janie_tangerine: (Default)
janie_tangerine ([personal profile] janie_tangerine) wrote2017-02-18 11:43 pm

live in my house, I'll be your shelter (asoiaf, throbb/alannys)

“Theon, I’m listening, you know.”

“I know you’re listening, Stark. I just – oh shit, I don’t even know how to put it.” Which is the whole truth – he has no clue of how to fucking put it. The more he tries to come up with a decent way to put it, the more ridiculous it sounds.

“Uhm, right. How about you start from the beginning?”

“I don’t – oh, fuck. You know about my mom.”

Not a question – Robb does know. He’s pretty much the only person not named Greyjoy in existence who knows, for that matter, and don’t think that when Theon told him, he hadn’t felt worse than he’s feeling right now.

“Yeah? Of course I do. Is she –”

“No, no, she’s actually fine now. Well. As fine as it goes – better than the last nine years or so.”

“Okay. So what’s the problem?”

“It’s not a problem, it’s that – they said she could come home.”

Robb’s eyebrows rise a fraction. “Theon, you’re saying it like it’s a funeral and I’m pretty sure that you’ve been wanting her to come home since I’ve known you, so how about you just tell me what’s the problem here?”

“Well, they said that – er, a calm environment would be preferable. Considering why she ended up with a nervous breakdown in the first place.”

The kind of breakdown lasting years, he thinks bitterly. Robb just gives him an understanding nod and makes a motion with his hand. Go on. Okay.

“So, er, dad is fucking off to one of my uncles’ – probably just because Asha managed to convince him, but whatever. I don’t even know which and I’m not sure I want to, for that matter. And my uncle on my mom’s side is going to park himself in the guest room.”

“Are you telling me that for the next month or so you’ll probably be there all the time? It’s okay, you know, we’d still see each other at school and really, it’s your mother –”

“No, I’m asking you if you want to move in for… a while?”

Robb’s eyes go almost comically wide. “Sorry?”

“You didn’t let me get to the point. You know I went there every week.”

Not a question this time either. “And, er, I might have told her? When we, uh, you know.”

Robb sighs and puts an arm around his shoulders – thank fuck that he doesn’t need to say that out loud.

“Right. I gather she took it better than your father did?”

“Understatement. It kind of came up because she noticed I looked better, whatever that means to her, and I told her and she was all, like, ecstatic or something, and then she went on a tirade on how much she regrets that she’s never met you. Then at some point lately she noticed that it had been going on for more than six months and asked if it was serious. I said yes.”

“Okay. And?”

“And – she started crying and said that she couldn’t wait to meet you properly and – right, you probably don’t need to know that. So, she was so happy about it that she proceeded to tell Asha exactly what she said to me, and she came up yesterday asking if you’d actually consider – well, the moving in for a couple of weeks thing. She didn’t go into details but… I think she wants to make sure that everything is as close to functional as it gets. Because before it was the height of dysfunctional and even she has to admit it.”

“So having me moving in would not be dysfunctional?”

“In comparison to how it was when my brothers were still alive? Your presence would be the epitome of functional, Robb.”

He’s resolutely not telling him that Asha had gone and said seeing you not being miserable would probably work wonders and the only times when you aren’t miserable or brooding are when you’re with Stark so please ask him to get his ass into your room for the next month.

Robb seems to think about it for a moment, then shrugs and moves closer. “Unless my mom goes batshit at the prospect, I don’t see why not.”

“Why, you don’t have anyone to babysit?”

“I always have someone to babysit but Jon and Sansa can deal if I’m not there.”

“Are you sure –”

“Theon, for fuck’s sake, if you were asking me to move in with your dad being in the house it’d be the worst idea in the history of bad ideas, but since he’s not, I really don’t have a problem.”

Which – right. Robb has a point. That would be a colossally bad notion – Balon Greyjoy never liked Robb, not even when they were introduced when Robb was eight, and he had actually said that out loud. In the sense of, that’s your famous best friend that you can’t shut your mouth about? At which Robb had calmly replied, yes I am, and now I understand why he barely mentions you.

If Theon believed in crap like people falling in love long before they knew it, he’d be half-sure of that moment as the time he was one hundred per cent fucked when it came to Robb Stark, but he’s not that kind of person, so he resolutely doesn’t believe it.

Anyway, they’ve only met a handful of times and none of them ended well – starting with that and ending with a spectacular row a few months ago. It had been on the Starks’ front porch while Theon was up in Robb’s room nursing a black eye and resolutely refusing to go down the stairs. The ridiculous thing is that Ned Stark never even had to step in between them – Robb had made a pretty convincing argument on his own (seems to me like he doesn’t want to be friends with the son of your precious business associate, regardless of what said son thinks, and no one gets that kind of bruise while falling down the stairs, so do you want me to call the police now or you’re leaving? ) and it had ended with Balon storming away and Theon staying at the Starks’ for a week straight.

“Well. Okay. Let me know then. Uh, she’s being discharged on Friday.”

“Good. And stop looking as if you’ve just swallowed an entire lemon.”

Theon doesn’t even try to argue and as Robb kisses him stupid, he hopes that this won’t go down the drain as almost everything tends to when he’s concerned.


“Let’s just go over it again also for his benefit,” Asha says glancing around the entirety of their living room, even if Theon thinks it’s useless. It’s just them, his uncle and Robb, and out of all of them, Robb would be the only one who knows how things work when your family is not dysfunctional. It’s kind of cute that his sister tries that hard, though.

Theon sighs. “No one mentions either Dad or Rodrik and Maron if she doesn’t mention them first. Normal meals three times each day. Cooking is on you and cleaning shit up is on me at alternate weeks. No one is watching war movies after dinner and if someone doesn’t actually want to watch whatever’s on tv, they’re excused. No one goes to bed at two in the morning after being out without saying where they had gone first. No one spills beer on the carpet if they have to drink it at all. Satisfied?”

“Right. Sounds good. I’m going to get her then. No one moves until I’m back,” she says, and then she’s gone.

