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“I’m going to kill him.”

“Theon…”

“No, I am. I swear I am. I should have fucking known.”

Robb sighs and lets the argument die there, also because well – Theon might be wording it harshly, but if Euron Greyjoy was in front of him, Robb would probably be tempted to punch him in the face, at least. And not lightly.

He doesn’t know if it’s more because of the situation he landed them in or because it gave Theon a forty-eight hours long illusion of maybe possibly being able to patch things up with at least one member of his family.

So, it went like this: after the third demo, more than twenty for-free concerts in random bars and their Facebook page surpassing the 20k hits, it was a matter of time before Theon’s family found out about the Starkjoy business.

No one (except Asha) had been happy with it. Except that two days ago the infamous uncle Euron had called Theon to tell him that he was happy that he was doing anything at all and he knew about this minor folk festival thing somewhere around Manchester where a band had defected at the last second and they were searching for a replacement. Just a couple songs, maybe three, and he knew the organizer, and were they interested?

In Theon’s words, anything that might get them some publicity. But other than getting to play a gig, Theon had seemed genuinely pleased about any kind of support coming from a relative, and Robb had figured that a minor folk festival was better than playing in bars for free, and so they had said yes.

That was two days ago. Now they have another two groups in front of them, and Robb wants to break something out of frustration. The ‘minor folk festival’ thing had obviously been an embellishment of ‘putting bad bands that can’t usually find a stage because they’re frankly horrible from the area in the same place, giving them a stage and hoping that at least one sounds half-decent’. And since they were the last to sign, they’ll be the last to play.

There are two problems. First, that the worst song they have is miles better than the best one they’ve heard until now. (It’s not a question of bragging, Robb isn’t really the kind, but in this case it’s the plain and honest truth.) Second, that what audience is there was drunk one hour ago when the entire thing started and is now utterly trashed.

And they still have at least twenty minutes before performing.

Robb thinks he needs stronger alcohol than the free beer they’re being provided with. (At least.)

“He’s an ass,” Robb sighs. “And we can’t play anything we usually do. By the point we’re going on that stage, everyone will be so drunk that they’ll barely hear us.”

“Yeah, and if we do covers they won’t even pay me for the gas.” It was the only sort of small print in the contract they signed. Just original pieces.

Robb wishes they allowed covers. Because anything would be better than the guy currently on stage waxing poetic about the sheep he used to see every day when he was a kid in his Irish village.

Looking at the crowd, Robb is sure of one thing, though. “Theon, tell me that we have at least one song that people would sing in a pub. Or could. Otherwise this crowd is going to sleep on us.”

Theon snorts. “I try to keep my stuff quality-level, Stark. I don’t do horrible songs just because one day I might need one.”

Robb sighs. “Well. There’s always the one about the octopus under the lake.”

What?”

“You know what I’m talking about.”

“You said you’d never sing it. And I was fucking drunk while I wrote it!”

“Can’t argue on that. But that’s the point. It’s horrible, but it’s catchy. In the way horrible songs are catchy. And you can sing along to that stupid thing. Also, well – if we improvise, we can drag it on and make it cover the entire set.”

“What do you mean by improvising?”

Robb sighs again. He’ll regret it.

“I mean that… well, so, the kraken – or octopus, whatever – it said it was living under the lake and was depressed because there was nothing else there, especially no other kraken. And that was stanza number one. Then he attached itself to this boat of fishermen to get out of the lake and down the river, and that was two. Then he tried not to get discovered, and that was three. Then he met up with – what was that?”

“The other red kraken that had more tentacles,” Theon supplies, his cheeks turning slightly pink.

“Right. And he thought they couldn’t be together because his family taught him that you don’t mix up with different kraken species? Whatever. That was the last one.”

“What’s your point in this entire thing?”

“That you never told me how that stupid story would end, and the music is always the same – I suppose I can make the rest up as I go along. Especially if I get them interested.”

“You know this is a recipe for disaster, don’t you?”

The guy on the stage strikes the last chord on his sad, little song as he tries to wail the same way his precious sheep did. Robb thinks he’d have liked a real live sheep better than that.

“Well, we can’t do worse than that. And at least no one we know is here to record this.”

Theon looks at him, pondering it. Then he looks at the audience. Half is booing the guy, another quarter is clapping half-heartedly and the other quarter is passed out.

“Right. Let’s go with the kraken. How much longer do we drag it?”

