hopped out of the truck when they’d arrived at Sansa’s to get her bags from the truck and carry in Winnie’s crate. After he had set everything down in the foyer for her, he turned. Tormund was watching them, so Sansa made no move to touch him or bring anything up. His gaze was intense on hers and she noticed his hand twitch at his side, hope sprung in her that he seemed to be restraining himself from touching her.

“I’ll come by tomorrow,” he said deeply, to Tormund it would have sounded like nothing more than Sandor coming to work on the house, but to Sansa, she knew it was more than that. The way he was looking at her and the palpable tension between them, he was telling her they would talk tomorrow.

Sansa nodded and Sandor drove away, part of her was disappointed that he hadn’t meant to come back later. Knowing how intensely she was feeling about what happened and the near desperation to talk to him about it, she was nervous that the need in him seemed less so – that he could wait until tomorrow.

Shaking her head at herself, she moved inside to start unpacking. They had just been in the car for hours, and although he didn’t live far, he didn’t live close either and it would be near 5 o’clock before he got home, expecting him to drive back tonight when he had planned on coming tomorrow anyways, was a bit much.

Don’t read too much into it, Sansa. Let things happen. 

Sansa called for Winnie from the porch and headed upstairs, determined not to let her thoughts run too wild, they’d had enough of that.

---

As they headed home, Tormund seemed extra chatty now that Sansa wasn’t in the truck, Sandor wished he had just passed back out. Leaving Sansa felt like near torture, having wanted nothing more than to go inside and talk, touch her again, kiss her again. He’d almost reached for her before catching himself, knowing Tormund was right there.

The worst of it all was they were both left not knowing where the other head was at. Normally that would be fine, they’d figure it out tomorrow, but they’d each done so much additional stress to their relationship by assuming things about each other or certain situations and to hell if he would let that happen again.

Still, he’d talk to Sansa tomorrow and he’d make damn sure they were on the same page.

“I was so fucking wasted last night,” Tormund said, Sandor hadn’t even noticed he was still talking. “Man, I don’t even remember half the night.”

Tormund started laughing and Sandor turned to him.

“What?” he raised his eyebrow at the ginger beside him.

“Fuck man, I’m pretty sure I hallucinated last night! I had a dream I was with some big woman in the lake, blonde short hair and as tall as me and then you were kissing, Sansa. Apparently, I need to get fucked,” Tormund laughed.

Sandor’s hand tightened on the steering wheel and he clenched his jaw, frustration overcoming him and before he could help himself he swatted Tormund upside the back of the head.

“I was kissing, Sansa. You fucking cunt!” he snarled and instantly regretted it.

He hadn’t meant for anyone to know anything until he and Sansa knew what it all meant. He glanced at Tormund whose mouth was hung open in shock, eyes nearly popped out of his head.

“What?” Tormund sputtered, rubbing the back of his head where Sandor had decked him.

“Nothing, forget it,” Sandor muttered, he was pissed at himself for not thinking first.

“You and Sansa... Sansa was kissing you?” Tormund was confused, he had obviously believed that he hadn’t seen what he thought he did. Had Sandor just kept his mouth shut, Tormund wouldn’t have thought anything more of it.

Tormund deadpanned, face suddenly serious and he turned to Sandor in the passenger seat.

“What the fuck you still doing here?” he asked, clearly enraged that Sandor had dropped Sansa off.

“I’m dropping your drunk ass off at home,” Sandor snarled, dropping Tormund off had been the last thing Sandor wanted to do, yet here he was.

“You should have told me to fuck off and deal with Bronn and Margaery eye-fucking each other for four hours!” Tormund exclaimed just as Sandor pulled into Tormund’s driveway. “Go get her!”

“It’s too fucking late now,” Sandor muttered, “I’ll talk to her tomorrow.”

Tormund shook his head and quickly grabbed his bag from Sandor’s truck bed, he came around to Sandor’s side and put his head near the open window and he was suddenly serious.

“You know I joke around, 99 percent of what leaves my mouth is pure horseshit,” Tormund joked, “but in all seriousness, you should’ve told me to fuck off. I’ve watched you want her for months.”

Sandor opened his mouth to protest, but Tormund held his hand up to silence him.

“Ah, don’t deny it, I’ve seen it, watched it. Noticed it on her too, just haven’t said anything.”

To some, Sandor may seem closer to Bronn, but Tormund and Sandor had a friendship he wasn’t sure any could match. They’d seen each other through some pretty dark times and built their now very successful company from the ground up. He knew that despite all his antics, Tormund always had his back.

“Go back there,” Tormund urged, Sandor had been considering it for the last 30 minutes of course, but he felt like it could wait until tomorrow. His blood too hot right now, he wasn’t sure if he could talk to Sansa without throwing her over his shoulder and taking her to bed and they really needed to talk.

“I’ll talk to her tomorrow, it has been a long day,” Sandor concluded, this was the best idea. He was frustrated, pent up, tomorrow was only a little while longer. Tormund nodded and moved from the truck.

“Don’t fuck it up, eh Hound. Sansa isn’t like other women,” Tormund winked and headed inside.

No shit,  Sandor thought.

---

By the time Sandor had gotten home, it was a little after five. He’d unpacked, ate something quickly, and gone for a jog. Trying to do whatever he could to keep his mind off Sansa.

Not going back to her had been a mistake, the longer he stayed away and the later it got, the more Sandor knew he should have gone straight back there and now it was too late.

He glanced at him phone one last time before he got in the shower.

7:01 pm

Fuck, it was too late. He let the hot water run over his body before turning the water temperature down. His blood was so hot, and not from his run, that he felt as though he was going to explode.

Sandor could feel the anticipation in him increasing the longer he stayed in the shower, the time was only getting later.

“Fuck it,” he cursed as he quickly rinsed the soap from his body.

He was going to Sansa’s.

He should have fucking gone back the minute he dropped Tormund off, and he knew it. He briefly wondered if he should text her or call her first, but his feet were moving so fast to get him out the door, he decided against wasting any more time.

He quickly pulled on a clean pair of jeans, a black t-shirt and light grey sweater, grabbed his keys and wallet from the hall table and he was out the door.

He had one singular focus, and that was Sansa.

Only Sansa.

When he’d pulled into Sansa’s driveway his phone chimed, he wondered who would be messaging him this late but knew it was most likely Tormund and Bronn, instead of checking it he quickly made his way to her front door, palming his keys in his hands. It took him a minute to realize, but he was nervous.

He’d been so focused on getting to her, he hadn’t stopped to realize that for the first time in a long time, he was really fucking nervous. He of course had an idea of what she wanted, with a boyish hope that she wanted what he did, but there was always the chance she wanted something different.

Something purely physical.

Something more than he was ready to offer her.

Pushing his nerves aside and knowing that this discussion needed to happen tonight, he put his keys in his back pocket and knocked on the door.

Sandor saw Sansa make her way downstairs, he chuckled to himself, knowing she was probably in bed working, she had a bit of an addiction to work it would seem.

Sansa brows pulled together as she opened the door, she was in a large cream sweater, that hung to her thighs, Sandor prayed she was wearing something underneath, otherwise, he wasn’t totally sure he would be able to only ‘talk’ to her tonight. It was obvious to him that she wasn’t wearing a bra because when the cold air met he could see the suddenly hardened outline of his nipples.

“Sandor,” she exclaimed, “what are you doing here?”

He stepped forward and cleared his throat, suddenly all nerves he’d felt before disappeared, Sansa brought out a calm in him. A calm he’d rarely felt before, and certainly never because of a woman. Sandor stepped into Sansa’s space, close enough that she had to look up to meet his gaze.

Watching her look up to him, her big blue eyes slightly covered by her long, thick lashes. He wanted to kiss her, and by the look in her eyes, she wanted him to kiss her.

“I think we need to talk, Sansa,” he smirked, and when Sansa nodded he used his booted foot to kick the door closed, neither moving from each other's space just yet.

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sansa sighed as she closed her laptop for the fourth time that night, too frustrated to work and far too distracted to do anything productive, her thoughts constantly slipping back to Sandor and their kiss yesterday.

She'd done her laundry, gone for a jog, showered – anything she could think of to keep her mind off the fact that she wished she would have asked Sandor to come back, he probably would have had she asked.

She considered texting him or calling him, the later it got the more awkward messaging him had become, so she ultimately kept deciding against it. He would be coming by tomorrow after work, they could talk then. Sansa sighed, the thought of going an entire day not knowing, not talking to him. She had no idea how she would be able to focus tomorrow at work.

As time went on her frustration grew, she flipped her phone over on her bed and looked at the time.

7:29 pm

Knowing herself and knowing that she wouldn't be able to sleep tonight or work tomorrow without a small fraction of resolution, Sansa decided to make the first move, to offer him something of herself. What, was the harder question.

Sansa typed, deleted and retyped Sandor a message at least a dozen times. Decidedly confused about how much of herself to offer, how bold to be, what to say… what not to say. Finally, after an excruciatingly long few minutes, she settled on something simple but clear.

Sansa [7:36 pm] – Hi, I'm sorry we were interrupted today (all weekend really), I wished we had more time alone this weekend…to talk. I'll make dinner tomorrow, and maybe we could talk then?

Satisfied, Sansa sent the message, she felt it was clear enough that she'd wanted to spend time with him this weekend, and that she wanted to talk about it but that it wasn't pushy and left the ball mostly in his court.

A glare of lights came through Sansa's window, startled Sansa quickly went to the glass, it was odd that someone would be coming by this late, not without calling or texting at least. Looking out, she instantly recognized the vehicle pulling into the driveway.

Sandor

Sansa was shocked, she had only just sent him a message, he was already basically here before she sent the message. He was on his way to her.

He couldn't wait either.

Sansa smiled and glanced down, wearing only a large sweater that hung to her midthighs and thong underneath. She momentarily considered throwing on a pair of shorts but shaking her head she decided against it. She could play the game too after all.

She waited patiently for the doorbell to ring, a knock on the door, or for him to let himself in, although she figured he wouldn't do that. From the window she noticed him hesitate before heading onto the porch and wondered if he was nervous. The thought made her both happy and nervous at the same time, happy that she wasn't the only one with butterflies and nervous that this might just be something more to him.

When he'd rung the bell, Sansa headed downstairs, feigning surprise as she opened the door.

"Sandor," she exclaimed, "what are you doing here?"

Sandor stepped closer to her and she felt her nipple harden at the combination of the cold air and the heat radiating off him. He cleared his throat and Sansa suppressed a smile, he stepped closer into her space and Sansa nearly lost his cool, something about that look in his eyes.

"I think we need to talk, Sansa," his voice was low and deep, Sansa could nearly feel it reverberate off his chest. She could do nothing but nod, suddenly feeling completely subdued by Sandor's sheer presence. With a smirk, Sandor kicked the door shut, neither moving from their spot in the foyer for a minute.

Suddenly shy, Sansa could feel her cheeks turning pink.

"I, Uhm, I just texted you," she said, trying to break the heavy silence between them.

"Oh, that was you?" Sandor smirked, reaching behind him he pulled his phone from his back pocket. Sansa nervously waited as he scrolled through his phone, wondering if he was prolonging her torture on purpose.

Probably.

"Well," Sandor said, fitting his phone back in his pocket, "dinner tomorrow sounds fine, but I'd rather discuss it now."

Sansa nodded again and stepped away from him and into the kitchen, she needed to do something…anything to calm her nerves. When he'd first arrived she felt the rush of adrenaline, that whatever this was between them had driven him so equally mad that he'd come back, but now? Knowing the conversation that so desperately needed to happen, was without a doubt going to happen, the nerves were overwhelming.

"Do you want a coffee?" she asked, having just made a fresh pot a little while ago.

She turned to see Sandor, who had removed his boots and jacket, crouched down with Winnie, who must have followed Sansa down. He shook his head and stood.

"No, thanks."

Sansa nodded but poured herself a cup, she didn't even really want it, she felt parched she would have much-preferred water, but she needed to keep her hands busy.

Steeling her nerves, Sansa took three deep breaths before turning back to Sandor who was leaning by the window. His gaze dipped casually down her body and back, something in him had shifted, she noticed, like he was holding himself back before and now he wasn't or barely was.

"Why are you here, Sandor?" she asked quietly, she tried to hold his gaze but couldn't.

"You know why," he rumbled, using her same words that she had said to him yesterday. Offering her no more than she had offered him.

Sansa sighed, she wasn't as confident in him and this wasn't just a sexually charged moment where she could kiss him, they'd started something last night and this was the moment where they made a choice… what now.

She nodded thoughtfully and bit her lower lip, rolling it between her teeth as she often did when she was nervous, a habit she'd had since childhood. Trying to figure out what to say next, she heard Sandor nearly growl from across the room.

"Sansa," he groaned, he sounded nearly pained, "if you don't stop biting that damn lip, we aren't going to get very far."

She wanted to laugh until she realized he was serious, his gaze deadlocked on her lips. Sansa stopped and slowly released her bite. Sandor rolled his shoulders and looked back at her, he looked like a man held. Barely sitting on the edge of restraint. The fact that he was restraining himself gave Sansa hope that he wanted to talk because he wanted something more than just sex from her, but knowing she had a man who needed control as much as air struggling to maintain it, it was exciting and powerful.

Never had Sansa had any power over a man, never had any man wanted her the way Sandor Clegane seemed to.

"What is this, Sandor?" the question felt stupid and vague the minute it left her mouth, but quite honestly she had no idea how else to ask it because she didn't know.

Sandor rubbed his hand down his face and scratched the beard on his scarred side before sighing and walking closer to her.

"I don't know," He said honestly, it seemed they were both at a loss on where to start. After all, what do you say, how do you go from enemies to friends to what? lovers, no this seemed more than that.

"You drive me crazy," he began and Sansa frowned, well that wasn't exactly what she hoped for. "You're stubborn and maddening, and don't forget you rejected me once already."

"I didn't-" Sansa started, before Sandor held up his hand to silence her. He wasn't finished and from the small smile on his lips, she knew he wasn't bitter about it.

"Yet, somehow you've invaded every aspect of my life. Suddenly, when I'm not with you, I want to be and when I am it doesn't feel like enough." He said, moving towards her with purpose.

By the time he was standing in front of her, Sansa was a near puddle of emotion. She hadn't expected him to be so blunt with his feelings, there was nothing rehearsed or overly expressive about them, he stated them like a mere fact, the same as if he said the sky was blue. Which was surprisingly even more meaningful to her, because he meant every word, these were his facts, his truths.

His hand came up to cup her cheek, smoothing his thumb along her jaw and Sansa leaned into it. His hands were rough, calloused, huge, and yet she'd never felt so cherished as if he were holding glass.

"So this is more than just, uhm just," sex, she wanted to say but couldn't find the words, she'd also been taught not to talk about such things.

"More than just sex?" Sandor supplied with a smirk, he had a twinkle of mischief in his eye.

Sansa stared at Sandor's chest, too embarrassed to meet his eyes until the hand on her cheek forced her to look up at him and she nodded.

"Gods, Sansa. Do I want to fuck you? Yes. Of course, I do." Sandor groaned and Sansa blushed at his easy admittance, "but yeah, this is more to me"

For the first time, Sansa really saw it. That despite the confidence and dirty mouth, there was a part of Sandor who was unsure, a part that doubted that she wanted him, for him.

"Me too," she said firmly but quietly, she needed him to know that she wasn't unsure about him. She didn't know exactly what there were yet or what they would be in the future, but she was sure about him.

"I want to get to know you, Sansa, see what this could be between us, take things slow." He said it almost tentatively like he was expecting that to not be enough for her when really that was exactly what she wanted. She liked Sandor, and could maybe see herself falling in love with him one day but she needed slow as well.

"So, you want to date?" she clarified, and Sandor nodded.

"Exclusively though," his eyes darkened, like the mere thought of there being anyone else in the picture made him angry. Sansa found the possessive side of Sandor pulling a flame from her, a new feeling she'd never experienced before.

"No one else," he stated, and it wasn't a question.

Sansa shook her head, "no one else."

"You're okay with just dating?" Sandor asked. Sansa wondered briefly if the thought of being in a more serious relationship frightened him, but stopped herself before letting her thoughts wander because dating right now was it. They'd deal with more when they got there.

"Dating is perfect," she whispered and the minute the words left her lips, Sandor's eyes softened. They were still deep pools of desire, but they were incredibly soft like a weight had been lifted between them and Sansa felt it too. 

The moment lasted mere seconds until his eyes darkened and the grip on her neck tightened.

"What did I just say about biting that damned lip?" he growled and it was then that Sansa realized she'd taken to biting her bottom lip again, out of habit she hadn't even realized she'd done it.

Looking up at him her stomach clenched, the way he was looking at her. She wondered if she should challenge him or apologize, she wanted – no needed – his lips on her again. Since last night she hadn't been able to forget the feeling of him, kissing him, touching him, him touching her.

She stepped closer to him and craned her neck to look up at him but she didn't let go of her bottom lip. In an instant Sandor dragged her lips to his, the kiss wasn't gentle or timid, it was possessive and hungry. Sansa wrapped her arms around Sandor's neck and went on her toes to reach him better.

Sandor's hands both moved to her waist and Sansa squealed as Sandor effortlessly lifted her up. She felt him smile against her lips as she wrapped her legs around his waist. He was so big and muscular that even her long legs could barely cross around his back.

Sandor walked forward and Sansa felt her back hit against the kitchen wall, and with the support of the wall and Sansa's legs, Sandor moved his hands to run up and down her thighs. His hands were so sure and steady, by them committing and defining what it was between them, Sandor took that for the full permission that is was – kiss her, touch her, know her.

She ground down on him and could feel him hard beneath his jeans. She had seen his size through his pants, but for the first time ever she found herself longing to see his full length. Who knew the thought of a man could be so erotic.

Sandor's hand traveled further up her thigh and he groaned when he realized that Sansa had very little on beneath the sweater. He dropped his head to her shoulder.

"Sansa," he groaned as he toyed with the side of her thong. She knew he could feel her heat, how embarrassingly wet she was.

"Fuck, you're so wet," he growled as he ran his fingers over her panties, driving her insane and cursing the thin piece of fabric separating her from feeling him. "God damn, I don't even need to touch you to know how ready you are."

Sansa couldn't do much of anything except whimper, she needed so badly to feel him and would be more than willing to let him have her right now. Although, feeling his size she felt like she may need a little more attention before she could fully take him.

"But," he started and Sansa felt herself frown as he lowered her back to the ground. He placed a hand on either side of the wall and dipped his head down to meet her eyes. "I'm not going to do that."

"Why," Sansa practically whined, shocked at herself for her needy behaviour, practically begging him to have sex with her.

He smiled against her neck as he began to place feather light kisses up and down, across her chest and up the other side.

"Because, Sansa, you're a good girl."

Sansa nearly collapsed at him telling her she was good, she'd never been one for dirty talk but his mouth was driving her crazy.

"And proper ladies, go on dates before they get fucked." He gently nipped at her ear and she moaned in response, trying to press her core against him for some friction, Sandor's hand splayed against her stomach stilling her.

"Right?" he demanded of her.

Sansa knew this was the control piece, he wanted to take her out first, he wanted to do it right, and he would make damn sure that sex was on him. He wanted her wet and waiting and wanting.

"Yes," she whispered.

---

Sandor wanted nothing more than to fuck Sansa Stark, he was riding a high from their conversation and she was so wet he could feel her through her tiny little thong, more scandalous than he'd expected from Sansa, which excited him.

Though he teased, Sansa was actually just a good girl. She came from a good family, raised right, taught to be treated right, and he wanted to at least try and be a fraction of the man that was expected for her. A man that at least bought her dinner first before fucking her up against her kitchen wall, which he desperately wanted to do.

He wondered how far he could push Sansa, he could guess that her past sexual experiences hadn't been… adventurous, probably erring on the side of boring, gods had a man ever even made her come? Underneath the perfect demeanour, he'd seen glimpses of the woman beneath, the one who shamelessly ground down on him, who seemed to love that he took control and didn't seem at all opposed to asking for what she wanted – politely even.

But, he held himself back, he needed her to know that this meant way more than just sex to him, even though they'd agreed to take things slow, she mattered to him, probably more than he was willing to admit. It wasn't just sex, though he wanted that too, he wanted to do things right for the first time with a woman.

The other piece of it was Dorne, still conflicted with how to bring it up, but suddenly feeling guilty about digging into her past behind her back. It didn't feel right to have any secrets now that they were something, he understood her reason for keeping hers but he had no right to keep things from him.

He watched as she tried to control her breathing, still pinned between him and the wall, she was staring up at him with her big blue eyes. He leaned down and kissed her gently, it wasn't desperate or hard like before, but he tried to be softer, to convey more than just heat.

One hand still on her waist, he used the other to tip her chin further up to him.

"Sansa, I know something happened in Dorne, that something brought you home." She frowned at him and looked ready to push him away, he kissed her quickly to silence the anger he feared this conversation would bring out in her.

"Hey, I'm not asking you to tell me anything now. Just when you're ready, will you tell me why you came home?" he asked her softly, searching her eyes and not wanting to scare her off. He watched her take him in, she studied his face probably trying to figure out exactly how much he knows, and how he figured it out. A realization drew over her and she nodded.

"I'll tell you when I'm ready," she promised, and that was enough for him. She'd echoed her statement to Arya, a confession that there was something to tell but a firm determination that she didn't want to talk about it right now.

"I need to know though, are you in any danger now?" he asked, he'd been resolved to doing whatever it took to keep her safe way before tonight, but even more so now. He had an obligation to protect her, and he would do anything necessary to uphold it.

"No, I don't think so," she shook her head, and he felt relief wash over him. Until now he hadn't known if there was an immediate danger to her.

"Promise to tell me, if that changes" he commanded gently, this time it wasn't a question and from the look that crossed her face, Sansa knew it.

"I promise," she whispered and he'd kissed her. That was enough for tonight, she knew that he had put a few pieces together himself, she knew he was here for her and she had made promises that would keep her safe. He wasn't going to push for me, although he hoped that she'd trust him sooner rather than later with the truth.

"I should go," he said. It was late, they both worked tomorrow and he was worried if he didn't leave now he wouldn't leave at all, besides he would see her tomorrow after work. Everything changed after tonight.

Sansa pouted slightly, "do you have to?"

Sandor laughed and kissed her again, she smiled against his lips and wrapped her arms around his neck. He wrapped his around her waist and gently lifted her a few inches off the ground.

"I think its best, especially since you aren't wearing pants," he joked and he kissed the tip of her nose.

When he set her down she laughed and gently pushed herself off the wall and out of his cage.

"Fine, gives you a chance to miss me anyhow," she winked at him. Already there was a lightness between them, despite the heavy sexually charged tension and confessions only moments ago. He relished in that, the easiness between them.

"I don't think that will be a problem, babe" Sandor smirked as he got on his boots and jacket. Sansa smiled at the endearment, hell he would call her anything she wanted if it meant seeing that smile on her face.

He kissed her a few more times before finally opening the front door,

"Goodnight, Sansa." He said as he walked to his truck. A soft goodnight, Sandor, followed behind him. He didn't dare look back, knowing if he did he may not leave, but waved slightly as he pulled out of her driveway, knowing that things between them had shifted, calmness washed over him.

How did someone like him get so damn lucky?

---

Sansa sighed as she closed the door and leaned her back up against it. Quiet for a minute at the realization of what happened, until she suddenly squealed and shimmied. Unable to control herself.

She was dating Sandor.

She'd kissed Sandor.

She wanted Sandor.

Sansa couldn't remember a time when she had felt so blissfully giddy over a man, or at the thought of that man is her boyfriend. They hadn't discussed terms, but she decided since they were dating exclusively it was an appropriate term.

She shook the last of the excitement pulsing through her body and decided to go to bed, it was late and even though she was sure she wouldn't be able to sleep, there wasn't much else to do at her house yet. After checking all the doors and windows and turning off the lights, Sansa and Winnie headed back upstairs and slipped into bed with Winnie curled up beside her.

Before letting herself drift off, Sansa texted Margaery, she wouldn't fill her in today, but she needed to gush – hopefully over lunch tomorrow.

Sansa [9:43 pm] – Hey! Are you up for lunch tomorrow?? BIG news!

Margaery [9:47 pm] – Sure, I can do 11:45. I have a meeting at 1 though, so can we do it close to my office?

Margaery [9:48 pm] – What's the big news??? Did you bone Sandor?

Sansa laughed to herself. Not quite, she thought.

Sansa [9:50 pm] – I'll see you tomorrow at 11:45, at the Lemonwood!

Margaery [9:51 pm] -  You suck!

Margaery [9:51 pm] – See you then.

Sansa smiled to herself and set her phone on the bedside table she'd purchased a few weeks again, facedown so the charging light wouldn't keep her up. She was just about to turn off the lamp when her phone buzzed again.

It was probably Margaery pushing for details, she wanted to ignore it but she knew her friend and in a few minutes she would text again… and again… and again, until she finally gave up. Sansa sighed and picked up her phone but to her surprise, it wasn't her nosy and intrusive best friend, it was her handsome, caring boyfriend.

Sandor [9:53 pm] – Miss me yet?

Sansa laughed, and quickly turned her head in her pillow to muffle a squeal, he made her giddy, and happy… and blissfully nervous. Closing her eyes to steady her nerves, she took a minute before replying.

Sansa [9:55 pm] – Wasn't it you who was supposed to be missing me?

Sandor's reply came almost instantly.

Sandor [9:56 pm] – Missing you isn't a problem, Little Bird.

Sansa smiled and bit her lip, catching herself only after she had already done it. Gently she ran her hand along her bottom lip, remembering the way his lips felt against hers, how her nervous gesture drove him wild, the way it felt when he nipped it.

Sansa [9:57 pm] – Good, me too. I miss you, a lot.

Sandor [9:58 pm] – a lot huh? Tell me how much.

Sansa sat up, surely he didn't mean… no. Not after he'd been so adamant about not going any further tonight. As if he could read her mind from miles away, he texted her again.

Sandor [10:00 pm] – Sansa, lol. I was only playing around.

Sandor [10:00 pm] - You don't need to tell me because I know you're wet.

Sansa [10:01 pm] – You seem pretty sure of yourself.

Sandor [10:02 pm] – When it comes to your cunt? I am.

Normally this type of language and crude behaviour would have been repulsive to Sansa, at least to the old version of herself, yet with Sandor, it seemed to have the opposite effect on her. He didn't seem forced or even like he was trying to be dirty, it was just him. He liked having her teeter on the edge of uncomfortable, he wanted her to know the pleasure he could bring her, and he wanted her to know that he knew how bad she wanted him.

Something about that combination made Sansa completely attracted to him because she knew that when they finally got to that point, he would care about her pleasure as much as his own… she'd never had that before.

Sansa [10:04 pm] – I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Sandor [10:05 pm] – I guess so, are you free Saturday night?

Sandor [10:05 pm] – For dinner, we'll figure out everything else later.

Sansa smiled, she knew she was ready for more with Sandor, heck she had been ready for more tonight but she knew he was serious. If she wanted to go slow, if she wanted to wait and just go out on Saturday, he would be fine with waiting.

She knew he would want control in the bedroom, which she would willingly give to him, but this decision was hers, the control was hers and with him, it always would be.

Sansa [10:06 pm] – Saturday sounds perfect 😊

Sansa nervously typed out an answer to his early questioning, she'd never done anything like this before and she hoped it would be well received, she assumed it would be.

Sansa [10:07pm] - …and you were right. I am wet.

Sansa waited nervously for an answer, seconds felt like minutes and a part of Sansa wanted to either text Sandor back and apologize for her lack of manners, and part of her wished texting had a delete feature. His reply came not a minute later.

Sandor [10:08 pm] – Fuck, I knew it. I'll see you tomorrow, babe. Goodnight.

Sansa appreciated that Sandor did ask for or expect more then what she told him, considering they hadn't known each other long and quite literally just became more than friends, he knew her. He knew her almost as well as anyone ever had. It scared Sansa, that he could read her so easily, he threatened to completely undo her, she would be bared open to him. Mind, body, and soul.

Sansa [10:09 pm] – Goodnight, Sandor.

Sandor [10:10 pm] – and Sansa?

Sansa [10:10 pm] – yes?

Sandor [10:11 pm] – Don't touch yourself, I'll know if you do.

Sansa felt herself get impossibly more wet at his words, wanting more than ever to touch herself thinking of him and his words. His mouth, his tongue.

But Sansa Stark was nothing if not obedient. No matter how much she wanted to, she wouldn't.

She would wait

Like a good girl.

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sansa had woken up buzzing the next morning, a smile almost stupidly plastered on her face as she got ready for her day. She couldn’t remember the last time something had made her so foolishly happy. Not that she was unhappy before, she wasn’t. Since coming home Sansa had found a sense of peace, she’d found being home and near her family was something she hadn’t realized she missed so desperately. Surprisingly, even though she’d spent her entire adult life avoiding it, she even found she loved working for her fathers’ company. Not just because her family was there, but the work was challenging and rewarding, and her Father had built a culture of trust.

It was refreshing and she was happy.

Happier now though.

She wasn’t foolish enough to think dating Sandor would be without its moments, even the best relationships had their issues and she and Sandor were so very different, but she was content to just let things progress naturally.

She liked him.. she liked him a lot and she did believe that one day that may turn into love, but she was in no rush right now, for right now this was perfect.