“Uhm,” Robb clears his throat before looking at Theon’s uncle, “I could do something, too. I mean, it looks like you three divided everything, but –”

“Lad, one thing that my sister never changed her mind about was that guests don’t have to get their hands dirty,” Rodrik says, sounding sort of amused. “Just be your charming self. She’s definitely going to like you better than my fucking brother in law.”

Robb swallows and pretends that he’ll go along with it. Theon can see that he’ll look for some excuse to go grocery shopping or something, but he’s going to deal with it later. Right now, he’s too busy freaking out.

It’s probably showing, or Robb wouldn’t have reached out and grabbed his hand – for a moment Theon feels like moving away before anyone can see them, but then he remembers that his uncle took the news that he was bisexual with a shrug and a don’t expect me to go to the next Pride with you but whatever floats your boat, and the news that he and Robb were an item with finally, it had been ten years coming.

Right. He supposes he can do this.

Asha comes back some forty minutes later and she walks in with their mother leaning on her arm and for a moment Theon can’t help worrying about Robb’s reaction. He’s only seen her twice or so years ago, and back then she stood up taller and had dark hair with only a few grey ones, not the contrary, and if for Theon she looks like the embodiment of healthy right now, he’s not sure that she’d be for anyone who hasn’t seen her for years.

He didn’t need to worry, he learns a moment later. After the obligatory hugging both with him and her brother, Alannys notices Robb, who had respectfully been staying a few steps back.

“Oh,” she says, “forgive me, I hadn’t seen you before. You must be… Robb?”

He shouldn’t have worried, Theon thinks as Robb (now that he’s sure that he’s not intruding) takes a step forward and holds out his hand, smiling so politely that it’s looks almost out of some movie.

“Yes, that would be me, ma’am. How do you do?”

Theon has no clue of when his mother was called like that last, but it must have been a long fucking time since as she shakes Robb’s hand she looks so delighted that Theon almost feels like he’s jumped into the Twilight Zone – he’s seen his mother look that happy… well, he could probably count the times on two hands. Maybe.

“Oh, how do you do,” she replies, still looking as if she’s over the moon.

Well, Theon thinks, at least this went good.


In the next couple of days, Theon comes to terms with the undeniable truth that if his mother isn’t smitten with Robb… no, he can’t find a better word for it. She is smitten, but then again who wouldn’t be? After all, Robb is being nothing short of a godsend – he didn’t want to hear the guests shouldn’t do anything speech and he usually just helps Theon clean up, but he’s definitely not sitting on his ass, he’s been nothing short of perfectly nice to everyone and has never brought up non-present members of the family not even to ask questions, and the ridiculous thing is that it’s obvious that he’s not playing the part that’s expected of him, he actually means it.

Obvious enough that three days into the arrangement, while Robb is off using the bathroom, Theon’s uncle corners him before they can leave for school.


“Uhm, yes? What’s going on?”

“Nothing, but I’d just like to give you a bit of advice.”

“… all right?”

“Your boyfriend over there?”


“If you two ever break up it’ll be the most stupid decision you might ever make.”

“Wait, why would that be my decision if it ever happened?” Theon is entirely sure that he’d never be the one to break things off, but Robb would have all the reason to. Since Theon isn’t exactly the one bringing the most to the table, in that relationship.

“Don’t be an idiot now,” Rodrik says amiably before going to check on his sister.

Well, Theon supposes, at least there are three people who are related to him and don’t have a problem with Robb. Just one more and it’s going to even up the stakes, he thinks bitterly.


The first five days go pretty much splendidly.

Then Asha gets stuck at work.

Or better: Asha does stage management for a living, she’s working at this theater in the next village over and a snowstorm that hadn’t been predicted shuts down all the roads from midday on.

She calls at three in the afternoon saying that she can’t come home until late in the evening using the only bus that leaves from there.

It’s also the first time that Theon hears his sister completely freak out.

“You can’t let her cook,” she says for the fifth time in a row.

“Asha, I know that, thank you.”

“Yeah, right, but Uncle Rodrik would set the whole building on fire, you said you had a test tomorrow so you shouldn’t waste time and take-out is a fucking no, okay? Fuck, I’ll never be able to get back in time, damn –”

Theon is about to try and interrupt the tirade when Robb takes the phone from him. And his sister is shouting so much that Theon can actually hear the conversation anyway.

“I guess there’s some kind of problem?” Robb asks, sounding mildly concerned. Anyone would, considering that you can feel her freaking out through the phone line.

“Yes, Stark, there’s a problem. I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere until the bus leaves at fucking six PM, my mother should not have to cook ever because I don’t know if Theon told you, but there was a point where she’d close herself in the kitchen cooking all fucking day just so that she wouldn’t have to talk to my father. And she’s been eating hospital food for years, so I really don’t like the idea of getting take-out, but your boyfriend over there should study for his history test lest our mother kills me for having taken time out of his education for dinner, and my uncle is incapable of even turning a stove on, and if this entire thing doesn’t work just after five days –”

“Asha, stop.”


“I can cook some, you know? I can deal with it.”

“You can what?”

“Do you think that my mom waited for Sansa to be old enough to set foot in the kitchen before wanting someone to help with another four kids in the house? Just wait for your bus and stop freaking out, I’m not going to poison your mother or anyone else.”

“Uh. Well. If you can –”

“I just said I could, didn’t I?”

Then he closes the call and hands Theon the phone.

“Well then. Is there anything you or any of your relatives here don’t eat?”

Theon is too flabbergasted to do anything but tell him, and Robb just nods to himself and says that he’ll deal with it.

Clearly when Robb informs of the change of plans, Alannys does try to say that it’s ridiculous and that she can do it, but Robb says so very amiably that it’s really not a problem and it’d be repaying for the hospitality as if it wasn’t Theon and Asha inviting him over, and he manages to charm his way out of it in no time.