“Another two stanzas? If I need more I’ll say that this is not how the story ends before the third one.”

“Fine. Sounds – decent. Fuck. I’m going to murder him in cold blood.”

Yeah, Robb thinks, he’s more angry on Theon’s behalf than on his own.

Then Theon’s phone rings. He looks at the screen, muttering something about Asha and handing it to Robb.

One day he’s going to stop being their go-between.

“Yeah?”

“Stark? Right. I should’ve known he wouldn’t have answered me. Listen, sorry about our uncle.”

“Well, it’s not your fault.”

“Yeah, but I should have told them to just let this entire thing go when it – when it was discussed. Apparently they decided to dissuade the both of you the hard way. Just – take it gracefully?”

“Don’t worry, we’ll survive it. And thanks for the concern. Well. You know.”

She snorts and closes the call.

“Your sister is sorry about your uncle,” Robb reports.

Theon shakes his head. “I knew there was a reason why she was my favorite. Well, seems like after this sorry excuse for a folk trio it’s the two of us. You ready to improvise?”

“Sure,” Robb answers, and it’s a lie, but he hopes he’ll be ready in twenty minutes.

He should also decide how that story ends, to be honest. Theon’s original notes were comprehensive of a possible ending where the kraken dies of a broken heart finding out that the other one only likes shellfish, but no. Just no. No fucking way.

So. Recap. Sad little blue kraken lives alone under a lake, after his crappy family abandons him because he’s blue and not black. In a burst of courage brought on by sheer loneliness he attaches himself to the ship that goes down the river and into another lake. Or the sea. Whatever. No one is going to care about geography. At some point he lets the ship go and he’s out in the open and then he meets this pretty red kraken with more tentacles, whose gender is never specified. Sad blue kraken starts angsting because his family always told him that interracial (or intercolor) marriage is a very bad thing and that no kraken with more tentacles would have one with less tentacles.

And that was the end until that point, which means that –

Wait a fucking moment. This entire situation sounds familiar just fucking fine, and if Theon was trashed when he wrote this, and it was sometime either right before or after Ramsay Bolton…

Red kraken with more tentacles?

Oh, obviously.

Robb would explain Theon a couple things if they had the time for it, but they don’t, and so he decides how to end that song instead.

In Theon’s notes it was going to end with the red kraken only liking shellfish? (What is it with the fucking shellfish, anyway?) Then Theon is going to have a surprise or two.

--

Robb has, at least, the storyline clear in his head. He has no freaking idea of how he’s actually going to put it into singing, but he’s drunk enough beer that his voice has the right sound for some nice, trashed sing-along, and he’s positive that if he fucks up a rhyme here and one there no one is ever going to notice.

Can’t be worse than the sheep.

Also, Theon hadn’t told him that being the singer implied also being the group’s darned PR all the time.

Whatever.

So, here they are on the stage, and the presenter didn’t even bother to introduce them – oh well, not that it’d change anything. The crowd is, as predicted, mostly drunk. No one looks overly excited. Some drunk girl shouts to her friend that hey, at least those two are cute – if they suck that’s not an issue, they can always ogle.

Fuck his life.

He clears his throat, sends Theon a glance that he hopes conveys something along the lines of please just go along with what I do and then gives the audience the most dashing smile he can come up with.

“So,” he starts, “I suppose you’re all ready to go home. I can see it. But sadly you’re stuck with us for a while. Sorry about that – but that said, thanks that you’re still here. It means a lot to us that some of you wouldn’t leave us audience-less.”

Someone laughs. No one throws rotten vegetables or boos. Good.

“And we were thinking, since it’s such a nice night, and the alcohol’s good, we could send you home after you help us with this song. It’s kind of a work in progress, and we don’t want to bore you to pieces, and it’s pretty easy. Then we can just pack up and go to sleep. Sounds good?”

“Sounds better than the sheep!” someone shouts from the back.

And Robb has his first brilliant idea of the evening.

“Thanks for the support. Actually, you know what, just come up on stage. You can bounce off ideas with me.”

“Are you serious?”

“Sure. Get over here. Come on.”

Someone starts shouting go Pod, you’re going to be famous! Pod is actually a kid that looks no older than fifteen and like he’s not sober at all, but then again, Theon’s probably the only one here who isn’t a bit tipsy at least. He was probably too angry to get drunk.