He’d shocked her yesterday when he’d asked about Dorne. She hadn’t realized he was suspicious but the more she studied his face she could see the concern, a concern which had grown over time. She shouldn’t have been surprised she guessed, he was by nature an observant man, he was a SEAL, a soldier, bound by a duty to protect people. Even more so, somehow and against all odds, the man knew her. He could read her better than most, after having known her the least.

She wanted to tell him, and she’d promised she would, but she worried if that would change the dynamic between them.

Would he judge her, for how she handled things? She didn’t think so, but that fear was still there.

Would he see her as weak; did he want her to be stronger? Again, everything in her body was screaming that he’d do nothing but listen and care, but the nerves were real.

Another part of her worried about what he would do. He was a fighter and he cared for her. She didn’t want him to do anything that may jeopardize his safety, his freedom, or his future. It was clear as day, to anyone who took a minute to know him, that although he was kind, he was capable of violence. Not towards the innocent, not to people who deserved no harm, but he wouldn’t hesitate against the evils of the world.

Deciding not to dwell on any of that right now, Sansa chose to, for once, just focus on the good.

Focus on the happy.

Her morning was made all the better when she’d gotten a wakeup text from Sandor that morning, and the casual texts throughout the day. So, by the time she was set to meet Margaery for lunch, her mood couldn’t have been better.

“Sansa!” She heard Margaery’s voice when she’d approached the restaurant patio, waving her over to their table. Summer was slowly winding down, and Sansa knew that fall in the North were chilly, so they soaked up the summer weather the most they could.

Sansa sat at the table and put her purse down when she was met with an intense stare by Margaery. She laughed as Margaery’s eyes narrowed at her, she knew her friend would want all the details right away – Margaery was nothing if not impatient.

When Sansa said nothing, trying to figure out where exactly to begin, Margaery huffed and rolled her eyes.

“Well, what is it!” she cried.

“Okay, you know the last night at the cottage, you were already upstairs with Bronn, but you heard about..” Sansa started but Margaery cut her off with a feverish wave of her hand.

“Yes yes, Tormund’s naked swim in the lake, I heard all about it! What’s the news?”

Sansa shot Margaery a dead stare, if she wanted the news, Sansa would tell her story her way. Margaery muttered an apology and Sansa laughed, its these moments that she loved Margaery the most.

“He sort of interrupted Sandor and I..kissing.. on the porch,” Sansa lowered her voice, not that anyone around would listen or care, but she wanted some privacy.

Margaery however drew all attention to them when she let out a girlish squeal of excitement.

“I knew it! I knew something would happen with you two at the lake!” Margaery boasted, she had this theory about two people in the woods together that Sansa had heard many times over the years.

“There’s more…” Sansa teased, and Margaery instantly stopped talked. She leaned forward with an eager look on her face. For everything Margaery was, and she was a lot of things, she cared. Cared about Sansa’s happiness, about their friendship, its what made her a great friend despite everything else.

“He came by late last night, so we could talk.” Margaery cocked her head to the side and raised her perfectly shaped eyebrow. Sansa laughed, “We didn’t sleep together. We talked and we’re dating…”

Sansa smiled and she knew her face was completely betraying how happy she was, she really couldn’t help it. Especially after how it happened, and the things he’d made her feel last night with barely even touching her.

“Oh! Oh! This is so exciting!” Margaery reached her hand out across the table and grabbed Sansa’s giving it a little squeeze. “I’m happy for you, Sansa.”

Margaery had also had her questions about why Sansa came home, at this point Sansa figured most had. She knew Arya had, and Robb who had asked her once but pushed no further. That was the thing about big families, lots of different personalities and everyone handled things differently. Robb would ask, but not push again right away, Jon was a silent observer, Ned would wait for Sansa to talk to him. That was unless they knew the truth, had they known the danger and the situation, not a single one would have remained silent and she knew that.

Breaking the silence, Margaery clapped her hands together gleefully.

“Okay, so tell me all about it! Also, why wouldn’t you have sex? Have you seen him?” Sansa rolled her eyes, Margaery talked big, but Sansa had seen the trepidation with Bronn and knew that they hadn’t slept together the right away.

So Sansa spent the next fifteen minutes filling Margaery in on everything. The kiss at the lake house, Tormund’s god awful timing, Sandor coming over last night, their talk, and the near sexting after he’d left. Sansa knew Margaery was happy for her, and even more thrilled to have somebody to double date with.

Although Sandor, Bronn, and Tormund had integrated well with the family, and they were all friends, their worlds were still very different. When the weren’t hanging out together, what Sandor and the guys did – where they hung out, who they hung out with – was very different from Sansa, Margaery, and the rest of them. It was nice to have someone else to navigate their new world with.

“So, how is it going to work?” Margaery asked, taking a bite of her salad.

“How is what going to work?” Sansa asked she wasn’t entirely sure what Margaery meant. They were going to date… that's how it was going to work.

“Well, you work together quite a bit, and then he’s at your house almost every day working on the renovations, and then you are also now going to date,” Margaery casually talked as she picked at her food, Sansa knew she wasn’t being at all a downer on the fresh relationship, she was just asking.

Truthfully, Sansa hadn’t thought of it like that at all. It hadn’t occurred to her that they already spent quite a bit of time together. How would they actually ‘date’, was the time Sandor spent at her house be considered their time? Not that Sansa would complain, she already had so much of Sandor’s time as it was, but still, they were both usually busy when he was over, especially him.

Would the still see each other outside of him coming over? That would be almost 7 days a week if that were the case and they had agreed to take things slow, Sansa didn’t want Sandor to get tired of seeing her and didn’t want to come across as needy or that she expected him to spend every day with her because she didn’t. She was completely okay with slow.

But where did that leave them?

“I’m not sure honestly, we didn’t really talk about that,” Sansa frowned, and Margaery caught her eye. She smiled apologetically and knew she had just sent Sansa into an accidental tailspin.

“Hey,” she said softly, “you guys will figure it out, its not a big deal.”

Margaery smirked, “besides, its sort of a blessing you know, you get to do more than stare at him now.” She winked and Sansa laughed softly, she knew Margaery was trying to reign in Sansa’s spiral and she appreciated the effort.

They finished their meal with the light air between them, Sansa having let her worries temporarily fade, but on the way back to the office she couldn’t help but wonder. Her mind replaying Margaery's question over and over, with the overlapping of her and Sandor's schedules and agreeing to take things slow, nothing too all in right away - where did that leave them?

She knew she was getting into her head, and suddenly everything seemed confusing. Where were the lines drawn, could she go home and kiss him if he’s there first? Would it be awkward for him to be working, what would she do. None of this had ever been an issue before, in fact, they’d fallen into a very easy rhythm and Sansa was frustrated that she was so concerned, but she couldn’t help it and she knew they needed to talk it out.

Sighing, she quickly stopped at the market on her way back to the office and grabbed a few items she needed to make Sandor dinner tonight.

---

 Sandor had finished up at the job site a few hours early today, it was hot and some of the materials hadn’t arrived, so he and Tormund had sent the crew home. Not that Sandor minded, the job was ahead of schedule and it had given him enough time to finish the installation of Sansa’s kitchen island tonight. The countertops hadn’t arrived, but the main floor was coming together. Sansa still had to decide on a paint color, and the trim needed to be installed, but Sandor was at the point where he could start on the upstairs master bedroom, bathroom, and walk-in closet. The trim was like the icing on the cake, the very last touch that was done throughout the house.

Sandor was excited for Sansa to get home today, he’d seen her less than 24 hours ago but after their little chat last night, he was roused and missed her.

He’d considered not entering into ‘sexting’ territory, wondering if it would be too much for her, especially after he’d been the one to stop things from going further last night, but he couldn’t help himself. He was hot-blooded and turned on, yes, but even more so there was this need to see if she would go there.

He knew she was shy, timid… proper, that was clear as day to anyone who met her, but he also knew there was more to her. There was an unexplored side to her, a side he couldn’t wait to help her explore. He hadn’t been surprised when she’d responded the way she had, giving in to him just a little, and he knew she liked his crassness, even if she acted scandalized.

He heard Sansa arrive before he saw her, and he smiled as he watched her pull in from the road. He wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand and wiped his hands on his rag. Hanging just out her line of sight into the kitchen, he watched her get out of her car.

She was effortlessly beautiful, whether she was in the tight black skirt and stilettos she was in today or leggings and a t-shirt, she didn't even have to try. Her long blonde hair was loose down her back, and wavy, he knew she had most likely had it in a bun at work, and let it out on her way home – like she did most days.

Sandor wondered if she even realized the way people looked at her, she probably didn’t, given how humble she was. He had seen the way men looked at her, on his job sites, at the bar, even when they’d stopped for food and gas on the way up to the cottage. It drove him crazy, and now that she was his? He knew he’d need to keep his jealousy in check. He was possessive, and Sansa was someone he already cherished, but he couldn’t go punching every man who leered at her, otherwise, his knuckles would always be bloodied.

Winnie was sitting by the door as her tail impatiently beat against the wood floor, Sandor whistled and she came bounding over, running around his feet and looking back to the front door.

“Mommy’s home, let’s go help her,” Sandor cooed to the puppy and he went out when he saw Sansa getting bags from her trunk.

Opening the door, Winnie dashed outside towards Sansa, who laughed at the eager puppy at her feet. Winnie already seemed bigger, but Sandor knew she was nowhere near her full size, she would be a massive dog.

“Hey,” he said descending the porch steps, intent on taking the bags from Sansa.

Sansa looked up and smiled at Sandor as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, a slight blush crept up on her cheeks. Sandor leaned forward and kissed her chastely on the cheek and took the brown paper bags inside for her.

“How was your day,” he asked over his shoulder as he walked into the kitchen.

“It was good,” she said dismissively and he turned to see her smiling and distracted at the newly installed kitchen island. “Sandor! This looks amazing!” she cried.

He shrugged and acted like it was nothing, when really seeing her so happy, well fuck he would refinish this house 10 times over to get a smile from her like that.

“I put some plywood on it, for now, I secured it down so its pretty stable,” he said and that’s when he noticed the little something lingering on Sansa’s face, something resembling doubt and that scared him.

“Sansa, everything okay?” he asked and took her eyes from the island to look at him. She sighed and came to stand in front of him near the island, he leaned back against the cupboards to give her some space.

“I’m not great at communicating with you, obviously,” Sansa gave a rueful laugh and huffed, near pouting and Sandor had to keep himself from kissing her but knowing she needed to talk this out. “Which is actually funny because I’m a great communicator normally, but something about you makes me feel so unhinged.”

Sandor frowned, that didn’t sound great. Sansa noticed his reaction and put her hands on his chest.

“No, Sandor. In a good way! But, I have to fight against every urge I have not to talk to you about this because I’m afraid that you’ll run for the hills. But, I know we’ve already done things that way, and it didn’t really get us anywhere, so I’m going to try.”

Sandor put his hand on her waist, taking the briefest second to relish in how his big hand completely consumed her hip.

“Sansa, I’m not going anywhere, so what is it?” Sandor said, as softly as possible. She was trying to be better at communicating, and even though part of him was frustrated that she was already having doubts, he owed her the same respect. Keep his temper in check, so they could communicate better.

“Where is the line? We work together, we may not see each other every day but we talk at least once. Then you are with me in the evenings, working on the house. Now, we want to add in dating to the mix, which is another part of each week you will be spending with me.”

Sandor shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to absorb everything she’d just shot out at him and trying to understand where the doubt was coming from, because to him everything she just said sounded fucking great.

“Sansa, babe. I’m not seeing the problem,” Sandor prompted because he still wasn’t getting it.

Sansa huffed out a breath and looked up at him, her big blue eyes locked to his and Sandor swore he could see all her insecurities.

“What if you get tired of me?” she shrugged, “too much Sansa, invading all areas of your life.”

Sandor laughed before he could help himself and Sansa scowled at him and attempted to move from his grasp.

“It’s not funny, Sandor,” she snapped.

“Stop,” he laughed and when she didn’t stop wiggling he commanded again, more seriously, “Sansa, stop.”

She listened.

Good Girl.

“Sansa, I won’t have too much Sansa, trust me.” He said, but when she didn’t look convinced he tried another tactic, “what is it you need?” he asked.

“Boundaries, I think. Like when you are here, is that a work thing, or do we consider it part of us dating? Because if it's not dating, then..” Sandor silenced Sansa with a quick kiss, she gasped in surprise before leaning into it. She’d asked him a question but continued talking and he knew Sansa, he knew her crazy babbling and if he hadn’t stopped her she would have spiraled.

Pulling away from her, he wrapped his big arms around his waist, clasping his hands behind her.

“Okay, so when I am in my head laying your tile, or painting your walls? No, that isn’t dating. I want to date you, Sansa. Take you out, pick you up.” He watched Sansa’s shoulders fall and seeing the worry slowly leave her. “However, moments like this? When we’re not working, and we are talking and getting to know each other? Those moments are part of us being together.”

Sansa nodded, “I agree.”

“Babe, I only need one thing from you and that’s trust. Believe me when I say I want to spend time with you. If we have any issues, we talk” Sandor said gently, and he gripped her chin between his fingers and holding his gaze to her.

“You promise to tell me if you feel like its too much?” she asked tentatively.

“As long as you promise the same, Sansa.”

She nodded feverishly and he pulled her forward, capturing her again in a heated kiss, tightening his grip on her waist and pulling her closer to him.

Sandor pulled away and whispered playfully in her ear, “You’re cute when you’re angry.”

Sansa gasped and pulled away, playfully slapping him on his chest and pouting.

“I am not.”

“You are. Now,” he spun her around, so she was facing further into the kitchen, “I have to go get the bathroom ready for demo this week, and you promised me dinner.”

He smacked her ass and pushed her further into the kitchen.

“You’re a caveman,” she scoffed and he laughed as he headed upstairs.

Truthfully he didn’t give a shit if she made him dinner or not, but she sure was fun to tease and he loved ruffling those feathers.

---

Bang, bang, bang. 

Sandor was pissed, fucking raged as he demolished Sansa’s master bath. On Wednesday, one of the current job sites was visited by a city official. Apparently, the lot had been zoned wrong and work had to cease. It would be a week or so for an inspector to see if the area can be rezoned, and could be weeks before it was, if, it even could be.

Sandor was fucking angry, they pay their lawyers and the firm’s lawyers a fucking shit ton to ensure this did not happen. This would put the project weeks behind and could jeopardize a multi-million dollar deal. If that alone wasn’t enough to piss him off, the fact that one specific asshole on the board had been less than understanding sure was.

Fucking suit and tie jackass with no concept of what they do or how it was done. Sandor had been reamed out all Thursday morning and he’d had to seriously control himself from knocking the asshole in the face.

The only good thing about the day was he knew he’d get to take his aggression out on Sansa’s bathroom.

He heard the door downstairs close and instantly knew it was harder than usual. He wasn’t stupid, he’d barely heard from Sansa since noon, and she was the lead financial officer on this project if he’d gotten it then so did she.

This was the downfall of working with someone who you happened to also be dating. The office doesn’t stay at the fucking office, you can say it does all you want, you can say that work won't make it into the relationship – but that’s bullshit and everyone knows it. It’s impossible, especially on the bad days.

In relationships where one person had a bad day, they could come home and bitch to the other, who could offer support but really didn’t understand, and on the good days could congratulate them on a success.

Sandor had a feeling that wouldn’t be the case today.

He removed his goggles and mask and wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. His white tank top was filthy, covered in dust and debris, but he didn’t care.

Sandor headed downstairs and saw Sansa standing at the island with her back to her, typing furiously away on her phone, he knew it was most likely a work email.

 “Hey,” Sandor muttered, even he could hear the lingering agitation in his voice.

“Hi,” Sansa replied curtly, Sandor ground his jaw down at the sound, he hated her fake polite voice, he had ever since he’d first heard it months ago and now he knew she’d gotten ‘advised’ as well.

Still, he reigned in his temper. He couldn’t blame her for being in a bad mood when he was as well, and it’s not like he’d exactly been chipper when he’d greeted her either.

Sandor greeted her with a kiss hello, which of course she reciprocated because they weren’t children and they could behave like adults. He grabbed a water from the fridge and turned to her,

“So, I assume you heard about the job site.” He started, may as well rip it off like a fucking bandaid.

She turned to him and leaned against the island, she sighed and rubbed her temple.

“I did, Sandor I thought we went through all the proper channels and got all the paperwork looked at.”

“We did!” he barked at her, he shouldn’t have because he instantly saw her defenses go up. He had single-handedly just put Sansa into business mode.

“Obviously not,” she chided.

“No, Sansa. We did. Everything was looked over by lawyers, both your fathers and mine because of the history on the property.” He snapped, he’d done his job and he was still having residual anger from the meeting this morning.

“Then how, how did this happen?” she demanded, “do you have any idea how much trouble I got into today? How much money we’re at risk of losing on this property?”

“Yes, Sansa. I am well aware of the money we’re at risk of losing. This happens because sometimes there are shady people in this business, and some are better cons than others.”

They had dotted every I and crossed every t, they’d checked into the property in every way they were legally able to, and the board had signed off on it. However, as it is with all business, they come down hardest on anyone who they can shift the blame to, unfortunately in this case it is Sansa and Sandor.

This is where Ned was actually a great boss, though to some it should seem like he should step in, he trusted his people. The business employed hundreds of people, with family members scattered throughout different divisions. He would get involved, of course, if he needed to but he couldn’t step in every time one of his children were reprimanded – no matter how much he may want to.

“Well it shouldn’t have happened,” Sansa snapped back.

“No fucking shit, Sansa, no one is more aware of that than I am. Don’t forget, sweetheart, you looked over the account and those papers.” Sandor watched her eyes narrow, she was pissed, not at him but the situation. It was one thing the had in common, their need for perfection, and this situation was less than stellar.

It may have been because his blood was up, or it may have been because of the way Sandor noticed her chest heaving up and down. Her blouse had been unbuttoned to show just the swell of her cleavage. Sandor licked his lips as his eyes roamed her body freely. Her mouth slightly parted, the slow rise and fall of her chest.

It's an age-old notion, isn’t it, the fine line between love and hate.

Sandor stalked forward with purpose, the decision to wait until Saturday nearly obliterated completely from his mind.

“You’re fucking infuriating, you know that?” he asked but gave her no time to answer before their lips collided. Their anger from the day met equally with their passion for each other. She pulled back slightly.

“Well, you’re a stubborn ass,” she snapped. He’d rarely heard Sansa swear before, he could count the times on one hand, and holy fuck it did something to him.

Charged and heated, their lips collided in a passionate battle. They’d have to figure out this working together aspect, and they would eventually, and right now he wanted her. Fuck waiting, fuck dating, he wanted her, and if she wanted it no way in hell would he deny her.

He let the tug and pull, give and take go on for a while. Sansa taking what she wanted of him, what she needed, but eventually, his hand found its way to her neck, and slowly he took control. He pulled her head back slightly, ending the kiss. Her eyes were dark with lust and her lips swollen and pink.

His cock hardened and twitched at the near sight of her.

“Tell me to stop, Sansa,” he growled, he needed her to stop this, otherwise he knew his self-control would snap.

Sansa held his gaze and shook her head slowly from side to side, she knew exactly what would happen next and she wanted it.

With a possessive hold on her hips, he tugged her closer to him, his erection firmly pressing into her belly as his fingers lazily opened the buttons on her blouse, one by one and his eyes never leaving hers. With her blouse undone, it took Sandor all of his control to hold her gaze, to not let his eyes roam quite yet but this was their battle of wills.

Who would break first?

Without breaking his stare, Sansa let the blouse fall to the floor and deftly reached behind her back. She won the battle immediately once he heard her strapless bra hit the floor, and any control Sandor was maintaining snapped.

Quickly, he picked her up and placed her on the island, thanking the gods he’d taken the time to secure the wood. His hand found his way back to her hair and tightened near the scalp, tilting her head and slanting his mouth of hers.

She withered against him and this time, Sandor didn’t give a damn about teasing. This wasn’t about getting her to admit that she wanted him, he already knew she did, this was about pleasure and need.

No matter how great her ass had looked in the skirt earlier, it had quickly become Sandor’s least favorite piece of clothing. Too tight around her thighs to slide his hand any further than mid-thigh.

“How much do you like this skirt, Sansa?” he groaned against her mouth, fingers gently toying with the hem, knowing he could rip it off her if he wanted to.

“Quite a bit, actually,” she moaned as he kissed his way down her neck.

“Then take it the fuck off. Now.” he demanded and stepped out of her space, allowing her to get off the island.

Her confidence from earlier started to fade and she blushed as she undid the zipper at the back, knowing she was about to be completely naked except for the thin little panties she had on underneath. When the skirt hit the floor, Sandor’s breath became strained, standing before him in only a small, red, thong, and even from their short distance, Sandor could see they were damp.

“Take them off,” he said darkly.

“What?” Sansa asked, barely above a whisper.

“Take. Them. Off.” He repeated, his tone was soft but brokered no argument and she did what he asked.

Standing before him gloriously naked, Sandor could have died at that moment a happy man. Not one fiber of his being deserved her, and he knew he didn’t. No men deserved her, sans maybe a knight, and he was no bloody knight.

Yet, she wanted him. Even as she stood in front of him shy and nervous, a desire was etched into her features and he would make damn sure she left satisfied.

He moved to her again, capturing again in a heated kiss and finally letting his hands roam her perfect body. He found her even wetter than he could imagine as his fingers finally soaked through her folds, he moaned into her neck.

He’d dreamed of finally feeling her fucking cunt.

Sansa whimpered as he wiped through her, teasing her entrance and then back up to her clit, over and over until she was near crazy with need.

“Sandor, please,” she begged against his mouth, he kissed her once more and lifted her back onto the island.

He dragged two fingers through her hot core and pushed them inside her tight heat. Holy fuck, she was so fucking tight. She moaned and arched her back, giving his access to her perfect breasts he’d been dying to taste. Capturing her nipple he swirled his tongue and it and scraped lightly with his teeth, while steadily increasing the speed of his fingers pumping in and out of her.

He gently eased a third finger into her and she gasped, fuck if she was going to take his rock hard cock, she’d need to take more than two fingers. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d ever been this hard, almost painful as his cock pushed hard against his jeans.

“Fuck Sansa, baby, you are so fucking tight,” he rasped against her chest, taking a nipple between his teeth and drawing it out. He loved how responsive she was for him, how she didn’t fight it, just gave herself over to her pleasure, the pleasure he was responsible for bringing her.

“Gods, look at you, baby. Naked and wet, you’re fucking perfect.” He slammed his fingers in and out rougher, needing to bring her to her climax. He wanted to see her come apart and knew it would be the sexiest thing he’d ever seen. Using his thumb, he rubbed her clit in fast hard circles.

Sansa cried out and threw her head back, he felt her walls fluttering around him and watched as she came, drenching his fingers. He could have come right there like some fucking green boy.

When she’d rode out her pleasure he placed her back on the floor, helping to steady her wobbling legs. There's so much he wanted to do to her. He wanted to taste her, he wanted to see her fucking swollen lips around his cock. He wanted her to fuck his mouth and he wanted to fuck hers, but more than anything he needed to be balls deep buried inside her.

Now. 

He kissed her hard one last time before spinning her around and pushed between he shoulder blades for her to bend over. Fuck, the sight of her like this, did something to him.

He bent over and rasped in her ear, “Are you sure?”

Sansa nodded, “I’m on the pill, and I’m clean.”

He almost came, knowing she trusted him enough to take her bare.

“Tell me what you want,” he said roughly, as he undid his belt buckle.

“I want this, I want you.”

“No no,” he tsk’d, “say it, tell me what you want from me.” He dropped down to his knees behind her and plunged his fingers into her again, he leaned forward and swiped his tongue once through her folds quickly.

Fuck, she tasted good. Sweet and tart and so fucking delicious.

Sansa gasped and moved forward, but he pulled her back to him.

“Tell me,” he growled, he stood, knowing if he tasted her one more time, he wouldn’t stop until she was spent and he wanted her to come around his cock. He wasn’t small and he felt Sansa shiver upon finally feeling his length. He wanted to slam home and take her, but it was their first time and Sandor knew he’d need to ease into her.

“I want you to fuck me,” she whispered, and Sandor rolled his shoulders.

Fuck he wanted her.

Slowly, he eased into her, inch by inch. Pulling out and going a little deeper each time, Sansa was panting and gasping below him and holy shit, he could listen to her noises forever. She was so fucking tight, like a god damn vice around his cock and she let him in.

He’d never considered himself a gentle man, but he’d known it had been at least a few months for her and he wasn’t small by any stretch of the imagination.

“Fuck, Sansa. God, you feel so fucking good.” Sansa arched her back and he went home, burying himself inside to the hilt.

“Sandor,” she cried, he could see her fingers gripping the edge of the counter.

“Are you okay?” he rasped, he thought she was but he couldn’t see her face, so he held himself painfully still as she adjusted to him. If she wanted it slow and gentle, he’d give her that, but looking at her now and knowing how this started, he almost knew it wasn’t.

“mhmm,” she moaned, “you feel so good. God, you’re huge. Take me, Sandor.”

That did it.

Sandor grabbed a fistful of Sansa’s hair and pulled her up to him, kissing her hard and deep and thrusting his tongue into her mouth. From the new angle, his cock twitched inside of her, and Sandor pulled out before thrusting in deeper than before.

Sansa tore her mouth away from him and cried out in pure pleasure, fuck she was amazing. Sandor knew he wouldn’t last long, not with her.

She was too tight.

Too perfect.

Too much of everything he’d dreamt about for months.

“You’re mine now, baby. For as long as you want me, this is mine,” he growled possessively in her ear as he drove back into her.

He set a quick, deep pace. Keeping himself from taking her as roughly as he would sometimes want it, knowing that she’d need more of him. He felt her start to pulse around him and knew she was close, and he was on the fucking brink. Hand around her throat he pulled her up, so her back against his chest and he used his free hand to rub circles around her clit.

“Come, Sansa. I need to feel you come around my cock,” Sandor rasped and she came apart instantly, pulsing so tightly around him it was almost painful. He roared through his climax and came harder than he had in years, with Sansa milking every last drop from him.

Spent, Sansa sagged against the counter with Sandor collapsed over her. Both panting and hearts pounding.

Sansa shifted under him and laughed, “Oh my god, Sandor.”

He followed her eyes and noticed she was staring at his pants around his ankles, he’d been too distracted to give two shits about taking them off. He shrugged and kissed her shoulder. She was smiling, she was happy.

He slipped out of his shirt and handed it to her, it was sweaty and smelled like sex, but he knew she wouldn’t want to go back into her blouse to go upstairs, it was massive on her slender frame.

Sansa turned to him and he pulled up his pants, she arched her eyebrow seductively and had a peaceful smile on her face.

“So much for waiting until, Saturday,” she joked.

Part of him felt bad because he’d wanted to treat her right and not just fuck her up against a wall… instead he ended up fucking her against the island. But, he wasn’t sorry because what just happened had been fucking amazing.

“Your fault, you’re too fucking sexy when you’re mad,” he said and he kissed her.

She laughed, a carefree easy laugh that Sandor knew he wanted to hear for the rest of his life.

 

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sansa woke with a delicious soreness between her legs. Last night had been… incredible. If a heated romp in the kitchen was already the best sex she’d ever had, she could barely control herself thinking what it would be like when Sandor intended to worship her, when they’d spend hours in bed and succumb to all their desires.

Neither had expected last night to happen, she’d been so angry yesterday with work that she really expected to just argue it out and then him to leave. Saying work would never find its way into their relationship was wishful thinking, it was bound to happen and that was okay. Sometimes that would be great because they could celebrate the wins, but when things like yesterday happened they would just need to work through it… or fuck through it.

Sansa giggled to herself for being so crass.

Sandor had actually apologized last night, for not waiting until the weekend. Sansa obviously hadn’t minded and she’d been a more than willing participant, but he was cute in his need to do it right. She assured him that she was perfectly happy with how they ended up having sex for the first time, and really it did take some of the edge off their upcoming date. It had been so fueled by passion and want, that it took off the edge of it being their first time and Sansa’s fears of not being enough sexually.

There was no doubt that Sandor was a very experienced man, she’d only scratched the surface yesterday and already she knew he was skilled in a very hot, very dirty way that thrilled her. She didn’t like to think about Sandor with other women, it wasn’t something that pleased her, but it scared her. She wanted to learn more with him, have him teach her and show her, but she wasn’t experienced right now, not like that.

Would she be enough for him?

Could she meet his needs, since he could obviously see to hers?

He’d seemed satisfied last night and after their little kitchen escapade, Sansa ordered pizza and Sandor went back to demolishing the bathroom. They had dinner between stolen kisses and flirty innuendos.

The perfect night.

Sansa quickly hoped in the shower in the guest bath, she didn’t have to be in the office today and was having lunch with her mom. She wondered about telling Cat about Sandor, would Sandor be comfortable with that already? She didn’t like to keep her family in the dark and she was already doing that, she didn’t want to add to her list of dirty little secrets. Heck, she didn't want Sandor to be a secret at all.

As she was towel drying her hair she heard her phone chime.

Sandor [ 7:57 am] – Good morning, Babe.

Sansa smiled, he’d started texting her in the mornings, sometimes early if he had the time and sometimes later if he had a busy start to the day. Sansa laid on the bed on her stomach and texted Sandor back, Winnie playfully nipping at her toes from the floor.

Sansa [7:58 am] – Morning, how are you?

Sandor [7:59 am] – Better now, how are you feeling?