Theon tells him that he can help with menial work and fuck his test, he’s studied enough for it already, if only because he kind of feels bad that he dragged Robb here for a month and he has to cook dinner.

Robb puts him on chopping vegetables duty – he can’t burn anything like that, can he?

“So, what are you feeding us?”

“You’ll see soon enough,” Robb replies smirking, and then he goes and grabs all the flour containers in the kitchen.

Twenty minutes later, Robb is apparently making pizza dough.

Now, Theon did know that Robb wasn’t useless in the kitchen – he did fix lunch for the both of them more than once – but never that he knew how to make pizza from scratch.

“And when did you learn that?”

“A few months ago? Rickon really wanted pizza for his birthday, he decided the day before, mom couldn’t do it and I figured I could find a recipe and try – at worst it was going to suck.”

“I guess it didn’t?”

“According to him and his fifteen friends, it didn’t. It was your uncle not eating cheese other than you, right?”

“You aren’t doing different kinds for everyone, are you?”

“That oven is big. It doesn’t really make a difference. Actually, what kind of pizza does your sister like?”

“Uh, extra cheese? You could just put cheese on it and it’d be good.”

“Okay then.”

Theon spends the next half hour wondering how he lucked out so much in life to be regularly dating a guy who’s willing to make his sister specific flavored pizzas because it’s obvious that she’s driving herself crazy with effort to keep the functional family thing working.

Then again, the expression on Asha’s face when she comes back at nine thirty in the evening, looking ready to go to sleep on her feet and asking did Stark make fucking pizza was pretty much worth it – by then Theon had gone to set the table since he wasn’t going to be of any help.

Not long later, Robb has come out of the kitchen with four different pizzas. Which also look pretty damn good – or at least, Theon’s vegetables one does. Robb put fucking pineapples on his, but then again since he was the one cooking Theon is not going to make fun of his heathenish tastes. Asha pretty much looks at her cheese one as if she could weep in gratefulness. At least both his uncle and his mother got plain tomato – Theon would have legitimately felt bad if Robb had ended up doing five different complicated ones.

“Well,” Robb says when everyone has taken his, “it shouldn’t be poisonous if it went like last time.”

“Sure they don’t look poisonous,” Rodrik says. “Who taught you, if I can ask?”

“Uh, this one, the internet. Most of the rest, my mom. But really, it’s easier than it might look like.”

“Well, I’m starving,” Asha says. “I’ll be the guinea pig.”

She cuts off a piece and brings it to her mouth. Then she starts chewing. Her eyes go only slightly wide.

“Stark, if you want me to pay you for this, just tell me how much.”

Robb snorts and everyone else starts to eat.

Theon will have to agree with his sister – the pizza is good.

“But this is delicious,” Alannys says when she’s done with her first piece. “I’m going to have to agree with my daughter on this.”

“Well, you really don’t need to pay me, but thank you.” Robb is kind of maybe gloating, but Theon figures he earned it.

“No, she really has to pay you,” Rodrik interrupts. “You said this is the second time you do this?”

“Uh, yes.”

“There’s really no chance you might teach your boyfriend over there?”

Theon groans into his glass of coke, but everyone is at least snorting at the remark, so whatever. For once, he really doesn’t mind.

Obviously, Alannys forbids Robb to clean up since he did all the rest of the work, and so they’re left alone while Theon, Asha and Rodrik are only too happy to do the rest.

Except that Asha tells him not to worry and rescue his boyfriend instead, and so he goes back to the living room, except that his mom has already started the third degree.

Robb is answering without a problem though.

“ – did your mother teach you, if I can ask?”

“Of course. Well, when I started helping her she had to cook for seven people, I guess she really could have used a hand.”

“And – you didn’t have a problem with her asking?”

“Uh, not really. I mean, I was the oldest and I thought it was kind of stupid that she’d have to wait a couple more years to rope my sister in just because I wasn’t a girl. Also it’s pretty useful – surely it saves me money.”

Well, crap. Of course she’d ask how it even happened – in the old times when Theon’s brothers were still alive and the house worked as dysfunctionally as ever, anyone with a dick setting foot in the kitchen for anything other than grabbing food or beer from the fridge was unthinkable. The only time his mom ever suggested that maybe Rodrik could have learned the basics of cooking… well, Theon had been four and doesn’t exactly remember much, but what he remembers is the epitome of ugly. For that matter, Asha learned on her own and just because after the infamous nervous breakdown she was the only woman in the house, Theon has never been particularly good at it though he gets by, but that’s also because no one actually taught him, and their father… better not to even touch that topic.

He looks at the scene from behind the half-opened door – he can only see Robb’s back and his mom’s front, and she looks… sad? Contemplative? Both?

“Anyway, the pizza I really learned from an online recipe, but I can give a try to my mom’s apple pie recipe one of these days if you’d like to try it?”

Theon’s mom fucking beams at Robb and says she’d be delighted.

Theon isn’t sure of what his life is anymore.


That night, when Robb climbs into Theon’s bed, Theon feels like at least he owes him an explanation.

“I’m – uh, sorry for the mess. But – well, my sister kind of told you most of it on the phone even if I’m sure she didn’t mean to spill all of that out. And you’ve seen my dad – anything even remotely progressive isn’t exactly welcome by him.”

“Yeah, I sort of got that,” Robb answers, moving so that their sides are pressed together. “But really, it was nothing. Seriously. I took care of my brother’s birthday party with minimal help from my sister and just because the only thing she can make decently are cupcakes, five people is regular business. I really don’t mind. And sorry but your dad is an ass, or didn’t I say it enough recently?”

“You can’t say it enough times,” Theon sighs. “Christ, I just wish she’d divorce him already. Not that it’d mean that I could avoid seeing him forever, but when he comes back it’s going to be a bloody disaster if she’s here and they’re still legally married. And she deserves better than him, fuck.”

“I guess you didn’t talk about it?”

“Nah. We all agreed that maybe two weeks straight of things being functional without talking about the elephant in the room couldn’t be too bad.”