“All right, so, let’s just get this over with. If the song sucks, you can get angry at my mate there, it was his idea.”

“Hey!”

“Sod off, it was.” Someone laughs. More people than before. Good. At least they aren’t bored. “And, we’ll just play the first stanza for you so you can see how it goes. It’s kind of ridiculously stupid. Anyone could sing it. Sheep could sing it. Their fucking dog could sing it, probably.”

More people laugh. Fine.

Robb mouths, just keep on playing while I talk in between stanzas, Theon nods and then he starts.

Robb feels thankful that he isn’t sober and really, really hopes that no one’s recording this.

There was once a wee blue kraken in Menteith,
There was once a wee blue kraken in Menteith,
And he felt oh so very much alone, no family with him no more,
And he felt oh so very much alone, no family with him no more


He doesn’t want to know what Theon was drunk on, but when he tries to make the crowd sing it, they actually follow him. Huh. Good.

“So, Pod, what do you think of our kraken?”

“That he has a seriously sad life?”

Robb can feel Theon glaring at him. But he isn’t leaving outright, so.

“Well, that’s probably what that kraken himself thought. Which is why at some point he figured that since his stupid family wasn’t going to come back for him, it was time he’d do something about his sad life himself.”

There was a fishermen’s ship passing in Menteith,
There was a fishermen’s ship passing in Menteith,
And he hitched a ride, attached himself to its bottom,
And he hitched a ride, attached himself to its bottom


“Which,” Robb says after getting that same half of the crowd to sing it again and turning towards their stage guest, “probably took some courage. What do you think?”

“Sounds like that,” Pod replies seriously. “I suppose he had never gone out of the lake before, had he?”

“No. As stated, the family didn’t like to include him in their activities whenever they swam somewhere else.”

“What a bunch of dicks!” someone else from the crowd shouts.

“Yeah. Totally right. I should add a verse about it. So, our kraken’s finally found the guts to go out into the world.”

It had been a damn long time since he left Menteith,
It had been a damn long time since he left Menteith,
And he worried, will they find me under here?
And he worried, will they find me under here?


“You see, he wasn’t planning on ending up in some kind of seafood salad. If you get my meaning.”

“Yeah, that’d be just catastrophic,” Pod agrees wholeheartedly. “What kind of bad luck would it have, if he got caught the first time he leaves the lake?”

Robb can feel Theon staring at his back, but he can’t worry about that right now. “Another good point. Well, as you’ll see, maybe it pays off some”.

As it was, he’d never been as far from Menteith,
As it was, he’d never been as far from Menteith,
And then he sees this pretty red kraken at the bottom of the sea,
And then he sees this pretty red kraken at the bottom of the sea


“So that’s love at first sight?” Pod inquires.

Someone from the crowd whistles.

“Yeah, I guess so. We’re talking about a sight, you know. All red, the right size, some twenty tentacles. Our kraken only has fourteen.”

“Does that change something?”

“Well, the red kraken probably never even thought about it. He’s a pretty cool guy.”

“The red kraken’s a he?” someone else shouts from the crowd.

Oops. Robb hadn’t planned on letting that slip so soon.

“Well, the blue kraken’s all for equal opportunities. And when someone’s attractive, they’re attractive.”

Jesus, and he’s talking about himself.

Thank fuck he’s drunk.

“A song about an LGBT kraken? You guys are awesome!” That had come from somewhere in the middle of the audience. Someone else cheers.

Oh well.

“Anyway, let’s see what happens next, shall we?”

Our blue kraken never saw anything as beautiful in Menteith,
Our blue kraken never saw anything as beautiful in Menteith,
But he knew friendship was all he could hope for and no more,
But he knew friendship was all he could hope for and no more


“Which yes, was very stupid of him,” Robb says before he can get questions about it.

“But why?” Pod inquires.

“You see, his family wasn’t exactly what you’d call a group of nicely adjusted krakens.”

Fuck no.

His father and uncles had been very clear while in Menteith,
His father and uncles had been very clear while in Menteith,
They said, ‘if another kraken has more tentacles then it’s off your reach,’
They said, ‘if another kraken has more tentacles then it’s off your reach’


“Well, that’s just bullshit,” Pod supplies.

“Well, I’d tend to agree with you. But as stated, this kraken isn’t exactly well-adjusted. Doesn’t mean I agree with his family about their life choices.”

