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I Can be Lonely With You

Chapter Text

He hated it here. These weren’t his people. These weren’t his friends. These weren't the ones he'd bled beside. These weren't the ones he'd bled for.

He knocked back a sip of his drink and tried to shove that particular thought out of his head. What they did with their freedom was their business. He didn’t get to dictate that. That made him no better than those he had fought.

Still… At this party he hadn’t wanted to go to in the first place, in a Brooklyn loft apartment more than twice as big as the one he shared with Sam and Gilly, surrounded by trust fund babies that would probably never have to know real pain… he was entitled to a little bitterness. Right?

He took another drink. He had to stop his brooding now, while he had a handle on it, or it would put his mind in a pit for days on end.

He was just about to go find Dany and leave when a woman walked up to him.

“You look lonely,” she said, head cocked to the side, sliding up next to him on the wall by the bathroom were he'd been camping out. “Let’s talk.”

She was exquisite, with brown eyes and skin, shiny black hair that fell in tight curls down her back. She wore blue jeans, a leather jacket over a lacy orange top, and sly smile that made him very excited, and not a little bit scared.

His brain short circuited. He wasn’t used to talking to beautiful women, especially not when they started the conversation.

“I'm Jon,” he fumbled out eventually. His gaze flicked away from her, unable to look at her face, trying not to look at her very nice curves.

“Arianne.” She reached out and gently guided his face back towards her. He had to look at her now. “You just rotate back to the world?”

He blinked. That was not what he had been expecting. “Yeah,” he said, now able to hold her gaze. “I just got back after a stint with the Rangers.”

“You come through it ok?”

How does he answer that in way that she’ll understand? “Yeah, I guess so,” He said, trying to sound nonchalant. “All in one piece.”

She didn't buy it. She nodded and looked at him skeptically, but with her smile still on her perfect face. “Is that why you’re knocking back drinks, brooding in a corner, glaring at all us spoiled ingrates?

Damn. She read him like a book. He hadn’t even realized he'd been glaring. “How’d you know?” he asked, genuinely curious.

The teasing smile changed to one that was crooked, and not a little bit bitter. “My brother was killed in action, my uncle couldn’t adapt to civilian life and got killed in a fight with a guy twice his size, and my ex commited suicide. Doesn't matter who you are or where you came from. You never come back the same.”

Wow. That was heavy shit. Maybe she could… no, probably not. Losing family was tough, but it still didn't mean they understood the war a mind could wage on itself quite like a someone who’d actually been to war did.

“So tell me, Jon,” she leaned into him and ran her hand up his arm. He could smell her hair. It was sweet and earthy. “What's your baggage?”

He gave her a dry grin. “How much time do you have?”

She considered that. Then, ”Do you want to share a ride and get the fuck out of this joint?”

Jon had never made a decision so fast in his life.

Chapter Text

They waited only to tell Dany they were leaving before heading down to street level. Arianne hailed a cab before Jon could even get off the phone with Sam, explaining that he would be back late tonight. Or not at all. He wasn't sure.

Are you ok Jon?” Sam asked him through the phone. “Nobody drugged you or anything?”

“I'm fine, Sam. I met this girl at Dany’s party. We’re catching a cab back to her place.”

You’re having a one night stand? Who are you and what have you done with Jon Snow?”

Jon laughed. “There’s something about her, man. Her name is Arianne. I gotta go. Bye.”

He joined Arianne in the cab. They made it half a block before Arianne took Jon’s hand and pulled it over to her side. At first, he was a little tense. His right hand was burned from his fingers to his elbow. It didn’t seem to phase her, though. Not one bit. Her jacket was covering her legs, and she guided him underneath it, between her thighs. She gave him a sideways smirk and bit her lip. Even he couldn't miss that kind of hint.

He rubbed her over her jeans, and squeezed the inside of her thigh. Then he brought his hand up to the hem of her pants slipped beneath them, and began rubbing her center over her underwear. She gripped his arm tightly and locked eyes with him. They were burning with excitement and arousal. He felt himself straining against his pants.

After teasing her a bit more through the fabric, Jon moved his hand past her panties, finally making direct contact with her sex. He ran his finger through the soft hair, along the slit, just barely opening her lower lips.

