Contrary to what a lot of people might have assumed, knowing where he comes from and how he spent most of his life, Theon had figured out pretty early that when it came to Robb Stark his feelings are not merely friendship.
Right, it had taken him some time. First he had to figure himself out and he’s halfway sure he’s nowhere near having succeeded yet.
(That had been another one of those moments when he had sorely envied Jon for having gotten his shit together sooner than him, but then again there was not much to be surprised about. It wasn’t any news whatsoever.)
Then again, maybe he did have Jon to thank on some level. Mostly because since he didn’t lose any time and found himself a girlfriend in three days after they busted out of the bloody base, Theon had all the time to take a good look at them. On the other side, since Jeyne Poole is around the house fairly often, he has seen her interact with Sansa and he’s fairly sure they are not in love with each other or at least there are no romantic feelings whatsoever involved. Hell, for that matter he thinks he and Jeyne are friends and surely he never felt any need to do with her the things Jon and Ygritte do regularly.
On the other side, the moment he could actually afford to pay attention to them, he had realized that instead the prospect of doing what they did with Robb –
Now that was something he could see himself doing or wanting. The first time he had dared thinking about him and Robb merely holding hands – well, he had felt warm at once and as if a bunch of butterflies had started fluttering in his stomach, and then he had thought, but would I want to kiss him, and –
He had pictured it and had suddenly felt very happy that he was alone in the basement and could lock the bathroom door without no one there to hear him jerk off, and given that it had been the first time he’d ever done it with someone in mind and not just for physical relief… well, he might be fucked up to hell and back but he’s not dense or completely unable to grasp what it might have meant.
Which is why he had figured it way before his sister had showed up back in his life, just to say one. He had figured it out long before anyone would have suspected, indeed, and that’s probably a good thing, he decides as he ponders the fucking situation.
Well, it’s a good thing because at least he knows where he’s standing. The bad thing is that he’d like to do something about it and when it comes to that, well, good fucking luck to him.
Problem the first: he has no idea if Robb’s interested in that way. Admittedly, he has turned down every other girl who has asked him out since they’ve known each other and instead of going to prom he stayed home and they spent the evening listening to music. And now that he’s taking a couple of years off school so he can pay his way through university and save some money he’s… really not seeing anyone else at least romantically. Theon hadn’t asked about the specifics, because why would he, but at the end of things, he doesn’t have a girlfriend. That still doesn’t mean he’d want to date him, though. Never mind that he doesn’t know how people around here would take it. Especially since he’s not an idiot and he knows two men dating would have to keep it down.
Problem the second: it’s not as if he’s ever courted a girl or anything. He has no bloody clue of where to even start from and Robb doesn’t seem to have understood how badly Theon has it going when it comes to him. Of course, whenever anyone they know jokes about the two of them being joined at the hip Robb flips them off and is absolutely not embarrassed by it, which would probably be a good thing, but still – he has no bloody idea.
Problem the third: given that he’s almost twenty-four and has never kissed once someone he liked and he has barely managed to get his high school diploma through a very complicated correspondence system that implied coming up with some serious meddling on the part of everyone who was involved in enrolling him and that there’s no way he can have a stable job yet he doesn’t know what prospects he’s offering. He wishes he could apply for one, but it’s been barely two years and he still can’t be with more than ten people he doesn’t know at once in the same room or everything inside it starts floating. Okay, it’s still better than when he’d have risked killing the people inside said room, but it’s still hardly ideal when it comes to having a job.
Still, he thinks he’d want to give it a try if only because –
Well, up until he escaped from the fucking military base he hadn’t really hoped for anything when it came to his future. After he did, he’d have been fine with a quick death and if out of the two of them Jon managed to get out, it wouldn’t have been a waste. Then, he had just felt grateful that he had met someone decent while outside the base and he’d have gladly given his life for the one person he met in years who actually didn’t make him feel like a test subject. But then they both survived, and the Starks didn’t raise an objection to him sharing the basement with Robb, and then he’d have never hoped to see his family at any point, any of it. And then his sister shows up with news that their mother isn’t dead. He’s had very little hopes in his life, and at some point things did start to turn out fine, so –
So why not trying? At worse, Robb says no, but given that he hasn’t blinked either at the prospect of sharing a room with him for the foreseeable future back in the day and that it was actually his idea, and they’ve known each other fairly well in that amount of time, if Theon makes clear that if he’s not interested he won’t mind and they can forget it, things would definitely turn out fine. And he knows that Robb has nothing against, well, same-sex couples, which is another problem he can cross off the potential issues list.
So, he wants to try. But he wouldn’t even know how to begin. Never mind that he doubts he could ever walk up to Robb and tell him straight ahead – he’s gotten better at verbalizing things, thank fuck, but that? That is something he cannot do yet. And he won’t be able to for a long time, probably.
Shit, his life is completely bonkers, isn’t it.
And it’s probably not any news that he has to thank Jon for suggesting him a solution even if he doesn’t do it voluntarily. He kind of hates it that every damned time Jon has to get there before he does, but in this case he’ll get over it, since the idea is good.
Specifically, it happens one afternoon when Theon is actually in the Starks’ living room. No one’s at home yet and since he knows there’s a lot of work to be done around the house and he feels bad that Mrs. Stark does it most of the time – well, who’s going to argue with it if once in a while, when he’s upstairs, a few brooms dust the floor without anyone moving them?
If he fucking can’t get rid of what they did to his brains, at least, he might put it to good use.
And it’s probably a good thing that Jon is on his own when he walks inside the house – sometimes he comes with some of the friends he made, gods, how has he managed this quick, and while Theon doesn’t know how many of them are aware of their skills maybe not all are.
“Good thing you closed the blinds,” Jon comments as he closes the door. Theon one day will ask him why he can’t wear colors that aren’t black, it’s honestly depressing, but far from him to question the kid’s personal choices. At least the long hair he’s wearing now really does suit him. Definitely more than the fucking buzzcut.
“Is anyone coming?”
“Not that I know of.”
He puts his backpack on a chair, and then fishes a tape out of his pocket.
“What’s that?” Theon asks.
Jon blushes. Okay, so if that’s what’s happening Ygritte is behind it.
“Uh, Ygritte gave it to me? She said it’s a mixtape.”
“It’s – a thing people do,” Jon says, sounding as convinced as Theon is. “I mean, I hadn’t known though I had seen people exchanging them. She says that you pick songs you like that you think might fit a person and give it to them after recording them on the tape so they know they thought of you while putting it together.”
“And she made you one?”
Christ, whenever Jon thinks about her he really gets a seriously ridiculous smile on his face. Since Theon hasn’t seen him smile for fifteen years straight it’s still fucking weird.
“She did,” he says, sounding all fucking proud of it.