Sansa smiled at that, knowing he was referring to how she was feeling after their rough kitchen romp.

Sansa [8:01 am] – Amazing. I’m not so easily broken, Sandor 😉  

Sandor [8:02 am] – oh trust me, I know. Just making sure you’ll be okay for tomorrow night. I have plans for you. 

Sansa rolled her eyes, he was soft with her and caring but not quite ready to admit that to her, even though he knew she knew.

Sansa [8:03 am] – Can’t wait 😊

Sandor [8:04am] - do you think your parents or Robb could take Winnie? So you can spend the night at my place

She would normally leave a dog alone for a few hours overnight, but with Winnie being so young and the house being such a disaster, that wasn’t an option.

Sansa [8:04 am] – I can ask mom at lunch today. Speaking of, what am I supposed to tell her?

Sansa wondered about not asking, but she wanted to tell her mom, she was happy and she didn’t want to keep things from her. Sansa expected Sandor to answer back and was surprised when her phone began to ring instead.

Sandor calling...

“Hi,” she answered shyly.

“Hey,” he rasped, she heard the sound of his truck start, “I had to get going to work, so it was easier to call you rather than wait until I get to the site because I know you would’ve worked yourself up by then if I left it.”

Sansa laughed softly, she would have. Had he been responding and then stopped after she’d asked, she would have been concerned.

“Thank you,” she said, “so, what do I tell her?”

Sansa could nearly hear Sandor shrug over Bluetooth.

“Whatever you want, Sansa. If you want to tell your family, I am okay with that. But…”

“But?” Sansa urged.

“I need to talk to your Dad,” Sandor sighed.

“Excuse me?” Sansa scoffed, what was this, Medieval Times? Sandor had to ask her father's permission? No, absolutely not. “Are you going to offer him a goat as payment?”

Sandor chuckled through the phone, “Simmer down, She-wolf. I’m his business partner, I owe it to him to tell him what’s up. I’m not asking permission. I told you last night, you're mine now, fuck everyone else.”

He nearly growled and Sansa wished he were there, to make her feel everything he’d made her feel last night. Even after everything in Dorne, the thought of being possessed by Sandor, well that was basically a dream.

“Are you going to talk to him today then?” she asked.

“I’m assuming if you talk to your Mom she’ll fill your Dad in immediately, so yeah, I’ll go to his offer before lunch.”

“Thank you, for not getting mad at me.” She said softly. “So… these plans you have for me, care to share?”

She was baiting him and Sandor groaned over the phone.

“Fuck, Woman,” Sandor said darkly. “You’re are going to come on my tongue, and beg for more. You’re going to suck my cock and say please.”

Sansa shifted on the bed, feeling the wetness between her legs as she pulsed, still feeling Sandor last night.

“Then I’m going to,” Sandor stopped mid-sentence when Sansa heard him hollering at someone to open the gate.

“Fuck, I’m at the site and hard as a rock, I have to go.”

Sansa smirked, what a hard position for him to be in… pun intended.

“Okay, have a good morning. Can I call you after lunch?” she asked, she’d be curious how his talk with Ned went.

“Of course,” he replied softly.

“Oh, and Sandor? I’m excited about everything you have planned for Saturday,” she said sweetly, she may not ever get to his level of filth, but she could use her mouth too.

He groaned, “You’re going to fucking kill me, you know that?”

Sansa smiled, “I sure hope not, I find myself liking having you around.”

---

Lunch with her Mom was passing quickly, and Sansa still hadn’t found the right time to bring up Winnie… and Sandor. Sansa wasn’t embarrassed about being with Sandor, she didn’t want to hide it and she really thought her family would be happy for her.

After all, they like Sandor. Ned would have never made Sandor a partner without Cat’s blessing, and from what Sansa’s heard Sandor, Tormund, and even Bronn had been around quite a bit since then. Cat wouldn’t invite anyone to Sunday family dinner, business obligations aside, if she didn’t like them, at least not multiple times.

“So, Sansa. Are you thinking of coming over this weekend? You could come by on Saturday for a swim, while Sandor is working on your house?” Cat asked and Sansa knew she was happy she was home and liked spending time together.

“Well actually,” Sansa swallowed, “I was hoping I could drop Winnie off on Saturday..”

“Oh, why?” Cat sounded surprised.

“Well, I have a date.”

Cat’s smiled behind her wine glass as she set it down on the table.

“Oh, Sansa. That’s wonderful! Anyone we know?” Cat’s full attention was on Sansa, and Sansa found herself really nervous.

“Yeah, actually. It’s Sandor…”

The smile faded and concerns washed over Cat’s face, Sansa was disappointed at her mother's initial reaction.

“What mom?” Sansa scoffed, feeling more protective over Sandor than hurt at the reaction.

“Oh don’t look at me that way, Sansa. We like Sandor, obviously, we’ve gotten to know him well over the last year.”

“But?” Sansa asked.

But, Sansa, he is your father's business partner. What happens if it ends poorly, you work together, it’s a family business.” Cat explained, Sansa could tell her was trying to be sensitive with her words.

“Why do you automatically assume it’s going to end?”

Cat issued Sansa a look that said ‘Come on, Sansa, think about it’ and it made Sansa instantly defensive. She wasn’t some child, she wouldn’t have started anything she thought would end poorly for the family, heck it's not like they jumped into this thing quickly - it had been months of unsaid attraction, both trying to ignore it.

“Is it serious then? You two are thinking about the future?”

“Well.. no.. not exactly. It’s serious yes, but we’re dating…”

“Dating, your father's business partner? What about a future, Sansa?”

“What?”

Catelyn sighed and leaned forward a bit, Sansa saw the concern etched clearly into her mother's face.

“Look, I like Sandor. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he at least tries to keep the cursing to a minimum around me, which I appreciate. Even though he’s not exactly who I pictured for you, he’s a good man, and very handsome even with his scars but, Sansa, he’s older than you. By almost 10 years.”

“I know that.”

“Okay, so what happens if you go past dating and it becomes serious? Does he want kids? Does he even want to be married? He’s gone 35 years without it, in the year that we’ve known him he hasn’t even mentioned dating. Have you guys talked about any of this?”

“Well, no. We’re just dating mom and it’s new.”

“Okay and what if he doesn’t want those things? Marriage and kids, what if that’s not in the cards for him?”

“Well, I don’t know, Mom. I guess then, we’d probably end it but I don’t need that anytime soon.”

It pained Sansa to think about it, and even if she didn't want to admit it right now, her mother wasn't wrong. Sansa had always wanted marriage and kids. Not now, and maybe not even for years to come, but eventually. 

“Then what happens? With the business, you don’t think you and Sandor being together for quite some time and then ending things would have an affect on the business relationship?”

“Well, I hope they’d be grown men and it wouldn’t.” Sansa sighed, “I really like him, mom.”

“Well, Sansa. Like I said you’re a grown woman and we like Sandor, I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

“But, you’re not happy for me?” Sansa asked sadly.

“I am happy that you’re happy, that’s all I really want for you, Sansa. I’m also happy for Sandor, he’s a lucky man to be with someone like you.” Cat paused and Sansa knew that she wasn’t lying when she said she wanted Sansa happy, but the but was coming. “However, your father built this business from the ground up, and I would never want anything to jeopardize it. I think Sandor is older, and I think you want a life he doesn’t, so pragmatically, it worries me, Sansa.”

Sansa sighed, both her and her Mother okay with dropping the discussion there. Cat agreed to take Winnie for the night, and they spent the rest of their lunch discussing other things. Sansa had to admire her mother in some ways, the love she had for her Father - the fierce need to protect what Ned cared so passionately for - it was the reason why they were still so happy after all these years. 

---

When Sandor arrived at the main office, he recognized the nerves and adrenaline rushing through him. He’d never talked to a girl’s father before and even though this wasn’t about permission and was solely because he owed his business partner the respect, it made him nervous.

If Ned had an issue, or hell if Cat had an issue, with them dating Sandor wasn’t sure what that would mean for them. From his standpoint, he wouldn’t give a shit. He’d never had a family like him anyways, what were the Stark’s, except that he actually liked them and they were in business together. Still, Sandor wouldn’t let himself come in the way of Sansa’s relationship with her family and if it came down to him or them? He wouldn’t let Sansa makes that call, he’d make it for her and it would be them.

Business-wise, Ned was a smart businessman, and Sandor had already seen how he was able to compartmentalize work and family, and financially becoming partners had been good for both of them. Still, considering their relationship, Sandor owed Ned the honesty – from him and not from someone second hand.

Ned was sitting in his office, looking at what Sandor instantly knew were plans. Sandor respected Ned a lot, he’d built himself an empire, something that would last the ages and he did it without being completely ruthless, which was rare in the industry. Even more so, Ned had an amazing life.

Beautiful wife who was devoted and loving, successful, and happy kids, beautiful home.

Happy.

Loving.

It was everything Sandor always said he’d never wanted because admitting he did would just hurt when it never happened.

Sandor nervously adjusted his jacket. 

What the fuck is wrong with you, man. Get a grip

Like some nervous teenage boy, he’d made sure to have a clean shirt and sports jacket in the truck. He was never a suit and tie guy unless he absolutely needed to be, but he still took care of his appearance and liked having nice clothes. Still, why he felt the need to dress nicely for his talk with Ned baffled him.

“Sandor,” Ned greeted, standing as he shook Sandor’s hand. Ned had a firm handshake and he could imagine Ned would present quite the intimidating presence to any man wanting to date his daughters.

“Ned,” Sandor grunted as he took a seat across from him, wiping his hands quickly on his pants.

“What can I do for you,” Ned asked, Sandor, figured he knew this was more than an impromptu chat since Sandor rarely came to the office.

“Actually,” Sandor cleared his throat, “I need to talk to you about Sansa.”

Ned furrowed his brows and cocked his head to the side.

“Okay,” he urged, “what about Sansa?”

Sandor sighed, fuck he just had to do it, pussyfooting around the bush wasn't going to get them anywhere.

“Look, Ned. This isn’t about your permission.” Well, that’s not a great start. “But, we’re partners and I felt like you should probably hear it from me first. Sansa and I are.. dating.”

Sandor swallowed and waited for Ned to acknowledge what he’d said. He sat nervously, like a child in trouble, under Ned’s deciding stare but he matched it, refusing to show Ned any weakness.

“You know,” Ned laughed, and not a bitter laugh, just a real laugh. “Of all the people I expected Sansa to connect with, I didn’t expect you.”

Sandor frowned and opened his mouth to tell Ned to fuck off because really, what the fuck did that mean, but Ned kept talking.

“Which was short-sighted of me, because even though and Sansa are quite different in many ways, where it counts you two are very much alike and I can see why you two would work”

Oh.

“So, what does this mean?” Ned asked.

“Uh,” Sandor was still at a loss for words over Ned’s easy acceptance of them. “What do you mean? It means we’re dating?”

Ned laughed, “Yes, but is it causal, is it a serious relationship? If it ends will I be at risk of losing 23% of my business?”

When Ned had suggested he and Sandor become business partners, he’d segregated the residential vs commercial divisions of his business, meaning Hound Contracting was only a 45% owner of 50% of Ned’s company. Technically both him and Sandor knew that the decision to terminate their partnership wasn’t Sandor’s decision alone, but Tormund as well.

“No, I’m happy with the partnership and nothing with Sansa will interfere in business,” Sandor said firmly, knowing it was the truth.

Ned nodded thoughtfully, but Sandor could see some doubt in him.

“For the record, Ned, I don’t see this ending anytime soon, it’s more than just a fling.”

Ned let out a soft chuckle, “No, we never do, blind when it comes to the heart. I love my daughter, Sandor. I also think I’ve come to know you pretty well. Even though I can see why you two would work, I also think you two have some challenges in front of you.”

“We probably do,” Sandor agreed, anyone who knew the two of them knew they’d have things to overcome, so desperately different in as many ways as they were the same.

“Look, I’m not her keeper. I can’t tell you two what to do. For the record, I support you two. I obviously trust you with my business, and as a father, I trust you with my daughter. You are a good man, Sandor, Sansa needs someone who she can trust, who will love her and protect her, care for her, I hope you’re willing to be that man”

Sandor nodded and he knew Ned wasn’t expecting him to say anything, no way in hell would Sandor make a promise to her father that he wasn’t sure he could keep. Sansa could trust him, and he’d protect her and care for her for as long as she wanted him, but it had been a very long time since he’d loved anyone, he wasn’t sure he ever truly had. What he felt for Sansa, how he felt about her even before they’d started this, was so different from what he’d felt for anyone before and it felt important and huge, he didn’t know if it was love yet.

Did he even know what love felt like?

As Sandor rose to leave, feeling satisfied with the conversation and needing to get back to the site, Ned called out to him.

“Sansa, she’s special. I love all my kids but Sansa is, she’s just innately good. I wouldn’t be a father without telling you not to hurt her and warning you to appreciate what you have in her.”

Sandor nodded, “I know.”

There was a reason people kept reminding him what a rarity Sansa was, a reason people kept reminding him what a woman like her deserved because she was just a decent fucking person. He knew it, and so did everyone else who’d met her. Part of him wondered how that made her feel, the pedestal that people had put her up on – not that she didn’t belong there, she did. The thing about pedestals and people's expectations though? When you failed or made a mistake, it always seemed so much worse.

And people always fucking make mistakes.

Is this why she didn’t tell her family, or anyone, what happened in Dorne? Not that is was their fault, but had it made her scared of being less than perfect in their eyes, not that they’d ever judge her for that but he could see why she may feel otherwise.

One thing he was sure of, he’d make sure Sansa knew she didn’t have to be perfect with him. Was she perfect? Hell fucking yes she was, but she didn’t have to be.

Not for him.

---

By 3 pm on Saturday, Sansa was starting to get ready for her date with Sandor. She was still bothered by her lunch with her mom. She knew Cat had meant it when she said she liked Sandor and wanted Sansa to be happy. She’d seen how Sandor interacted with her family and knew Cat’s fake smile from a mile away – she didn’t have it with Sandor, Tormund, or Bronn. She liked them. Cat had always wanted what was best for her kids, them being happy did matter to her more than anything else. Did Sandor come from the same wealth they did, no. Yet, he was very successful and making a name for himself and his company in the industry.

Yet, Cat’s concerns weren’t, no matter how much it pained Sansa to admit it, they weren't totally wrong. Not the work part, Sansa did truly believe that if something were to go south with her and Sandor, the family could maintain a working relationship with him, and he would be stupid to ever try and break his partnership with Ned – not that Tormund would let him.

His age didn’t bother Sansa either, in fact, his being a man and not the immature boys her age was actually a positive to Sansa, but Cat’s concerns about the future weren’t lost on Sansa. Sandor had never once mentioned wanting to get married or have kids, and even though Sansa was far from wanting that herself, she did want it eventually… did he?

Tormund and Bronn had made comments here and there. Bronn making comments to Margaery about wifing her up, or knocking her up. Tormund constantly saying he wants a ginger to give him ginger babies. Sandor would laugh along, but he’d never join in.

Did he want marriage?

Did he want a family?

Sansa found herself between a rock and a hard place. She wanted to take things slow and so did Sandor, she knew she wanted those things someday but she didn’t know if that meant someday with Sandor yet, so the discussion isn’t something Sansa wanted to have, but when does the topic come up?

Determined not to let her mind run rampant, Sansa pushed all thoughts of the future aside and focused on getting ready. Sandor had called Sansa that afternoon like they agreed, although Sansa kept some of the concerns Cat had to herself, for now, she’d find a time to bring it up eventually. When Sansa had inquired what they were doing he’d kept his lips tight, but when she pushed on what to wear, he told her something nice but casual.

Which didn’t really help when choosing outfits but Sansa made due. Sandor was an excellent dresser, but he wasn’t a suit and tie guy, so she couldn't imagine he’d take her anywhere he’d need to wear a suit. Which Sansa appreciated, she wanted tonight to be easy and comfortable, and stuffing Sandor into a 3 piece suit wasn’t going to have him relaxed or comfortable.

He’d asked her if she was comfortable on the back of a bike, so Sansa opted for tight skinny jeans, and a cute shirt with a very low open back… meaning he’d know all night long she wasn’t wearing a bra and she hoped would drive him as wild as he’d driven her.

Anticipation about the night to come made Sansa crazy, the sex in the kitchen had been so amazing, and she knew they’d have sex tonight, hopefully, more than once. Sandor was such a sexual force, just this raw masculine power which she had no issues letting him use in any which way he’d wanted, knowing she was completely safe with him. He could have just taken her that night, and he did, but not without asking her at each step. Had she said no, had she said stop or slow down or be gentle, he would have without a doubt.

Sansa could feel he’d been holding back slightly in the kitchen, even though it was definitely the roughest sex she’d had, she could feel the tethers keeping him restrained, she wondered what it would be like when he let that go, when the final ties snapped – would she be able to handle him?

Gods, she wanted to handle him.

The familiar rumble of his bike alerted Sansa to the fact that he was here, taking one last look in the mirror, she quickly slipped on her booties and grabbed her clutch from the dresser. She got to the bottom of the stairs just as Sandor knocked, smiling because he could have just come in like he did every other day. She opened the door to find a very handsome Sandor at her door.

Dressed in tight jeans, designer boots, and a black shirt – he nearly took her breath away. He was handsome always, and it was no secret that man liked clothes, even in Levis, work boots, and a white t-shirt the man could look put together, but holy crap did he look hot!

She was in his arms the minute he’d opened the door, he’d instantly pulled her flush into him and kissed her soundly, both hands planted firmly on her ass... Heals helped with the whole height difference thing, but she still had to go on her toes to reach him comfortably.

“Hi,” she said breathlessly once he’d finally let her go.

“Fuck, Sans. You look beautiful,” he rasped and she blushed, knowing he’d meant it and he wasn’t just saying it because that’s what you say on a date.

Sansa smiled and leaned up to kiss him quickly again, with one hand still settled in her back pocket, he grabbed the overnight bag on the bench in the foyer.

“This all?” he asked, “Winnie at your parents?”

Sansa nodded and Sandor gestured for her to lead the way out.

“We’ll have to drop this off at my place quickl-“ Sansa had almost made it to the bike when Sandor stopped mid-sentence, him standing still as a statue on the porch. Even from the distance, she could see the muscle in his jaw tick.

“Everything okay?” Sansa laughed nervously, had she done something?

“Sansa,” Sandor growled, his adam's apple bobbing, “are you wearing a bra?”

Success.

“No,” she said innocently, “I can’t with this top.”

Sandor ground his teeth and Sansa recognized the look in his eyes. It was primal, possessive and she knew exactly what he wanted. He wasn’t the type of man to stop her from going out wearing what she was wearing, especially since she in no way look scandalous, he just wanted to pin her down and have his way with her.

“Oh, no no no.” Sans chided playfully, “You promised me dinner, and I am starving.” She winked.

Sandor adjusted himself and stalked over to her.

“You did this one purpose,” he growled and pulled her flush against him so she could feel how badly he wanted.

So did she.

“Perhaps, but I’m still hungry. You, my dear, will just have to wait.” She tapped his chest lightly and then slowly pushed him away.

He strapped her bag to the back of the bike while muttering incoherently.

“You’re going to get it later,” he warned, pulling her in for a heated kiss once more.

“I hope so,” Sansa whispered biting her bottom lip – this time on purpose.

“Fuck, woman,” he groaned. Deliberately moving around her to hand her the extra helmet and settling on his bike, Sansa smirked, knowing it was taking all his will power not to throw her over his shoulder and take her upstairs – not that she wouldn’t protested that much.

“Okay,” he said as Sandor straddled the bike. “Get closer to me,” he grabbed her hips and pulled her flush against his back, “and hold on tight.”

Sansa wrapped her arms tightly around his waist and pushed her body up against his. She knew he would be able to feel her breasts up against his back.

He groaned and rolled his neck, control.

“Ready?” he checked as he started up his bike, the rumble of the engine felt so good between her legs.

“Ready,” she said.

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sandor was in physical pain with Sansa pressed tightly up against his back. Fuck, he’d never seen a woman more beautiful than her. 

He was so absolutely fucked when it came to this woman. 

When they’d briefly stopped by his place to drop off her bag, it had taken every ounce of his control not to drag her inside. Fuck dinner and instead fuck her, but he wouldn’t do that. 

What was between them was about so much more than sex, and even though even the sex felt like more, he needed to show Sansa it was more. Hell, he wanted to go out for dinner, laugh with her, flirt with her – he wanted it all with Sansa Stark. 

Yet, with her chest pushed up against him, he couldn’t fucking think straight. Her breast’s pressed against his taut back in a way they simply couldn’t in a bra, and the feeling was so fucking erotic, especially with her thighs wide around him and hands wrapped tightly around his core. 

He felt like he could finally breathe when they’d arrived at the restaurant. He’d picked somewhere out of town, not only to avoid running into anyone and being interrupted but so she’d have to straddle his bike just a little longer. 

“So, where are we going?” Sansa asked sweetly as she adjusted her hair from the helmet. 

“You’ll see,” Sandor smirked and grabbed Sansa’s hand. She quickly fit herself into him, close to his side, and looped her arms through his. 

He couldn’t explain how right this felt. 

He’d never been one to hold hands with a woman, he’d never been overly into public displays of affection, but with Sansa? Fuck, he wanted to be all over her just so the assholes knew she was his. 

How lucky he was that she was with him.

He placed a lingering kiss on the top of her head, and she smiled against his arm, god damn she was perfect. 

He’d made reservations at a restaurant in Hornwood, he was told they had the best lemon tarts in the city, and one of the first things you learn about Sansa is her love of lemon. The restaurant was nice, he wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like this in work boots, but still casual enough that they’d be comfortable. There would be no façade to put on for the atmosphere. 

He knew Sansa came from a life of privilege, and he was more than willing to put on a suit and tie once in a while for her, but tonight he didn’t want to feel like he needed to measure up – and he wanted Sansa to know he didn’t need that prim and proper bullshit from her.

They had a little corner booth all to themselves, the restaurant was full of a younger crowd. It was modern, good music, low lighting, great food – everything was perfect, but nothing more perfect than the woman in front of him. 

“So how’d the talk with your mom go?” he asked taking a bite of his pasta. Truthfully, he’d been curious about her talk with Catelyn, especially once Sansa said they’d talk about it later. He liked Catelyn, and he believed she liked him too, but he knew she’d have doubts. 

He got it. 

He’d watched her be nothing but the supportive wife to Ned over the last year. They loved each other, and they never made a decision without each other, even when it came to the business. Sandor dating Sansa was a risk, one that Ned had highlighted to him as well. If they ended things now, they could easily slip back into the roles they’d had before, but if things between him and Sansa went on for too long and got serious – it would be rough on the business to end it. 

He’d never dissolve their partnership, despite the fact that he was happy with it, it would be a fucking stupid financial decision. Still, it would be difficult to work with her, even though she said she didn’t want to be at Stark Development long term. If he knew the risks, and Ned saw the risks, Catelyn had sure as hell voiced them to Sansa. 

“It was,” Sansa sighed and paused looking at Sandor with wide eyes, “it was okay.” 

“Sansa, come on, tell me,” Sandor said gently, knowing that Sansa was probably holding back for fear of hurting his feelings and not because she was doubting them. 

“She just had some concerns about the business aspect of our relationship and,” she stopped mid-sentence and Sandor wondered what the ‘and’ was. 

“Your Dad had the same concerns, and I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind as well.” Sandor offered and Sansa raised her eyes to him and scowled.

“So even you just assumed this was going to end and screw up the partnership?” she asked, he could hear the hurt in her voice. 

He squeezed her thigh under the table and shook his head. 

“No, I didn’t say that, Sansa.” 

Sansa huffed and continued, “and she’s worried about your age.” Sansa rolled her eyes at the statement as if it were the most ridiculous thing she could have said. 

“My age?” Sandor repeated, he wasn’t exactly sure where his age came into play. 

Sansa’s eyes widened and she shook her head, “you know what, it was nothing,” she said and waved her hand. 

“No, it’s not nothing, tell me.”

Sansa sighed, “she said since you weren’t already, you probably don’t want to get married or have kids, and that I’d always wanted those things and if we continue down a path of not discussing it and come to realize down the line that we want different things, we’ll both get hurt.” 

Sandor sat back as Sansa rambled, it was clear her hesitation on this topic was because she thought he’d hear marriage and babies and think she was going far past slow. So, he let her say what she needed to say until she’d shut it long enough for him to jump it. 

“Which is why I didn’t want to say anything to you about it. Because we agreed on slow and dating. Slow and dating is not do you ever plan on proposing and giving me babies, and I don’t want you to think I’m one of those girls that agree to slow but then I want to get jump both feet in and get married immediately because I’m not, I know what we are, I know how we both feel-“

When it became clear that Sansa had no intention of halting her rambling long enough for him to respond, he kissed her quiet. Pulling her forward to meet him halfway he kissed her, she gasped at the sudden movement but gave into it immediately. 

Barely pulling their faces apart, Sandor look her in the eyes and smiled. 

“Are you done?” he asked, Sansa licked her lips and nodded. 

“Wonderful, my turn,” he raised his eyebrow and when she nodded again, he continued. “We are taking this slow, Sansa, but eventually we will have to talk about things so that we know whether we ever want to move past slow with each other.” 

Sandor realized right then and there that he was already way past halfway to done for this girl. He tried to deny it, tried to say it was lust or whatever, but he was most definitely falling for Sansa Stark, after one-third of a date.

“Okay?” he asked. 

“Okay,” Sansa said as kissed him, fuck she tasted like those damn lemon tarts in front of them. 

Sansa looked at him with her beautiful blue eyes, god he could fucking drown in those deep blues. 

“So…do…you,” she asked slowly, unsure. 

“Do I what?” he asked, completely captivated in her beauty. 

Sansa laughed lightly, looking at her lap and she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. 

“Do you want kids? Or to be married?” 

Sandor sighed, well shit he hadn’t actually anticipated her asking him right now.

“Honestly?” Sansa raised her eyebrow and cocked her head because obviously, she wanted the truth. Sandor chuckled. “I haven’t thought much about it. I wasn’t really looking for a relationship, I didn’t want a relationship – until you. The marriage and babies’ things usually come after that part…”

Sansa nodded and Sandor knew he hadn’t left her anywhere to go with what he’d said. The truth is it scared the ever-loving shit out of him. 

Wife. 

Kids. 

Family. 

He had the worst possible example of a family while growing up, and it fucked with his head for a long time until Tormund had finally told him to pull his head out of his ass and see a therapist. Which he’d fought against for a long time before he’d finally given in. 

He usually wanted nothing more than one night with a woman, not that he did that often, but you don’t exactly see one-nighters as the wife and mom material.

But Sansa wasn’t most woman. Was he ready to get married and have kids now? Abso-fucking-lutely not. He wasn’t, and he and Sansa were so new that he didn’t even let himself go there because there was about 100 reasons why this thing between them shouldn’t work, and another 100 things he could easily do to fuck it up, to hurt her. 

But, maybe one day. 

Hell, if he was going to do it with anyone it would be Sansa. 

He gently tipped her head to him, holding her gaze. 

“I’m not saying it’s an off the table discussion, I’ve just never had someone that it would even be a consideration,” he said gently, hoping she knew what he meant, trying to convey his feelings. He hadn’t wanted it before because he hadn’t been with anyone who he thought of a future with. Sansa was different, but he wasn’t about to fill her head with promises he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep – no one knew exactly where the two of them were going yet. 

Sansa smiled, and just like that Sandor knew more than ever that this woman got him. Without really even trying, she just knew him. 

They finished their dinner just in time for the band to hit the small stage in the corner. 

“So, you have 3 choices,” Sandor turned to Sansa and she lit up, eager to hear what her three choices were. 

“We can stay, have another drink and listen to the band,” Sansa nodded so he knew she was listening. “We can go down to the pier and grab an ice cream.” 

“Or?” Sansa prompted. 

“Or, we can go home and have a fire,” he didn’t want Sansa to think the best he could do on a date was dinner, he would be perfectly fine if she didn’t want to call it a night just yet, still he really hoped she’d choose the third option. 

After a minute, Sansa turned to him with the sweetest smile on her face. 

“Take me home, Sandor.”

---

Sansa was once again blown away by Sandor’s home. She’d seen it the one time at the party so long ago but hadn’t had a chance to really look at it. It was so… Sandor. 

His attention to detail so immaculate, as usual, everything pristine, from the dark stained wood, to the concrete counters, and big stone fireplace. It was so comforting. 

Yet, so very different from her place. Everything natural dark wood, very manly and strong. While her place was light and airy. She stifled a giggle, it was like a glaring reminder of the differences between them, both physically and otherwise. 

Opposites attract

She’d heard it for years, and until this very moment never believed it. They were so incredibly different, in so many ways, yet they just worked. Tonight, at dinner, Sansa had never felt so comfortable with someone. They got to know each other, asked questions, listened, challenged, all while maintaining a feeling between them that was just so freaking charged. 

Sansa appreciated Sandor offering her more tonight, but all she wanted was to be close to him. In his home. 

He was so open with her, willing to share himself with her, which was surprising, to say the least, because Sandor wasn’t an open person but he was different with her.

Those darn butterflies in her stomach fluttered around as Sandor toed off his boots in the foyer. Knowing what was going to happen tonight, but not knowing when… or where.  She felt Sandor come up behind her, his big hand coming around her waist and settling on her stomach, his fingers dangerously close to the waistband of her jeans. 