“I can see why.” Robb moves closer, throwing an arm around Theon’s waist – Theon goes with it even too willingly. And thinks that damn, it’s nice that they can do this every day instead of week-ends only. Except when Theon ends up at the Starks’ because of preservation instinct, but that’s another problem entirely.

“Well, thanks for saving my sister a heart attack.”

“My pleasure,” Robb says, sounding kind of embarrassed. But not in a bad way at least.

“I can thank you for her very convincingly,” Theon smirks against his neck, deciding that this conversation needs to be ten times less depressing than it is right now.

Really. Not that I’m about to say no, but isn’t anyone going to walk in on us? Because you’re not exactly silent.”

“My sister was so tired that not even someone bombing the street next to her window would wake her up. My mom is downstairs. My uncle is downstairs. The year before that idiotic car accident, both my brothers would bring in girls one day in two and they all had rooms downstairs, and they were loud enough that I could hear them, but if we keep it down no one will hear us. And even if anyone did, I’m pretty sure they’d just nod and be glad that we’re doing it, so how about you stop worrying? It’s just five of us. Not nine.”

“Fine then, feel free to make me want to cook every day,” Robb smirks before kissing him, and Theon is entirely into the whole idea.


It’s the beginning of week two when bomb number two drops. They’re eating the last portions left of the-apple-pie-that-Robb-made-following-his-mom’s-recipe and it looks like it’s going to be a good closure to a pretty decent day, all things considered, when Alannys asks the damned question.

“Theon, I never asked you, but… I suppose you never got around to act in that school play just before –”

“No,” Theon says at once before she can even finish the sentence and hoping she changes topic – the school musical he was supposed to act in two weeks after the disaster happened is one of the topics that had been deemed off limits by his sister and he had only been too happy to agree.

“That’s too bad,” his mom keeps on. Damn, damn. “You were good.”

“Yeah, well, I really didn’t feel like it.” False. He actually had felt like it, but she doesn’t have to know the truth. She really doesn’t.

“I’d have liked to see you in it. Ah well, I guess it’s done now. Robb, this is really good, I know I’ve already said it three times…”

Theon can feel Asha breathing out in relief next to him.

He also knows he’ll have to explain the entire mess to Robb later – after all, they met each other the month after the whole fiasco went down, so he couldn’t know.

“What was that about?” Robb asks on cue the moment they go to bed.

“Right. Guess I owe you an explanation. Just swear you won’t mention any details to her, all right? She doesn’t need to know.”

“If that’s what you want. But – your sister went pale as a sheet and you looked like you were going to vomit.”

“It’s… well, it happened before you could be around to witness it. You remember that our elementary school put on a play for Christmas each year? Well, the year that you enrolled you came in the second semester so you couldn’t have known, but I was supposed to be in it.”

You? Don’t you hate theater?”

“I say I hate theater. It’s – oh, you’re going to get it when I’m done telling this. So, they were doing the Wizard of Oz. I had sort of maybe told her at dinner that it looked cool, but it’s not like my dad would have ever sanctioned me acting. And singing, on top of that. Not to mention that Rodrik and Maron had died like a month earlier, so he was already getting worse than usual. Anyway, she told me to just go to the auditions if I wanted it, it was during school time so no one would have had to know.”

“They picked you?”

“Yeah. The tin man. I still don’t know if it’s hilarious or not. Anyway, you had to put extra hours in order to do it, so – well, she kinda covered for me and told my dad that I was doing sports in the afternoon, and she always came to pick me up. Asha was in on it, but she kept on saying it was going to end up horribly. Then – well. The nervous breakdown happened two months and a half later. Clearly my dad ended up having to deal with what we were doing at school and he found out.” Theon takes a deep breath and figures he should just go and say it. “Loras Tyrell was the one who was supposed to cover for me if I ended up sick or something. Well, he was the one eventually in the play. I was home with a broken arm for the entirety of the holidays that year. And my mom really doesn’t need to know any of that. Also, I lied before.”

“When you said what?” Robb asks, his voice gone very soft. Theon is glad he isn’t looking at Robb or he’d never tell the entire story.

“When I said that I didn’t feel like it. I actually did – she wanted me to, I liked it, and it’d have been a distraction. Yeah, sure. Whatever, it’s not like she’s ever going to see me in school plays, so what the hell. And if you try to say you’re sorry you lose bed privileges and you’re going straight to the couch.”

Not that Robb doesn’t know that he’s blatantly lying, but he has to steer this conversation away from sentimentalism before he feels like a failure all over again.

Robb throws an arm around his waist and says nothing, but Theon can sort of feel him thinking.

He doesn’t know if he likes it or not.


The next day, while they’re eating at the cafeteria during lunch, he finds out that he should have just been plain scared.

“You know,” Robb says when they sit down, “I could ask if they have some role they haven’t cast yet for whatever they’re doing this year at the drama club. They’re doing RENT or so Jon tells me, he’s playing Mark so that part would be covered, but he said that there still were some roles up for grabs a week ago or so. It wouldn’t even be anything you’d hate too much.”

Ah, shit. Because Robb has actually been doing theater for extra credits since the first year, both semesters, but this year he hasn’t because it’s the last and he wanted to focus on actual studying – also, he has more extra credits than he needs because he starred in eight school plays rather than four like normal human beings. And everyone at the drama club loves him, obviously.

“Nah, don’t bother,” Theon says at once. “It’s April. The entire thing should be on in June and you always had the part by mid-March. They can’t possibly have free spots now. Let that go.”

“But it’s the last chance you’re gonna have. Really, asking doesn’t cost me anything. Maybe they still need someone –”

“Stark, it’s okay, it’s not like I’ll regret for the rest of my life that I never starred in a stupid school play when I was seven. Let it –”

“Robb, can I have a moment of your time?”

The two of them turn towards the person who just interrupted the conversation.

Ah, great. Mr. Seaworth, the science teacher who is also in charge of the drama club. Theon is pretty sure that the universe is conspiring against him.