“Can – can I look at it?”
“I was going to put it on upstairs, but when I have, sure.”
Theon follows Jon wordlessly and waits until he puts it in the small tape player he has in his room in the attic. A moment later Jon throws the empty tape at him. Theon doesn’t want to know why Light My Fire is the first on the list – that’s why it’s filling the emptiness of the room right now – but as he glances at the list…
Well. From what he’s learned so far, he can see why Ygritte would pick those songs for Jon. For some, the title is fairly obvious, for others he should have to hear it, but then he suddenly realizes that maybe he has a solution to his problems.
He sure as hell can’t tell Robb any of that.
But he’s heard enough music (most people he knows now found it criminal that he and Jon knew nothing on the subject and saw fit to provide them with as much music as they could manage) that he could put together something that would – well. Give Robb the general idea. And he also owns some records now, other than those tapes he has, so –
So, it’s really not a bad idea at all.
Meanwhile, Jon can’t shake the bloody dopey smile from his face, but then again his girlfriend just made him a bloody mixtape, he has all reasons to.
He stays upstairs while Jon listens through it.
When he goes downstairs, he glances at the time. It’s barely three in the afternoon and Robb had a full-day shift today, which means he won’t be back until eight at least. Which means that if he’s quick, he can at least put a list together and if he’s fast, then he could run out, buy a tape and make it now. Or tomorrow, at worst.
He doesn’t know when it was the last time he felt this excited about something, but – regardless of how Robb takes it, it’d be a nice thing and fuck knows if sometimes he feels like reminding Robb that he’s grateful for his existence every other fucking day.
Where to start from, though? He thinks about what he has available and how he acquired it, and…
Even if he hates owing Jon, maybe he does have to thank him for the first option that comes to mind.
“Seriously? That’s what you like?”
Jon raises an eyebrow as Theon turns the vinyl in his hands and grimaces as music fills the attic.
“I do. What’s your problem?”
Theon has a lot of problems with this. Mostly that it’s fucking depressing and he hasn’t heard a lyric by… Joy Division that hasn’t made him lose half of his will to live while listening to the song in question. Never mind that he’s not fond of the singer’s voice.
Then again, the more he listens to this Closer, the more he thinks that he gets why Jon likes it. There’s something about the entire thing that screams that Jon would be into it for reasons Theon doesn’t even want to start to pinpoint.
The aesthetic definitely seems his thing – shit, it’s all black and white.
“It’s fucking depressing,” Theon finally declares, closing the vinyl.
“It’s not,” Jon protests. “Or well, it’s not happy, but it’s – just – it’s great, how don’t you hear it?”
Everything Theon hears is that the singer obviously has some serious issue he’s using the music to work through, but he doesn’t tell Jon that – it would be cruel. Four songs in and he thinks that he’ll be glad if he never listens to this specific record ever again, but then the fifth start and –
A legacy so far removed,
One day will be improved.
Eternal rights we left behind,
We were the better kind.
Two the same, set free too,
I always looked to you,
I always looked to you,
I always looked to you.
We fought for good, stood side by side,
Our friendship never died.
On stranger waves, the lows and highs,
Our vision touched the sky,
Immortalists with points to prove,
I put my trust in you
Well, fuck that, he thinks, that sounds like Robb. Well, like me and Robb. He doesn’t say that, but then Jon snorts and has the little fucker just read his mind? He probably did. He doesn’t do it most of the time and he hadn’t known he could until a few months ago, but it’s still annoying.
“So, you don’t hate this one, do you?” Jon asks, and Theon still doesn’t know how he can manage to sound this smug, but –
But fine. He’ll give it to him. “No, not this one,” he says, and stays until the record ends. It’s definitely not gonna be his favorite song in existence, he still hasn’t figured that out but he knows it won’t be this. But – he thinks he likes it.
He smiles to himself and grabs a piece of paper and a pen, scribbling down on it. Joy Division, A Means to an End. Good. How many were there on Jon’s tape? Twelve? Sounds doable. He just has to find eleven others, but it shouldn’t be too hard. That said, this one might be taken for simple friendship feelings. He’s not really sure that it relates exactly where he’s aiming at. He opens a box where he keeps the tapes everyone’s given him in the last couple of years and then his eyes fall over one whose title is written in such a chicken scratch it’s almost illegible –
“Your sister,” Jaime Lannister tells him very seriously as Brienne drives them back to Winterfell, “has good taste, but she’s not up to date.”
Brienne groans and Theon – Theon doesn’t think he understands what Lannister means. Still, he doesn’t want to be rude. He’s just grateful that they drove him over to his mother’s when the Starks couldn’t anymore and it was either finding someone else or skipping the visit.
“He means,” Brienne sighs from the driver’s seat, “that he likes the same stuff she does, except that according to him the Clash are old stuff. Tell me again why I even am dating you?”
“Because I agree that Bruce Springsteen is an entirely acceptable choice and you love me.”
“Sure I do,” Brienne sighs. “Anyway, don’t mind him. You don’t have to take the bait.”
“… I like most of what she told me to try out, though?” Theon doesn’t know what Lannister is aiming at here, again, but then he lets out a snort of – triumph? What?
“See, he has excellent taste. You know what, take this.”
He rummages in the glove compartment and throws a tape behind his back – Theon catches it. It’s barely readable, he obviously made it after losing his right hand, but one can understand enough to read Rum, Sodomy and the Leash on the label.
“… Okay? Who’s this?”
“The Pogues,” Lannister says extremely seriously. “Listen to them and your life will fucking change.”
“It won’t,” Brienne adds, “but they’re not too bad.”
“Oh, thanks for the seal of approval.”
“Shut the hell up already.”
Theon tunes their bickering out as he turns the tape in between his hands. When he’s home, he asks Robb if they can listen to it and Robb says of course, and in the end he likes it more than Theon does, though he does enjoy it. When he tells Lannister it was good, the man gloats way too much, but it’s nice that people actually care about what he might like that much.
Theon turns it over in his hands. Oh. There was one which would work. All right, he thinks as he writes down A Pair of Brown Eyes on the piece of paper, if it had been blue it would have worked better, but patience.
He remembers a part of it that went –
In blood and death 'neath a screaming sky
I lay down on the ground
And the arms and legs of other men
Were scattered all around
Some cursed, some prayed, some prayed then cursed
Then prayed and bled some more
And the only thing that I could see
Was a pair of brown eyes that was looking at me
And – yes. Yes, he thinks, as he remembers how they met –
It’s going to do.
Ten to go, he thinks, looking at the blank space of paper. He writes down the remaining numbers just to have something to do and thinks, what happened after we met? He brought me here, didn’t he?
And then –
Oh. Oh, yes.