When he finally entered her, Arianne released a shuddering breath and closed her eyes. He watched her face as he slowly pushed his middle finger in, curling it inwards, then drawing it out. He repeated the motion again, then pushed in two fingers, hard, fast, and deep. Her eyes went wide and mouth opened and gave a small gasp. Jon was just starting to really work on her when the cab slowed down and the driver said they had arrived.

Arianne immediately regained her poise and paid, then led him to the door of nice looking apartment building. They barely reached the elevator before she grabbed his face and kissed him hard. He could taste the alcohol on her tongue as is slid against his. His hands went down her back, palming her ass and picking up her leg. They leaned into the wall, and, if they hadn’t heard the ding of the elevator, they would’ve fucked then and there.

She fumbled with her room key and they stumbled over each other through the door. She pulled him down onto the couch by the front of shirt, then slid up next to his ear and whispered into it.

“I hope you plan on finishing what you started in the cab,” she said, her voice dripping with sensuality.

“You bet your fucking life I am,” he practically growled. He flipped them over, so that Arianne was lying on the couch, and he was on her. He moved down her body, lifting her top up to run his hands down her sides and kiss her stomach. Then his hands reached her jeans and he wasted no time pulling them down her lush, soft legs. Her underwear was pulled off immediately after, and he peppered kisses all around her center.

Fed up with his teasing, she grabbed his hair and looked at him, down between her legs. “I want you,” she ordered, and fuck, if that wasn’t an order that Jon really wanted follow.

“That's good,” he mumbled into her sex. “I want you, too.”

He immediately dove in, licking up her slit as he entered with a finger. Arianne moaned and grasped his hair tighter, pushing him in. Jon got the message and proceeded to eat her out with ever increasing vigor, adding another finger as well.

With her fused already shortened by their escapades in the car, it wasn't long before Arianne was cuming, arching her back and rubbing herself against Jon’s face. Jon just kept going, wrapping his mouth around her and sucking as she rode out her orgasm.

By the time she came down, Jon was still dutifully at work, immediately reigniting her arousal.

“Get up here,” she told him, and she began pulling off his shirt. He rose from the floor and pulled her top off, the hardened nipples of her excellent tits rubbing against his bare chest.

She ran her hands down to his hips and unbuttoned his pants. She pulled his hips toward hers and leaned up so that she was right in his ear.

“Alright, soldier, here's how it’s going to be,” she told him in a low, husky voice. “You are going to fuck me inside out, got it?”

“Yes ma’am,” he mumbled into her neck before he started sucking on it.

Quick as a snake, Jon grabbed Arianne by the wrist and held her down on the couch as he entered her, hard and fast. Arianne moaned at each thrust, feeling him come almost all the way out, then back in with blinding speed.

“Keep going, Jon!” she told him “Don't you dare slow down!”

She wrapped her legs around him, pulling him in deeper.

“I'm getting close, Arianne,” he moaned.

“Don't move, just keep going,”

Arianne!” he burst inside her, and she felt herself slip away as the warmth from him spread through her. She couldn't have kept from crying out if she wanted too.

They lay there for a minute, panting and basking in the afterglow of the best fuck either of them have had in years. Jon’s head was resting on her breast, as she ran her hands through his hair.

He’s different, she decides. She’d had plenty of one nights stands, attempts to feel something, however briefly, to try and not be lonely, but none had ever left her feeling this… whole.

As Jon pushed himself up and moved to get off the couch, Arianne realized she didn't want him to leave.

“Stay,” she blurted.


“Stay the night,” she asked him, drawing him in close again. “I don't want to say goodbye.”

Jon looked a little startled, but then he smiled and nodded. “Sure,” he looked at the couch, at bit awkwardly. “So, are we just gonna stay right here, or…?”

“Come on,” she got up and pulled him by his hand to her bedroom, then brought him onto the bed with her. She wrapped him in her arms and burrowed into his chest as he nuzzled his face in her hair.

She fell asleep before she knew it. It was the first time that had happened in years.

Chapter Text

Arianne woke up to an empty bed. It wasn’t a rare occurrence. Even on nights when she brought someone home, they didn’t stay long. But still, today it hurt her more than she would have expected. She had gotten her hopes up. But when she heard sounds in the kitchen and went to investigate, dressed in tank top and pair of underwear, she found Jon there, dressed and making omelettes on her little table top stove.