“Hi, Baby,” she whispered when he nuzzled her neck, she gasped when his other hand slipped into the open back of her shirt, settling on her hip. 

“Mmmm,” he moaned into her neck, kissing that gentle spot at the juncture between her neck and jaw. She hadn’t gotten to explore him the first time they’d had sex, but she couldn’t wait to find all his spots. The spots that drove him wild. 

“Do you remember what I said before we left your house, about tonight?” he asked between kisses, the hand under her shirt running his knuckles up and down her ribs. Sansa stilled and her heart rate sped. 

“You said I’d get it,” Sansa said barely above a whisper, her body thrumming in anticipation. 

“Hmm, yeah, because you teased me all night long knowing you weren’t wearing anything under this top,” Sandor’s hand brushed agonizingly close to the underside of Sansa’s breast but wouldn’t touch her. 

Sansa was burning for his touch, she needed him and he was intent on keeping her on the edge. 

“Sandor,” she breathed, “please.” 

“Please what, Sansa?” he rasped, the hand on her jeans playing with the zipper. 

“Please, touch me.” 

As if her simple plea snapped his last resolved, he spun her and lifted her effortlessly, Sansa wrapped her legs around his waist and locked her ankles behind him. 

Their kiss was heated, and passionate, which is what she’d come to expect from him. He could be gentle, and sometimes he was, but in moments like this, their chemistry was too charged, too primal. 

By the time they’d made it upstairs and to Sandor’s bedroom, Sansa was near breathless. Sandor's kisses were relentless, taking the air from her lungs in the best possible way. He set her down and quickly took off her jeans. 

Sansa kissed him, breaking the kiss only to remove his shirt. Holy Jesus, this man was beautiful. She’d never seen a man with a better body, she’d seen it of course many times over the last few months, but never this close and this personal. 

Sansa tentatively ran her nails over the outline of his abs, she could feel Sandor’s muscles tighten beneath her touch.

“You have 30 seconds, Sansa,” Sandor groaned. 

“30 seconds before what?” Sansa asked, completely distracted by the rippling muscles of his chest. God, his tattoos were like works of art. 

“30 seconds to play,” he gently grabbed her wrist, stilling her movements and pulling her attention to him, “and then, its. My. Turn.” 

Sansa shivered at the thought, standing before him in only her lace black panties and the shirt she’d worn all night long. She was fully at his mercy. 

Like he said he would, Sandor let Sansa play. She kissed and nipped his chest while he ran his fingers through her hair. God, everything about this man was masculine, even the sounds he made. 

He tightened his grip in her hair and pulled her up… Sansa knew her time was up. She swallowed but did nothing as Sandor slowly lifted her shirt over her head, leaving her in only panties. Naked before him. 

She moved to cover herself up when Sandor grabbed her wrists. 

“Don’t you dare,” he growled. “Never. Never cover yourself up in front of me, you’re perfect.” 

Sansa gave a nervous laugh, “I’m not perfect.” 

“Sansa,” Sandor warned, “don’t.” 

The minute Sansa dropped her arms, Sandor was on her. He kissed her and she gasped at the sudden intrusion, Sandor used the opportunity to slide his tongue into her mouth. Slowly, he backed her up until she felt her legs his the bed, and he laid her in the middle. 

Something was different about tonight, gone was the overwhelming hunger in Sandor’s eyes. It was still there, of course. So was the desire, and the need and the want, but so was the look like he wanted to devour her. Like he was a man lost and she was his savior, she was lost in his beautiful grey eyes. 

“Do you remember what else I told you? About my plans?” Sandor rasped as he kissed down her neck until he reached the swell of her breast. 

You’re are going to come around my tongue and beg for more. You’re going to suck my cock and say please.

Sandor smirked against her chest when Sansa shivered. 

“Ahh, you do remember.” He rasped, swirling his tongue around her nipple playfully before lightly scraping it with his teeth. Sansa moaned in pleasure when a hand slowly made its way between her legs. 

“Fuck, Sansa. You’re so fucking wet.” Sandor groaned, lazily swiping his fingers through her folds but not entering her or paying any attention to the bundle of nerves so desperately craving his attention. 

She was so lost in her frustration of his fingers she hadn’t realized Sandor had begun kissing down her body, Sandor rested his chin on her belly and looked up at her, his eyes dark and lustful. 

“Grab onto the bed, Sansa,” he growled. 

Sansa glanced up and noticed the wrought iron bed frame, looking back at Sandor, he growled. 

“Grab the bed frame, every time you let go, I’ll stop.” He warned as he flattened his tongue against her wet swollen pussy. Licking, sucking, nipping while keeping her on the edge of pleasure but not letting her reach it. 

“Sandor,” Sansa gasped as he fucked her with his tongue, her hand left the bedpost and went to Sandor’s hair. 

He stopped instantly. 

Fuck.  The bed. 

She grabbed the bed again and glanced down at Sandor, who had a wicked, wild look in his eyes. 

“Sandor, I’m sorry,” Sansa pleaded, she was so close, she just needed more. 

Sandor said nothing but cocked his eyebrow at her, waiting, unmoving. 

You are going to come around my tongue and beg for more.

“Please Sandor, I need to come, I need more,” Sansa begged, giving him exactly what he said she would. 

Sansa gasped as Sandor plunged two fingers deep into her and sucked her clit. Sansa came harder than she ever had, the combination of being denied and worshipped single-handedly pushing her over the edge. 

Sandor crawled up her and wiped his mouth on the back on his hand, Sansa had never been so turned on. 

“Fuck, woman.” Sandor groaned and kissed Sansa soundly. “You are perfect.” 

Sansa laughed nervously and Sandor stilled, grabbing her chin and locking her sight on him. 

“Don’t,” he growled. “Don’t doubt yourself with me.” 

Sandor’s hand slipped between them as he teased her folds with the head of his cock.

“Is this what you want?” he asked kissing down Sansa’s neck. 

“Yes, please,” Sansa moaned, she ran her hands along the length of Sandor’s body, god he was fit. 

“I’m not gentle, Sansa. Fuck, the things I want to do to you.” He groaned before looking at her again. “I’m not gentle, but you’ll always be safe with me.” 

“I trust you,” Sansa whispered, and he thrust into her all at once. Sansa gasped at the stretch, almost on the verge of painful but so amazing that she couldn’t find that she cared. 

“Fuck, Sansa,” Sandor groaned into her neck, but he didn’t move. He waited for Sansa to get used to his size. “Are you okay?” 

Sansa wiggled slightly beneath him and moaned. Gods, he felt so good. 

“Take me, Sandor.” 

Pulling almost completely out, he took her with deep, hard thrusts. Each time going deeper and harder. When he felt Sansa flutter around him, he brought his thumb to the bundle of nerves he knew would take her over the edge. 

“Sandor,” Sansa cried as her body rocked through her orgasm, Sandor fucked her at a brutal pace, not letting her down from her second orgasm and bringing her right up and over into another, hitting the spot inside her over and over again. 

Sansa had never felt such pleasure, her body was on complete fire, Sandor brought her to places of pleasure she’d only ever read about, figuring they couldn’t actually be real. People couldn’t actually feel this amazing, but god was she wrong. 

So incredibly wrong. 

Sandor grunted through his release as they came together, each of them hot and sweaty. He rolled off of her and tucked her into his chest. 

“You. Are. Amazing.” He said and he placed a lingering kiss on the top of her head. Sansa was too limp to move or respond, so exhausted from pleasure but still craving more. After a couple of minutes, Sansa began to kiss her way over Sandor’s tattoos on his chest, each more beautiful and artistic than the last. 

She felt Sandor harden again between them and knew the obvious growl reverberating from his chest meant he wanted her. 

“Again?” he asked. 

“Again.”

---

“Sansa, Sansa, babe,” Sandor said gently as he rubbed her back. Sansa stirred, a delicious ache between her legs. Sandor had taken her twice more before they’d finally cuddled and Sansa must’ve fallen asleep in his arms. Although she wasn’t in his arms anymore, she was naked in bed, while he looked delicious in track pants and a hoodie. 

“Hi,” she said rubbing her eyes, “sorry, I guess I fell asleep.” 

Sandor chuckled, “I think I wore you out.” 

Sansa felt herself blush, he definitely did wear her out, but she still had this incurable hunger for him, for more. 

“Okay.. but now you’re are fully dressed and I’m… well, naked” Sansa said shyly, she clutched his soft navy sheets around her body and sat up, glancing over at his clock on the nightside table. 

10:32 pm

Damn, it wasn’t even late and she was wiped. 

“I promised you a date, Sansa. Not dinner and sex. So you have two options.” 

Sansa laughed, “Always with the options, I get all the choices tonight.” 

“Well, not all the choices,” Sandor winked and Sansa was pulled back to 2 hours ago when he’d taken all the control in his hands. “Option A, I get back into bed.. naked. Option B, you put on some clothes and come downstairs.” 

“What’s downstairs?” Sansa asked. 

“You’ll have to come downstairs to see,” Sandor said. 

Sansa sat for a minute and considered her options. As much as she wanted to drag him back into bed and have him do that thing with his tongue, again and again, she really really wanted to know what was downstairs.

“Give me 5 minutes?” she asked.

Sandor smirked and pulled her into him for a heavy kiss.

“Okay, 5 minutes and you get your cute little ass downstairs,” Sandor said as he left.

Sansa dug through her bag for clothes, she’d brought a pair of lululemons and a sweater, but suddenly all clothes felt restrictive, she just wanted to be engulfed in Sandor. Eyeing Sandor’s closet, Sansa decided to forgo anything she’d brought and slipped into one of Sandor’s sweatshirts, so large on her it nearly hung to her knees.

Taking one last look in the mirror, Sansa quickly fixed her hair as best she could, she looked like she just had mind-blowing sex… which she had, and she was okay with that. She pulled on a pair of fuzzy socks and went downstairs.

“Sandor?” she called when she couldn’t immediately see him, she walked into the kitchen and tried again, “Sandor?”

A soft glow of firelight caught her attention from the patio, of course, he’d promised her a fire. Sansa quietly opened the patio doors and gasped. Outside, in the glow of a roaring fire, Sandor had set out candles, wine, and soft blankets.

This man has the ability to completely crush me.

The thought scared Sansa to the core, falling faster and deeper than she ever had before, but it also brought a fire in Sansa she hadn’t known existed, like a breath of fresh air for the first time in years.

“Hi,” Sansa said softly, closing the door behind her.

“Hey,” Sandor said when he saw her, he was sitting in an adirondack chair with a glass of whiskey in hand, he looked so comfortable and Sansa didn’t want him to move. She settled on the outdoor sectional across from him, pulling her legs underneath her and purposefully exposing her upper thighs. His sweater might be big, but it still rode up in all the right places.

“Nice shirt,” Sandor said as he tipped his chin to her, that muscle in his jaw ticking with his heartbeat, there was not a doubt in her mind that Sandor wanted her just as much as she wanted him.

“I hope that’s okay,” Sansa said quietly, slightly nervous she may have overstepped.

He simply nodded and sipped his whiskey, his eyes never leaving her as he looked her over. There was no escaping his gaze.

---

Watching Sansa, in his home, in his clothes.

Fuck, that did something to him.

Watching her across the roaring fire, sitting like a damned proper vision – a properly fucked vision- he needed to sit on a solitary chair, otherwise, he knew he would take her again and she would have to be sore by now.

Being inside of her was like nothing he’d ever known, and not just because the sex was mind-blowing. For her to let Sandor inside her like that, the trust she placed in him, he’d never had that with anyone before.

Doubt simmered beneath his surface as he took another long sip of whiskey. He doubted anyone deserved her, she wasn’t just polite, smart, beautiful, kind… on top of all that she was exquisitely sexual. She was amazing, and he was... Well, fuck. He was the guy with the fucked up face, anger issues, and a childhood out of people's worst nightmares.

He’d spent years coming to terms with his past, and he knew he wasn’t a bad guy. He wasn’t the trash he grew up thinking he was, he wasn’t worthless or stupid but he wasn’t anything near what Sansa deserved, and yet she chose him.

She’d. Chosen. Him.

What are the fucking odds?

He may not be what she deserved, but for as long as she wanted him, he would sure as hell make sure he tried to be.

They spent the rest of the evening talking, laughing, and just enjoying each other's company, Sandor had never felt so at ease with someone but with Sansa, everything seemed to be easy. Difficult at times, but easy where it mattered.

“You’re perfect,” Sandor muttered, almost to himself as he watched Sansa laugh and sip her wine, the sleeves of his sweater nearly completely covering her hands. She was adorable.

Sansa scoffed and Sandor’s eyes shot to her, Sansa rarely so discourteous. Sandor arched an eyebrow at her.

“I hate being called perfect,” Sansa mumbled and she set her wine glass down and stared at her lap.

“I got that, why?” Sandor asked.

Sansa shrugged, but Sandor didn’t need her to explain it to him, he’d figured it out that day in Ned’s office. When people place you on that pedestal, failing becomes scarier and harder. Sansa may be perfect to him, whether she liked it or not, but he never wanted to feel that way with him.

She was human.

She could fail.

He’d never expect her not to.

“Come here,” he said and he crooked his finger to her. Sansa rose, the blanket still wrapped around her shoulders, and came over to Sandor, straddling his thighs and settling her self in his lap. She wouldn’t meet his gaze as she idly played with the strings on his sweatshirt.

“Hey,” Sandor said softly, tipping her chin up to meet his gaze. Her eyes held a sadness that he hadn’t seen before, it fractured something inside his chest. “Never, and I mean never, be afraid to fail in front of me.”

Sansa bit his bottom lip and Sandor resisted every urge he could to avoid getting hard.

Not know.   

He gently pulled her lip back with his thumb,

“I’m serious. I’m about as imperfect as they get. When I say you’re perfect, that won’t change if you fail or make a mistake. Hell, you have to even the playing field a bit between us,” he joked.

Sansa laughed lightly and kissed him quickly as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“There she is,” Sandor cooed.

“You know, you’re wrong about one thing,” Sansa said as she slowly swiveled her hips on top of him, Sandor could feel the heat from between her thighs.

Holy fuck, she’s not wearing panties. 

Sansa placed feather-light kisses on the junction of his jaw, which she now knew drove him wild.

“Hmm, about what?” Sandor moaned, Sansa reached her hand down and freed his now rock hard cock from the tight confines of his sweatpants. Rising only far enough to line him up at her entrance, the blanket over her shoulders keeping them completely private.

“You’re perfect to me too,” Sansa whispered as she lowered onto him, taking him to the hilt.

Under the cover of darkness, with only the glow of the fire. Sansa rode him to completion.

Slowly and passionately.

It dawned on Sandor then, chest heaving with Sansa in his arms

She was his fucking salvation.

 

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sansa stirred as the morning light streamed through the windows, taking a minute to remember she wasn’t waking up in her bed alone, but rather Sandor’s bed, with him.

Last night had been amazing, everything Sansa had wanted and more. There was nothing flashy or extravagant about their date, he wasn’t trying to put on a show, he wasn’t trying to buy her affection with what he could provide for her – she had loved every minute of that.

She glanced up at Sandor, she’d never been with someone like him, heck she hadn’t even known she wanted a man like him, but now?

Now she couldn’t imagine being with anyone but.

Strong, masculine… virile. Sansa blushed at the memories of last night. She’d never been so bold before, having sex outdoors. Yes, his home was secluded, and it was just them, but still. She, Sansa Stark, had sex outside.

It hadn’t been like the other times, on the patio, it was slower, and she had more control than Sandor had let her have previously, which was nice.. once in a while but she had no issues giving her pleasure over to him – he was like some kind of sex god, he knew exactly what she needed… what they both needed.

“I can hear you thinking,” Sandor grumbled and pulled her closer into his chest.

Sansa smiled, “that’s impossible,” she teased.

“No, not for you, I swear I can hear gears grinding,” he smirked, and Sansa noticed he was hard beneath his navy sheets.

She’d never slept naked beside a man before, her other partners would always get up and put on boxers or pants, Sansa would as well. It was uncomfortable sleeping naked beside someone else who wasn’t. But Sandor was perfectly fine with just staying as they were afterward, and so was she.

Ding Ding

Sandor groaned, “who in the bloody hell is messaging you this early, Little Bird?”

Sansa made to move away from him, to check her phone that laid charging next to his on the nightstand – a domestic sight Sansa decided she rather liked- but she squeaked as Sandor effortlessly pulled her on top of him below the sheets.

“It could be important,” she breathed playfully, his hands drew lazy circles on her thighs.

“I don’t care, I need to shower,” Sandor muttered as he leaned up to take her breast in his mouth.

Sansa was a little disappointed that he wanted to get into the shower right away, she would have much preferred to stay in bed a while longer, after all, there was a part of his ‘plan’ that she’d yet to take care of.

“and, if you’re not too sore, you’re going to join me,” Sandor growled as he playfully nipped at her hardened nipples.

Sansa moaned at the sensation and swirled her hips, partially to see how she felt, but she also loved teasing him. Sandor groaned and bucked his hips upwards.

“I could go for a shower,” Sansa quietly teased and without needing to be told twice, Sandor threw the sheet off them and took them both out of bed, Sansa wrapped her legs around his waist and peppered his neck with kisses as he adjusted the shower temperature.

Their kisses became more urgent and hungrier as Sandor walked them into the shower and had Sansa up against the wall. She gasped at the sudden hit of water on her face and Sandor wasted no time demanding entrance to his mouth as his tongue swept over hers.

“Fuck, Sansa,” Sandor growled when she ground her hips down on him. She gently pushed at his shoulder for him to put her down and with a surprised grunt, he did just that.

“Sansa, wha-” Sandor stopped when Sansa made her intentions clear by dropping to her knees in front of him.

Sansa had never wanted to taste a man so badly, no scratch that, she’d never liked going down on a man before. The act itself had always become something expected of her, but never reciprocated and something she ended up hating – but with Sandor, gods she wanted to.

Sandor was stronger and more in control than any other man she’d been with, except she’d never felt more powerful then she does with him. He wasn’t shy with letting her know exactly what she does to him… what she does to him, what a foreign concept for her that power almost made her hungry for it. Knowing she was bringing this massive man to the edge, knowing she frayed his desperate need for control.

He groaned as she leaned forward and licked the bead of moisture from the tip, one hand bracing the wall and the other tangled in her hair. God, she wanted to please him.

“Teach me,” she whispered, looking up at him from her place on the floor. Others may have teased her for her inexperience, but Sansa knew that with Sandor, asking him to show her how he likes it would be a huge turn on.

Her suspicions were confirmed when his hold in her hair tightened and his grey eyes went almost black with desire. Sansa shivered in anticipation as he guided her mouth towards his cock. He was massive, and no way would she be able to take all of him in her mouth, so she worked her hand at the base in tandem.

Controlling her speed and urging her to take just a little more, Sandor showed her exactly how he liked it.

“Gods, that fucking mouth,” he growled, and Sansa looked up to see him staring down at her, watching her. She was slick between her thighs knowing she was doing this to him.

His cock twitched in her mouth and she knew he was close when he pulled her off of him with an audible pop, surprisingly disappointed that she didn’t get to taste him like she’d wanted to.

Hauling her up and pushing her against the cold stone shower walls, Sandor growled and plunged two fingers inside her.

“You’re so fucking wet, all of this from sucking my cock?”

Sansa nodded and he kissed her hard.

“Next time, you can swallow but right now I need to fuck you,” he commanded as he spun her around, they both knew that she was so wet she’d be able to take him and he wasted no time burying himself inside her.

She gasped as the new position was so much tighter than she’d expected, feeling the delicious stretch of him as he slowly pumped in and out.

“Fuck, you’re so tight, I’m not even all the way in,” he groaned into her neck, and as he pumped in and out Sansa felt him go a little deeper each time.

God, it was like the first time all over again as he slowly worked himself in.

“Sandor,” she cried out in pleasure when he was balls deep inside of her.

“Tell me when,” Sandor breathed on her back, his hand on the stone nearly twitching as he forced himself still.

“Fuck me,” she whimpered, she needed him, just as badly as he needed her and the feeling of him inside her was anything but painful.

She wanted him.

Each thrust was slow and deep, the delicious ache keeping Sansa just on the edge until she’d finally begged him.

“Sandor, please,” she begged as his hand rested just above her swollen nub.

“Please what? What do you want, Sansa?” he moaned, and his thrusts increased.

“I want to come,” she demanded, so pleasantly frustrated that she’d forgotten all of her manners. Sandor chuckled darkly and rubbed her clit hard, pounding into her with abandon until they both came hard.

They stayed panting until Sandor slowly slipped from her aching core. She turned in his arms and he had a look of bewilderment on his face like she was his salvation. She knew the look well because it’s exactly how she felt about him.

“You are amazing,” he said softly as he kissed her.

They washed each other between moments of lingering touches and stolen kisses, few words spoken between them because the moment simply didn’t need them.

---

Sandor shucked on a pair of jeans and let Sansa get ready after their shower and he started breakfast, completely distracted by the last 24 hours.

Sandor had taken her 5 times yesterday and the shower this morning, but it didn’t matter, just thinking about Sansa and he was ready to go again.

Teach me.

The words replayed over and over again as he made coffee. Her on her knees for him, looking up at him with her innocent blue eyes. Holy fuck, he wasn’t sure he’d ever seen anything so erotic. She may be slightly inexperienced, but she was a goddamn goddess – one he would gladly spend worshipping for however long she’d let him.

He heard the stairs creak and poured her a cup of coffee, he wanted nothing more than to bend her over the counter and have her again and again, but he knew he needed to cool it, she had to be sore after their romp in the shower.

She wrapped her arms around his torso, pressing herself into his back.

“Hi,” she said softly, and he would bet his ass she was blushing.

“Hi,” he said back, grabbing her hand and kissing the inside of her wrist. He turned, coffee in hand, and handed it to her.

“Thank you,” she said smiling, she jumped up to sit on the counter and took a sip.

She was a vision in tight jeans and a tucked-in white t-shirt, her hair in a bun on the top of her head, and not an ounce of makeup on. He would never tire of her beauty, continually shocked at just how gorgeous she was. No matter what she wore.

The women of his past were so different, too much black eyeliner, trying too hard to be sexy and so completely incomparable to Sansa.

 “So, that text this morning,” Sansa said between sips of her coffee. Sandor came over to stand between her legs, which she easily wrapped around his waist. He lazily kissed his way up and down her neck.

“Mhm,” he said when she hadn’t continued.

“It was my mom,” he stopped kissing, “wondering if, since I have to grab Winnie, we would like to go over for Sunday family dinner.”

Sandor dropped his forehead onto her shoulder.

Sure, he’d spent many Sunday’s at Winterfell over the last year, family dinners we very rarely just family. Margaery, Bronn, Tormund, and himself often being staples. Catelyn loved big Sunday dinners, and the woman was an amazing cook, for the longest time he’d thought she had the meals catered and just arranged them on platters to make it look like she cooked, something rich people would do.

She didn’t.

But, going to Winterfell with Sansa, that was a big step. Not that they’d had any intention of hiding their relationship. hell most of them already knew anyways. The only family he’d ever met had been his last girlfriends, and they weren’t like Sansa’s, they were dysfunctional and a complete disaster – much like Sandor’s had been, but not quite as bad.

Sansa’s family loved hard, the significant others were treated like family, Catelyn loved Talisa like a daughter, Gendry was a favourite because he was polite, and Sandor couldn’t completely ignore the small amount of fear that he wouldn’t be accepted the same and that would fucking hurt.

Which is why despite knowing, liking, and feeling comfortable with the Stark’s, the idea of ‘family dinner’ didn’t have him immediately agreeing to go.

“Hey, we.. we don’t need to go, it’s okay,” Sansa said softly, and it was then Sandor realized how long he’d remained silent, his head on her shoulder. If Sandor said he didn’t want to go, he knew Sansa would be disappointed but would accept it. He also knew it would make her happy if he said yes, and figured they’d have to bite the bullet eventually.

“We can go,” Sandor said and Sansa got the biggest smile on her face.

Fuck, I’d say yes to anything to see that smile. 

“Are you sure?” she asked, “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

Damn, he’d never get over her compassion.

He gently tipped her chin to him and kissed her chastely as she leaned into him.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Thank you,” she said. “So, since we have the whole day to ourselves, what do you want to do?”

Sandor arched his eyebrow with a smirk, and she laughed, swatting him playfully on the chest.

“Ohhhh, no no no. Down boy, I actually do need a break,” she joked.

Truthfully, he figured as much. He was a big guy, and his cock was fully proportionate to the rest of him. She’d taken him better than any woman ever had, and more frequently too.

Of course, she was sore

It wasn’t just about sex, he could go a day without her. Maybe two.

Three was pushing it.

Sandor laughed and playfully pinched her side before going back for more coffee.

“We could hang out here for a bit, you have cable! I haven’t had cable in months,” Sansa joked, taking a bite of the bacon Sandor had cooked.

“Using me for my TV?” Sandor chided.

“Yup, just here for cable and orgasms,” she winked at him, gods he loved her humour, she was fucking cheeky.

“We could go for a jog too? I’ve been dying to jog these trails since the first time I was here,” she said, jumping down from the counter with her coffee and standing by the back door. Even Sandor could admit the scenery was pretty amazing, nothing compared to Sansa’s view of the bay, but still serene.  

“You brought your workout clothes?” Sandor asked jokingly.

Even from behind her, Sandor knew she was blushing, she did this cute little chip dip towards the floor when she was shy about something. Fuck, how did he already know that about her, how could he already know her nonverbal cues without being able to see her expressions?

Because you’re falling for her, you big idiot.

“Just in case,” Sansa shrugged, and Sandor slid in behind her, resting his chin atop her head. Going for a jog was no inconvenience to him, he was a workout junkie who ran almost every day – sometimes twice – and he liked being with someone who could understand the same passion for fitness that he had.

“Go get your ass into those tight little shorts, and let’s go for a run,” he patted her bum and she smiled and bolted up the stairs.

There were worse ways to spend a Sunday morning then staring at her ass on a jog, Sandor thought smugly as he drank his coffee and looked out the backdoor.

---

Sansa was beginning to realize there was very little Sandor did that wasn’t becoming the sexiest thing she’d ever seen, driving along the bay was one of them. Watching him drive, the sunlight hitting his tanned skin just right.

Man, the man was hot.

She knew agreeing to go to Winterfell for dinner wasn’t an easy decision for him. He’d given her very little insight into his past, not that she could blame him, she hadn’t exactly given him a book to her past either, but what she did know about Sandor told her he would be apprehensive about dinner – his long silence this morning told her the rest.

She appreciated the effort on his part, her family was important to her and after the less than perfect lunch with Cat, Sansa felt it was important for the family to see them together. Although she didn’t understand Sandor’s discomfort with family and hoped one day he eventually would open up to her, she didn’t want to push him either.

Arriving at Winterfell, they headed directly into the backyard, the patio was heated but even then the fall and winter seasons were brutally cold this far North, and her parents would be enjoying what was left of the patio season while the could.

They were greeted by the usual barrage. Robb, Talisa, Jon, Arya, Gendry. Along with Margaery and Bronn, who her mother most likely invited during their weekly gala meeting.

Sansa looked up at Sandor and smiled, feeling no need to hold hands or do anything to acknowledge they'd arrived together since everyone already knew they had.

“Sansa, darling, you’re here,” Catelyn greeted as she made her way out back, carrying a tray of steaks for the grill and passing them off to Robb, who nodded by way of greeting.

“Hi, mom,” Sansa said into the hug.

“Sandor, I’m glad you could join us tonight,” Catelyn said sweetly, placing a light touch on Sandor’s arm. Sansa appreciated the effort, she knew her mom wasn’t completely sold on their relationship, more due to worry than anything else.

“Catelyn, thanks for having me,” Sandor replied, Sansa smirked at the tone of his voice, less gruff than usual, he was trying too.

Yip yip

Winnie came barreling up the stone stairs of the patio and before Sansa had a chance, Sandor bent to scoop her up. He winked before taking her over to where Bronn and on stood and took the beer Jon offered him.

“How was she?” Sansa asked her mom as they moved back into the house where Margaery and Arya were helping with dinner.

“Oh fine, of course, now your father wants another dog,” Cat joked.

They had always had malamutes growing up, and with the property, Ned had often talked about getting another dog, but Cat loved a house with no furballs hiding in the corners, and eventually, Ned had given up.

“Hi, Friend!” Margaery exclaimed when she saw Sansa, instantly grabbing an extra glass and pouring Sansa a glass of wine and handed it to her.

“So, Sans. How was the date?” Arya asked eyebrow raised as she mixed the salad. Sansa could have almost laughed, it was a change in pace for Arya to care who she was dating. She never showed an interest before, beyond telling Sansa she dated jackasses. Which is why Sansa had initially not told Arya about Ramsay, she would have hated him.

Not that Sansa would have cared, Ramsay, well he had never meant to be a long-term thing anyways. It started as casual, someone to go to dinner with, or the occasional play, work events, parties.

Gods, she wished she had told Arya.

Maybe then...

No.

No, Sansa had sworn long ago to never play the what-if game. What happened, happened. You can’t change the past; you can’t make different choices. Thinking about what she could have done, thinking about what she didn’t see and all the warning signs she missed – it was a rabbit hole she refused to go down.

It’s why Sansa was so happy with the direction she and Sandor were taking, it’s why she finally put her fear aside and talked with him. She never wanted to be in a what-if position again. Things with Sandor, well although they would probably not always be easy, it was open and honest. Sansa knew exactly what she was getting, she knew who he was and he knew her as well – all cards on the table.