It’s been a few months and Theon still doesn’t know what to make of Stannis Baratheon. He doesn’t really see the man too often in the first place, and most times it’s in passing, and he never really talked to him just after things had died down back in November.
Which is why he’s honestly surprised when the man volunteers to drive him to see his mother one day when no one else could, but he’s not going to refuse a ride if it means skipping a week (he hasn’t seen his mother in twenty years or so, he’s not going to miss on that if he can help it). They say nothing for half of the drive, and then –
“Do you think I could have a word with her after you’re done?”
“Sorry?” Theon asks, not having expected the question.
“Your mother. I just – while we were looking into where Shireen might have ended up back in November, I read a few things on a newspaper and – I just, I would like to talk to her. If you think it’s possible.”
Theon thinks about it, then shrugs. “Well, she’s been doing fairly all right since – since I started coming here. I don’t see why not, if she agrees with it.”
Stannis had nodded and said nothing for the rest of the trip. Then had waited outside, told him to take his time and to let him know when he walked out. Theon asks and his mother says of course, and he tells Stannis when his visiting hour is up.
Stannis thanks him and walks inside.
The conversation doesn’t last long – maybe five minutes, maybe ten. When Stannis walks out Theon can swear his eyes are slightly red-rimmed, but he doesn’t even try to ask. The man still looks more unapproachable than the contrary and while he’s getting better at speaking up his mind when he wants to (or so Robb says) initiating conversations with intimidating people is not anything he’s going to do soon.
(A part of him thinks that since Stannis is obviously very good friends with Davos then he can’t be that intimidating if you get to know him, but they’re not there yet.)
They go back on the car and no one says a thing until they’re out in the freeway.
“It’s just,” Stannis says, “do you know she went to the police when she was looking for you?”
“She said that,” Theon replies, not expecting the question.
“Has she told you how many?”
“… No, now that I think about it,” Theon admits. He hadn’t even asked – it was enough to know she actually had looked for him in the first place.
“Sixty,” Stannis says. “Sixty damned police stations. I thought that at least they believed me at the first one I went to. I just – I was in the same situation and I guess I just wanted to tell her I understood.”
He’s gripping the steering wheel just a bit tighter. Theon’s throat feels closed. “Did it go over well?”
“It did,” Stannis says. There’s some more silence. Then –
“Uh,” Stannis clears his throat. “Davos told me – this is embarrassing.”
“What did he tell you?”
“That if I was driving you I should at least introduce you to some more things since apparently his mission now is making sure you’re up to date with pop culture. And all that.”
“Wait, with me?”
“According to him, Jon’s girlfriend has him covered,” Stannis says dryly. Theon – well. Theon can’t disagree. Never mind that Jon has friends and knows more people than Theon does. “But,” Stannis goes on, “I – I’m not sure the things I like are much to your taste. I mean, they’re barely Shireen’s taste.”
“All her classmates say that she likes old people stuff, which… apparently means it’s not fashionable.”
Theon shrugs. “I don’t even know what old people stuff would even mean. Just – sure. Whatever you’d like.”
Stannis shrugs. “I mostly enjoy classical music. But inflicting what opera I have here on you wouldn’t be a good idea. Wait – oh. Right. Open the glove compartment.”
Theon does. There’s the car documents and a few tapes.
“Take the one with the purple label,” Stannis says. Theon grabs it.
Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, it reads.
“Ever heard it?”
“No,” Theon confesses. “But… it’s not opera.”
“It’s not. Just the only… contemporary singer I like. That record is my favorite.”
“Okay. Let’s hear it.”
Theon had pushed the tape inside its slot.
And yes, it had been wildly different from anything he had heard until now, and somehow it did sound like something Stannis would absolutely love, but –
He had liked it. He had liked it indeed, up until the end of it, and at the second to last song, he realized he had loved it instead.
Stannis had looked inordinately pleased when Theon told him that as he dismounted the car to go back to the Starks’. The next time Shireen came over to play D&D, she had come over to him and dumped a copy of that record into his hands.
Theon takes the tape out and looks back at the list of songs, copied in Stannis’s neat handwriting. And yes, there it is.
He doesn’t even need to listen to it again.
After all, he had fallen in love with that song after just hearing the opening.
'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
Come in, she said
I'll give ya shelter from the storm –
Right. He had about almost gasped in the car when he heard it. Not that the rest of it had changed much – for a moment he had felt exactly like the moment Robb had dragged him out of those woods and into his basement and even thinking about it now makes his heart skip a beat or ten.
He writes down Bob Dylan, Shelter from the Storm on his piece of paper. Three down, nine to go.
He tries to think. What else had he heard that had reminded him of – of his first days in Robb’s basement when he couldn’t even believe he was sleeping somewhere comfortable never mind sharing the room with someone who had thought it was cool when he made things fly out of panic. He’s sure there must have been more than one. Possibly one he liked –
He thinks he has it.
“Jesus,” Ygritte says, looking at his growing collection, “that’s all the people around you make you listen to?”
“What?” Theon asks, feeling kind of out of his element. She’s here to play D&D but she arrived before everyone else, Robb is up getting food and she said she heard from Jon that he was trying to find out what he liked, and so wanted to see what he was actually listening to. “There’s… nothing wrong with that?”
Ygritte sends a very flat stare his way. “Listen, I guess the Joy Division is because Jon’s taste are fucking depressing, I can imagine the Beatles are because of Seaworth or Ned and I’m absolutely sure you have four Queen tapes because you’re sharing with Robb, and – Bob Dylan?”
“Uh, that was Stannis’s?”
“… Right. Should’ve guessed. But seriously, anyone ever tried to introduce you to some rock n’ roll or do they hate you so much?”
“… Aren’t Queen rock music?”
Ygritte snorts. “Commercial pretentious quality rock music, but it’s not – the real thing. Too overdone. Ah, well, I guess I have to do everything myself.”
She opens her backpack, takes out her Walkman and opens it, then hands him the tape she had been listening to. “This comes back to me after you’re done. But if you want a copy just ask. I’m sure you’ll see how obviously superior it is to Robb’s mushy stuff.”
“Excuse me, Freddie Mercury is not mushy,” Robb protests, coming into the room.
“Yes he is. And it’s a travesty none of you actually made him listen to some serious stuff, honest.”
“Ygritte, your crush on Mick Jagger does not rule what makes music serious,” Robb sighs, and Theon tunes them out because by now he can’t follow the conversation any more.
He looks at the label on the tape.
It reads, Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed.
At first he had thought that it kind of really sounded like something Ygritte would like, but then he had listened to it and while it’s not his favorite of favorites, he had enjoyed it. And he had to give it to Ygritte – sometimes maybe uncomplicated music is what you need and these Stones were fairly straightforward. What he’s thinking of, though, as he writes down Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter on his sheet, is how that song opened.
A storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away
Wasn’t… just… how he had felt those first few days?
He tries to not think about how much despair he had been harboring at that point and how he had felt gutted when he thought he had screwed things up with Robb and his friends at the science lab, and about how he had really felt like he was hanging on to sanity by a very thin thread.
Hadn’t Robb done exactly just that? Given shelter? Well, maybe it’s clear, given that he chose two damned fucking songs about it in a row. He should move on. Yes, he should definitely get down to the point. If anything he’s sure that for now his feelings about this particular moment of his life are plenty clear, if Robb hadn’t guessed them already.
Maybe he should… introduce the topic. Not too heavily. But he should introduce it.
Okay. There has to be something summing up the situation. At least broadly. He picks up his box of tapes, goes through them one by one until something comes to mind –
Oh. He stops with one of the few he has that was actually bought and not copied off someone else’s.
“And what’s that for?” Theon asks when Robb drops a small package in front of him. It’s all neatly wrapped up in red, with a tiny black bow, and Robb just let it fall on Theon’s bed and it seems like he’s the one getting the present, for how excited he looks.
“Er,” Robb says, “six months since you came to live here?”
“Is there a reason to give people presents?”
“… Not usually,” Robb admits after a moment, “but I got that and I decided that Christmas was too far away and your birthday was three months ago, I didn’t have a better excuse.”
“To give me a present?”
“Sure. I mean, people don’t make presents randomly. Or well, maybe they do but unwrapping it is nicer than just being handed the thing.”
“Fine, fine, you wanted an excuse. Thanks, but – you didn’t have to –”
“How about you open it already?”
“Fine, fine,” Theon says, not even trying to curb Robb’s enthusiasm, and opens the present carefully.
It’s a tape. Which is not copied or a mixtape – all the ones he has now are like that, but this one is original. And brand new, not even used. He doesn’t even know to check the title – he can recognize the cover of Queen’s A Day at the Races just glancing at the first half of the illustration that peeks from the not completely torn wrapping paper.
“It was on sale,” Robb explains, “and I know you at least like that one genuinely and not because you’re lying so that I don’t get offended –”
“Who even told you that?” Theon interrupts.
Fuck’s sake, what a way to completely misunderstand what he had said. “Robb, for – I told her that she was right about wanting some – straightforward music once in a while, I never said I lied about liking the stuff you like. I mean. I did tell you when I hate it.”
“Nobody’s perfect,” Robb declares with a smirk. “Then again, not my fault if no one understands George Michael’s greatness.”
“Yeah, no,” Theon replies, unable to stop the smirk crossing his lips, “but I really don’t hate Queen. Not at all.”
And Robb was right, anyway – they’re not his favorites overall, but he really does like this record more than all the others Robb got him to listen to. He turns the tape so very carefully in his hands, thinking that this is the first time someone gives him some gift that’s new and no one else touched and that’s not copied or passed down and for a moment he kind of wants to cry, but he doesn’t. He stares down at the tape instead and then places it gently on the bed. He turns towards Robb and he kind of wants to hug him but he doesn’t know how to initiate that yet –
“Huh, you did like it after all.”
“What – oh, fuck.”
They’re floating in the air. Him, Robb and the tape, and he hadn’t even noticed he was doing it, as usual, but at least now it’s just the three of them.
“Hey, I’m flattered,” Robb says. “You don’t have to put us down yet.”
Theon smirks back and looks at Robb’s tape player. He concentrates and the slot opens slowly – the tape floats down towards it, moves out of its case and into the slot which then closes and a moment later the play button presses itself softly.
“Show-off,” Robb smiles as the opening notes of Tie Your Mother Down fill the room.
“You like it,” Theon replies, holding Robb’s stare and feeling as if his heart will burst.
“I do,” Robb replies quietly, and they don’t float back to the ground at least until they’re half through Long Away.
Theon does love that record. A lot. He could never quite guess why, but he just does. And –
I have spent all my years in believing you
But I just can't get no relief, Lord!
Somebody (somebody) ooh somebody (somebody)
Can anybody find me somebody to love?
It’s not like Theon ever believed in God in the first place – he was dragged into that fucking military base when he was four and religion wasn’t exactly contemplated in that context, and now he’s seen and been through so much to find any solace in the idea, but –
He thinks that the message comes out fairly fucking clear, right? Okay, somebody is very generic, but he has another seven songs to make sure Robb understands that he’s the somebody Theon would very much like to be with.
And he wants to have at least one band Robb likes on the damned thing, so Queen it is. Good. He writes Somebody to Love on the sheet and then moves on to the problem at hand. As in: he needs Robb to understand without any misunderstanding that he is the person Theon wants and this mixtape is not platonic in any way, shape or form.
Given that Robb tends to be a lot of very good things but also to not notice this kind of stuff, or he’d have figured Theon out a long time ago, maybe he has to be explicit about it.
He thinks of that time Sansa and Jeyne sat him down to settle an argument.
“What? Why me?”
“Because everyone else would take sides,” Sansa proclaims, sitting him down on her bed.
“Yes, yours,” Jeyne says, but there’s no bite in her voice.
“Arya wouldn’t take mine on principle and because she hates musicals, but that’s not the point. You’re more neutral than anyone we know,” Sansa cuts the discussion short.
“Okay. So – like… do I have to tell you what’s better?”
Sansa nods eagerly. “She thinks my favorite song can’t hold a candle to hers. I tend to disagree.”
“Sansa,” Jeyne sighs, “I love you, you know that, and I will never not be grateful for – for everything you did to get me back from that horrid place, but sorry, no. You can’t put musicals against serious songs. Or at least, not that one.”
“Ah, yeah, because dark, broody and boring is that much better.”
Theon is completely fucking lost and they probably get it, because Sansa takes pity on him and grabs one vinyl before putting it on her player. Theon takes the cover to at least see what it’s about – it’s some film soundtrack. Theon’s never heard of Grease in his life and the fashion choices of the guys on the cover seem frankly horrid to him – he checks the back but there’s no summary.
“Uh, what is this about?”
“It’s the best movie ever,” Sansa declares.
“It’s a musical about two kids in high school who spend two hours trying to get together and then break up and then get back together again and if you don’t see the appeal of that, it’s really not that great,” Jeyne counterarguments.
“Jeyne, you need to work on your sense of romance,” Sansa laughs, and then she picks what she declares the best song out of the soundtrack and puts it on as the room falls into silence.