“Preach it, brother!”

Robb isn’t even trying to locate who’s shouting what from where. Also, this is the part where he improvises.

He decides that for the sake of keeping it simple he’s leaving possible kraken, kraken & shellfish threesomes out of it – he realizes that it’d make the entire stupid metaphor really reflect reality, but seriously, he isn’t sure he has the presence of mind for it. It’ll have to be just the two krakens.

But the blue kraken had been lonely enough to run from Menteith,
But the blue kraken had been lonely enough to run from Menteith,
And so he approached anyway hoping that they could be friends,
And so he approached anyway hoping that they could be friends


“Obviously it works, because the red kraken isn’t socially inept.”

“Wouldn’t the blue kraken be?” Pod asks.

“He’s desperate enough to fake it. And to appear as if he arrived there by mistake and not as if he’s so lonesome he could weep, if he could cry.”

He’s so not looking at Theon. He’s also hearing a missed note here and there, but no one notices. Or seems to be noticing, anyway.

To the kraken’s surprise it worked and he could almost forget Menteith,
To the kraken’s surprise it worked and he could almost forget Menteith,
But as things were, shellfish were what the red kraken seemed to like best,
But as things were, shellfish were what the red kraken seemed to like best


“Shellfish?” Pod asks.

“Well, this other kraken is a fan of interspecies relationships.”

At that, most of the crowd cracks up. Actually, Robb notices that there are more people sitting now than before. Well, then. Not too bad.

“So the blue kraken has no hope?” Pod asks, sounding genuinely interested.

“Did I say that it was how the story ended? ‘Course not.”

The red kraken thought something was wrong with his friend from Menteith
The red kraken thought something was wrong with his friend from Menteith
And so one day he came up to him and asked, ‘Mate, what the hell is wrong?’
And so one day he came up to him and asked, ‘Mate, what the hell is wrong?’


“As you see, the red kraken isn’t a fan of not talking shit out.”

“Go Ginger!” Someone shouts from the crowd. Again.

“Ginger is a bit too feminine for him, I think, but thanks for the encouragement. He appreciates it. And so that’s what the other kraken answered, while wishing there was another ship to attach himself to, so that he could disappear.”

It’s something that my family used to tell me in Menteith,
It’s something that my family used to tell me in Menteith,
Different krakens are no match for each other, that was what they said
Different krakens are no match for each other, that was what they said


“I hope the red kraken got the gist of it,” Pod says after singing along with everyone else as Robb repeats the stanza for the second time.

“The second kraken isn’t such a prat, of course he gets it. He’s also not very amused with it.”

You sure had a family full of idiots in Menteith,
You sure had a family full of idiots in Menteith,
And I can tell you that I fancy the way red matches with blue,
And I can tell you that I fancy the way red matches with blue


Robb thinks that all the women in the audience cooed at the same time.

Jesus.

“But that’s – that’s so romantic!” Pod almost shouts.

“I suppose that for krakens it is. As romantic as it gets. I suppose that when the blue kraken pulled out that ridiculous tentacles argument the red one did… a kraken-shrug and said that hey, more tentacles means better hugs.”

Now the male audience also coos at the same time.

“And so, that’s how our story ends, well – not like this, I have just another bit left. Let’s just see if we can get through it?”

What could pass for an enthusiastic response comes from the audience.

Well, then, Robb figures it’s time to go all-out.

You can bet our blue kraken never thought again about fucking Menteith,
You can bet our blue kraken never thought again about fucking Menteith,
And there also was a whole damn lot of awesome kraken sex going on,
And there also was a whole damn lot of awesome kraken sex going on!


Half the audience laughs, but the rest is clapping wildly and Robb hears demo requests. Pod’s friends go to grab their pal and congratulate Robb on the awesome show, everyone else is still clapping (when did they get so lively?), Robb knows that he’s flushing red and not because of the alcohol, and then he looks at Theon for the first time since he started singing this. He’s looking half awed and half embarrassed, but definitely not furious.

Good.

“I’m gonna get the demos,” he shouts, and more people cheer.

“Hey,” someone else asks Robb when he drops off the stage, waiting for Theon. “No one even told us your name even if you’ve been the only decent act!”

“Oh. Right. Well, that’s Starkjoy.”

Robb tries to tune out the subsequent cheering and helps Theon sell the demos.