“Of course.” Robb looks like he hadn’t expected it – then again, he has flying marks in science.

“Listen, I know you said that you weren’t going to do the drama club this year and I perfectly understand why. And I wouldn’t be asking you if I wasn’t seriously desperate. But – would you consider rethinking that? For – for a specific part?”

“In RENT? What’s so horrid that no one would play it?”

Mr. Seaworth snorts and grabs a chair, sitting at the table.

“Well, everyone was enthusiastic at the choice of play. A bunch of people showed up at the auditions. Except that apparently finding a guy who’s willing to pretend to make out with another guy on stage is a problem, and finding a second guy who’s willing to do that while wearing heels and a skirt is even worse. Everyone who I thought could be good for it refused because everything but that. So – well, I know that you’re good, and I know you really don’t have that kind of hang-up, and maybe if you were wearing heels someone would consider the other part.”

“Er, I guess I could, but I really don’t think I have the right voice for Angel?”

“Ah well, as long as someone is willing, they might be fucking tone deaf as far as I care.”

“So wait a moment. You need two guys who are willing to kiss on stage?”

“Well, they can pretend as far as I’m concerned. Why?”

Oh, shit, no. Robb turns towards him, smirking in a way that makes Theon’s skin crawl.

“Robb, you aren’t –”

“Oh, I am. After all, I know for a fact you’re not tone-deaf.”

“Wait,” Mr. Seaworth interrupts. “He would be willing?”

“Try him out,” Robb says, still smiling like he just won the lottery. Shit. Then he turns towards him. “Come on, what do you have to lose? It’s not the main couple or anything. And I don’t give a damn about wearing heels. We can try for it together. It’s not even a lame play.”

Theon has no fucking clue of why he says yes, though with two people looking at him as if he was the solution to all their problems saying no would have been hard. Not to mention that he doesn’t like the idea of Robb even pretending to kiss anyone else.

So he finds himself with Robb, in the empty school stage room, that afternoon, singing fucking I’ll Cover You.

With Stannis Baratheon, aka the most feared philosophy teacher of the entire school, who’s also apparently the second in command at the drama club, watching from next to Seaworth.

Then clearly it doesn’t go the way it was supposed to, because of course Mr. Baratheon is not the kind of person who cares about details like being sensitive.

“Davos, you do know that while it’s convenient that Stark has no problems with wearing a dress, his voice is a lot better suited for Collins?”

“Well, we have to make do, don’t we?”

“Is it a problem if the two of you try it twice switching the roles?”

Theon shrugs. Whatever. Robb had made him memorize the entire thing in the last two hours so it’s not like he doesn’t know it.

The first time they try it with Robb singing Angel. It’s… well. Not too bad, Theon figures. It does sound a completely weird, but he figures it’s because they’ve never done that before and all that jazz.

He tells himself that the second will just be a bust.


Except that after the first three lines, it’s clear that it’s not. Robb’s voice is better suited for Collins, no doubt about that, and Theon tries not to panic as he realizes that Angel is a lot easier on him as well even if it should be more difficult. Halfway into the stupid song and it’s obvious that there’s no match – the first time it didn’t suck but it wasn’t all that great, this second one… well, they wouldn’t make it big on Broadway, but there’s no question about which one actually works out of the two. For a high school production, they’d be more than somewhat decent.

When they’re done, thirty long seconds of silence pass before Seaworth clears his throat.

“Well. I guess we can do it both ways. It’s up to you.”

“Davos –” Mr. Baratheon starts, but Mr. Seaworth shakes his head at him.

“It’s already good enough that they’re willing to do it, I don’t care who plays who.”

Which is all very considerate, but Theon knows that they’re all beating around the bush right now.

“The second time around it was really better, wasn’t it?” Theon asks a moment later.

“Do you want my sincere answer?” Mr. Baratheon asks back.

“I’m afraid I know it anyway, but sure.”

“Are you really that adverse to wearing a skirt and heels?”


Theon is really tempted to say fuck my life out loud and then ask Mr. Baratheon if he would like to wear a skirt, but he won’t.

“Theon, you don’t really have to do it if you don’t want to. I’m okay with it.”

Yeah, well, of course Robb is, but that’s not the point. Theon sighs and thinks about all the ways in which his dad could and would disown him if he ever found out, and he probably will. On the other side, he’s seventeen, his mother probably would be overjoyed if she could see him do the thing even if he’s wearing a fucking dress and dying of AIDS mid-second act, and at least Robb is the only person he’s going to have to touch during the entire thing.

Also, well, fuck his dad. Really, fuck him.

“If the heels aren’t too high and you don’t force me to do fucking dance numbers in them… what the hell, it’s not like people can make fun of me next year.”

At that, three things happen more or less at the same time.

Robb beams, Baratheon gives him a grudgingly approving nod and Seaworth gets up on stage and fucking hugs him.

Okay then.


Also, when Jon finds out that the two of them are saving the production and that Theon is the one with heels, he knows he’ll never hear the end of it. Too bad that Snow plays the only healthy straight dude in the entire production and Theon can’t make fun of him or his role in the same way.

Clearly, Joffrey Baratheon aka the smarmiest little shit in the entire school, who had been cast in spite of his uncle vetoing it – at least it’s the smallest part, thank fuck – has to tell the news to all his idiotic friends and the entire school knows in two days’ time. The fact that the rest of the cast is made of people who are all somehow friends with Robb and Snow makes it slightly better, but damn if Theon doesn’t feel like throwing the damn heels at him whenever they’re practicing. (Granted, he only wears the heels, but he’s gonna have to get adjusted to them and he might as well do it when they’re practicing.)

Then again, when he tells his mother at the end of week two that he’s in fact doing the school play this year and his part isn’t exactly main material but it’s kind of important – even if he dies halfway through act two – she starts crying out of sheer happiness and tells him that she will go to see it even if the apocalypse happens in between.

Okay then. It’s going to be eventually worth it, if his dad stays the hell out of their business.