“How the hell are you making omelettes?” She asked, vaguely wondering if she was still asleep. “I didn't even think I had eggs.”

Jon looked up from the stove and flashed her a quick grin. She felt her heart flutter a bit. When he was smiling, genuinely smiling, his whole face lit up and he looked just like any other normal twenty something, just enjoying the fun of life. “I went to the corner store and picked up a carton,” he told her. “Don’t worry, it's no problem.”

Arianne was shell shocked. He had gotten up, seen that she didn’t have anything for breakfast, gone to the store, came back, and was making breakfast for, basically, a total stranger. It must have been true what they said about the Army. They got more done before nine AM before most people did all day. “When did you even get up? What time is it now?”

Jon shrugged. “I was up at six. I can’t help it. It’s just hardwired into me.” He glanced at his watch. “And it's a quarter to eight.” He suddenly looked worried, almost scared. “Is something wrong?”

“What? No, God no, it’s just… why?” Most men she brought home were gone by morning. The ones that stayed did so in a vein attempt to fuck her again. She’d never even heard of anybody making breakfast for a one night stand. Unless… he wanted to be more than that… That wasn’t wishful thinking, was it?

He looked a little embarrassed. “Well… last night was the first night in something like three months or so that I didn't wake up from a dream about getting shot at,” he told her, as casually as could be. “This is my way of saying ‘thank you’.” He looked at her apologetically. “I know that I should have given you some kind of warning last night, but we just fell asleep too fast. I'm sorry about that.”

Arianne almost wanted to cry. Three months of nightmares? And he was apologizing to her? Was this the kind of thing Quentyn and Arys and Uncle Oberyn had gone through?

“How far along are you?” She asked, trying to keep her voice steady. “Omelet wise?”

“Not to far in,” he answered. “Just a little ways into the first one.”

“I want to help.”

He smiled. “Be my guest.”

They were good omelets. Arianne may have been out of eggs at the time, but her cabinets were always well stocked with spices and other goodies. So there they were, eating omelets stuffed with peppers and herbs, her washing them down with orange juice, him with black coffee. He had declined her offers of cream and sugar.

“I got so used to drinking it bare bones, I can't have any other way,” he’d shrugged. “Another hardwired thing.”

Making the omelets had been the best part, though. It had been far too long since Arianne had cooked real food for anyone, or herself for that matter. They wound up going through more than half the carton eggs, cooking them, eating them, then cooking some more. When they had finished for good, Jon had taken both their plates and washed them in her sink before she could protest.

“Do you want to take a shower?” She asked him. She still wasn’t ready for him leave yet.

“No, thank you, I don’t want to bother.”

“It’s no bother, really.” Why was he so reluctant to accept things? “Come on, I insist.” She grinned. “I can’t have the guy that stayed over leaving in anything less than perfect condition. That reflects bad on me.”

Jon smiled. “Fine, arm successfully twisted. I promise I won’t take too long.”

He was true to his word. She didn’t know why she had expected otherwise. Her plan had been to join him in the shower and keep him around a little longer. But Jon, displaying yet another “hardwired” habit that, though they were definitely good for a productive lifestyle, were starting to get out of hand.

After he got in the shower, Arianne took a minute to finish cleaning up breakfast and their mess from the night before. She had just been preparing to head in to join him when she heard the water shut off.

“What kind of a shower was that?” She demanded, barging into the bathroom without warning.

Jon jumped, taken aback and clad in nothing but a towel around his waist. There was still water dripping down his toned body, and Arianne had to make a conscience effort not to stare. His face started to redden. “I didn’t want to intrude or use up any hot water.”

“Did you just take a cold shower?”

“Yeah,” he said sheepishly.

“That’s it. Get that towel off, Snow,” Arianne ordered. “We’re taking a real shower.”

She turned the water on, hot enough to make the whole bathroom humid and steamy. Then she stripped out of her clothes and pulled Jon’s towel of, revealing he was already hard for her. She guided him back into the shower, under the stream of hot water, and began kissing him and rubbing her hands on his back.

He broke away from the kiss, and for a moment she was scared she had finally gone to far, but then he maneuvered himself behind her, leaning back against the wall, and she leaned into him, her back against his broad chest.