I got chills they're multiplying
And I'm losing control
Cause the power you're supplying
You better shape up cause I need a man
And my heart is set on you
You better shape up, you better understand
To my heart I must be true
You're the one that I want –
And he doesn’t know how to tell Sansa that it’s cute but he really doesn’t think it’s great or anything he’d actually listen to more than twice. That said, he listen dutifully until the end and says that it was okay but would like to listen to the other one before making judgments. Jeyne smirks – she smiles a lot more often these days – and takes a vinyl out of her tote bag very carefully. She hands Theon the packaging as she carefully takes Sansa’s out of the player and places hers in it instead.
This one is definitely not a soundtrack. It’s mostly black with some blue and the band in the center of the cover – Theon’s maybe heard of The Doors because Davos might have mentioned them sometimes, but he doesn’t think he’s ever heard a song of theirs.
“They are your, uh, favorites?” He asks as Jeyne gets the vinyl read.
“Yes,” she says. “And dark, broody and boring, according to Sansa, is the singer. Third guy, long hair, the one standing.”
Theon takes a look at the man – well, he does look dark and broody, some, but he also thinks he’s kinda hot. He doesn’t voice the opinion, though, and lets Jeyne go ahead and play the song.
It starts, and –
And Theon thinks he understands her because it’s not just the words –
(Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can't you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won't you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?
Now, I'm gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain)
– it’s the voice. It’s deep and it almost sounds like velvet feels to him, it’s not even a comparison he can explain, but he’s fairly sure that if someone asked him that same question with that voice and that tone, he would be even too glad to touch them in return. It’s not even long or complicated or particularly deep, but it hits in all the right places, and that fucking voice –
He’s sure he must be fucking flushing.
If anything –
“I think we have a winner,” Jeyne says, sounding delighted.
“I think I have to concede,” Sansa sighs.
“It’s obvious from your face,” Sansa says, but she’s taking the news of her defeat fairly well. “I mean, you looked exactly like she did when my mother played this for her a while ago. Because my mother likes that, figures.” Theon figures Sansa doesn’t think listening to what your mother listens to is… cool. Or however it is that it’s called these days. “I have no idea what’s so hot about Jim Morrison but suit yourselves.”
“Oh, you’re just jealous he obviously has good taste,” Jeyne smirks as she elbows him lightly. He does the same back and asks her if he has any more tapes of these Doors.
Jeyne comes back the next day and leaves him with a copy of the entire discography.
He thinks, maybe Touch Me could be a good idea.
Then he realizes that – that as completely ridiculous as Sansa’s song was, maybe it did also make a similar point. Actually – well, maybe it conveys better that it’s not just about sex. While Touch Me would definitely argue that case.
So maybe he should put both even if the bloody Grease soundtrack doesn’t fit with the rest, but what does he care?
Fine. He writes down You’re the One That I Want and Touch Me on his sheet. He thinks he has at least one side of the tape-to-be full – he counts. He’s seven down, five to go.
That said – maybe he should put in something less… less blunt? Maybe a bit more poetic? God, he barely even knows how to do this fucking thing. Maybe in between the overtly sappy song and one screaming please fucking ravish me already there could be something – in between? Yeah. Maybe it’s a good idea. He considers it, rustling through the tapes he hasn’t set aside yet, and then he sees one with a label that’s almost illegible. Right. It was one of Arya’s, she has a serious case of chicken scratch and he doubts she will ever get better, but she just made him a couple, and this is –
Ah. Okay. Okay, he has it.
“This is shit,” Arya declares, looking at his growing collection.
“Well, no, okay, some of this stuff is good, but would it kill people to hand you something other than your basic rock n’ roll? Okay, fine, Bob Dylan doesn’t count.”
“Er, I just – listen to everything?” Arya still scares him half of the time. He can’t seem to forget that she kicked a fucking zombie in the shin and got out of it with barely a scratch – she’s fucking frightening, okay?
“Yeah, and Jon’s stuff is all depressing as hell, Robb has a lot of good thing going for him but liking Wham isn’t one of them, Sansa is a lost case and everyone else obviously has stopped at the early seventies. And the wrong early seventies. Would it kill them to make you listen to a woman, once in a while?”
“A woman that’s not Joni Mitchell. There’s a limit to fucking boredom.”
“Do – do you have any suggestions?”
Arya smirks in a way that’s almost predatory. “Of course I do.”
She stomps upstairs, leaving her poor boyfriend on the stairs to wait for her – she had come down here to grab some jacket she forgot in the basement because in theory they were going out for trekking in the woods or something that only qualifies as a date to the two of them. Theon waves at Gendry half-heartedly and Gendry does the same, and then Arya’s stomping back downstairs with a small box, also full of tapes.
Theon takes a careful look at them. They’re all labeled Patti Smith and it’s some four records plus a few live recordings, from what it seems.
“Don’t worry about ruining them, I have another three copies of each of those. Listen to some serious stuff, won’t you? She’s more hardcore than all of my brothers’ faves put together,” Arya declares, and then grabs Gendry and drags him back upstairs.
Theon isn’t even going to brave her ire when she comes back if he hasn’t at least heard one of those tapes out, so he grabs the one on top – Horses – and puts it in.
The moment the first words of the record are spoken and he hears Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine, as a shiver trails down his spine he understands what Arya had meant with being more hardcore than all the others.
Maybe she has a point.
He checks – yes, it’s Easter. While he liked the songs on the other records better, there’s nothing that would fit for his purpose there.
On here, though –
He glances at the Because the Night written almost unintelligibly on the back of the tape. He thinks about that song, he thinks about how it started –
(Take me now baby here as I am
Pull me close, try and understand
Desire is hunger is the fire I breathe
Love is a banquet on which we feed)
and about how it really does convey what he wants just put in better words, he thinks about how it went on –
(Come on now try and understand
The way I feel when I'm in your hands
Take my hand come undercover
They can't hurt you now,
Can't hurt you now, can't hurt you now
Because the night belongs to lovers)
and he thinks about – well, he could never tell Robb to his face that he’s had fantasies upon fantasies of being in his hands and on Robb’s bed and about Robb pulling him close and that sometimes his need could have felt like bloody hunger (and he knows how it feels, he does), but maybe with this, with this he can.
Okay. Good. Because the Night it is. He writes that down. Four to go. At this point he thinks he’s been fairly straightforward. Maybe he should be straightforward about wanting an answer as soon as possible so that he doesn’t suffer any further if Robb doesn’t reciprocate.
Yes, he should definitely be straightforward. He also might want something that would… well, convey that he wouldn’t mind it if things ended badly. And possibly also give Robb an idea of how fucked he is here, because he really is in too deep and just the fact that he’s been here pondering songs for half an hour says it all.
He tries to forget everything about love songs. Does he even listen to one band which is not into typical love ballads or –
Oh, he is.
He doesn’t know if he should ask his sister whether something’s wrong.