Meanwhile Robb is still living at their place (not that Alannys wasn’t doubly overjoyed knowing that he was going to be Theon’s on-stage love interest). Then it happens that he invites Sansa over because someone needs to teach him how walk on the damned heels instead of stomping on them and find him some decent clothes because the school’s costume department has absolutely nothing that might fit him or that doesn’t make him look ridiculous, and they don’t have the funds to buy new costumes. Which is apparently one reason why they went with RENT – it really doesn’t require much in that department.

Obviously, his mom is entirely delighted with Sansa and the cookies she had brought with and her impeccable manners and her pretty blue sundress.

Then his sister comes back from work early.

Then it fucking escalates.

“Robb, can you please explain me why I have three people going through their own clothes to find me an outfit and you just have to grab the first crappy things that the costume department hands you?”

“Well, I was willing to wear the skirt. You were the one sacrificing yourself in the name of art,” Robb replies cheerily as he looks through the script.

“Yeah, sure, and by the way, what are you doing here?” Asha is pretty much laughing herself to death and when he asks the question she just laughs harder. “I don’t remember you ever wearing a skirt.”

“No, but someone has to prevent your future sister in law from dressing you in pink.”

“I wouldn’t!” Sansa answers, sounding outraged. “It’s so not his color. Violet, on the other hand…”

“This isn’t happening,” Theon almost sighs.

“What the hell is going on here?” Rodrik asks as Sansa throws at him a violet shirt of Asha’s that he really doesn’t want to wear.

“We ended up saving the drama club by joining a production at the last moment,” Robb cuts in. “And since they’re low on funds, everyone plays in their own clothes.”

“Good enough, but why is the bed full of girly clothes?”

“Because he’s playing a girl!” Theon really wishes his mom wasn’t that excited about it. “Well, not really. You know, more of a guy who dresses like a girl, from what I gathered.”

“Right. How much stuff do you need?”

“Er, two outfits?” Theon doesn’t really like where this is going. “One casual and one a bit less?”

“Alannys, just give him that dress you wore when I graduated,” he says, sounding long-suffering.

The dress in question is black with some not overtly paraded gold on the hems, the skirt stops after the knee and the only issue with it is that it’s a bit loose on the shoulders. Sansa immediately offers to fix it for him. His mom looks only too happy to lend it to him. Theon is pretty sure that his life is a fucking joke.

Then Asha tells him that if he has to wear a skirt for the love of god he should get stockings, not that he doesn’t have nice legs after all.

No, now his life is a fucking joke.


In the end, he puts down his foot when it comes to fucking lilac because he has limits to everything and they settle on the aforementioned dress and a sensible outfit made of an old blue skirt that apparently belonged to Lyanna Stark that Sansa brought with and a sky-blue shirt definitely cut for a flat-chested woman that someone gifted Asha years ago and that she might have worn to a wedding once. If he buys some azure stockings he should be set, or so Sansa assures him.

He feels completely fucking embarrassed as he tries it on –

That is, before noticing that Robb’s looking at him with eyes that seem a slightly darker shade of blue than usual.

… He doesn’t think it’s hot, does he?


“Listen,” Robb tells him after the next rehearsal, as they’re heading back home, heels thankfully in Theon’s bag – good thing he doesn’t have to rehearse in costume yet –, “can I tell you something – weird? Maybe?”

“Shoot,” Theon replies, and he thinks he has a clue of what Robb is aiming at.

“You know – it was hot, all right?”

Well, fuck that.


“When you were trying those clothes out. It was hot. What can I say, that stuff looks great on you.” Robb isn’t quite looking at him and he’s keeping his voice down, thankfully, but – shit.

“… Really?”

Robb shrugs. “Yeah. Listen, I don’t know how to put it, but I don’t know if I’ll manage to keep my hands to myself when we actually have to perform.”

“Who said you had to? I mean, I thought it was half the point, wasn’t it?”

“… Good thing we did it together or I’d have flipped seeing someone else flirting with you.”

“Hey, do you think that when I volunteered I didn’t take that into consideration, too?”

Theon can’t quite meet Robb’s eyes as he says it, but then he has to because Robb has grabbed his wrist strongly enough to make him turn in his direction. “Oh, so you didn’t want anyone else flirting with me?”

Theon is fairly sure he’s sending Robb the least impressed stare in existence, but what can he do.

“Well, if I had to sit through it I would have, but given that I had the chance to avoid it, obviously.”

Robb’s cheeks go slightly redder, but he’s smiling so sweetly Theon doesn’t even know if he can look at him that much longer without mirroring it and honestly, he doesn’t – he never – it just isn’t the kind of thing he’s used to, all right?

“Good to know,” Robb finally says. “And that said, you still look hot in that skirt. Just so you know.”

It doesn’t make it any less embarrassing, but knowing that at least the one person Theon would want to appreciate the sight does makes it somewhat more bearable.

Now he just has to work on accepting the prospect that the entire school is going to actually see him wearing that shit.

While he sings.

God, he really hopes Asha manages to keep their father at Uncle Victarion’s indefinitely.


Turns out that sadly Asha can’t, but she negotiates so that he comes back after the school year is over, which means that at least he won’t be around for the play. Theon just hopes that by then his mother decides to divorce the asshole so that she only has to contact him through a lawyer but he won’t be the one posing the question. Also, Robb’s going back home in a few days even if he promised to come over at least every week to spend the night (to everyone else’s delight, and Theon just can’t wrap his head around the fact that at least for now he’s living in a house surrounded by relatives of his who approve of Robb being around), and he’s not going to tell anyone that he’ll miss the arrangement.

Maybe he should really discuss sharing a room for university, next year.

But not just now.

Just now – just now, well, tomorrow they should start rehearsing in costume, and Robb had told him that maybe they should just try at least one song between themselves before doing it in front of everyone else.

Fair enough.