She felt him pressing against her as he slid his hand into her, teasing her opening. His other hand squeezed her breast and rubbed her nipple. She was so wet already, and it had nothing to do with the shower.

She sighed in pleasure at his deliberate menastrations, the wonderful feeling he gave her as he gently stroked her and massaged her breast. Then he became less gentle, entering her with another finger and speeding up, going in deeper. He squeezed her breast harder, and pinched her nipples and rolled them between his fingers.

She felt her body tense as he brought her closer to the edge and turned around, facing him and took his face and pulled her to him, kissing him hard and sliding her tongue against his.

He responded eagerly, kissing her back hard and leaning into her. Then he picked her up by her hips, holding her up against the shower wall. He thrust up into her, and Arianne broke the kiss with gasp as he went deep inside her. Jon moved her neck, suckling and biting and leaving open mouthed kisses on her.

She wrapped her legs around him and clawed at his back as he thrust into her, never once letting up or slowing down, as all the the while the hot water poured down on them.

Arianne cried out in pleasure every time Jon went in, encouraging him with filthy things in his ear.

“Yes, yes, right there, Jon, don’t stop, don’t you dare fucking sto-ooooh

She came in a shiver, tightening around Jon as he continued relentlessly. He didn’t last much longer than her, and she felt him twitch within her, releasing a heat that made her even hotter than the burning water from the shower.

They panted as their orgasms died down. Arianne disentangled herself from Jon, kneeling in front of him in the shower floor. She then took his length into her mouth, still slick with both of their juices, and began to kiss it and slide her tongue along the shaft. As she played with him and got him hard again, he ran his through her hair, still curly despite the water from the shower.

She felt his hands tighten when she finally took him in her mouth. His breathing became ragged and he moaned aloud as she went down on him. She was so warm and soft, her tongue touched him in all the right ways, and soon he was ready again. His hips gyrated slowly, moving in time with Arianne’s head as it moved up and down on him.

He looked down at her, and saw she was looking up at him, her big brown eyes meeting his, looking impossibly too innocent for the scenario. He felt himself reaching his peak again and emptied himself into her waiting mouth. He held tight to her hair and moaned her name as he came in her mouth.

Arianne released him from his mouth and smirked up at him. “Lot better than a cold shower, huh?” she teased.

Jon was very inclined to agree.

“So what is your baggage?” Arianne asked him. They were back at her kitchen table sitting across from each other, now clean from their shared shower.

Jon didn’t answer for a moment. “It wasn’t what I expected it to be,” he finally said. “My father and uncle all served, and I wanted to be like them. I got in my head that everyone joined because they thought it was the ‘right thing to do’. When all was said and done, I guess I just wasn’t prepared for how… awful it was.”

Arianne was silent. She remembered Quentyn had been so eager, so excited when he first joined up and was shipped out on his first tour. When he’d been preparing to leave for his second, all that enthusiasm was gone, replaced by a grim sense of duty. He hadn’t had a third.

“What are the parts that stay with you?” She asked him.

He was quiet. He flexed his hand, his burned hand, making a fist then opening it. “The fear,” he finally said. “I was so scared, all the time, but especially in the moments when I knew a fight was coming but hadn’t come yet. It was this constant tension, this looming fear. It stayed with me the whole time. It really never left. Then there was this,” he said, holding up his burned hand.” Sometimes I can still feel it burning. Sometimes I remember the man in the fire, only he had my father's face, or my face.” He swallowed hard. “Then there’s the change of scenery. I joined up right after high school,” he explained. “I’ve never been in a position where I had to be autonomous. There’s always been someone telling me what to do, and now that’s gone. I just don’t know what do with myself,” he admitted in a small voice.

Arianne reached across the table and took his hand, the burned one, and held it lightly. Jon brisled just a bit, but didn’t move.

“When I was little, my father was never attentive and my mom never forgave him for it. He sent us to boarding school all our lives, and she threatened to hurt herself if he kept doing it. I was in my senior year of high school before I had a class with more than twenty people. She eventually ran off somewhere. I haven’t seen her in years.”

She looked at Jon. He was quiet, but he looked thoughtful. It had been to long since she actually talked with anyone that gave a damm.