Well… mostly

He was grumpy and had thick walls keeping people out, walls that were decorated in crass words and tough exteriors, but he let her in.

She was neurotic and unsure, a resistance met with mixed signals and emotions, but somehow he calmed her.

Yet, neither had shared their past. They knew the people they were now, which was good. Except, each was keeping one card face down.

His past.

Her past.

When they were ready, they would show their hand, but neither was pushing, and for right now that was refreshing. It was almost an unspoken trust between them, that they would listen when the time was right. That whatever happened before the two of them, wouldn’t be enough to change either's mind – like it would bring them closer, but the fear of it breaking them was nearly nonexistent.

Sansa was brought out of her musings by Arya’s snapping fingers.

“Earth to, Sansa. Hello?” Arya called out with an amused look on her face.

“By that doe-eyed look on her face, I’d say it went well!” Margaery winked and Sansa felt her cheeks blush, Jesus Marge, her mom was right there!

“No, no no no. I do not need to be here for this conversation,” Catelyn said, throwing her hands up and dropping the tea towel on the counter. “You girls can talk about this on your own time, and NOT at Sunday family dinner.”

Sansa smirked as Catelyn chided Margaery on her crassness.

“Oh, by the way, Theon is in town, we’ve invited him for dinner, he should be here soon,” Catelyn said as she took a tray of potatoes out to Ned at the grill.

Sansa paled, she had two missed calls from Theon this weekend and now realized he was calling to tell her he was coming to dinner. 

Crap.

Not that seeing Theon was a problem, she owed Theon a lot, but she just hadn’t been prepared to see him here.

For the first time since she’d left Dorne.  

With her family.

And Sandor.

Theon was the only person who knew the story, and even then she’d never told him everything.

In a bit of a daze, Sansa helped with the remaining trays of food and brought them out to the patio table. Lost in her thoughts, and brought back to a time she hadn’t intended on revisiting tonight, she hadn’t noticed when she nearly walked directly into Sandor.

Feeling his strong hands gently grasp her shoulders, she knew his hands before she’d seen his face, recognizing his embrace and warmth.

“Woah, there.” Sandor chuckled and she looked up to see him staring down at her with an amused smirk. “You know, some of us actually watch where we’re going.”

Sansa laughed lightly and Sandor took the tray and passing it off to Bronn, who brought it to the table.

“Everything okay?” Sandor asked concern etched across his face.

She nodded, “yeah, everything is fine.”

Sansa went up on her toes to brush a light, chaste kiss on his lips. She wasn’t lying per se. Everything was fine, she wasn’t hurt or distressed, just shocked and a little side struck that Theon was going to be here. He had been pushy, in a caring way, for Sansa to tell her family the truth and made her promise that she would eventually – she hadn’t and he would call her out for it, especially since she’d been dodging most of his calls.

“Greyjoy!” she heard Robb yell behind her.

The family all greeted Theon in a mash of hugs and handshakes. Theon had been like family growing up, his father was not a very nice man, far more concerned with his business than Theon, that Ned and Cat had nearly raised him. He had gone through a bit of a rough patch, got himself into some trouble, and made some mistakes, but eventually, he grew up and took control of the company when his father had died.

He spent most of his time in the Iron Islands, but also spent quite a bit of time in Dorne for business, which is when he’d become familiar with Sansa’s situation. He was the only one, outside of the family, that she could have called all that time ago and she’d sworn him to secrecy – begged him, more like it.

She turned and smiled at him, he gave her a look that basically called for an explanation yet smiled and pulled her in for a hug to appease prying eyes.

“Sansa,” he said loudly enough for all to hear, before whispering to her, “we need to talk.”

Sansa swallowed and nodded into the embrace before introducing Theon to Sandor.

“Sandor, this is Theon.” Sansa gestured between the two of them, “and this is… my boyfriend, Sandor.”

If Theon was surprised or shocked he covered it well, shaking Sandor’s hand and immediately engaging in the lighthearted conversation with him and moving further onto the patio. Relieved, Sansa enjoyed the evening, with dinner ready they all took their spots at the large patio table.

“So, Theon,” Ned asked between bites, “how’s business?”

Theon nodded, “Good, really good actually. Busy, I spend a lot of time traveling which is nice, to get off the Island. It never was my favourite place,” he laughed.

“Where’s it taking you these days?” Jon asked. He’d become more comfortable over the last few weeks of being single and not having Ygritte with him at family dinners, but Sansa still sensed he missed the company – not Ygritte, exactly, just the companionship.

“Dorne, mostly. Sometimes Kings Landing.” Theon said and Sansa sucked in a breath.

“Oh, Dorne, that’s wonderful.” Catelyn said softly, “Did you see much of our Sansa when you were there? She only moved back a few months ago, after all.”

Theon glanced at Sansa across the table, and Sansa caught Sandor looking between the two of them.

“Yupp, some. When I had the time, we met up a few times.” Theon nodded, taking another quick bite of steak, Sansa did the same.

“Sans, you never mentioned running into Theon,” Robb asked, curious why she hadn’t mentioned it, although Sansa wondered why? She rarely reported every run into her family and wasn’t talking to them much at all back then.

Theon waved his hand, “we honestly didn’t see each other much, just a few times.”

Sansa smiled gratefully at Theon, silently thanking him for once again helping her. She felt Sandor shift beside her and when she turned to look at him, although he was smiling and engaging in conversation with Gendry and Arya across the table, something was lingering behind his eyes.

“and how are things with Ashley?” Cat asked, always wanting to be privy to one's relationship.

“We’re good. Busy, but good.” Theon explained, and the conversation shifted to Stark Developments, and the charity gala which Theon was coming back for – he always did.

Sansa excused herself as dinner was finishing, to freshen up in the bathroom and she ran right into Theon when she was making her way back.

“Jesus, Theon, you scared me,” she gasped when she ran directly into him in the hallway.

“Sorry,” he replied, keeping his voice low just in case there were any lingering Stark’s around. “Sansa, you promised me you’d tell them.”

“I know, I know. I will,” she whispered.

“You will? You’ve been home for months. Months, Sansa. You have no idea if it’s safe.”

“I haven’t heard from him since before I left Dorne, Theon.” Sansa breathed, deciding to keep the unknown phone call to herself, she still had no reason to think it was him.

“That doesn’t mean anything, Sansa. I have friends in Dorne, people who know him. When people ask about where you are, he tells them you’ve gone home for a while but will be back.” Theon sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I should have called Robb or Jon the minute you called – before that even.”

“Its just.. hard to tell them now,” Sansa sighed.

“I know, at least I feel marginally better that you at least have that Apollo of a man looking after you,” Theon winked at her and Sansa blushed.

 “Back off, he’s mine, Theon.” Sansa joked quietly.

Sansa had been shopping and out for a quick bite to eat when she’d seen Theon, sitting alone – or what she thought was alone- in a café in Dorne. In need of some positive company, she went inside to say hello. It was then, once she’d hugged Theon, that she realized he hadn’t been alone. Not when his date returned to the table. 

“Hi, I’m Ashley,” he introduced himself. 

“Ash, this is Sansa, she’s an old friend from Winterfell. Sansa, this is Ash, my” he hesitated, “my… boyfriend.” 

Shocked, but never one to judge, Sansa didn’t let the new startle her. After all, she didn’t care. Love was love and sexual preference didn’t matter to her. As long as Theon was happy, she commended him for figuring out who he was.

“Sansa, nice to meet you.” Sansa extended her hand. 

“How is Ash?” Sansa asked quietly as she started moving down the hallway and back to the patio. Theon gently grasped her arm.

“He’s fine, he’ll be here for the Gala as well, but don’t change the subject. Sandor does know about Ramsay, doesn’t he?” he raised an eyebrow like he already knew the answer but was going to get her to tell him anyway.

Sansa sighed, “ he knows… bits. He’s pieced some together himself”

“Fuck, Sansa!” Theon snapped and Sansa shushed him immediately.

“Shhhh, people might hear you!” Sansa pleaded.

“You promised.”

“I know.”

“Sansa...” Theon warned and she could see the anger on his face.

Before Theon could finish, someone cleared their throat. Standing a few feet away, arms crossed over his chest and eyebrow raised, stood Sandor.

And he looked pissed.

Sansa and Theon both followed his stare to the grasp Theon had on Sansa’s arm, it wasn’t tight or painful in the least, but from where Sandor stood it most likely didn’t look that way. Theon quickly released his hold on her arm.

“We need to talk more about this,” he whispered to Sansa, before going to leave, but Sandor had made his way closer.

“I think you’re done talking,” Sandor barked, “touch her again, and I’ll..”

“Sandor!” Sansa gasped, and Sandor narrowed his eyes at her and moved to the side, allowing Theon to pass.

“What is wrong with you?” Sansa snapped, embarrassed that Sandor would try to intimidate Theon. She needed to find Theon and apologize.

“Me?” Sandor scoffed, “I came looking for you, and I find him grabbing you. What do you want me to do? Walk by and say hello?”

“He wasn’t-”

Sandor cut her off, “I am not talking about this here. We can talk later.”

Sandor turned away from her to go back outside but Sansa stepped in front of him.

“No, you don’t get to intimidate my friend and then walk away!”

“I didn’t intimidate him, Sansa.” He barked, “I’m not having this discussion at your parent's house. It’s rude, and the last thing we need if for them to hear us arguing already.”

“Fine.” Sansa snapped and walked past him.

She heard Sandor sigh behind her but felt his presence follow.

---

 Sandor was not in the fucking mood for fucking pie.

All he’d wanted to do since he ran into Sansa and Theon in the hallway was leave, but that would be fucking rude and unfortunately, whether he wanted to admit it or not, he was trying to make a good impression on Catelyn. He knew there were reservations about their relationship, and the last thing they needed was to overhear an argument.

That would be a nail in the coffin for the two of them, and he fucking knew it.

So, he returned to the patio with Sansa and tried to make the best of it. Sansa was fucking excellent at strapping on her fake smile, which he resented, but he wasn’t as talented.

At first, when Theon had mentioned they’d seen each other in Dorne, Sandor had felt a rise of jealousy, that he instantly tried to squash because even though he was a possessive man, he had no claim to Sansa before they got together. Still, the thought that they may have dated, made him sick. But then, fuck, seeing them in the hallway with his hands on her.

Immediately, Sandor wondered if he was the ex she fled from.

He’s lucky Sandor kept his cool.

The only reason he controlled the overwhelming need to punch Theon in the face, was because Sansa didn’t seem scared or hurt. But their stolen glances all night, the hushed conversations, the tone.

Something was off.

Sandor was jealous and pissed because clearly the two had a past and he hated being in the dark, especially when it came to protecting her.

Once the night was finally over, Sandor packed up Winnie’s stuff into his truck and they said their goodbyes. Sandor watched as Sansa hugged Theon goodbye, shooting Sandor a glare over Theon’s shoulder and quietly told Theon she’d text him tomorrow.

She was pissed off at him, that much was clear.

The drive home was nearly silent, Sansa had sat stone-faced looking out the window. She wasn’t being petty, and neither was he, just neither wanted to have this discussion in the car, but once he’d unloaded Winnie’s crate from the truck, he stood in Sansa’s soon to be the dining room, knowing the talk they’d been avoiding for the last 2 hours was about to happen.

Sansa had her back to him, getting Winnie water, and Sandor felt himself getting angry. Angry at himself for making Sansa pissed at him, angry at her for being pissed at him. She had given him nothing, nothing about her past, and he hadn’t asked her to, but of course, he’s going to fucking worry when she’s whispering with a man whose grabbing her arm.

“So, was he your ex?” Sandor snapped, he winced at how harsh his tone was, projecting more anger than worry, which wasn’t reflective of how he actually felt.

Sansa whirled around, her brows furrowed, “excuse me?”

“Theon,” he clarified.

“Yeah, I knew who you meant; I was just giving you a chance to get your head out of your ass.” Sansa scoffed. “No, of course, he’s not my ex, you think I’d stay there and have dinner with him if he was? Hug him?”

Sandor sighed; she was right. He was an idiot, and now he’d hurt her feelings.

“So, not the ex, but an ex then?”

Shock maimed Sansa’s face.

“Again, excuse me?” she narrowed her eyes at him.

“Well, fuck, Sansa. What am I supposed to think? You tense up as soon as he arrived, you kept giving each other looks all night, hushed conversations, he had his hands on you!” Sandor barked.

“You’re ridiculous,” Sansa snapped, “and for the record, he barely touched me, it wasn’t like he was manhandling me!”

“Didn’t look that way from where I stood,” Sandor snapped back. “You aren’t answering the question either.”

Sansa stepped closer to him, he had to give her credit, she was bold. He guessed he should have been glad, even though they were both heated, there wasn’t an ounce of fear in her eyes. Which there shouldn’t be, he’d sooner kill himself before he’d lay hands on a woman, yet people always seemed afraid due to his size and temper.

“No, I didn’t date Theon.” Sansa spat at him.

“Something obviously happened between you two, Sansa. There’s a history there, your family may not see it, but I sure as hell did.” Sandor pushed.

“Gods! Theon is gay, Sandor!” Sansa exclaimed.

Oh.

“What?” Sandor croaked.

Sansa arched an eyebrow and scowled at him.

“Yeah, he’s gay. No, we didn’t date or sleep together. I’m not exactly his type.” Sansa sighed, her shoulders dropped, and the fight seemed to leave her.

“Oh,” Sandor said, he didn’t care who someone slept with, whatever and whomever they wanted was no one else's business. Still, Sandor wasn’t completely blind, what was going on between them today was more than just Theon’s sexual orientation. “So Ashley is a..”

“A man? Yes.”

She couldn’t blame him for assuming, Ashley was more common for women than men these days. To be honest, Sandor didn’t care if Ashley was a fucking horse at this point, it made no difference to the fact that she was deliberately not telling him now.

“And?” Sandor asked

“And what?”

“Oh come one, Sansa. There was more than just that going on today, and I know it.” When Sansa said nothing, Sandor sighed. “Fine, you know what. You don’t want to tell me, that’s your business.”

Sandor was hurt. He knew she had her secrets; he had his too. They both had kept their pasts to themselves for now, but he had always thought that was just temporary. He understood Sansa needing to tell him when she was ready, but what he hadn’t anticipated is that she would keep more than just her past from him.

Despite that, the two had been open with each other, even before they’d finally admitted to their feelings, he thought she’d trust him enough to be honest with him, hell she was the only person he’d trusted in a very long time.

Hurt and confused he went to leave, grabbing his wallet and keys from the dining room table, he turned and had almost made it to the door when she’d spoke.

“He was there, Sandor.” She said softly.

He turned to look at her, “he was where?”

Sansa closed her eyes and beckoned him to come over to her, which Sandor did, standing next to her at the island but still giving her space.

“He helped me,” Sansa stopped and visibly swallowed, Sandor could tell this was hard for her and he wanted to be sick.

“Sandor, I know. Okay, I know, I owe you the truth.” Sandor went to protest, but Sansa stopped him. “No, I do, and I will... just, can we just not share the dark parts yet?”

He got what she was saying, his past wasn’t exactly shiny rainbows either, and their relationship was new, adding those layers would make it heavier in some ways, they’d carry each other's burdens, each other's scars, and pain.

“Nothing ever happened between me and Theon, Sandor. I promise. He just helped me,” Sansa continued, “he was angry I hadn’t told anyone, to be honest. When you found us, he was upset that I hadn’t told you.”

Sandor grunted, what could he say besides he is sorry for being an asshole?

“Sorry, I was an ass.”

Nothing, there was nothing more to say than that.

Sansa shrugged, “You wouldn’t have been if I’d told you the truth.”

“Well,” Sandor said sheepishly, “I wish I could say that, but I probably still would have gotten jealous.”

Sansa laughed, “of Theon?”

Sandor smirked and grabbed Sansa by the waist, pulling her into him. He loved it when she was pushed up against him, neck craned to look him in the eyes, eyes wide.

“Of any man who steals glances from you and touches you.” He growled, he felt himself harden. He hadn’t had her since this morning, and the jealousy he felt – for no reason or not – had brought out a desire to claim her. Remind her that for as much as he is hers, she’s also his.

“You’re such a caveman,” Sansa purred.

“You have no fucking idea,” Sandor rasped, grabbing her ass, lifting her off the ground.

Sansa’s legs instinctively wrapped around Sandor’s waist, and he could feel the heat from her core. He kissed her deeply, swiping his tongue along her bottom lip and when she opened he claimed her mouth. It was heavy and passionate.

He hated fighting with her, he hated that either was hurt, and he needed to show her.

Sansa tore her mouth away from his and Sandor growled, trying to chase her back to him.

She leaned into his ear and whispered, “remind me who I belong to, Sandor.”

Sandor growled, reclaiming her mouth he walked them upstairs, not putting her down until she was on her bed underneath him.

“Mine,” he growled, sliding her jeans and panties down her legs.

“Yours,” she gasped when he put his mouth to her core.

Sandor spent the next hour with his name on her lips.

Chapter Text

PICSET

“Do we have to go?” Sandor called up to Sansa from the foyer.

“Yes!” Sansa called back to him from upstairs, Sandor could imagine her fussing with herself in the mirror.

He wanted nothing more than to go upstairs and ravish her. It had been a long week, with Sansa being busy at work and with her mother for the last bit of planning for the yearly Charity Ball, which was next weekend and Sandor had barely seen her. They’d talked through the day, of course, and even if she was home late he would always stick around to spend at least a few minutes with her, but fuck, he missed her.

“It’s Friday, it’s been a long week, and I’d much rather stay in with you,” he said with that growl that always got Sansa in the mood, his intentions clear.

Trying to manipulate her into just letting him have her all night.

It had been 3 weeks, and for Sandor, he could definitely say he had never felt like this. He’d hesitate to say he was falling in love with her, hell he didn’t know if he was capable of love – not the type of love someone like Sansa deserved. But fuck, he also knew he’d more than likely never felt love before either.

He’d been in relationships before, long term, but still, he’d never claimed love. He may have said it, to Shae, to avoid the drama, which was a shitty thing to do, sure, be he’d known he’d never actually get there with her.

Still, nothing compared to what he felt for Sansa. It was something else entirely, and that scared the complete fuck out of him.

Was he capable of love?

“Oh no,” Sansa sang as she swooped down the steps towards him. “We promised our friends we’d go out! It’s Gendry’s birthday, and we said we’d go.” She paused in front of him and put her hand on his chest, “don’t use that sexy Sandor voice on me.”

“We’re going to your parents on Sunday for a birthday dinner, what kind of adult needs two birthday parties,” Sandor grumbled, Sansa laughed playfully and swatted him on his chest before getting her shoes on.

“He’s not five, they aren’t birthday parties, besides it’ll be nice to get out with our friends.”

Sandor grumbled as if under his breath as he watched her. Bent over, tying up her lace booties, Sandor couldn’t help but stare. Dressed in tight black jeans, and a tight wine-colored shirt, she couldn’t be more radiant.

He slid up behind her, her ass pressed directly into his crotch, still bent over she turned to look up at him with a knowing look.

“Come on,” he groaned at the sight of her bent over in front of him, he grabbed her hips as she went back to tying her boots with a roll of the eye. He ground into her a bit and could see her eyes flutter closed. “I’ll make it worth your while to stay home.”

“You don’t play fair,” she said, standing.

“Is it working?” he asked playfully, moving her hair back to reveal her bare neck and placing feather-light kisses along it.

“It will work, but I really do want to go out together, have some fun,” she looked at him with that innocent, hopeful look that drove him wild.

He loved how honest with her feelings she was, if he continued to seduce her, she would choose to lose the battle and stay home with him, getting lost in each other again and again. But, although he knew she’d enjoy it, it wasn’t what she wanted tonight.

Reluctantly, he let go and spun her around to him, pinning her to him as her arms circled his neck.

“Okay, fine. Whatever you want, but tonight you’re mine,” he growled and kissed her, pulling her closer to him and letting her clearly feel the state he was in.

“You get me all day tomorrow,” she chided playfully, nipping at his bottom lip.

It was true, they’d planned on him coming back here tonight on account of the dog, tomorrow he’d spend the day working on the house, and then they had plans to go out to dinner.

“I want you every night,” he admitted. Shocked at how easily the words left him, how easily he could admit to the need he had for her, far beyond the physical.

The implication of what he said wasn’t lost on him. He did want her every night, and not just her body, her.

Sansa understood the meaning behind the words, he knew she did.

“You have me as much as you want, Caveman,” Sansa smirked.

He smacked her ass just as their uber pulled in. Sansa smiled softly, and with one last kiss on his lips, she set the alarm, and they walked out the door hand in hand.

---

“Stark! Hound!” Tormund boomed as the entered the pub, Sansa tucked comfortably under Sandor’s massive arm.

Walking into places with Sandor gave Sansa such a thrill, she doubted Sandor even noticed the effect he had on people. He was a confidant man, even clothed anyone could see how fit he was, and though Sansa was loathed to admit it, she knew he’d been with his fair share of woman. Yet, he wasn’t arrogant and seemed not to even notice the way women looked at him.

Was it because he was with her that he didn’t notice other women?

Was that wishful thinking? That after weeks of dating the man had eyes for only her?

“Drink?” Sandor asked, pausing by the bar, before reaching their friends at the pool table in the far corner.

“Sure, gin and soda?” Sansa nodded, and Sandor gave her a look of disbelief, as if he hadn’t known her drink of choice by now, and kissed the top of her head.

Heading over to their friends, Sansa couldn’t help but smile at the amazing people she’d surrounded herself with. Gendry and Robb were playing what looked like a lost game of pool against Bronn and Jon – if the smug looks on their faces were anything to go by. Margaery, Arya, and Talisa were chatting around a nearby hightop, with a few friends Sansa recognized from high school. She was just about to join them when she felt Sandor behind her.

“Thank You,” Sansa said, taking the drink he’d held out in front of her and leaned into his back. Content to just stay for a minute, before inevitably they’d end up with their friends.

Sansa gasped when she felt him half-hard behind him. Any doubts she’d have about him not wanting her and doubts Ramsay had created about her worth. Her beauty. Her body.

Sandor destroyed them all because he always wanted her.

Sandor chuckled behind her, his breath hot by her ear and he ducked down to whisper.

“You knew how badly I wanted you before we came, don’t be so surprised.” He groaned and ever so slightly rocked into her. Slight enough that no one would notice, but just enough that Sansa could feel it.

“Sandor,” Sansa chuckled lowly with a slight chide.

“Sandor!” Gendry shouted from the pool table across the room, like pouring a bucket of ice water over the both of them, as Sansa looked up to see her brother, basically brother in law, and cousin looking at them. “We need you man, they’re crushing us!”

Jon and Bronn just shrugged, as if either he or Robb thought they could win. Robb had always been too busy hitting on girls to ever play pool on boy’s nights out and now he spent most of his time behind a desk.

“I’m busy,” Sandor grumbled, placing a kiss on Sansa’s shoulder.

“Gross,” Robb muttered and Sansa laughed, Robb was the furthest thing from a prude, but when it came to his sisters? He took a less is more approach to listening and or seeing their escapades.

“Go,” she heard Tormund say from beside her, looking over just in time from him to throw his arm over her shoulders, breaking her contact from Sandor, who nearly growled in response.

“I’ll take care of Little Stark, you go wipe the arrogant look off their fucking faces.” Tormund joked, pulling Sansa closer to him and away from Sandor playfully. A few expletives and grumbles later, Sandor had just broken the triangle when Tormund and Sansa sat on a nearby high-top.

She liked Tormund, a lot actually. He was a little wild, sure. Lacked a filter, definitely. But he also reminded all of them not to take life too seriously, which was good for everyone, especially Sandor. Who Sansa was certain would take the weight of everyone’s burdens if he could.

Two fireball shots – the drink of the wildling, as Tormund called it – and a handful of laughs later, Sansa had finally turned her attention back to Sandor and the game when she heard Gendry holler, having looked like they’d just won their second game against Jon and Bronn.

God, he was handsome. Sansa felt the warmth between her legs from just looking at him. Arms crossed over his chest, his shirt pulling at the seams around his muscles. Do people actually drool? She could have sworn she was drooling.

“You know,” Tormund said, a serious tone to his voice as he’d followed her gaze, “he’s one of the best people I know.”

Not that Sansa would disagree, but something in his voice had her turning to him, she furrowed her brow in question at the sudden declaration.

“Seriously, Sansa. Bronn and me? Chances are we wouldn’t have made it back if it weren’t for him.” Sansa watched the memories flash behind Tormund’s eyes, the same darkness behind them that she’d sometimes see in Sandor’s. Sensing the heavy mood, Tormund look at her and winked, “At least not with all of our important… parts. If you get my drift.”

Sansa laughed, “yeah, I got it.”

“He’s a hard son of a bitch, Little Stark. Frankly, I am surprised at how much he’s let you in, he never lets anyone in. He has walls harder than Fort Knox to protect him.”

Sansa nodded, turning back to Sandor who was listening to Bronn talk about something, with his attention dead set on the game.

“I know,” she said softly, trying to convey how deeply she cared about him without writing Tormund a sonnet. “He’s one of the best men I’ve ever known.”

“Just,” Tormund sighed and shook his head, “don’t hurt him, okay. He’s tough and very little can hurt him, but you? You may be small, but fuck girl, I’m pretty sure you have the ability to crush that monster of a man over there.”

Tormund tipped his empty glass to her and headed back over to the bar, leaving Sansa to ponder what he’d just said. Was it true? She never wanted to hurt him, ever, because what Tormund didn’t know was Sansa knew Sandor could crush her heart too. So much of it already belonged to him, of that she was sure.

But, if she had the ability to crush his, that would mean she held his heart as well. They’d never said it, but maybe somethings didn’t need to be said. Maybe, even if neither was at the point to admit love, they both knew that’s where this thing was headed. They both knew they’d get there eventually.

Would they?

Could she open her heart to believing that? Because if she did, Sandor wouldn’t just crush her…

He’d destroy her.

“Sansa!” she heard Margaery call from the group of girls, beckoning her over with a wave of her hand. Determined to have a good night, and wanting to enjoy her time with their friends, Sansa pushed all thoughts of what Tormund had said aside and joined the group.

---

Sansa stood at the end of the boardwalk, watching the storm roll off the coast. Sandor had quickly gone home before the storm hit to make sure everything was okay, since the reports her calling for a hurricane like rain and wind. She suggested he just stay put if the weather rolled in too quickly, but he’d of course refused.

She laughed softly to herself, she was perfectly capable of surviving for a night if she lost power, but Sandor worried and Sansa knew he’d come back. Luckily for both of them, he’d texted her 15 minutes ago telling her he was headed back, and the storm still hadn’t hit yet.

Though, it was close.

Sansa watched as lightning hit the water on the horizon, even in the few minutes she’d been out here, the wind had picked up dramatically, not that Sansa noticed. Too lost in her head to notice much of anything right now, her mind constantly going back to Tormund and their talk last night.

Just, don’t hurt him. 

Wrapping her arms around herself, Sansa stared out onto the bay, not bothering to turn around when she heard the familiar rumble of Sandor’s truck, knowing he’d come to her.

He’d always come for her.

She smiled softly when he laid a gentle hand on her shoulder, beside her then.

“It’s getting crazy quick,” Sandor said, Sansa turned to find him staring out on the bay, as she was. “The bridge is already flooding, I had to come ‘round the other way.”

Sansa hummed in response as he put his arm around her shoulder and she tucked herself in closer to him, she noticed just how cold the air had become when she was engulfed by his warmth.

“Let's get inside, close up,” he said when she shivered, and Sansa nodded.

They worked in tandem, Sansa making sure all the windows were tightly shut and locked on the inside, while Sandor closed the shutters on the outside. Sandor had begun working on the landscaping last week, knowing the cold weather was upon them, so he moved a lot of his materials quickly into the shed, before coming inside just as the rain began.

Sandor had brought extra flashlights and Sansa had plenty of candles, that they were set for a power outage. Weeks ago Sandor had brought Sansa a backup generator, enough to keep her refrigerator powered. Even if the rest of Wintertown remained with power, the houses on the bay rarely did, Sandor lost power often enough to know, being in the woods.

“What do you got there, Little Bird?” Sandor asked as he coddled a nervous Winnie.

Sansa had taken it upon herself to decide that they would be sleeping in the living room tonight. How often, as adults, do you get to make a bed on the floor with pillows and blankets, not to mention they’d get to see the storm on the bay. Sansa loved watching storms, storms on the water especially.

When she shared her plans with Sandor, he scowled.

“Sansa, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m a few years older then you, if I sleep on this floor I’m not going to be able to move tomorrow.”

Sansa snorted and began making their little bed on the floor, “Okay there, Grandpa. I’ll use lots of blankets.”

“Why would I sleep on the floor when I could be perfectly happy upstairs in your bed?” Sandor asked and crossed his arms over his chest defiantly.

The storm roared outside and a concerned look washed over Sandor’s face. He walked over to the big bay windows, the only windows not covered by shutters, and placed a hand on the glass, leaning against the panes.

“I haven’t seen a storm this bad in a while.”

Sansa slipped herself in between him and the window, leaning back into him and relishing in his strength, his warmth.

“I used to love when storms would roll in at the cottage,” she said softly, she turned to find him looking at her, “it’s why my window faces the water. It’s why I loved this house.”