He knows something is because she’s gripping the steering wheel a bit too strongly and she’s smiling a bit too tightly and it never happened when she drove him back to Winterfell before. But he doesn’t know if he should breach the subject or not. He still doesn’t know when to breach most subjects and he only speaks his mind without overthinking it around Robb, and he really doesn’t want to potentially argue with his fucking sister, but on the other side the atmosphere in the car is tense and he doesn’t trust himself to not lose control if he gets stressed. Not that he’s done it since he and Jon killed the bloody henchman Other, but still, he’d rather not risk it.
She doesn’t say a word as she drives out into the freeway and after five minutes he feels like he’s going to make the damned car fly if they don’t talk this out.
“Is there something wrong?” He blurts out.
“Sorry?” Asha lies without even trying to sound convincing.
“Is – is there? I just – you don’t – it’s obvious something’s not okay. And – if it has something to do with me –”
“Yes and no,” Asha sighs as she speeds up.
“… Er, how?”
“It’s about you, but not… because of you. Shit, that didn’t sound – okay, just hear me the fuck out and don’t interrupt me or I’ll never manage to say it again. Got it?”
“… Got it.”
“I feel like shit about this entire thing. I mean – I knew something was wrong with our father. Well, guess I should say mine, he certainly wasn’t one to you. I was seven, not two – everything about your disappearance was just fucking shady and I knew it. She knew it, except that I let Father convince me to go along with it and it ended up with – well, I guess it could be worse, she could have died of grief and instead now she’s getting better, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t lift a finger to actually look for you or help her or given her some credit until I saw the news about the missing girls. I mean, I did help out, as much as I could, but I didn’t really believe her until I put two and two together, and if I had just – if I had just thought with my own damned head earlier or if I hadn’t listened to Father when things were obviously all wrong, maybe you wouldn’t have spent that fucking long in there.”
There are things Theon would like to tell her but he said he wouldn’t interrupt and the way she’s gripping the damned wheel, it looks about to break under her fingers.
Maybe he should just let her finish.
“And then – now I guess it could be worse. I mean, you’re alive and our mother’s better and you could be a lot worse off than you are, given what the hell happened to you, and neither of you deserved that shit and it’s a fucking travesty. If Father ever shows up again I’m punching him in the face. Unless you want to do it first.”
She stops talking. She stays silent for a minute or so.
“Uh, are you done?” Theon asks, wishing he didn’t sound so bloody awkward.
“Yeah. Go ahead,” Asha sighs, slowing down her driving a bit.
“It’s not your fault,” Theon sighs.
“Asha, you’re blaming yourself when – you were seven. Fine, I might have spent a lot of my time wondering why didn’t anyone look for me and if you all really didn’t want me anymore, but knowing how it went, the only responsible person isn’t here and –” He shakes his head. “Listen, I spent half a year with Robb telling me all over that it was fucking normal I harbored resentment towards the other poor bastard who was stuck in there with me because he wasn’t seen as a human experimentation failure, and I guess it’s normal you feel guilty, but – I didn’t even – it’s good enough that we’re making up for it. Somewhat. And who the fuck would have even believed that story without blinking? I know I wouldn’t if it hadn’t happened to me. Just let it go. I have enough shit to go through when it comes to what went on inside that base, I don’t need anyone other than our father blaming themselves for it. Besides, I got out, didn’t I?”
“Not thanks to me,” Asha sighs, but she’s smiling a bit, “but I guess you have a point. Sorry, it’s just – I hate it when I don’t have things under control. And I feel like I just failed both of you.”
“Well, if you hadn’t come looking for me I’d have never thought of checking whether you two were still around. At that point I’d have rather not known because I couldn’t take some more disappointment. You did enough, I think.”
Asha shrugs but at least she stops gripping the steering wheel that fucking much.
“I just – sometimes,” she sighs, “sometimes I thought that it would have been nice to have someone else around the house when I was seventeen or so. Father was almost never there, Mother wasn’t fine at that point either, I spent most of the time with my friends outside so that I wouldn’t have to be there, then I’d go back and it’d be empty and – and now I’m thinking that you were getting experimented on instead of getting yelled at because you tried to steal my records or something and it’s just so fucking depressing I feel like fifteen drinks at once. Damn it.”
Theon swallows around the knot in his throat, looks at the time, sees that it’s almost seven in the evening and figures that maybe –
“Maybe we should make up for lost time then?”
He shrugs. “It’s – not too early. We can go grab some drinks. Or dinner. Whatever. And I can’t steal your records but lately everyone’s hobby, as far as people who know me, has been throwing music at me to see what I like best. Just do the same. I guess it’s more or less – not so different, right?”
Asha pulls over and stops the car on the side of the road – good thing it’s empty. She turns and looks at him and for the first time since they met again, her face looks… soft, he thinks. In the good way. Everything about her is hard, usually.
She stares at him for a good, long moment. Then she smiles and for the first time since they met again it’s entirely, absolutely genuine and for a moment he thinks it makes her look absolutely gorgeous, instead of – well. Hard.
“Fine. I’m not even asking you what you like already.”
“I – I haven’t quite decided yet.”
“Whatever. Has anyone gotten you into the Clash yet?”
“Right. You haven’t lived until you heard the gospel of Joe Strummer. Just keep your eyes open for the next exit, we can find a pub and you can call your best friend forever and say we’re out late.”
“Hilarious. But okay, go ahead.”
Asha goes for the glove compartment, takes out a tape labeled Combat Rock and pushes it inside the car slot.
As she drives out and music fills the car, Theon thinks that he understand why she’d like it.
Whatever’s the name of that song, it sounds… just like his sister.
It wasn’t a surprise that even if he did like everything else Asha got him to listen, that record’s still his favorite.
And it’s probably not an original choice or anything, but –
Darlin' you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I'll be here 'til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
Well, that’s… fairly explicative, isn’t it?
Yeah, he thinks, this one definitely would work for its intent.
He writes it down, smiling ever so slightly – okay. He has three left.
He should pick them carefully.
Maybe one should be – just how he feels about Robb specifically. Without asking or implying anything. And after making clear what he wants.
He doesn’t even have to think about that one.
He knows what it is already.
He reaches down for his box, finds one of the few original tapes lying around, the one with the blue worn out cover with the title to match and thinks about how and when he got it and he doesn’t even try to stop a few tears falling from his eyes as he takes back up his pencil.
“I have something for you, too,” his mother says sweetly when he comes over the day before Christmas.
Theon had brought something for her – admittedly, the scarf he knitted with Catelyn Stark’s help over the previous month wasn’t anything he’d have worn himself, but Robb’s mom suggested it to deal with stress and while he’s a terrible knitter it does work wonders to soothe nerves when he feels like he’s losing it, which happens not as often as it used to, but often enough that he wants an out that doesn’t end with Robb’s things flying around the room. This one is better than his average because Cat helped but still, it was the only thing he could reasonably come up with and make himself.