He stares at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and he just – he doesn’t see why Robb decided this outfit was hot. Okay, the skirt fits, the stockings do show off his legs and he’s walked enough on those dumb heels that he’s not feeling unbalanced, and that shirt of Asha’s really fits him like a glove, and it’s not uncomfortable but –

“Theon? You all right?”

Fuck this.

“Yeah, I’m coming!”

He opens the door.

Robb is dressed in fucking old clothes that Theon’s sure belonged to his father given how slightly large they’re on Robb’s shoulders, but he can’t really take notice of that when Robb’s looking at him like his mouth has just gone completely dry.

“Uh, are you all right?” Theon has to ask.

“Fuck’s sake,” Robb thinks, “that’s hot. Listen, it is, I can’t exactly turn it off.”

Theon shakes his head and grabs Robb’s arm, dragging him into his room. “Yeah, let’s just get over this, shall we?”

“Fine,” Robb agrees, and closes the door. He plugs in the tape player he brought over from school – Seaworth gave Robb a tape with the track, Theon thinks, never mind that they’re so underfunded they can’t even afford CDs.

“Which part do you want to –”

“Robb, just – let’s just do the fucking duet and let’s be done with it, that’s the hardest part.”

“… Right. Should we try to, uhm, you know, what Baratheon said about –”

“Twirling around like in the movie? Jesus. I just – let’s just try it. If I fall down miserably we just tell him no.”

“Legit. Okay then, I’m just – putting it on.”

He does, and the music starts, and – ah, right, he has to start, damn it. He takes a breath, two, waiting for the right moment –

“Live in my house, I’ll be your shelter, just pay me back with one thousand kisses –“ Jesus, they couldn’t have picked a better (or lesser?) suited thing for the two of them to sing given their current situation. “… Be my lover, I’ll cover you?” He holds a hand out, figuring they have to, well, act?

“Open your door, I’ll be your tenant,” Robb goes on, taking his hand. “Don’t got much baggage to lay at your feet, but sweet kisses I’ve got to spare,” he sings, and kisses the back of Theon’s hand – he’s never going to get through this play alive, damn it. “I’ll be there and I’ll cover you…”

Right. Together now, shouldn’t they?

“I think they meant it, when they say you can’t buy love, now I know you can rent it, a new lease you are, my love, on life… be my life –“ Theon is really glad for a moment they rehearsed it enough they can’t possibly fuck the singing up, and –


Now they should twirl. He reaches out, takes Robb’s hands, tries to remember how the fuck did that entire part of the choreography go, leans back, tries to run clockwise and –

Obviously he puts a foot wrong after two steps and ends up straight into Robb’s arms, and good thing Robb was probably expecting it and he catches Theon without too much of a struggle –

But he doesn’t stop the music, damn it.

Shit, it was the two of them together, right?

He struggles to his feet but then Robb moves behind him, with a hand around his waist.

“Just slip me on, I’ll be your blanket, wherever, whatever, I’ll be your coat,” they go together, and then – ah, right, it’s just him.

“You’ll be my king and I’ll be your castle,” Theon manages to croak without going off key for some kind of miracle.

“No, you’ll be my queen and I’ll be your moat,” Robb replies back against his neck, God, he’s never going to be able to do this on stage.

“I think they meant it when they say you can’t buy love, now I know can rent it, a new lease you are, my love, on life… oh, my life,” they go on, but then Robb lets him go so that they can look at each other – right. They should. Because this ends with them kissing, doesn’t it.

“I’ve longed to discover something as true as this is,” they say together.

“So with a thousand sweet kisses,” Robb sings, his voice faltering on the thousand.

“If you’re cold and you’re lonely –”

“With a thousand sweet kisses –

“You’ve got one nickel only, with a thousand sweet kisses –”

“When you’re worn out and tired –”

“I’ll cover you, with a thousand sweet kisses –”

“When your heart has expired –”

He swallows as Robb does the same and they go in for the last part, together. “Oh, lover, I’ll cover you, yeah… oh, lover, I’ll cover you,” they both end, and – they didn’t go off key or missed any cue, which is good, but now their heads are so dangerously close Theon could kiss Robb in a second if he wanted to, and they should do it because that’s what’s supposed to happen on stage, and then Robb’s hands are in his hair (which he’s let down instead of tying it in a small ponytail as usual), his fingers cradling the back of Theon’s head, and he’s leaning in and Theon has to go with it as the music goes on to the next track and their lips meet and his hands go around Robb’s waist, touching the worn out leather of his coat, and he’s about to angle it better and make it deeper when the door bangs open and –

Well, his mother will have to see this on stage, but he hadn’t planned on her getting a sneak peek while walking in on them, Christ.

“Oh,” she says, “I heard the music and thought you might be – rehearsing, but then I heard some noise and –”

“Uh, it was me. Guess I can’t run on heels. Not yet, at least.”

“Right. I can give you some tips later.” From the way she’s looking at them, Theon is halfway sure she’ll be very disappointed if she won’t attend a wedding before the next ten years, but he doesn’t voice that just now. “I’ll leave you to it. By the way, lovely lyrics.”

She closes the door and Theon feels as if his legs might turn into jelly sooner rather than later. “Well, after this nothing is ever going to feel embarrassing,” he says, and shit, Robb’s still sort of holding him up but is doing nothing to get out of it.

“Well, if you want to try out the whole twirling thing after she gives you whatever tips she has for you, be my guest.”

“Shit, I’m so glad this is the last year in school or I’d have never lived this down.”

“There’s nothing to live down here,” Robb sighs. “And it’s still fucking hot.”

Theon leans back, enough that he can look at Robb in the eyes. “Shit, you’re serious.”

“I’m just saying,” Robb says, “if you ever feel like wearing that stuff out of character I wouldn’t be the one saying no.”

Theon doesn’t even have an answer for that, so he just – reaches out and grabs Robb’s hand and says nothing.

He changes into his regular clothes five minutes later.