She felt the rumble of Sandor’s chest when he laughed, and she turned back to look out at the bay.

“Sansa,” Sandor asked as she felt his chin rest lightly on her shoulder.

“Hmm,” she hummed, already losing herself in the rain and lightning.

“We can sleep on the fucking floor,” Sandor grumbled, but Sansa could feel the lightness in him.

“Really?”

“Really, but only on one condition,” he said, placing kisses along her exposed shoulder, she could already guess what his one condition was.

“and what’s that?” Sansa whispered, shivering as his hand grazed her hip under her sweater.

“Since you love this view so much, and these storms, I’m going to make my memory of this view even better and fuck you against this window.” It wasn’t a question and without any more words, he stripped her, leaving her naked before him.

He pushed her back against the glass and pinned her hands above her head. He took her against the glass, the storm raging behind them, and although he told her he was going to fuck her, it was more. It felt like something much more akin to lovemaking than fucking. Slow and passionate, as their sex by the fire had been that night.

 

---

Sandor was propped up against the front of the couch, reading in the glow on candlelight, as Sansa laid peacefully on his chest, watching the storm, although it was so bad, you couldn’t see much at this point. Both content in their silence, neither needing to fill the silence with mindless chatter.

They’d lost power hours ago, and they’d made love twice already. Once against the window, and again once Sansa had finally perfected their bed on the floor. He aimlessly ran his fingers through her hair as he read, and Sansa couldn’t stop herself.

This man, this amazing man, was so many things, and she needed to know more.

“Sandor?” she asked softly, barely above a whisper, she wasn’t sure he heard her until she felt him rumble in response, “What made you join the navy?”

His hand stopped moving in her hair and Sansa sighed, turning to look at him. His face wasn’t angry, he didn’t seem upset, but he looked her over with such a serious stare she almost told him to just forget she asked until he visibly swallowed and sighed.

Feeling confidant, that she hadn’t overstepped, Sansa moved to straddle him, she gently took the book from his hand, marked the page, and set it on the couch behind them. Sandor shifted so he sat straighter against the front of the couch, so they were face to face, his hands settled on the front of her bare thighs, his sweater riding up on her legs.

“Where did this come from?” he asked, he may not be angry, but Sansa could tell the hesitation on the topic.

Why?

“Last night, at the pub,” Sansa answered honestly.

“Bronn?”

“Tormund,” Sansa smiled softly.

“Fucker,” Sandor barked, showing the first sign of anger. Sansa didn’t react, something about this moment, the air between them, she knew that tonight would be life-changing for them. If he was going to open up to her, if he was going to trust her with that piece of him, he could feel however he needed to.

The only emotion she would offer him in return was understanding. She wouldn’t dream of scolding his anger, she wouldn’t allow herself to show him any emotion that could be seen as pity, because she knew how awful pity was.

 “I was never, we were never. Fuck, I didn’t grow up like you Sansa. Not even close. We weren’t a little bit poor, we were flat fucking broke growing up,” Sandor started, Sansa knew that for him to explain parts of himself, he needed to open up to her. About it all.

Part of her was so happy, that he was trusting her enough with this. But part of her, with the pain and frustration already crossing his face, she already ached for him.

“What money we did have, it just fueled my dads drinking habit and he was a shitty fucking drunk. He wouldn’t hit her, or me, or even Gregor at first – my brother,” he added, he’d never spoken of a brother to her before. “But he was angry, resentful when he drank.”

“When I was 7, my mom left. Couldn’t handle it anymore, I think she knew that if she tried to take us, a part of him would always be in her life, so she left us all.” Sansa said nothing as he continued, his hands gripped her thighs almost painfully as he told his story.

“She had left before, she’d call but not come home for a bit, long enough for my dad to get sober for a few days and apologize. When she’d come back, he wouldn’t drink for a bit, although it never lasted very long, and those days would be almost happy. Almost like we were a normal family.” Sandor laughed bitterly, rubbing soothing circles on her thighs where he realized he’d held onto, “those days would never last long.”

“She didn’t come back that last time, didn’t call, and Dad never got sober again. He had no reason too.”

Except for his kids, Sansa thought sadly but didn’t dare interrupt Sandor.

“Even at his worst he didn’t bother with me much, I learned to stay out of his way a long time ago, just let him be. Outside of the odd shove here and there he used to leave me alone. I think it was because I had her eyes.” Sandor paused, closing his eyes for just a second, and when he opened them Sansa could see the pain in them, the anger. “Sometimes he used to just look at me, across the table at dinner, or when he wasn’t quite drunk enough.”

“Gregor though, he was always a mean kid. Even before Mom left, he was a bully. Picked on me, picked on kids at school, the younger ones or smaller ones. Ones who couldn’t fight back. He only got worse, as he got older.” Sansa could hear true emotion in Sandor’s voice. The anger, the disgust, towards his brother.

“He ended up in juvie by the time I was 10, he would’ve been 15. Beat up some small fucking kid from the neighborhood, Dad had no money for a good lawyer, not that he would’ve paid for it anyway. To be honest, Gregor belonged behind bars, even at such a young age.”

“One night, when I was 11, Dad passed out drunk and the cops figure he must’ve had a lit cigarette in hand. We were poor, Sansa. The furniture was all that corrugated cardboard crap and cheap, shitty fabric. The whole fucking place was basically a box of matches.”

Sansa swallowed deeply, she felt the tear starting but did everything she could to keep them from falling, knowing now how he got his scars. She knew if she let the tears fall, Sandor would put his feelings aside to comfort her and make sure she was okay, and he didn’t deserve that, he deserved more from her.

“I don’t remember much, to be honest, for the first few weeks. I remember I was in pain, but I don’t remember, remember.” Sandor shrugged, a part of him was so closed off to feeling any emotion at all about his past, Sansa was sure part of that may have been due to therapy, but also just the walls he’d built around it over the years.

“It took them weeks to track down my mom,” Sandor cleared his throat, and Sansa heard the slight crack in his voice, the slip of emotion. “Turns out she’d gotten married the year before, to a man with kids, and she was pregnant. She wanted nothing to do with her past, including me.”

Sansa’s heart broke for the hurt little boy who had no one, who felt like he wasn’t wanted by anyone.

“When I got out of the hospital I went to live with my Aunt and Uncle, my dad’s brother. We hadn’t seen them much growing up, because my Uncle really didn’t think much of my dad, but they were good people. Still didn’t have a fucking penny to spare, they had 5 kids and my aunt didn’t work on account of being home with the younger ones, the 4-bedroom house was a bit crowded, especially once I moved in.”

Sandor looked over Sansa’s shoulder outside, Sansa had almost forgotten about the storm, forgotten about anything really except Sandor and this moment, but from the concerned look on his face, she assumed it was either just as bad or worse out there. She didn’t turn to look; she wouldn’t look away from him. When he was ready to continue, he would know without a shadow of a doubt that she was still here, ready to listen.

“My uncle worked for the city,” he continued after a few minutes, “he had some health insurance, and whatever therapy costs were covered, they’d been sure to get me any help they could, but it just wasn’t enough. For a kid like me, with my problems, I just needed more. I know that now, and they would’ve if they had the means too.”

Sansa felt for these people, wanting to help but not being in the position to do so, and she was once again reminded of her, and her families, extreme privilege. How lucky they were to never know what it was like to go without.

“The state paid for some of my reparative surgeries, the basics, but there weren’t extras for any additional surgeries – had I been able to do some of the procedures I had done later, earlier, the scaring may be better yet.

“So I grew up pissed off, angry, ashamed, and about 50 other things. I knew I wanted to help people, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and the older I got, the more confused I got about my future.” He looked at her then, an annoyed look on his face. “What could I do, Sansa. How could I support myself or help anyone else with a burnt face and a shitty attitude? Who would’ve given me a chance?”

For the first time since Sandor had started, Sansa wanted to interrupt. To defend him, to tell him. Of course, he’d read her face and gently squeezed her thigh.

“It’s true, twelve years ago? Fuck, you wouldn’t have liked the man I was then. I was so angry at everyone, at the world, I blamed everyone for my problems. I was an asshole.” Sandor chuckled, the first positive emotion in what felt like hours of pain.

“So, you joined the navy?” Sansa asked softly, bringing Sandor back to the story, not wanting him to give up on telling her. His lips twitched into the slightest of smiles and he dragged her mouth forward to meet him.

“So I joined the navy,” he confirmed against her lips.

“They didn’t care about my fucked up face and my attitude? Well, they fixed that out of me real quick. The hard work, the mission, the training, the organization – it finally felt like I fit somewhere. Then I met Tormund, Bronn… Thoros.”

“For the first time, ever really, I had... These guys were… are my family. Tormund encouraged me to talk to the therapist on the base, on the ship. Just do the bare minimum until I could see someone more qualified during our leaves. And that’s what I did, for years, finally taking care of myself, protecting others, serving my country, protecting my family.”

Sansa nodded and waited for Sandor to continue, but after a long time, he hadn’t. Sansa could see the storm brewing behind his eyes. The despair, the fear, the regret. She ran her hands along his bare chest, bringing him back to her.

“That’s why you take care of Ros? Their son?” Sansa asked softly, Sandor nodded and the muscle in his jaw ticked.

“Yes. He was the only one, out of the four of us, to have something to come home to. Someone to come home to.” Sandor sighed, “two someone’s, and he was the only one not to come home. He’s the one that should have come home, we should have got him home.”

Sansa swallowed back her emotions, swallowed back the tears that she felt prick her eyes. The sorrow for Ros, their son, Sandor, and the others. How hard it must have been, how hard it must still be for all of them.

Sansa cupped Sandor’s face, kissing him hard before pulling back. “You, you are the best man, I have ever met.”

Sandor snorted and rolled his eyes.

“You are,” she said with conviction.

Sansa had known all along; the kind of man Sandor was. He may be hard to get to know, he tries his damnedest to keep people at arm's length, especially her at the beginning, but once you had his trust? Once he cared about you?

Holy hell, that man would lay down for you. He was, above all else, the protector.

Even with knowing all that, it wasn’t until that moment that Sansa really got it.

Got him.

Understood how much he cared, how deep his need to protect the people he loves ran.

His hands tightened on her thighs, and it was only then that she realized how far his hands had traveled up her legs.

“I need you,” he said gruffly.

Looking in his eyes, Sansa could see it. The need. It wasn’t about him being hot-blooded and wanting her. It wasn’t about just sex.

He needed her.

He needed the physical connection to her, the emotional connection.

She wouldn’t deny him that.

“You have me,” she said quietly. “However you need me.”

Without another word, Sandor flipped them, caging her in below him. He kissed her, it was heated, passionate, demanding. Slanting his mouth over hers, he took everything she was offering.

Sliding his sweatshirt over her head, he had her naked below him by the time he slipped out of his track pants and set his mouth on her cunt, quickly bringing her to completion with his tongue, and then his fingers and tongue.

Only when she was begging, had he slid inside her, slow and controlled, Sansa could see the emotion raging behind his eyes.

Sansa tightened on him, gaining his attention.

“Sandor, stop holding back. Take me, however, you need me.” Sansa moaned. She wouldn’t break, she wanted him. He wouldn’t hurt her.

“Sansa...” Sandor warned.

“Baby, I won’t break.” Sansa let go and swirled her hips. “Fuck me, Sandor.”

The last thread of his control snapped as he thrust into her hard and deep.

“Fuck, Sansa.” As he set his pace. It was fast, but not punishing, but hard and deep. He felt deeper than he’d ever been, hitting that spot over and over again, almost a slight pain with each thrust – but in the best possible way.

“You. Are. My fucking. Salvation,” he punctuated with each thrust, and whether it was the movement or the words, she wasn’t sure, but he brought them both over the edge at the same time with a mind-shattering orgasm.

---

Sansa faintly recognized the quiet ringing from her cell phone, laying on the floor somewhere beside their makeshift bed. Knowing it had to be the middle of the night, the panic from a late-night phone call washed over her – that instant dread of an emergency or problem.

She fumbled trying to find the phone that lay face down somewhere without waking Sandor, only momentarily registering the storm still raging outside. Tucked with her back to his chest and cradled by his massive arms.

“Hello?” she whispered without looking.

There was no answer on the other line, but she could hear the heavy breathing through the phone. This wasn’t an automated call, someone was there.

She felt the skin on her neck prickle, the adrenaline of fear starting to course through her like ice water, The feeling you get when you’re watching a horror movie and you know something is about to pop out. Only she can’t cover her eyes and ignore it anymore.

The familiarity of the phone call, the call she’d dismissed so many weeks ago, had her stiffening in Sandor’s arms.

“Who is this?” she whispered again.

Breathing.

She felt Sandor shift behind her and quickly ended the call.

“Babe, who was that?” he asked, his voice rough with sleep and groggy, lightly he kissed her naked back.

“No one,” Sansa answered too quickly, so quickly Sandor would have noticed had he not been in such a deep sleep, “must’ve been a wrong number,” she kept her voice as steady as possible.

Sandor hummed in response and rolled onto his back, bringing Sansa with him and tucking her head into his chest he kissed the top of her head.

Sansa lay motionless until the rhythmic rise and fall of Sandor’s chest, and soft whistle from his lips told her that he had fallen back to sleep. Sleep which didn’t come as easily for Sansa.

Knowing that after Sandor had shared his past with her, it was time for her to do that same.

But not now.

Not in the middle of the night.

Not after Sandor had just laid himself bare to her.

Sansa remained, tucked into the strength and comfort of Sandor, she watched the storm rage on, dreading what was to come.

Chapter Text

PICSET

Sandor was breathing hard, their usual leisurely jog had turned into more of a beating run for the last 10 kilometers.

Even Sandor was having a hard time keeping up, Sansa was pushing herself. Running harder, faster, than usual. 

Sandor knew this run.

This is what you do when you’re trying to escape whatever is in your head.

Where you are trying to use your legs to escape what's plaguing your mind, having the deluded belief that if you run faster, you can leave it behind. Whatever it is. The truth, the fear, the anger - it didn’t matter what, as long as you escaped it.

As they broke out from the treeline onto the sandy beach, she started to slow and when she’d realized Sandor had stopped, she turned to him, chest heaving, sweaty.

The beach was clear, the way it normally was after a storm, the water eerily calm after it raged all night, with only the bay being littered with branches and logs telling the story of the night before.

“Can’t keep up old man? Sleeping on the floor too much for you?” she tried to joke, but there was a bite to her tone. She was agitated. Bothered. But not by him, that he knew.

He narrowed his eyes, a walked closer to her, keeping his tone gentle.

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” he asked gently, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. She jerked away.

“Nothings wrong,” she lied.

Sandor could’ve almost laughed, she was a fucking awful liar. She had been jumpy since they’d woken up this morning, shaking off his touches when she hadn’t been expecting them, snapping and apologizing afterward, jumpy.

“Bullshit,” he said plainly. 

Ignoring him, she turned her body towards the water, her hands clasped behind her head, her breathing still heavy from her run, and Sandor figured adrenaline, but she didn’t say anything more.

“Is it about what I told you last night?” he asked, he didn’t think it was, but he needed to get her talking.

Sansa turned to him, eyes wide, hurt flashed over her face.

“Sandor, of course not. How could you even think that?” she looked stricken that he’d think that, disappointment flashed across her face, disappointment in herself that she’d let him feel that way.

“What am I supposed to think, Sansa. You woke up this morning agitated, jumpy. You’re angry. So, if you’re not going to tell me, I’m gonna start guessing," he shrugged. 

She turned back onto the water and Sandor waited.

Sansa didn’t say anything, but Sandor watched as her breathing steadied and when it did, he walked up beside her, what he didn’t expect was the blank stare on her face. He’d expected anger.

Pain

Sadness

He expected anything, not nothing.

“It didn’t happen all at once, you know?” she finally spoke, his brows pulled together, confused.

“What didn’t?”

Sansa laughed cruelly, at herself it seemed.

“Any of it,” she said hauntingly, her voice nearly empty.

“Sansa, what happened?”

Sansa sighed, the frustration clear. She didn’t want to talk about it, that’s fair, he got that, and maybe he shouldn’t push but –

He also knew that if she suddenly woke up agitated, angry, bothered then something had happened, something between falling asleep last night and waking up this morning.

The fucking phone call,  Sandor thought. Fuck, how had he forgotten, it barely registered for him last night, so exhausted from the night before

It’s the only thing that makes sense.

“Sansa,” he said, keeping his voice calm. “Who called last night?”

“I don’t know,” she said quietly, barely above a whisper.

“Sansa,” he warned, she turned to him quickly, anger had replaced the nothing.

Good.

Anger was good.

People talked when they were angry.

“I don’t know!” Sansa cried.

“You do!” he challenged back.

“No.”

“Sansa, you do. Who. Called.”

“No!” she threw her hands up and stalked away from him. “No, okay. No. It can’t be. It can’t be him. Not here. Not when I have finally gotten my life back, not when he’s left me alone for months!”

There it was.

The truth

The ex.

Everything Sandor had feared but knew what coming.

Sansa sighed and closed her eyes, her chest rising and falling in deep even breaths. This was the control piece, Sansa was a control freak. She craved it, needed it, and she’d lost it. In her past, she didn’t have it. Her coming home, her not telling anyone, that was her taking control back.

He respected that.

But, fuck. It couldn’t be like that anymore. Not if he was back, not if she was in danger.

“Sansa, you have to tell me the truth. If he’s calling, if he’s here,” he stopped and walked over to her, cradling her face in his hands and tipping her head so she would look at him. “Baby, I can’t protect you, I can’t help you, if I don’t know what I am protecting you from.”

Sansa ripped away from him, “ I don’t need you to keep me safe, Sandor. What, because I picked a bad man because I let this happen, I'm too weak to take care of myself?”

“I never said that, Sansa.” He snapped, cursing his instant reaction but frustrated that she’d put her pride above her safety.

“You didn’t need to, it's what everyone will think when they know.”

Sandor sighed and went to take a step towards her but stopped himself, the waves were beginning to pick up again, the sun was beginning to break through the morning clouds. As if it was reflective of them and their emotions.

The calm before the storm.

“That’s not true.” he shook his head, no one in her life would think that.

“If didn’t happen right away, okay,” Sansa looked away, pinching the bridge of her nose, completely ignoring what he'd just said. The frustration radiating off of her was almost palpable. She sat down in the sand, looking out towards the water, Sandor moved to sit beside her. His leg barely grazing hers.

It was clear to him from her posture that she didn’t want to be touched, so he’d be as close as she would let him be, but give her the space she needed.

He prepared himself to hear things that would make him angry, that there was a very real chance that things could have been worse than he’d hoped, and she deserved his still strength and not his rage against whoever the asshole was.

“I met Ramsay in my final year at University. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, and Ramsay was-“ she sighed, “He was what I thought was the complete opposite of Joffrey.”

Ramsay,  Sandor thought. The name burning into his brain like a brand. A name he’d never forget again.

“Joffrey was everything I thought I wanted, A Golden Prince,” Sansa mocked with her tone. “Fairy tale handsome, the kind of looks we are always told to look for. Rich, which at the time somehow related to worth, integrity. We all know that’s not the case. He fucked around on me, a lot, he was childish and petty and the relationship was just, ridiculous. But we were also young, immature, diluted in believing we had any right to act like adults. ”

“Anyways, when that ended I wanted the opposite of him, and that’s when I met Ramsay. I wasn’t looking for anything serious. I thought he’d be, I don’t know, not temporary per se, but a good change, I guess?” she scoffed, “how stupid was that.”

“Ramsay was a little older, tall dark, and… decent. He was the opposite of childish, almost too serious at times. But it finally felt, I don’t know it felt independent. We’d go to nice restaurants, have drinks, go to the theatre. It was, at the time, everything I needed to get past being used and cheated on by Joff.”

Sansa scoffed, her teeth clenched as she stared almost aimlessly out on the water. Desperately trying to justify why she ended up in the relationship, though Sandor wondered who she was trying to convince.

Herself,  he thought.

“I was so focused on school, it was my final year, I was top of my class, and I got an internship at this amazing company. Everything sort of felt right, for a time, but I was so focused and so busy that I didn’t notice how wrong everything was becoming.” She looked at him then, finally, a pleading look on her face, for him to understand.

He did, and he gave her a reassuring nod to continue, which granted him a small smile. For the first time, Sandor had seen the breaks in Sansa’s façade.

“It started subtly at first, he’d make backhanded comments when I wore certain things. Or, he’d give me the cold shoulder if I acted in a way he didn’t like. I didn’t even realize how insecure he was making me, how much I had begun to rely on him. Asking him his opinions on what I wore, how I acted. I would subconsciously stop wearing colors he didn’t like, or stop doing things that seemed to agitate him.” Sansa wrinkled her nose, a gesture Sandor knew, trying to control the emotions.  

“It was so slowly integrated into my life, that I didn’t even notice. Sandor, how didn’t I notice?” she asked, venom lacing her tone.

“I graduated, top of my class, and the company I was interning with offered me a job, a job I was so underqualified for, a job I know I didn’t deserve, but at the time I just thought wow, I did this. I am going to work my ass off to show I deserved it, and I did. I threw myself into my work and I was good at my job Sandor, so damn good. Things with Ramsay were just okay, but at the time ending it seemed like more work than just staying.” She shrugged.

Sansa was one of the hardest workers he knew, the pride she held in her work made up a big part of what made Sansa, Sansa. He’d watch her during the evenings when she’d be sucked into work for hours, the dedication she gave to her job took over – and this bastard knew that.  

“After a while, the subtle jabs and backhanded comments, they progressed into telling me how much I’d embarrassed him, squeezing my shoulder too tight if the conversation with someone was going in a direction he didn’t like.”

Sandor knew these tells, the beginning signs of domestic violence. It rarely started quickly, most times it was slow and started with deep emotional manipulation.

“I knew I needed to leave, but suddenly it was like a light went off, and I was scared. He was dangerous, and I… I don’t know how I never saw it before. The dead empty look in his eyes, the evil behind them. I knew I needed to be smart about leaving. I waited, for about a week, until he had a late-night conference call. We went out for dinner, went back to his apartment, and I waited for him to leave. I quickly packed up any of the things I had there, and I was going to leave.”

Her breathing hitched as she took a minute to compose herself, and Sandor felt like ice began to replace the blood in his veins. 

“He came back?” he asked quietly.

Sans laughed bitterly, “He never left. He waited, he knew. Somehow, he knew.”

Sandor’s fists clenched in the sand beside him, knowing what was coming. He could see it on her face, the truth.  

“He hit me, he told me about how he’d picked me, that everything I was - belonged to him. I told him he was wrong and he laughed. The company, my amazing position, Sandor his father owned that company, I never put two and two together, because it was under a different corporation name and I never looked that deep, but his father was a silent partner. Ramsay had gotten me the job, as a way to control me, it's how he knew so much about my schedule, why he would get mad at me if I came over later than I should have – things I never even realized he was doing. Things I never realized he knew.”

Sansa looked at him, angry tears rimming her lower lashes.

“He had picked me. He saw me as weak, someone he could mold and bend into his perfect little wife, the domestic meal ticket on his arm. He got me my job, I didn’t earn anything.” 

That was just as painful for Sansa as the violence had been.

“He hit me again, and again and again. Telling me I belonged to him, how he had manufactured every aspect of my life, that he owned me, and every time I left he would drag me back and make it worse than before.”

Sandor closed his eyes, keeping his rage as controlled as he possibly could. He knew, every ounce of him that had been trained and taught to read people knew that it had been a bad relationship. That it turned physical. That Sansa had been touched out of anger. But knowing it, and hearing it were two very different things. 

Hearing it? Fuck, Sandor didn’t know if he wanted to throw up or beat the shit out of something.

He did know one thing though, Ramsay was a fucking dead man. One way or another, the asshole would get what was coming to him.

“I got the upper hand though, eventually” Sansa laughed lightly, he could tell she was proud of herself.

“How?”

Sansa smirked, “I hit him over the head with a lamp… hard.”

Sandor huffed out a laugh at that. The fierce wolf she was, a Little Bird with talons of a hawk. How could she ever think herself weak, when she was so fucking strong?

“I went to my apartment, but I knew it wasn’t safe, Ramsay would come – he told me he would come. I grabbed the suitcases I had in my closet, packed what I could fit – I figured I could send movers for the rest later. I called Theon, I checked into a hotel under Ashley’s name, I emptied all my bank accounts in cash, cut up my credit cards.”

Four suitcases , Sandor thought. Why she’d come home with so little. Sandor made a mental note to thank Theon personally next weekend.

“That’s when I came across the job posting for Stark Dev. I applied, I interviewed as Alayne Stone, I got the job, and I made the move to come home. I know that maybe wasn’t the best idea, but Sandor, I needed to come home on as much as my terms as possible. He’d made me think so little of myself, I needed to at least try and feel like I earned something.”

Unable to take the physical distance anymore, Sandor shifted closer, draping his arm around her shoulders, and to his relief, she nestled in beside him. He placed a lingering kiss on the top of her head.

“I thought if I were here, home and surrounded by family, that he’d leave me alone. I sent movers to my apartment but, they said it had been broken into. Everything I had left, trashed. Broken, stolen, cut. All I had left was what I had grabbed that night. I knew it was Ramsay, but I couldn't prove it”

“So you came home?” Sandor asked, hoping this was the end of the story, Hoping that Sansa’s personal nightmare ended there and brought her here. Hoping there wasn’t more.

She nodded and Sandor silently thanked the gods he didn’t believe in.

“Then I came home.”

They sat in silence for a while, Sansa rested her head on his shoulder and they both watched the waves begin to crash. Sansa shifted and Sandor looked down to see her innocent eyes looking up at him.

Sandor could read, from the expression on her face, that Sansa was done talking about it for now. He knew they were nowhere done talking about it, but he wasn’t going to push for more right this second.

He stood and held out her hand, with a small smile she took it, standing he playfully wiped the sand from her ass – trying to break the mood, it worked a bit.

They went back to the house, Sandor took Winnie out for a walk and Sansa showered. Normally Sandor would have joined her, but he knew now wasn’t the time.

He was incredibly impressed with her strength. Yeah, she still had things to work out, and yes she was clearly shaken by the thought of her ex coming back. But she was almost angrier then scared, more angry than timid. Which was a good place to be.

Scared and timid, unfortunately, that makes her vulnerable. Not that she didn’t have a reason to be scared or about 100 other things, but anger? Anger made her defensive, it made her proud. Fuck, anger in this situation kept her far safer than panic.

Not to mention, she wasn’t doing this alone anymore. He knew now and he’d make damn sure she told the people who love her. She would have a whole circle of people around her, protecting her, being in her corner, supporting her.

Plus, knowing her brothers, her friends, her father, the runt, were behind her, would hopefully simmer some of Sandor’s rage. He’d held it together around her as best he could, but holy fuck was he pissed. Not at her, of course, but at the fucking asshole who thought he could touch her.

Lay a single fucking finger on her out of anger.

Belittle her.

Make her questions herself.

Try and break her.

Try being the operative word, because no one could break Sansa Stark, she was stronger than anyone gave her credit for. Stronger than she would give herself credit for. 

But, that didn’t mean his knuckles weren’t burning with the need to get his hands on him.

By the time he’d gotten back, albeit not as calm as he would’ve liked, Sansa was out of the shower and had made a pot of coffee, handing one to Sandor.

He leaned down to kiss her, softly, but firmly enough to show her that nothing between them had changed, she sighed.

“We aren’t done talking about this are we?” she asked, but they both knew the answer.

“No, we’re not," he answered honestly.

“Okay,” Sansa sighed and jumped on the counter, across from Sandor who was leaning back against the island, arms folded over chest. “What do you want to know?”

“Was that the first time he's contacted you” Sandor asked, nearly praying the answer was yes.

Sansa said nothing, fuck.

“When?”

“I got a phone call like that a few months ago when I moved in,” she said sheepishly, but with a defensive edge to her already.

“For fuck sakes, Sansa. Months ago?” He cursed himself for getting upset with her, but fuck months! 

Sansa narrowed her eyes at him and Sandor knew he may have overstepped. She had been so patient with his past, but she also knew him, and his was just that – a past. Whereas her past is also very much her present, and if she doesn’t deal with it now, her future and he would be damned if he let that happen.

“It was only once, and I’m not a complete idiot, Sandor. I had a friend, a hacker friend, look into the call. He said it came from Dorne, but as far as he could tell it was just an automated call. He hadn’t tried to reach me up until that point, I’d never seen him even though I am sure he knew I was home. I had no reason to doubt what my friend had found, no reason.”

He was happy she’d taken steps to look into it, but he wondered whether this ‘hacker’ friend was just an idiot or if Ramsay was smarter than Sansa gave him credit for.

“What made this call different?” he asked, curious. Why didn’t she assume this was an automated call too or a wrong number? What had her convinced this was him.

“I heard breathing on the other line, they weren’t trying to hide it, someone wanted me to know they were on the other line.” Sansa sighed, Sandor, caught the quick flash of fear cross over her features. The caller had wanted to rouse her, make her scared and the fucker succeeded. Still, Sandor felt like there was still a missing piece of the puzzle.

“Okay, and?” he pushed.

Sansa narrowed her eyes at him but continued, “and Theon said he’d heard, through mutual friends, that Ramsay never told them we had split up, he said I came home to help the company, but that I would be coming back soon.”