They had brought two hundred and they sell half of them – not bad. After the promoter, almost weeping, tells them that he’ll invite them next year for sure they pretend to be flattered (fuck if they’re coming back anytime soon, Robb thinks) and then they’re finally left alone next to the car (pardon, Joni) with the gear inside the trunk and the two of them feeling fucking exhausted.

“Well,” Theon mutters, “that went better than I feared.”

“Yeah, you weren’t the one having to carry on the show. Fuck, I can barely remember half of it.”

“You changed the ending,” Theon answers. It almost sounds like another question. Robb casts a look around, then sees that no one is there.

Good.

He wraps an arm around Theon’s shoulder, moving a bit closer.

“You think I didn’t get the gist of the metaphor? Please. Blue kraken with a crappy family falling for red kraken who’s also too hot to be real? Thanks for the compliment, anyway.”

“Robb –”

“Shut up. Don’t even try to deny it. And that said, you’re a prat. Come on, you really thought I’d have left it with the horrible ending?”

“Well, back then I thought – that it was hopeless. Also what the fuck was the part about more tentacles meaning better hugs?”

“I made it up on the spot. But I figure we can see if I was full of shit or not.”

To Robb’s satisfaction Theon doesn’t freeze for a moment before Robb wraps the other arm around his back and pulls him in, his lips hovering over Theon’s earlobe and the two of them pressing against each other with no space left.

“Y’re not full of shit,” Theon mutters somewhere against Robb’s shoulder.

“Mm, good. Oh, and I was thinking, we kind of killed it. As much as we could. And it requires celebrating. We should honor that song’s ending.”

“Right here and right now?”

Robb thinks he could totally do it, but maybe not in the open.

“Your car has a wide backseat,” he replies before moving back and kissing Theon the moment he raises his head. It’s nothing close to a refined kiss, but it’s because Theon is opening the backdoor at the same time. They stumble inside the car; Robb closes the door before leaning back down and kissing Theon all over again, his hands working on Theon’s belt, and he’s not so drunk that he doesn’t notice that he’s technically pinning Theon down in a cramped space without much room to move and Theon isn’t tensing even slightly.

Good.

“So,” Theon says when their jeans are both on the car’s floor, “we’re going to have some awesome kraken sex now?”

“Keep the damned krakens out of it. The rest sounds perfect.”

There are no tentacles involved, indeed, but they do stick to the rest of the plan.

--

Some five days later, Jeyne drops by for lunch.

The moment she walks inside the house, she starts laughing.

Robb shares a confused look with Theon, who just shrugs and mouths no, neither of us is looking weird and hell if I know what it is.

“Jeyne?” Robb asks. “Is there something wrong?”

“Nothing. But I’ll give it to you, you’d make a couple of lovely krakens. Should I feel offended about being compared to shellfish, though?”

Robb suddenly finds himself answer-less.

Theon is just gaping.

Jeyne starts laughing again.

“What – how – how do you know about that?” Robb finally sputters.

“There’s a video on YouTube. Someone uploaded it yesterday – it was a friend of that kid you brought on stage.”

“Fuck my life!” Robb whines.

Theon takes a breath and looks up at Jeyne. “Right. Uh. I suppose I should come clean about the shellfish. That song – it was fucking old. I wrote it before you and Robb even met. It wasn’t – well. Everyone got the gist. The shellfish were just – hell, I thought he just liked women. I didn’t mean a particular woman. Jesus, that’s so fucking embarrassing, can I just throw myself out of the window?”

“No way I’m not coming with you if you do,” Robb groans.

“You’re adorable,” Jeyne comments. “And that song was hilarious.”

Robb doesn’t think he can get over the fact that someone had recorded it at all.

The moment his relatives see it, he’s never going to live it down.

Then Theon’s phone beeps.

“Oh, shit,” he groans when he reads the text.

“What now?”

“Your sister found that video. She says we’re so adorable she can’t even compute it. And she wants to put the link on the Facebook page.”

“Oh, fuck, no. Tell her no.”

“Done that already, Stark.”

“I don’t think it was useful,” Jeyne says. She’s obviously still trying not to crack up.

“… why?” Robb asks, fearfully.

“She already put it up on your Facebook page,” she says, turning her phone towards the both of them.

“Fuck my life,” Robb and Theon say at the same time.

Robb doesn’t know that he’ll thank his sister for that, one day.

One day that is definitely not this one.


End.


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