Then he goes to rehearsal. Joffrey Baratheon doesn’t even try to crack any jokes, probably because Robb looks ready to murder if he does, and thing is – in his room it had just felt weird but now that he’s being someone else and he’s more or less committing to it, it’s not even that awkward. If he tries to forget about what other people might think and his eyes always catch the borderline adoring glances Robb’s sending his way – which are most probably not even acting – he realizes that it’s not that bad at all. It’s different. But it’s not uncomfortable, and even if he can’t run in the fucking heels he’s not thinking about whether his legs are showing or how the skirt might fall on him or about anything else that’s not acting.

Good thing that most of his scenes are with Robb and he doesn’t have to act for those.

The week after, when he realizes that he will have to get through La Vie Boheme without standing still, he relents and asks his mother for the damned heel advice.

At the next rehearsal, he’s nowhere near close to dancing in those things, but at least he can move around some. He definitely can manage that fucking twirl.

He’s not going to say even under torture that he experienced an accomplished feeling the moment he managed it and fell back into Robb’s chest seamlessly.


“Just for curiosity,” he asks Jon one day while they’re changing, “what is your family’s opinion about this entire spiel?”

Jon shrugs. “Arya is really sad that Robb wasn’t the one wearing the heels. She thought it’d have made excellent blackmail material. Sansa just can’t wait to see you move around in the clothes she helped picking, everyone else is telling Robb that he’s cheating because he’s not even acting for this one role and that’s about it. You could ask them yourself, you know.”

One day, Theon thinks, he will get over what he knows is an irrational fear that Robb’s relatives should and will one day hate his guts. This is probably not that day.

Maybe it’s closer than he thought it would be, though.


The next time Robb comes by for his weekly sleepover, he brings the usual homemade pizza. It’s also three days before the opening and Theon doesn’t even know how he’s going to sleep until then – he’s been nervous for the entire week, and knowing that his father’s coming back in less than a month isn’t really helping with it.

He has no idea of what possesses him to go upstairs while Robb helps washing the dishes and change into the black and golden dress he’s going to have to wear during La Vie Boheme.

But Robb finds him wearing it when he comes back into the room, and again, he looks over at Theon as if he could eat him up in every best sense of the word.

“Do you like it that much?” Theon asks, figuring he should get to the point.

Robb shrugs, moving closer and putting a hand on Theon’s hip. “It just – suits you. I do, but you don’t have to, you know.”

“No, it’s just –” He takes a deep breath, looks back up at Robb, then – “It’s not really so bad once it’s on and I’m not thinking about everything it entails. Hell, I’m halfway sure it’s – I mean, when we rehearse, it’s – you’re being someone else, aren’t you, and it’s – nice to be someone else for a bit. Especially someone who’s – so comfortable with themselves they have no problem with wearing this stuff. I didn’t think I’d like it but it’s not bad. The hell does that say about me?”

Robb shrugs. “Listen, according to your father I shouldn’t cook and you shouldn’t be in the drama club. Also, my mother couldn’t give two shits about clothes and Sansa always goes shopping for them with my father.”


“He’s the only other one with a fashion sense around the house,” Robb explains. “You wouldn’t say looking at him, but he is. It’s always been how things were around the house. Who even cared? I could cook, he’d go shopping with Sansa and pick clothes for everyone else until they could choose for themselves, Arya’s never worn a skirt in her life and – just, I don’t know, to me all these hang-ups about clothing or the likes are bullshit. You hate it?”

“Not really.”

“Then who cares. Just go for it. If you ever want to make out with me in private while wearing it, and not just in public, I won’t be the person stopping you.”

Theon has to laugh at that, his hands going on Robb’s shoulders.

“What if I want to make out with you now?”

“Do you see me refusing?”

Theon leans in as Robb’s arm wraps gently around his waist and thinks, he has a point.


He glances out of the curtains of their small stage – then again, it’s a miracle they have a theater in their school building in the first place.

“Christ,” he groans.

“What?” Robb asks, moving next to him. Theon’s still wearing some of his regular clothes, but he only has to change after his first scene so he doesn’t have to hurry to make-up yet. He hadn’t thought Loras Tyrell could actually get him ready and fitted in five minutes tops but he’s had ample proof during the general rehearsal, so he’s fairly sure that will go fine, at least.

“My mother’s in fucking first row. Asha is on the side with a camera. Your mother is sitting next to my mother and – scratch it, your entire family except Jon is in first row. My uncle is at the back. Christ, I’ll never live this down.”

Robb laughs and puts an arm around him. “Shut up, we’re the best part of this play and they’re going to love it.”

“You’re not,” Margaery Tyrell remarks from the sides where her brother’s getting the finishing touches done on her make-up. “The best part is Arianne and I, obviously.”

“’Scuse me,” Robb replies, sounding half-outraged, “if you think Take Me or Leave Me holds a candle to our duet, you’re completely wrong.”

“We’ll see who gets more cheers,” Robb replies, very amiably. “Dinner’s on the winners.”

“Good,” Margaery tells him, offering her hand, and Robb shakes it.

“The hell?” Theon hisses as they go backstage. “Are you seriously wanting to pay them dinner?”

“Theon, your mom’s in first row. I don’t doubt we’re getting more cheers than they will, never mind that at least we’re the only functional couple in this damned play. Chill. And let’s blow their mind, shall we?”

Theon wonders when did this become his life, but then again maybe he should just stop thinking about it and worry about giving a halfway decent performance.

He squeezes Robb’s hand, he thinks that however it goes he’s going to be happy that he did this after all.

In the end, it turns out that Robb was right. They get a lot more cheers, for whichever reason, and later Margaery will end up paying for their dinner without being too heartbroken about it.

But as he walks out on stage holding Robb’s hand (they decided to take their bows in pairs) and the entirety of the damned room cheers way louder for him than for about most of the cast when he steps forward, he doesn’t even try to wipe away a couple of stray tears. He looks at how enthusiastic both his mother and Robb’s are and he thinks that yes, it was entirely worth it.

And maybe, just maybe, he’s not giving back the clothes he’s wearing, but no one has to know that yet.