Anddd there it was. In the fuckers mind, Sansa was his. He’d been giving her time to feel comfortable, to let her guard down. Sandor sighed, yes, Sansa knew Ramsay – but he knew men like Ramsay. Every day that went by when he didn’t hear from her brothers, her cousin, any of the men in her life, he knew she hadn’t told them.

Every day when no consequences fell on him, when nothing was said, he got more confidant. More likely he knew Sansa well enough, after being with her for so long, and he knew her strength – honestly, Sandor would guess that was why he ‘chose’ her, to get the satisfaction of breaking someone strong. 

Though he hadn’t even cracked her. 

But he knew her, knew she valued her strength, and knew she’d probably stay quiet as a way of self-protection.

“Sansa, why didn’t you tell anyone, your family, Margaery, me?” He asked. He understood, but from the boyfriend standpoint, he didn’t.

“I had it handled! I’m not we-” Sansa raised her voice slightly, angry and defensive. That pissed him off, that she still saw herself as weak, or thought others would.

Because she wasn’t.

Not even fucking close.

“Fuck, Sans. Asking for help, or letting people in doesn’t make you weak! And trust me, it took me years of therapy to actually fucking believe that. You left, you got out, you did that, on your own! That’s brave, and it makes you strong. Letting people in wouldn’t have changed that.” Sandor cupped her cheeks and forced her to look at him, he wanted to be gentle, treat her like glass, hold her – but she didn’t want that, being treated as weak, it was why she hadn’t said anything. “Sansa, listen to me, you are not weak. Do you understand me?”

Sansa scoffed and moved to look away, he jerked her gave back to him.

“You aren’t,” he demanded. "Stubborn as fucking hell, but not weak." 

To his relief, Sansa gave a soft smile. The first real smile he’d see from her this whole morning. 

Woof, woof.

Breaking the moment, Winnie barked by the front door, something she only did when she was desperate for attention. Sansa laughed lightly and hopped down from the counter, and went to Winnie, who was sitting patiently in the foyer.

Sandor gave her a bit of time, before going and crouching down beside where Sansa had sat on the floor, Winnie rolled over in front of her begging for some belly rubs.

“I think you need to tell your family.” Sandor said gently, it felt like the ‘fight’ in her, towards him, was gone. She knew, or at least he hoped she knew, that he would never judge her or look at her any different. That he cared about her, and any anger she felt from him was at the asshole and not her.

Sansa sighed, “I know.”

“No, I mean now, not this minute but very soon,” Sandor said, because they needed to know. To keep her safe, and quite frankly, he wanted help burying the son of a bitch in the sand.

“I know, Sandor. I will, after the gala.” Sansa looked at him, her face soft but determined.

“Sansa –“ he started.

“No, listen to me,” she said matter of factly, the sheer determination on her face left Sandor with nearly no place to go. “This is a big event for my family, for the community. My mom, Margaery, they work on this all year. I will not take that from them, I will not make this moment about my shitty choices.”

“Sansa, he is not just some ex-boyfriend unwilling to let go. I know men like this, I've studied men like this. He is violent, calculating. He is dangerous – probably more dangerous than an ex that was physically in your space because he is planning.”

The truth of the matter was, Sandor was scared. For her safety. The quiet, lurking and waiting shit Ramsay was pulling, scared the ever loving christ out of him because he was unpredictable.

“And I know that, and I will tell them. Okay, I know, and I want to tell them. Well, I don’t want to, want to – but I do, I know I need to.” Sansa sat up on her knees and grabbed his hand, “But. I will NOT do it before the gala. I won't, and I am sorry if that upsets you, but I simply won’t.”

Regardless of how much he didn't like her answer or this decision, holy fuck she was impressive. She was by far the strongest woman he'd ever met. 

Simply put, she amazed him... while simultaneously infuriating him.

Sandor’s hand cupped the back of her neck and he kissed her. He slipped his tongue into her mouth and deepened the kiss only slightly. Sansa sighed softly and Sandor pulled back, satisfied, and rested his forehead against hers.

“Okay?” she asked quietly.

“Okay, Sansa. Whatever you want baby,” he agreed. She smiled, kissed him quickly again as Winnie whined.

“Okay you big baby, let’s go pee.” She said and she went outside with Winnie.

Sandor followed behind them and leaned his shoulder against the pillar of the porch with his arms crossed. He watched her chase Winnie, and then turn and run as Winnie chased her.

Happy.

Free.

Beautiful.

He wasn’t thrilled that she wanted to wait, because all he wanted was a fucking blockade of people protecting her, but it wasn’t his choice. It was never his choice, it was hers, and he would support her in whatever way he could.

Still, while she was busy, he quickly pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed an old friend, who he knew could help him.

“Drogo, hey man,” Sandor said to his friend on the other line.

“Yeah everything's fine, I was hoping you could do me a favor,” Sandor asked, he was a man who rarely ever asked for favors – and never for himself. “Are you still in touch with your buddy, from intelligence?”

“Yeah, of course, he works private investigation now. One of the best, he can find out what a sleazeball had for lunch 3 months ago. Why?” Drogo asked, concern lacing his tone.

“Great, I need to know everything there is to know about Ramsay Bolton, from Dorne. I’ll text you the rest of the details, and I’ll explain when I can?” Sandor asked, hoping Drogo would leave it at that – leaving Sansa’s truth with him until she was ready.

“Send me the information,” Drogo confirmed.

Sandor would respect her decision, he would be the support she needed from him, but he sure as fuck wouldn’t sit idly by while this asshole waited to get to her. He wanted to know everything there was to know about Ramsay fucking Bolton, and he wanted to fucking bury him. Make sure he would never be able to get his filthy paws on her again.

Watching Sansa in the yard, when she turned and smiled at him, he knew he would do whatever he fucking needed to, to keep her safe.

Chapter Text

PICSET

“Sansa! Look at you!” Margaery exclaimed walking into the main suite at Winterfell as she dropped her dress bag on the wingback chair. “You look gorgeous!”

Sansa smiled, glancing at Margaery over her shoulder in the mirror, remaining still as the hairstylist finished with her hair.

“Thank you, where is Bronn?” Sansa asked.

“With the men, of course. Tormund has probably already given him a shot,” she laughed.

Sansa, Talisa, Arya, and Catelyn had started getting ready hours ago, while Margaery had to finish a few things up at the Museum where the event was being held but had made it in time to quickly have her hair and makeup done with the girls – not that she needed it, the woman was effortlessly beautiful… and had her nails, eyelashes, and eyebrows done monthly anyhow.

Sansa smiled softly, turning back to her reflection in the mirror, thinking about how handsome Sandor would look in his tux tonight.

Things had been a little heavy between them this week. She’d been working like crazy with her mom on the final week of the event, and dealing with things at the firm as well, he’d been dealing with an issue at work and working long hours – it cast this unsettling air between them.

So much had happened last weekend.

So many truths.

Which in some ways was good, there was this new and better feeling between them, there weren’t any secrets or unsaid words, and in some ways that really did make things seem so much more real between them.

Nothing either of them shared had changed how they felt, only reinforced it.

But...

Still, there was this new tension.

Sansa knew, she knew, that Sandor was unhappy about keeping her secret. More than just the secrets, she knew how unsettled Sandor was. How on edge. How concerned.

How angry, though for her sake she knew he’d been trying to reign it in – but she saw it.

He wasn’t angry at her, heck she actually believed him when he called her strong, when he told her he was proud of her.

Still, it was taking every ounce of his self-control not to find Ramsay, destroy him, and Sansa knew it.

The heaviness between them was mostly on her though, he’d tried to lighten the mood between them, to not dwell on it, but part of Sansa felt so….. so out of control.

By not having control of the situation, Sansa wasn’t exactly sure what to do. Where to go from here.

She’d tried to bury herself in work this week, but then she just started feeling awkward.

Broken.

Sansa sighed and looked at herself in the mirror. She’d been so excited for tonight, especially to be there with Sandor and she still was, she was just hoping he would be willing to put things aside for tonight and enjoy their night together.

Sansa loved, LOVED, Sandor in a pair of jeans and workboots, hell the man was the epitome of ‘man’, but she couldn’t wait to see him in a suit. She’d help him pick it out. Black, three pieces. Grey dress shirt, black vest.

She was nearly drooling at the thought of later in the evening when he’d roll up his sleeves and show off his artwork. She quickly cleared her throat before she started panting in front of the stylist and looked at the other ladies in the room.

Arya was talking to Talisa, bitching about a last-minute sponsor who insisted on being added to the promotional material. Sansa rolled her eyes, she hated that part of the game. Yes, at the end of the day, a sponsor was a sponsor, it wasn’t about the company or the work, a sponsor meant more money for the charity, which was a good thing. But Sansa so strongly disliked when companies only gave and donated for publicity and recognition. Not that companies didn’t deserve to be recognized for their donations, they did, but a last-minute donor who demanded they redo hours of promotional materials? It was just selfish.

“Well, well, well,” Sansa heard a familiar voice behind her, smiling she turned to the door where Ashley stood. Sansa loved Ash, and hell Theon had done himself good, the man was good-looking. “Aren’t you all gonna make your men faint downstairs.”

Sansa stood, luckily the stylist had finished, though truthfully she’d forgotten when she saw Ash and made her way to him when he pulled her in for a hug.

“San, you look beautiful!” he said and motioned for her to twirl, which she did. “Are you trying to kill that beast of a man I saw downstairs?” he joked.

Sansa laughed and moved to the side as Catelyn came over, followed by the other ladies. They’d all welcomed Ash with open arms, especially once they had seen how happy Theon was since meeting him, how much more true Theon was to himself.

“So, Sansa,” Ashley said, gently placing his suit jacket meticulously on the back of a chair. “I hear you are playing matchmaker tonight.” He winked at her, knowing he’d just sold her out.

Catelyn gasped softly and smiled, eager for all the gossip.

“Sansa, dear. Who?”

“I am not playing matchmaker,” Sansa scolded and narrowed her eyes playfully at Ashley.

“That’s not what I hear,” he said in a sing-song voice. Seriously, this man was the queen of gossip, how had he even heard, he knew very few people in Wintertown.

“You’ve been holding out on me,” Margaery said in mock distaste.

“I haven’t,” Sansa defended, “I merely sold a ticket to Val, shes a new business owner, and part of the small business association, she should be invited.”

The family knew Val from years back when Sansa had been in high school, and Sansa had since filled them in on her return to the city after she’d adopted Winnie.

“Mhm,” Talisa hummed, “and just who are we hoping she spends this evening talking to?”

“or fucking tonight?” Arya shrugged.

“Arya!” Catelyn chided, a bite to her tone that let Arya know she was serious, not that Arya really cared, she merely winked and drank her whiskey.

“I just thought that, maybe, she and Jon would have some things to talk about. You know, because of Ghost and whatnot.” Sansa replied innocently, and she watched as all the eyes in the room lit up. Satisfied that it wasn’t only her who thought it was a good idea.

Sansa phone chimed, and Sansa went to the wet bar where her phone laid charging on the marble countertop, the rest of the ladies and Ashley eagerly chatting away about Jon and Val. Sansa smiled when she looked at her screen, a message from Sandor.

Sandor [5:53 pm] – Hope you’re having fun getting ready, Babe. Just remember, I know we have lots of people to talk to tonight, but I can’t wait to see you… and get you home tonight 😉  

Sansa laughed softly - this was her guy. He knew her well enough to know that if he’d said anything overly romantic and over the top, or out of character for him, it would have made Sansa more awkward. But this was just Sandor being, well, Sandor.

Things would be okay, and tonight, she was going to enjoy Sandor in his suit…

And out of it.

---

Sandor painfully adjusted the tie around his neck, hating it nearly as much as he was hating the damn vest Sansa had put him in.

He wasn’t a Neanderthal, he had worn a suit more than a handful of times, and he liked looking good but never a vest, never ever a vest and this wasn’t exactly comfortable for Sandor.

He was a partner now, meaning he was required to shake hands, and talk to people who he really didn’t give two fucks about talking to. Hell, after this week the last place he wanted to be was at some stuffy ass gala surrounded by people whose asses he was required to kiss – not that he did.

Things between him and Sansa had felt so strained, and the whole ‘giving a shit’ thing was new to him.

Truthfully, he had no fucking idea what he was doing.

In the past, with any woman, he probably would have decided it was too much work and bailed by now, That might make him an ass to some, sure, but he hadn’t cared about anyone enough to put any real amount of work into it.

Until Sansa fucking Stark, that is.

Things had been tense, and he could see Sansa getting caught up in her head and he got it. He did. She was dealing with a lot of shit. Ramsay’s call, finally admitting out loud what had happened, knowing she’d be telling her family soon.

It was a lot.

But fuck, he didn’t know what to do. He tried acting normally at first, but he missed their closeness, so he tried to overcompensate a bit, but that just seemed to push her further away and then they were just stuck in this awkward limbo.

It hadn’t helped that this week seemed to be the busiest week of the season for both of them, and they’d barely seen each other – Sandor having spent only Sunday night with her, and only seen her a few evenings for a short period.

Not to mention his cock fucking ached with how much he wanted her. They hadn’t gone this long without sex since they’d finally gotten together and fuck he missed her. Her body, their connection, her smell, her taste.

There was part of him that was genuinely concerned Sansa was going to try and push him away after this. Try, being the operative word, because like fuck if he was going to let Ramsay take this away from her. Unless that was what she truly wanted, and he fucking knew it wasn’t.

No.

If Sansa was too in her head to fight for them, he’d wait. Be there when she was ready to talk, be there when she needed him.

Which was a hugely foreign concept to him. Fuck, he’d never wanted someone to need him, the mere thought had him putting up walls.

Too much pressure.

Too much obligation.

Too much responsibility.

But if she needed him, when she needed him, he’d fucking be there.

Before he could let his thoughts linger on the repercussions of wanting her to need him just a little bit, he was interrupted by the sound of ice and glass on the bar beside him. 

He turned to see Theon beside him, mirroring his stance with his back against the rail of the bar in the “man room.”

“Sandor,” Theon said by way of greeting, tipping his glass to Sandor. Sandor grabbed the glass Theon had placed beside him, pleased to see it was whiskey.

“Theon,” Sandor replied. “Good to see you.”

Theon nodded, then turned his attention back to the room. Ned and Tormund were in a conversation on the other side of the room, while Jon and Robb played pool and Bronn helped Gendry with his tie. Gendry still seemed to be a fish out of water in this life, which made Sandor feel marginally better since Tormund and Bronn had easily adapted to the “life of luxury.”

Tormund had once said he’d meant to be a “Ginger knight,” and “King of Fire.” He was fucking boujee considering he was such a wild fucker.

“So, how’s our girl?” Theon asked.

“I take it you know?” Sandor said though he could tell by the somewhat somber look on Theon’s face that he did.

“That she finally told you?” Theon asked, keeping his voice just slightly lower than usual. “yeah, she told me.”

Sandor nodded, unsure exactly what to say. On one hand, he still owed Theon an apology for threatening him at the Stark Sunday Dinner, on another hand he owed the man a thank you for taking care of Sansa. Neither of these things came naturally to Sandor, not one for the emotional ‘man talks’.

“Look, Theon,” Sandor started, shifting his body slightly towards the man, “ what you did for her.”

Sandor was stopped by Theon’s raised hand and an appreciative look on Theon’s face.

“No one needs to thank me, I did what anyone who cares about someone should do. And hell, I should have done it earlier.” Theon sighed, and Sandor could see the regret on his face. Curious, Sandor tilted his head, encouraging Theon to continue.

“Look, Ash and I, we’d met up a couple of times with Sansa, and then a couple of times with Sansa and Ramsay. Only a handful of times spread out over months and months, but each time, something changed – she changed.”

Theon turned slightly to Sandor, “she started second-guessing herself, or she’d say comments about how Ramsay wanted this, or Ramsay said she had to do this, it was all so subtle that at first, I didn’t even notice, Ash did. But then, when we finally met him, fuck he was a controlling son of a bitch and something just wasn’t right, his eyes, the way he looked at her.”

Theon shook his head and Sandor wasn’t sure how much more he really wanted to hear. Luckily for him, Theon didn’t want to give much more.

“Anyways, the point is, I should have done something sooner. But I didn’t know, we didn’t know, not for sure. So when she called, we didn’t hesitate. I tried to get her to tell her family, but you know Sansa. She's stubborn, proud, so afraid of failure – not that she’d failed in any way, but she doesn’t see it that way.”

Sandor nodded knowingly and turned back to the room, he did know Sansa. She was strong.

“You may not need to hear it, but Thank You, Theon.” Sandor said, he may be a bit out of his element, but out of his element or not, Theon had gotten her home and that brought her to him. “For getting her home.”

Theon offered a smile, “I know Sansa, Sandor. I know how she gets, and talking to her I know she is all up in her head. Just, let her work it out. She’ll come around.”

Sandor sighed, not one to talk feelings very often, he was also at a fucking loss with what to do, and quite frankly, Theon seemed to know Sansa better than anyone else except for maybe Margaery.

“I don’t know what to do, how to reach her, she’s just been distant, I guess,” Sandor said quickly, like the words almost pained him. Not the Sansa part, just the fucking chick talk they were having.

Theon looked a Sandor and laughed, “that’s Sansa. She doesn’t want to be seen as weak, so in her mind, she's going through all sorts of feelings right now, and making things seem more awkward than they need to be. My advice? Just don’t treat her any different, don’t act differently. You start treating her like glass, and she’ll think you see her as broken.”

“Theon!” Robb bellowed from the pool table. “Get your ass over here, Jon’s out.”

Jon jokingly gave Robb the middle finger and Theon patted Sandor on his shoulder and made his way over to Robb. Pulling his phone out from his pocket, Sandor texted Sansa.

He thought for a second about what he should say and then realized that was literally what Theon had just said not to do. Sansa didn’t need him to think about what he was saying, she just needed him to be normal.

You start treating her like glass, and she’ll think you see her as broken.

He didn’t want that.

Sandor smirked as he sent the message, and his cock rallied at the thought. He knew she’d look fucking gorgeous tonight, especially since she’d kept her dress from him a secret – so it was going to be a fucking knock out. If she was ready, and if she wanted him, he wanted her tonight. To show her how very not broken she was, to worship her, and show her that he wasn’t treating her like she was broken.

An appreciative whistle from across the room drew Sandor’s attention, Margaery stood in the doorway, beautiful as ever.

“My my my, you all clean up nice,” Margaery purred as Bronn made his way over to her. “Especially you, handsome.”

Slowly some of the women had made their way downstairs, Catelyn letting everyone know the cars had arrived. Margaery and Bronn coming over to the bar.

“Sansa was just finishing up, she should be coming down any minute.” Margaery winked and tipped her head towards the door, subtly telling Sandor to go meet her, though he didn’t need to be told.

Finishing his whiskey in one quick gulp, he made his way to the main staircase down the ridiculously long hallway. Just as he got to the bottom of the stairs Sansa was coming down.

She was a fucking vision.

Hands in his pockets because he didn’t know what the fuck to do with them, his heart thumped in his chest.

Holy fuck, he’d never seen anyone so fucking sexy.

Her silk dress clung tightly to all the right places, the perfect combination of elegance and beauty, and so perfectly Sansa. Descending the stairs to stand in front of him.

“Hi Handsome,” Sansa said shyly, while her hands automatically went to his chest, smoothing the fabric, deliberately avoiding eye contact with him.

Sandor tipped her chin so she’d meet his eyes and he kissed her.

Hard.

Fuck what happened last weekend, fuck the tension that had lingered all week between them.

She was everything he wanted.

He needed her to know how badly he wanted her, how much he didn’t fucking care about Ramsay, how proud he was to be with her.

His tongue gently licked her lips and she opened for him. Caring just as little for her lipstick as he did, luckily for him, it wasn’t red and wouldn’t be noticeably all over him.

Good girl,  he thought.

Their tongues met in a tangle of emotions, the kiss becoming deeper than was appropriate for her parent's foyer. Sandor pulled back, placing a final, lingering kiss on her lips.

“Christ, Sansa. Look at you. You look beautiful.” Sandor said, nearly in awe that this woman was his. That she’d chosen him.

“Yeah?” she asked softly, twirling before him. He nearly swallowed his tongue when he saw her low open back, that on someone as classy as Sansa looked nothing but elegant. “You like it?”

“I love it. You’re per-“ just as he was about to say perfect, she shot him a look, hating what the word implied.

“Stunning.” He corrected with a smirk.

“You don’t look so bad yourself,” her eyes roamed hungrily over him, oh yeah, she wanted him just as badly as he wanted her.

He wasn’t completely daft, he knew he looked good and he knew Sansa loved it.

A flurry of voices, getting louder and louder, ascended on them as the others made their way to the foyer. Catelyn herding them all towards the cars.

“Sansa, Sandor, time to go,” Catelyn called.

Sandor turned and offered Sansa his arm, she smiled up at him and linked her hand in his elbow, as they made their way to their car with Margaery, Bronn, Tormund, and Jon.

---

Tonight, to Sansa’s surprise, had been exactly what she needed.

Had she not been worried about letting her family and friends down by not attending, she would have stayed home, and she was so glad she didn’t.

She was having fun, despite the long week she’d had and how hard it had been, she was happy and enjoying herself.

Even Sandor, who admittedly was very out of his element, seemed to be enjoying himself. She could see the annoyance he’d had when he was forced to schmooze with people he wouldn’t generally talk with and could feel his nerves when they’d first arrived. But, as the night wore on, and his tie came off, sleeves rolled up – he’d let loose a bit, and now with Robb, Tormund and Jon at the bar, Sansa could see the genuine smile on his face – the telltale wrinkles beside his eyes when he was smiling.

Plus, the man was god damn hot.

He looked so handsome when he’d stood at the bottom of her parent's staircase, but now, just ever so slightly less ‘formal’ – god, he was so freaking hot.

His rolled-up dress shirt put his heavily tattooed arms on display and Sansa was nearly drooling. Very few men, in Sansa’s opinion, could pull off heavy rings, but Sandor was so masculine that his hands just looked even hotter.

She wanted him.

Gods, did she want him.

Physically, yes. He had her drenched in need for him.

But he made her feel safe, he kept her safe. He cared about her, and he made her feel good about herself.

She was still sometimes unsure of where they were headed, both of them had such pasts, and neither had made any move to take things further, but for now, that was okay, because she was happy with what they had.

She just needed to be sure that she hadn’t screwed things up this week. Yes, he'd been there for her today, he showed her how much he wanted her – physically. But that small part of her? The part of her that Ramsay had created, and molded, and preyed on, made her doubt herself.

Was he only here because he’d felt an obligation to her, because of his role in the company.

She pushed her worries aside to talk with Margaery and Arya, who were pleasantly buzzed and raving about Jon and Val hitting it off, Sansa smirked, knowing they would. Sansa had asked Margaery to come over for brunch tomorrow, wanting to talk with her about what really happened in Dorne, she knew Margaery already had her concerns. 

Margaery had never been team Ramsay, often pointing out to Sansa how controlling he seemed to be, and even though she'd never questioned Sansa coming home, part of Sansa that Margaery - on some level - suspected she didn't come home for no reason, especially when Ramsay was never mentioned again. 

She felt a large hand on her stomach, a strong arm wrapped around her waist from behind, and without even looking, she could feel that Sandor had come up behind her.

“Where’s your head at, Little Bird?” he asked, his voice deep and sultry by her ear, his stubble lightly grazing her skin and sending the most delicious feeling to her core.

“My head is wondering if you were here to ask me to dance.” Sansa hummed, her voice matching his flirty teasing.

He chuckled behind her. She knew he wasn’t much of a dancer, and doubted if she’d ever see Sandor bust a move to a modern pop song, but she’d seen his swagger, and no doubt the man could slow dance.

“What makes you think I dance,” he asked, his thumb lightly grazing her hip bone.

“Just a guess,” she shrugged, taking a small sip of her champagne before Sandor plucked the glass from her hand and set it on the table beside them. She turned to look up at him.

“You, darling,” he said with a delicious drawl and mocking tone, Sansa could hear the sarcasm dripping, mocking those around them without a care in the world who heard. “are lucky I like you and want you to be happy.”

Releasing her, he gently nudged her forward towards the dance floor, lightly slapping her ass, she didn’t have to turn to know he was smirking. Sansa rolled her eyes playfully and slowed herself to be led on to the floor.

Sandor grasped her hand, and turned her towards him, pulling her closer to him with a strong hand on her lower back. She shivered at the feel of her fingertips on her bare skin. Craving the physical connection with him.

Sansa smiled softly as her suspicions were correct, Sandor had enough swagger to dance pretty damn well, as he moved with her on the dance floor.

“Looks like your matchmaking skills are better than your mothers,” Sandor joked and spun them so Sansa could see as Jon and Val made their way to the dance floor. They’d been chatting on and off all evening, but Sansa could see the attraction between the two.

Proud of herself Sansa looked up a Sandor, smiling, to find him staring down at her. His grey eyes stormy, and intense. Her knees nearly buckled, the intensity unnerving.

She’d never been looked at by anyone like that, anyone except Sandor.

“Sandor,” she sighed, “I know I’ve been.. off.. this week.”

“Sansa,” he started.

“No, no no. Hear me out.” The music continued and Sandor’s hand flexed inadvertently on her back and they moved. “I’m sorry. It was just me, I was just in my head, and it wasn’t about you or us.”

“I know,” Sandor pulled her closer, and she looked up at him, sincerity etched into his features like a carving in stone. “Sansa, I know. You never need to apologize to me.”

Sansa smiled and took a minute to let it sink in.

How had she found someone who just got her?

And how in the world was the man Sandor Clegane, the man who’d once made her miserable and could ignite a rage in her with nothing but a simple email.

“So, we’re okay?” she asked shyly.

“We’re okay. Always okay.” Sandor nodded and they slowed as the song winded down, close to ending before surely another upbeat number would begin.

Smirking, Sansa purposefully drew her fingertips across the sweet spot on his neck, she could feel it pulsing beneath the pads of her fingers.

“Do you want to go home?” she asked sweetly, with a mischievous gleam in her eye.

Sandor growled, pulling her into him and kissing her, she could feel him hardening slightly.

“More than anything,” he growled and kissed her again.

Sansa laughed as he nearly dragged her off the dance floor, a serious determination to his jaw, but a playful glow in his eyes – those telltale wrinkles giving him away. She handed him their coat check tickets from her clutch and excused herself to the washroom, wanting to quickly freshen up. She knew that as soon as Sandor got her home, she would be his for tonight.

In the washroom, she powdered her nose and fixed her hair. This was the first time they’d be together with all cards on the table, nothing turned over. It wasn’t their first time, not even close, but it would mean something.

Sansa blushed, knowing Sandor and his nearly insatiable hunger and drive would be on overload tonight, it had been a week, she could feel how desperately he wanted her and that had her nearly dripping. So ready to submit herself to him, to have him demand whatever he wanted knowing the insane amount of pleasure he would bring her.

So distracted by what was to come, Sansa floated from the washroom, only being brought back to reality when she slammed into some.

Ooof.   

They collided, Sansa nearly tripping and opening her eyes to see her top half parallel to the marble tile floor, her unintentional dance partner having caught her by her forearms in what felt like a vice grip

Just as she began to straighten out, about to apologize for her lack of coordination, ice ran through her.

“Sansa,” the familiar voice said, just as hauntingly calm as she remembered.

Ramsay.

She went to move away, to pull her arms back as she quickly straightened, coming face to face with her own personal nightmare.

How long had he been here?

Why was he here?

Sansa had desperately wished that she hadn’t told Sandor she would meet him by the entrance, wishing that he’d wonder what was taking so long and come find her.

Sansa wretched her arms out of Ramsay’s grip, which he allowed. Of course he did, he was standing between her and the party anyways. She hated that he knew her well enough to know she wouldn’t make a scene if he didn’t do anything.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, trying to steady her voice but she heard it waiver. Cursing herself for showing weakness, but self-aware enough to know she was scared.

“I could ask you the same,” he replied easily, as though she hadn’t fled from him, as though he hadn’t been the bastard they both knew he was. “I’ve been waiting for you to come home. You haven’t called or texted. I’ve been worried.”

Anger filled Sansa’s senses, his cockiness hitting a raw nerve in her.

“Fuck you,” she spat.

Ramsay cocked his head to the side, anger washed over his features momentarily before he smiled. If they were back at his loft in Dorne, this is where he’d grab her arm and squeeze, dragging her closer to him. Intimidating her.

Hurting her.

“I see you’ve lost your manners, Sansa.” He smirked, and Sansa felt sick to her stomach. “Do you remember what I told you if you left?”

Memories of the night she did leave came flooding back to her. The way he’d hit her for the first time, the way she hadn’t been expecting it again and again, even after each blow.

The fear she’d felt then and now with the honesty in his voice. The disturbing level of honesty that showed his hand, left nothing to chance.

Tears pricked Sansa’s eyes as a group of ladies headed towards the ladies' room. Ramsay shot them all a charming smile as Sansa looked down and quickly swatted the tears away.

This is why he’d chosen the gala because he knew she wouldn’t make a scene. It wasn’t just about her family being there, or the people in the corporate world she was required to impress. No. It was about her, making a scene in a public place was one of her very worst social fears – and he knew it.

Just as Ramsay opened his mouth to say more, Sansa heard the familiar heavy footsteps. Looking up she saw Sandor only a few steps away., their coats draped neatly over one arm.

“Sansa,” he said, stepping between her and Ramsay, he gently cupped her face. “You okay?”

She shook her head quickly, knowing he knew she was far from okay, but hoping he could tell she just wanted to go home.