(He’d have felt like shit asking the Starks money for a present he wouldn’t have even known how to begin to choose.)
“You know – I don’t really need anything,” Theon had said, his throat feeling constricted all over again. “I mean, it’s enough that – that Asha went looking for me, I –”
“Theon,” she interrupts, and he thinks he remembers that smile from before he was taken away. Sort of. Maybe. His memories from before his captivity aren’t really too clear. He hopes they will be again one day. “I understand that, but if there’s one thing I always hated was people saying you’re enough of a gift and all that jazz.” She sighs. “Let’s say one of the reasons I fell for your father back in the day was that he pulled one of those lines on me. Never mind that I’d have had something for you anyway even if it wasn’t Christmas. Get over here.”
He walks over to where she stands – the wardrobe in her medium-sized room at the mental hospital she’s still at. Her doctors seem confident that she might leave soon, but he can see why they’re reticent when she spent almost three years barely interacting with anyone except Asha.
(Theon can barely believe she got out of that because of him, but that’s a problem for another day or month or year.)
She takes a small bag out of it, and it’s full of – rectangular things, Theon thinks, and he recognizes the shape well enough. It’s –
She sits down on the bed and he comes with. She opens the bag and he was right, it was full of tapes. Some are copies, some are originals. It’s all folk music when he looks at it. Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Fairport Convention – he doesn’t know the songs but he’s heard the names. Mostly from Davos.
“Let’s say it wasn’t your father’s favorite genre,” she sighs. “So I stopped listened to them at some point. After you disappeared – well. I played some of these to you back in the day when he wasn’t around. After you were gone, I couldn’t anymore. It just hurt too much. And now – I don’t know if it would still, but your nice policeman informed me that they have some betting pool at the station.”
“… Excuse me?”
“Whoever introduced you to what turns out being your favorite song wins something. He informed me last time he drove you.”
“… Why do they even care that much?”
“I thought it was adorable. And I told him to add me to the betting pool.”
“You did what?”
She smiles even more sweetly. “I’d have given them to you anyway. But if you happen to find your favorite on there, let me know. And let him know, too.”
Theon doesn’t think he has words for it and he doesn’t know if he can follow his instinct and just fucking hug her out of his own volition but she seems to understand him and does it first.
He might cry into her shoulder.
Neither of them says a word about it after.
Before he leaves, he asks her which was her favorite, so he knows what to start from.
She replies, “I think I used to be Blue.”
Blue turns out to be his favorite tape out of that lot, too, but his favorite song isn’t in any of them.
There’s one, though –
There’s one that just screams Robb Stark to him.
He writes down A Case of You on his sheet, hearing the notes and the words that fit in his head as he does it –
(Oh you are in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter
And so sweet oh
I could drink a case of you darling and I would
Still be on my feet
Oh I would still be on my feet)
And he knows it’s the right one.
He smiles. He will tell his mother about it either way it goes and knowing makes him feel slightly better about this entire ordeal.
All right. He has two to go. And maybe –
Until now it’s been about meeting Robb, about wanting them to be a thing, about how he feels when it comes to Robb –
But is there anything about how he feels without necessarily being about the whole romance angle?
And the thing is –
The thing is, the betting pool on his tastes is still up in the air because he thinks he has two he likes better than all the others but he can’t exactly pick which on he likes best. Maybe he should just come clean and let the winners split their prize.
Or maybe he could just put them both in here and see how they fit.
The thing is – he loves both of those because for the first time in his life he thought, that’s about me when hearing them, and maybe Robb knows everything already because Robb knows him better than anyone, but maybe –
Can it hurt? He thinks it can’t.
“You know,” Brienne tells him as she drives him back – this time she’s alone, Lannister has family obligations or something of the kind –, “I didn’t join the betting pool.”
“Oh, thank fuck,” Theon groans. “You’re too much of a responsible adult for that?”
“That, and Jaime having done that, too. One person betting on your tastes in the house is enough. I figured I’d let you know, since it seems like you’re aware of it.”
“… How do you know?”
“Davos told me that your mother told you,” she sighs. “But hey, if you don’t mind –”
“No, it’s fine. I mean, it’s nice that… people are interested. Really.” It’s beyond flattering. “Never mind – nah, that’d be mean.”
“Go ahead and shoot. Have you seen the guy I’m living with? I’m adjusted to mean.”
Theon laughs. “Well, no one has put this much effort into Jon’s tastes. Might be the first time I beat him at anything.”
Brienne laughs at that, and he’s sincerely surprised. Maybe Lannister’s bad humor rubbed off on her.
“Sounds legitimate. But you know what? This isn’t for the betting pool. This is because I think your life lacks something if you don’t experience… a certain thing.”
“Listening to Springsteen while going beyond speed limit on the highway.”
“What – are you saying that you want to –”
“I can drive,” she smirks. “And I’m the police. What am I gonna do, fine myself?”
“Lannister is really rubbing off on you, isn’t he?”
“Maybe. So, what do you say?”
“Sure. Let’s hear it.”
Brienne smiles and grabs a tape from under the radio – it’s Lannister’s car, which means there’s enough space under it – and rustles until she finds one that’s labeled something like Springsteen best of, though it’s obviously self-made.
She pushes in the tape, turns up the volume very loud, and the moment it starts she presses on the accelerator pedal and –
Fuck me, Theon thinks as the music fills up the car –
(Lights out tonight, trouble in the heartland,
Got a head-on collision smashing in my guts, man,
I’m caught in a cross-fire that I don’t understand)
- she does have a point when she says it’s perfect to drive past speed limit along the highway.
Then he actually pays attention to the words and before half of that song is even finished he entirely, truly understands why it is that this guy has to be Brienne’s favorite singer.
He writes down Badlands on his sheet, thinking about those few lines that sold him for good –
(for the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside,
that it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive –)
not even trying to suppress the shiver he feels when he thinks about those lines – just thinking, damn it – and then wonders if he should put in the second one, too, and –
And then he realizes that he has to.
Because he’s basically follow that song’s bloody advice, isn’t he?
“Listen,” Davos tells him two weeks after everything’s done and over and he’s been offered a place in Robb’s basement permanently and he can barely even bring himself to believe he’s not dreaming this every damned day when he opens his eyes and listens to Robb snoring on the other side of the room, “I burned your files. Both of them.”
Theon could break in tears of gratitude just hearing that.
“But – we read them. Before, I mean. When we didn’t know what was in them. And I still can’t sleep at night thinking of what you two kids went through. Now, I know also that getting you both to catch up on what you missed is going to be hell. Especially you.”