“Well, I should get going,” Ramsay said, the same cockiness as before, which Sansa thought ballsy considering Sandor’s sheer presence. Sansa looked to the side of Sandor to see him smirk, and Sandor turned, grabbing Sansa’s hand. “Sansa, I’ll be in touch.”

Sansa felt Sandor shift as his eyes narrowed and his head tilted to the side. Challenging Ramsay with a rage Sansa had never seen on him before. She knew that if they were anywhere else, anywhere that Sansa didn’t care about, Sandor would have hit first and asked questions later.

Sandor didn’t move, not a twitch or a subtle shift until Ramsay disappeared into the crowd. Then he turned to her, dipping slightly to match her eyes – eyes that were now flooded with tears threatening to fall. Sansa stood frozen in place.

“Was that him?” Sandor asked, his voice calm for her benefit but dripping with burning anger.

She nodded and Sandor growled, Sansa grasped his hand, her wide eyes pleading with him.

“Please, just take me home. I want to go home.”

She felt like she couldn’t breathe, keeping the tears at bay only just as they quickly made their way to the front of the museum, somehow managing to avoid any of their friends and family. Only when they’d made their way down the grand stone staircase and into the waiting town car did the tears fall.

Sansa sobbed into Sandor’s chest as he gave quickly her address to the driver and put up the partition, his arm coming around her and he had her in his lap. Stroking her back as she cried into his chest. His free hand carding through her now ruined hair, comforting her or attempting at least.

Sandor’s shirt was soaked through where she’d cried silent tears. Unable to speak and Sandor didn’t expect her to, he just held her until they’d made it home. He tipped the driver and Sansa scrambled out of the car, just wanting to be inside as quickly as possible.

By now she was nearly transfixed or everything but nothing at the same time, eyes unable to focus on anything but she was accurately aware she hadn’t blinked or shut her eyes in god who knows how long.

Sansa walked to the door and began looking through her clutch with shaky hands.

Where were her keys?

Sandor’s hand settled over hers, stilling her movements as he grabbed his set of keys from his coat pocket.

Right, she'd given Sandor her keys since her clutch was too small

Inside, Winnie eagerly greeted them at the door but settled when she sensed Sansa’s emotional state.

“Sansa,” Sandor started, but Sansa said nothing. Just walked upstairs, she needed out of this dress, she felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her hair too tight, her dress to constricting, preventing air from filling her lungs.

Contorting her body, trying to get the snap at the neck that she couldn’t quite get, on the verge of ripping the offending fabric off until she felt Sandor still her, undoing the button. She hadn’t even heard him come up, she had forgotten momentarily he was even there.

She turned her head and looked up at him, concern and sadness in his eyes, but anger keeping his jaw ridged.

“Sansa,” he tried again. His hand moving to cup the back of her neck, but Sansa moved quicker.

“I need to shower,” she said plainly, and left him, standing in her bedroom, through the mirror she saw him card his hand through his now disheveled hair, but she simply kicked the door closed behind her.

I need to shower. 

---

A rage that Sandor hadn’t felt in a long time, maybe ever, settled inside him. Rage brought on by so much more than someone who’d offended him or hurt him, but rather a rage brought on by seeing what his mere presence could do to someone as strong as Sansa.

When he’d turned the corner and saw Sansa, standing with someone he’d never seen before, he knew.

He knew without a shadow of a doubt who it was.

The way Sansa stood there, her body rigid, and the fear he could see in her eyes within an instant.

Had he not cared, or had he not known Sansa would care, he wouldn’t have calmly stepped between them, no. Ramsay would’ve been on the floor with a broken nose in seconds, but he did know Sansa and even though it took every shred of control he could gather, he didn’t. Merely placing himself between Sansa and her abuser as quickly as possible.

The cocky little shit, Sandor was surprised at his boldness, Sandor was an intimidating man, few challenged him but Ramsay didn’t seem to give two fucks – which was more concerning than if he had cowered. Worse, he didn’t seem surprised by Sandor, meaning he knew exactly who he was to Sansa – he’d kept his tabs on her.

Sandor was at a bit of a loss, it was clear Sansa didn’t want to talk right now, she was nowhere near ready to talk about it, and Sandor had dealt with enough of his own personal shit to know when to push and when not to.

They would talk, he had all his faith in the fact that Sansa would eventually want to talk to him and allow him to be there for her.

But not right now.

Truthfully, his anger was so barely being controlled it would probably be for the best.

When he’d heard the shower start, he went downstairs. Winnie was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, and like all good dogs, Sandor knew that she felt something was off.

“Hey, girl,” he said softly, crouching down and giving her some scratches as she whined. “Let's go outside.”

Letting Winnie out the front door, Sandor sat on the porch chair and ran his hand roughly down his face. Completely exhausted from today and trying to figure out his next move. Taking one last look to make sure Winnie was good, Sandor pulled his phone from his pocket.

Hello?” Theon answered. 

Sandor had known that if Sansa would talk to anyone right now, it would be Theon and Ashley, he debated calling Margaery, but he hadn’t wanted to get into what happened with her.

“Hey, Theon it’s Sandor. Can you and Ash come to Sansa’s?” he asked, and quickly filled Theon in on what happened, hearing the immediately shuffling in the background as Theon quickly filled Ash in.

Ramsay. Here. Sansa. 

“Theon, can you bring Margaery, fill her in?” Sandor asked, wanting as many people rallied around Sansa as he could tonight, knowing he’d have to leave to take care of something.

He momentarily wondered if telling Margaery without Sansa’s permission was the best idea, but Sansa had said that the only person she’d wanted to tell since coming home was Margaery, which Sandor understood, they were best friends, and keeping this from Marge almost seemed harder for Sansa than keeping it from her family.

Deciding it was for the best, and wanting Sansa to have all the support she wanted tonight, he decided it was for the best. He could deal with Sansa being angry with him later if it came to that.

“Yes. Be there soon.” Theon said, hanging up quickly.

Sandor recognized the anger in his voice and knew that Theon was the right person to be with Sansa right now. She trusted him, and he’d been there for her before.

He sat on the porch, his body still nearly shaking with rage as his leg bounced up and down, sitting and waiting wasn’t Sandor's ideal state right now, he felt like he should be doing something but was bound until Theon got here.

When his phone rang, Sandor quickly silenced the ringer. Having left the front door open, he listened quietly for the sound of the shower, comfortable that Sansa was fine, he answered.

“Bronn,” he said by way of greeting, knowing that if Theon had clued Margaery in, Bronn knew as well.

“We’re in the cars on our way, Margaery went with Theon, and I grabbed Tormund on my way,” Bronn said, Sandor could tell her was on speaker. 

“What does she need?” Tormund asked, announcing himself. 

“Fuck, I’m not sure,” Sandor sighed, the anger only momentarily being replaced by a helpless sense of loss, not knowing exactly what Sansa needed.

“What can we do?” Bronn asked. 

The anger returned.

“Figure out where the fucking cunt is.” Sandor seethed, hearing that the shower had stopped.

“Already on it,” Tormund said, and Sandor hung up. 

He had kept in touch with quite a few guys from NAVY, but Tormund had more contacts, if anyone could figure out where someone was and quickly, it was him.

Taking one last deep breath he whistled for Winnie, who immediately bolted inside and up the stairs, no doubt going to Sansa.

Sandor followed, just as Sansa was coming down the stairs. Having changed into leggings and one of Sandor’s oversized sweatshirts he left, he felt a warmth in his chest. She might now want to talk right now, but the sweater was a comfort to her, fuck she could wear whatever the hell she wanted.

Coming to stand in front of him, she said nothing, she looked so young. No makeup, hair damp and loose on her shoulders as she looked up at him, his sweater dwarfing her shoulders, but her face gave her away – she wasn’t ready to talk. Not yet, despite the tears riming her lower lashes.

He kissed the top of her head, and without a word, she turned away from him and headed to the sofa. Sandow went to the kitchen and made her a tea, watching as she curled up on the sofa, allowing Winnie to hop up – which she never did – and put her head in Sansa’s lap. Sansa stared out the bay window, though Sandor couldn’t tell if she was actually focusing on anything, assuming from the glazed over look in her eyes she wasn’t.

The whistle of the kettle sounded as two sets of headlights pulled into the driveway, thankful they were here now and hoping he made the right call including Margaery. Quickly he poured the water to let it steep and opened the door, Margaery and Theon already there.

“Where is she?” Margaery asked quietly, and Sandor tilted his head to the living room, stepping aside and letting them come in, Ash following closely behind. Bronna and Tormund remained on the porch. With a nod from Tormund, Sandor knew he had the information he’d asked for.

Sandor watched Sansa stand from the couch, Margery standing in the doorway as Sansa’s eyes flashed quickly from Margaery to Theon, understanding crossing over her face. For a second, Sandor was concerned maybe he’d made the wrong call until tears streamed down Sansa’s face and a sob escaped her – Margaery quickly gathering Sansa into her arms as Sansa clutched her best friend.

Relief washed over Sandor, and Theon clapped him on the shoulder, he and Ash going over to join the girls on the sofa.

Sandor quickly fixed Sansa her tea, and brought it over to her. Sansa and Margaery snuggled on the couch, with Theon on the floor with Winnie and Ash sitting in the armchair. He handed Sansa her tea, cupped the back of her neck, and kissed her forehead, a confused look on her face.

“I’ll be back soon,” he said softly, glancing at Bronn and Tormund in the hallway and turning to leave.

“Sandor,” she called out, her eyebrows furrowed and eyes narrowed, she shook her head in question.

“I’ll be back,” he said and grabbed his keys from the hook on the wall. Walking quickly out the front door with Bronn and Tormund following.

He unlocked his truck.

“Where the fuck is he?”

 

Chapter Text

PICSET

The drive to the hotel where Ramsay was staying felt like it took forever, though they actually made it record time, Sandor having broken at least a dozen road laws on the way.

Now that he wasn’t with Sansa, and knowing she was in good hands and safe. His anger was beginning to claw its way to the surface. His free leg shaking in anticipation, his hands aching to get his hands on Ramsay. Reminding himself that he actually can’t kill him, despite wanting to and being more than capable, because it wouldn't’ be worth losing Sansa over.

Bronn and Tormund said nothing, though Sandor caught the glances they shared on the ride. They both loved Sansa and knew Sandor, and neither was okay with knowing this asshole had put his hands on her out of anger, but Sandor’s temper was legendary.

Back before he'd dealt with his issues, when he'd first met the both of them, he was an angry son of a bitch. A hot temper and something to prove was a lethal combination, and even though he was no longer a violent person, he could destroy Ramsay. 

They’d parked his truck across the street, and crossed toward the hotel, and only then did Tormund finally speak.

He quickened his pace to get in front of Sandor, turning to face him and placing a deliberate, halting, hand on his shoulder.

“You good?” he asked quietly, his eyes trained on Sandor’s.

You aren’t going to kill him, are you?  Sandor translated.

“I’m good,” Sandor nodded.

Tormund glanced and Bronn and nodded, stepping aside. The three of them walked into the hotel with deliberate but even steps, as to not draw attention to themselves. Luckily, since they were all still in their suit and tie, and the hotel was one of the top-rated hotels for events, no one took a second look at them.

They walked directly to the elevator and stepped in as though they belonged there, trained to go undetected. 

“609,” Tormund said without being asked, and Sandor quickly hit the 6th floor. No more words said between them – they weren’t required. All three knew what was about to happen.

The hallways were fortunately quiet when they’d gotten to Ramsay’s door. Sandor’s hands flexed beside him, and Tormund cracked his neck behind Sandor. Bronn and Tomrund flanking either side behind him.

Knock knock knock

Sandor heard shuffling on the other side of the door and the deadbolt unlock.

“I told you to leave the tray out si-“ Ramsay barked at, who he thought, was the hotel attendant.

Fucking prick,  Sandor thought for a mere moment before his fist connected with the side of Ramsay's jaw.

Even Sandor knew that was a good punch, the pain shooting through his knuckles all but confirmed that.

Good.

“What the fuck!” Ramsay bellowed, holding his jaw as Tormund and Bronn quickly passed Sandor and pulled Ramsay back into the room. Sandor scanned the hallways to make sure no one had seen before following them and shutting the door behind him, locking it.

“Shut the fuck up,” Sandor seethed. Ramsay’s mouth opened and Sandor quickly clamped his hand over it, painfully.

Ramsay ripped his face away and Sandor nodded to Bronn and Tormund to let him go.

Ramsay smirked as if he’d won some big victory before they’d let him go.

Wrong move, asshole.

"Sansa send her mutt to do her bidding?” Ramsay spat, flexing his jaw, disappointment washed over Sandor that it wasn’t broken, through the instant swelling did give him some gratification.  

“If you are half as smart as you think you are, you won't mention her again,” Sandor warned, his voice calm, but his intent clear.

Ramsay went to speak, but Sandor cut him off.

Having enough of his bullshit. 

“Listen to me, you stupid son of a bitch. You will not call her, you will not touch her, you will never do anything involving Sansa again. Because if you do,” Sandor snorted and smirked, stepping closer into Ramsay’s space, his body demanding all the air between them.

“Because if you do, I will fucking bury you. I will ruin you, professionally, socially. Until not a single person in your life gives a fuck about you. Then, I will make you disappear.” For good measure, he gripped the collar of Ramsay’s shirt. “Do I make myself clear?”

Fear flashed over Ramsay’s face, just like Sandor thought it would. Big and tough against women, people weaker than them, but a fucking coward where it counts when someone calls his bluff.

Sandor had dealt with assholes like him his entire life. He hated them, they were nothing, and Sandor was the furthest thing from afraid. He'd done enough research into Ramsay over the last week to know there was no threat here. 

“Who do you think you are? Do you know who I am?” Ramsay squealed like the pig he was.

Sandor laughed, Tormund and Bronn both smirked behind Ramsay.

“Do I know who you are?” he repeated as if Ramsay Bolton was anyone.

Ramsay straightened defiantly and Sandor could have laughed that he thought he was at all intimidating. 

“Yeah, I do. You’re a little punk, who has never worked or earned anything in your miserable little life. You think you are owed something in life because of who your Daddy is. You get off on hurting people who you think are weaker than you.”

Think  being the operative word, because him thinking Sansa weak made him an idiot. 

“I’m a fucking Bolton,” Ramsay declared, like that mattered, like it meant something to Sandor, “You’re a fucking handyman.”

It meant nothing. 

Years ago it might have, Sandor, growing up with so little aside from his scars, both physical and emotional, Sandor used to care about someone's name. Jealous of their status, what they had, when he only wanted a little bit more. A young boy who would have been happy with a small portion of what they had. 

He knew better now. 

Name meant nothing. 

Status meant nothing. 

If you weren't raised to be appreciative and thoughtful, like Ned and Cat had raised their kids, you were usually a giant asshole. 

Ramsay was a prime example of that. 

“You. Are. No. One.” Sandor punctuated, clearly the cunt hadn’t done his research when it came to Sandor or his connections.

“I am a decorated Navy officer. I had dinner with the Chief of Police and his wife last month. I get a Christmas card from the District Attorney, you fuck. You are no one. I could fucking end you.”

It was true. 

Sandor may not have had much, but now? He had more connections than Ramsay, important connections. When he said he could end Ramsay it wasn't being cocky, it was a fact. 

Ramsay stepped back, directly into Tormund, who stood like a statue behind him, Bronn made his way around Ramsay’s hotel room, slowly poking through his stuff. He whistled sharply at Sandor for his attention and flipped through loose papers on the hotel desk.

Sandor narrowed his eyes and went over, he picked up a picture, then another. All of Sansa, all from this week it seemed. Anger at how close he’d gotten to her without Sandor realizing filled his entire body with a burning rage.

He stalked over to Ramsay and grabbed the back of his head, dragging him over to the desk of photographs Bronn was collecting, like the animal he was. Ramsay yelped in pain, and Sandor tightened his grip further. 

Good you fucking cunt, if you can give it, you should take it. 

“This fucking ends, do you hear me.” Sandor barked, lifting his head slightly only to slam into the wooden desk brutally. Ramsay groaned in pain as he slid down to the floor.

Tormund and Bronn quickly grabbed anything that related to Sansa as Sandor crouched down beside Ramsay, lifting him by his collar his hand tightly gripped his throat.

Sandor could have squeezed a little harder and ended this, more than capable of killing him with his bare hands, and god a part of him wanted to. 

“I suggest you go home, if you are still here tomorrow, I’ll come pay you another visit, understand?” he asked, the venom in his voice nearly dripping. When Ramsay didn't reply, he shifted hands and punched him again in the jaw, shaking him slightly and hitting him again.

“Do. You. Understand. Me?” he asked again, this time Ramsay nodded, no doubt in pain, Sandor doubted he’d ever actually been in a fight before, too cowardly to pick on anyone stronger than him.

He leaned in, crowding in Ramsay's space, he whispered in his ear.

“Mark my words, if you come anywhere near her, I will kill you. I'm not a Stark, I don’t give a fuck about my image, and I'm not all that respectable. I will kill you and believe me when I say it will look like an unfortunate accident.”

Sandor slammed Ramsay's head back into the leg of the desk and stood, Tormund and Bronn both at the door ready to go.

Sandor was confident he wouldn’t call the police, because for that he’d have to admit to his own crimes, and he was too much of a coward to do that. Sandor also knew that Drogo had gotten information on him, and Sandor would do everything possible to see him behind bars within the week.

Which was the only reason he was still alive. 

Tormund opened the door, and before stepping out, Sandor turning to him, flexing and shaking his hand to make sure he hadn’t broken it.

"She'll use you and leave you, you know? Sansa will get exactly what Sansa wants, but nothing is ever enough for her. She'll never admit it, but she wanted it." Ramsay hissed, wiping his bloodied lip but not bothering to try and get up. 

It took every ounce of control not to go back and kill him, but Sandor recognized this for what it was. He was goading him, trying to get to him, but the fear in his eyes was unmistakable, and Sandor wouldn't give him the satisfaction. 

“Get the fuck out of here, and stay the fuck away from Sansa.” He said as a final warning and closed the door behind him, leaving Ramsay on the floor rubbing his swollen jaw.  

---

When Sandor returned home with Bronn and Tormund, he found Theon, Ash, and Margaery in the kitchen, talking quietly around the island he still needed to finish trimming. Toeing off his shes, Sandor walked into the kitchen as he glanced around for the noticeably absent Sansa.

“She's upstairs,” answered Margaery to a question he hadn’t asked out loud, he met her gaze and she offered him a sympathetic smile. “She fell asleep about 20 minutes ago.”

Sandor nodded and the others took the cue it was time to go and began shuffling from the kitchen.

“She'll be okay,” Ash offered, an understanding smile on his face as he patted Sandor on the shoulder.

“Thanks.” Sandor said, to the lot of them, “For coming, and staying with her.” They were all still dressed in black tie, though the guys had untucked their shirts and Margaery had let her hair down. Sandor grabbed his keys from his pocket and tossed them to Tormund, “take the truck, I’ll come grab it tomorrow.

Sansa’s car was here if they needed it, and Sandor didn’t want any of them to have to uber home after being there for them tonight. It would be a tight drive home, but they’d fit.

He didn't want them hanging around waiting for cars either, just wanting to go to Sansa, and rest.

They said their goodbyes, Tormund had been adamant that he’d make sure Ramsay got his ass on a plane home and would call Sandor immediately if he heard otherwise. Sandor thanked them again and closed the door as they piled into his truck.

he walked into the kitchen and placed the few dishes that remained into the dishwasher, so Sansa didn’t wake tomorrow and do them like he knew she would, and he was suddenly exhausted.

Met with the emotions of the night like a fucking freight train, he turned and leaned over the island, resting his elbows on the stone, he rubbed his forehead.

What the fuck had happened tonight.

His hand was fucking throbbing, it had been a while since he’d hit anyone, let alone square in the jaw. He flexed and shook his hand again, he winced at the ache and noted the swelling had kicked in.

“Is it broken?” He heard from across the room, he lifted his gaze to find Sansa, still in his sweatshirt but no leggings, standing in the archway, arms folded over her chest.

“No,” he shook his head, “not broken.”

Sansa nodded silently and went to the fridge to get one of her gel packs from the freezer and wrapped it in a tea towel. She handed it to Sandor, he gently placed it on his hand, groaning slightly at the ache.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out she was non too pleased he’d gone after Ramsay. But what the fuck was he supposed to do?

“Sansa,” he sighed, “I'm sorry I left.”

Sansa scoffed, “I’m not angry you left, Sandor. I knew you were coming back, I knew you’d be here tonight.”

Well, that was something at least.

“Sans..” he started.

“What if he had called the police? What would have happened if the three of you were arrested?” she cut him off, throwing her hands in the air, frustrated clearly.

Sandor shook his head vehemently, “He wouldn’t have done that without risking the truth coming out. Sansa, I couldn’t sit here and do nothing.”

“You shouldn’t have gone after him. You could have gotten hurt!” she said sternly, she was angry, he got that, but Ramsay hurt him?

Not bloody likely.

His face must have given him away because Sansa sent him an incredulous look.

“Your cockiness is astounding,” she snapped and rolled her eyes, Sandor thought he sensed a slightly amused tone to her voice, but he wasn’t going to push that. Sansa turned to head out of the kitchen.

“I'm not cocky, it’s fact,” and it was, Sandor being a trained fighter aside, he had learned enough about Ramsay to know he stood no chance. “And it’s not like I went alone.”

Sansa sighed.

“You had no idea what he was capable of, Sandor. No idea.” She said quietly and turned to him. The anger, that he knew was more about the situation than him, slowly leaving her.

Taking a chance, Sandor rounded the island and stood in front of her, but kept some distance – letting her make that call of whether to come to him or not.

“Actually, I did,” he answered and she narrowed her eyes at him.

“You looked into him,” she stated, not a question.

“Of course I did?” Sandor asked, confused, surely she had known he wouldn’t have just dropped something like this. Not telling her family was one thing, letting it go completely was quite another.

“You,” she paused, shaking her head trying to process everything, “you never told me.”

“I didn’t realize I had to, I thought you’d just sort of know? You know my background, my friends,” he paused and she looked up at him. He was relieved to see she didn’t look any angrier. “I’m sorry, I would’ve told you. I wasn’t hiding it, I just thought you’d know, and he hand;t talked much about it this week.”

It  being anything to do with Ramsay.

Truthfully, he hadn’t been hiding anything, a clear miscommunication on his part, but never meant as a slight.

She nodded and stepped closer to him, staring at his chest. She toyed aimlessly with the buttons on his dress shirt.

“Did you find anything?” she asked, lifting her head, her eyes were full of tears. The fight having completely left her, and Sandor once again found himself crushed at how hurt she was.

“Oh, baby,” he said softly, pulling her into him. Her small body shook slightly and he knew she was crying. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow, okay? I promise.”

She nodded against his chest and moved away from him. He watched as she flicked off the lights in the kitchen and living room, only the soft glow from the upstairs light illuminating her face, she held out her hand for him.

He smiled softly and took it, as they walked up the stairs, he placed his hands on her shoulders and gave them a reassuring squeeze as they made their way to the guest bedroom. Sansa slid into what had become her side of the bed and pulled her knees up to her chest.

She rested her cheek on her knees and smiled softly at him.

---

Sansa watched as Sandor carefully took off his rings and watch and placed them on her dresser, beside her jewelry that laid neatly. He kissed her quickly before slipping into the washroom across the hall to get ready for bed.

She wasn’t angry at him, how could she be. Seeing Ramsay had been a nightmare she wasn’t ready for. More paralyzing than she’d imagined, but Sandor had been her anchor through it all.

Whether he realized it or not.

She knew how hard it had been for him to control himself at the gala, his face told her he knew exactly who Ramsay was, and the restraint it took for him to withhold every natural emotion and instinct and just be there for her? It meant something. That he had been able to do that, without hesitation, for her.

He surrounded her with people who could comfort her, and he knew her well enough to know the one person she really needed was Margaery. Telling her was the right call, Sansa had needed her, she’d been the one to comfort Sansa tonight. Having Margaery there, someone new, who didn’t have their own opinions already, allowed Sansa to talk about it, from the beginning.

Feel it.

Explain it.

Shed light on things even she hadn’t thought about in a while.

She was initially angry that he’d left, and not because he left her because he had made sure she had who she needed before doing so, and truthfully Sansa wouldn’t have been able tO talk to him the same way she could with Margaery.

She wasn't even angry at him for going to Ramsay, it wasn’t a surprise that he had. 

She knew exactly who Sandor was.

No, she’d been angry that he had done something recklessly. Put himself in danger, or at risk, recklessly. Where would it have left him if Ramsay had called the cops? Behind bars? At the risk of losing his company? His freedom? Over someone like Ramsay and because of her?

But he hadn’t done it recklessly.

She should have put more faith in him, that he wouldn’t have done it recklessly because Sandor was one of the most responsible people she knew. How hadn’t she expected Sandor to start investigating him is beyond her. He’d told her before about recon they used to do, she knew what Drogo did, and his other friends – their specialties.

Of course, he’d looked into Ramsay.

Of course, he started doing whatever was needed to keep her safe.

Sandor emerged from the washroom, his pants removed and his shirt unbuttoned, his tight boxer briefs leaving nothing to the imagination.

She nearly smirked, thinking Ramsay could have done anything to a man like him. His abs rippled through the open length of his shirt, his legs taught with muscles. The man's body was his temple, his strength, his weapon.

He slipped his shirt off and got into bed beside her, Sansa shifted so she was laying on his chest, the bedside lamp casting an amber glow on the room.

For a moment they said nothing, Sansa listened to Sandor's heartbeat gradually slow and Sandor gently traced Sansa’s spine with his fingertips.

“Thank you,” she said softly as she peered up at him, he cocked his head to the side. “For protecting me, even if it was a stupid thing to do.”

Sandor chuckled softly and shifted, lifting her and setting her on top of him, her legs straddling either side of her hips, the blankets still over her shoulders. His hands landed on her bare thighs and Sansa stopped herself from shivering at the contact.

“You don't have to thank me, Sansa. Keeping you safe, it’s part of my job now,” he said softly and she leaned down to kiss him, her hands on her chest providing her leverage. His hands immediately carded through her hair as they both deepened the kiss.

Sansa needed this, needed him. She needed the connection, the distraction, the pleasure. Yes. Ramsay was still there, somewhere, lurking, planning, but Sandor wouldn’t have come home if it hadn’t been safe at least for a time.

For tonight, it was done, they’d done all they could do, and regardless of what they did tonight, the problems would be the same in the morning – but tonight she needed to be reminded that she was alive and living.

Happy and safe.

Sansa knowingly shifted her hips, letting Sandor know exactly what she wanted, and just like she knew he would, he understood.

He flipped them, so Sansa was underneath him, able to feel his now rock hard cock between her legs as he pulled off the sweatshirt she was wearing.

His fingers trailed down her body to find her wet and aching core, he groaned.

“Fuck, Sansa.” He plunged two fingers inside her, neither wanting to go slow tonight. Sansa gasped and then moaned in sheer pleasure. “I’ve missed your fucking cunt.”

Sansa kissed him and bucked against his hand as he stroked that sensitive part inside her, his thumb rubbing circles around her swollen nub.

“You’re going to come on my fingers, Sansa,” he said as he kissed his way down her neck, taking her nipple in his mouth, swirling his tongue around her sensitive peaks and biting down gently. “then my tongue," he said switching sides. "Then my cock."

He bit down harder and blew cold air onto her swollen nipple, bringing her up and over the edge of pleasure. She cried out as the first orgasm hit her hard, so lost in her own pleasure she hadn’t even felt Sandor shift further down her body until she felt his tongue flatten against her.

He circled her clit before circling her entrance, he did it again and again and again until he finally fucked her with his tongue. Her second orgasm hit hard and fast, having barely come down fully from the first one. He licked her slowly, letting her come down slightly but still keeping her on the edge.

“Sandor, please,” she begged and he smirked against her thigh, nipping quickly before moving back up her body.

He kissed her, she could taste herself on his lips, something she’d never imagined could be so erotic, but it was. He sat up on his calves and pulled her hips flush with his, surging into her in one deep, penetrating thurst.

The moaned in unison at the feeling, Sansa relishing at the immediate stretch, the slight pain.

This is exactly what she’d needed. 

She had been so wet, so ready, that he knew she could take him.

All of him.

He moved slowly, shallow hard thursts that he knew built her up.

“Mine,” he growled, folding over her in a way that made him hit a place so deep inside her she couldn’t see straight. “You are so fucking mine, and I will never let anyone hurt you.”

Sansa moaned in pleasure as he began to fuck her harder, faster, taking her in long, deep strokes.

“Yours, always yours,” she cried as he moved his hand between them and circled her clit.

“Come for me, Sansa. Again.’ He commanded, and she shattered around him, he stared between them, mesmerized by the sight of his cock fucking her.

“Fuck I could watch this all day, you stretched around me, taking me like such a good girl.” He groaned.

As if some magic word, Sansa felt herself on the edge impossibly quick, the friction between then and his words bringing her so close to completion. She could feel him throbbing inside her, knowing he was close she tightened her muscles around him.

He came with a growl and so did she, he felt impossibly huge as he pulsed inside her.

Sandor rolled off her onto his back, taking Sansa with him and burrowing her into his chest.

Exhausted, Sansa felt herself quickly drifting off to sleep as Sandor placed a lingering kiss on the top of her head. 

She was safe.