“Come on, Jon is young enough that we can lie our asses off and send him to school properly, and he’s certainly better at socializing, I don’t know for what kind of fucking miracle. Doesn’t mean anyone other than Robb should write you off as a lost cause. And since you need to – really fucking catch up on something and someone’s got to start you – here.”
Theon stares at him dumbfounded as he’s handed a tape. He reads the label. It says Beatles – BEST SONGS.
“According to me, at least,” Davos adds as he stands up. “They used to be my favorites when I was your age. I couldn’t sleep yesterday so I figured I’d just make you a tape or something. Basic pop culture. Can’t go wrong on that.”
“you didn’t have to,” Theon blurts, even if he’s clutching at the thing. Damn it, has anyone ever given him that kind of gift before? He doesn’t think so.
“Nah. But I wanted to. Let me know if you like it,” Davos says, winking, and then leaves him be.
Theon listens to it.
Theon doesn’t just like it.
He positively loves it.
Admittedly, Hey Jude has nothing to do with the rest of the damned tape, Theon thinks as he writes it down. But the moment he heard
Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better
Months ago, he had known that it was – it was pretty much it. His entire life is a fucking sad song. It had been even more, back in the day.
But he’s – he’s making it better, isn’t he? Not on his own, and not easily, but he is, and he wants Robb to know that it’s also thanks to him, and –
He writes it down.
He rearranges the order a bit because it doesn’t really flow the way he put it down, but at the end he has it, and he writes it down neatly on one of the empty tapes lying around.
Then he gets his own tapes ready, sneaks up to Sansa’s room to record from the fucking Grease soundtrack feeling very thankful that she’s not there, thanks the stars that it all fits on both sides and he doesn’t have to do it a second time, writes for Robb in the outer label and when he’s done he places it on the desk with shaking fingers.
He’s doing it. He’s doing it, and he just hopes Robb gets here fast enough before he chickens out –
“Hey,” Robb says, coming into the room just as Theon places his box back in place, “had a good day?”
“You could say it,” Theon replies cautiously. “Did you?”
“Work was what it was. Good thing they pay. Hey, anything’s up? You look – like you’ve got news. Or something.”
“It’s just –” He opens his mouth and of course words won’t leave, and then he clutches at the tape and figures he’ll just let it do the talking.
He goes to stand in front of Robb, taking his jacket with him – he knows he doesn’t have the guts to be around when Robb realizes what the hell’s going on.
“I made you a thing,” he blurts, and then he slams the tape into Robb’s hands. “Just – give it a look and – I’ll see you in an hour.”
“Theon!” Robb calls after him, but he’s disappeared upstairs before he can succumb to the temptation to stay, and he leaves the house and doesn’t come back until one hour and some is passed – after all, that tape lasted one hour. If Robb listened to it, well, it had to be enough, right?
He comes back home feeling slightly chilly and hoping he hasn’t made a fool of himself – he waves at Sansa who’s in the living room with Jeyne and goes downstairs, hoping that he didn’t just fuck everything up –
And when he comes in, Robb stands up from his bed looking flustered, but – in the good way?
“Robb –” He starts, not knowing how he’ll go on.
“Theon,” Robb interrupts, “there are a lot of things I’d like to tell you, but I think that there’s… one thing you should know, first.”
“… Which would be?”
“That when you went to see your mother this last Sunday, I spent the entire day making you this,” Robb says, blushing slightly, and –
Hands him a mixtape.
Theon’s fingers tremble as he checks the label.
Theon, it reads. Just that.
He also realizes that it’s empty, but he doesn’t take much notice of that for now.
Because he’s taking notice of the motherfucking tracklist.
There’s the usual Queen and a bunch of other stuff Robb would like and that makes Theon’s head spin, but then he sees –
REO Speedwagon, Can’t Fight This Feeling.
That song’s just – that’s just – no way it’s not about romance, nothing with lines as corny as you’re a candle in the window on a cold dark winter’s night wouldn’t be, and he thinks he’s about to faint, but then he sees the last and –
“Since when do you like Springsteen?” He asks, even if it’s the absolutely dumbest question he could have asked, as he sees Drive All Night listed at the bottom.
Robb smirks and presses play on his player, and that song starts from the middle, and, and, and –
There's machines and there's fire waiting on the edge of town –
“Since you do,” Robb says, and he sounds so impossibly fond, Theon’s about to faint. He stands up and moves closer, smiling just a bit. “And you listen to quite a lot. Not that I mind. He’s not bad at all. And sometimes he’s on point. But,” he adds, his fingers closing around the hems of Theon’s jacket, “that wasn’t what you really wanted to ask, was it?”
Theon’s heart is beating so hard it might burst out of his ribcage, at this rate.
“No,” he whispers. “It was – did you understand?”
They're out there for hire but baby they can't hurt us now –
“I think you’ve made it clear,” Robb replies. “And I think I’ve made it clear as well, didn’t I?”
He’s so close, they could kiss if they moved just one fucking inch.
‘Cause you’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got my love, girl, you’ve got my love girl –
“Given what I’m listening to, I think you did,” he breathes out.
Robb’s hands cover his cheeks, so gently Theon thinks he might die for it.
“Good,” Robb says.
Through the wind, through the rain –
“Because”, he goes on –
The snow, the wind, the rain, you’ve got my love –
“I think we might have both waited a tad too long here.”
“How – how long?” Theon asks, and he’s sure Robb can hear him just because he’s that close.
“Maybe since you saved my fucking life or something, even if I didn’t realize it until I asked myself whether I was fine with sharing a room with you for the foreseeable future and the answer was at least I get to share a room with him at all,” Robb laughs, and Theon would like to tell him that for him it probably started since Robb found him in the woods in the first place, shelter from the storm and all, but his hands have found their way around Robb’s waist, he knows they’re levitating in the air but he can’t and won’t do anything to stop it and he thinks –
Maybe it’s time that he goes out and gets him –
Heart and soul, the song croaks from the speakers as Robb’s lips crash against his own and Theon kisses back and it’s everything those dumb romantic movies Sansa and Jeyne watch all the time are and actually it’s better because it’s happening to him, and –
He’s taken his sad song and made it not just better but great, and maybe for the first time in his life he feels completely at harmony with the entire fucking universe and when Robb’s tongue touches his own he parts his lips with a sigh and kisses back even harder.
They only stop when they hit their heads against the damned ceiling and Robb bursts out in laughter, but they don’t crash down to the ground and Theon’s more than ready for it when they kiss again –
(heart and soul)
and maybe now he knows what his favorite song is.
It’s the one he’s living in, he realizes as his heart soars, and he kisses Robb back, and they don’t come down on the ground for a long time.
For the first time in his life, it feels like the natural state of things, and maybe that’s not the best thing of all (that one’s that he finally did it and that Robb wants him back), but it’s just up there along with all the almost-favorite songs he has already.