“As I got older, I was the classic ‘act-out-for-attention’ case. My father never paid any attention to me. It made me feel unworthy and stupid, like he didn’t pay attention because I wasn’t good enough to warrant it. I was jealous of Quentyn, whom he always seemed so proud of. So I tried to see how much I could get away with. I drank and smoked and slept with boys and men, but he just never seemed to care. I was so beneath him that I wasn’t even worth reprimanding.”

Arianne felt her eyes start to sting. She felt Jon grip her hand back.

“I was so angry at Quentyn. Then he died, and I never got a chance know him as anything but the brother my father loved more than me. Then there was Arys, my first serious boyfriend, who always seemed so tense and guilty. He never opened up about what he did over there, but it had to have been bad. Then one day, just as it seemed like things were getting better, he charged a cop with an empty pistol and got himself shot,” her voice broke, and she had to fight to keep talking clearly. “I think he wanted to die, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it himself.”

The tears finally came out now, and she couldn’t stop them. Jon got up and came over to her side of the table and wrapped his arms around her. She buried her head in his chest and sobbed, sobbed for herself, for Quentyn, for poor, sweet Arys, and for Jon, who had gone through hell and still comforted her and her abandonment issues.

“It’s ok,” he whispered. “I got you.”

She let it all out. When she was finally done, she looked up him and he gave her a small smile. She gave him a quick peck on the lips. “Thank you,” she told him. “You’re amazing.”

“We can get better,” he said. “We can fix each other.”

Arianne nodded. “I don’t have any plans today. Want to go out somewhere?”

Jon smiled again. She really loved his smile, she decided. “Yeah. Yeah, let’s go do something.”


Chapter Text

The first thing they did was get out of the city. Arianne found directions to a park not too far outside the city, but far enough, and loaded him up in her beaten up old BMW. Jon got a military discount at the gates and they parked the car and just picked a path a random and walked. It had been a long time since Jon had had real quiet.

“I used to play in wood like this all the time,” he told her. “Back in Michigan, my brothers and sisters and I lived near this forest that we called the wolf’s wood, because our dad always told us stories about wolves that lived in them. Well, half brothers and sisters,” he corrected.

“What were your siblings like?” Arianne asked him.

“Half siblings,” Jon said again. “Same father, different mother. Buts that another story. Robb was my age. He was my best friend. We were the classic do-everything-together-brothers. Then there was Sansa, the quintessential perfect little girl. Bran could climb like a squirrel, Arya could never sit still, and little Rickon would always be chasing us, running around our ankles.”

Arianne smiled. “Sounds like the perfect family.” Too perfect. “What happened?”

Jon sighed. “Robb went to West Point and went overseas as an officer. He was KIA a little over a year ago. Sansa’s teacher tricked her in sleeping with him and she’s never been able to shake the hold he had on her. Bran fell off a roof and broke his back. Arya ran away God knows where, and Rickon has been bouncing around as a ward of the state for the last few years.”

Arianne was quiet for a moment. ‘I’m sorry’ didn’t really cut it with that kind of fall from grace. “You said they were half siblings,” She eventually said. “What’s the story there?”

Jon took a deep breath. “My father conceived me out of wedlock. I never knew my birth mother. And, as best anyone can figure, this happened after his marriage to another woman. You can guess how that went over. She was always… cold to me.” He gave a small shrug. “I can’t say I blame her. There I was, a constant reminder of her husband’s capacity for infidelity.”

“That’s doesn’t justify it,” Arianne said. “You already didn’t have a real mother, her being kind to rest of them but not you just salts the wound.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Jon responded. “It was just a shitty situation over all. I wasn’t exactly the nicest kid to her.”

They walked through the woods in silence for a few minutes. Arianne could practically feel Jon brooding next to her.

“You said you signed up right after high school?” She asked him.

Jon nodded.

“Was that before everything…”

“Went to shit?” he finished with a bitter grin.

Arianne nodded.

“Right during, actually,” he said. “Bran’s back was the start of it all. I had just finished high school, Robb was heading to college, Sansa would be going soon, and my father had just gotten a new job that kept away for months at a time. I knew I couldn’t expect any money for college, and I didn’t have enough scholarship options to pay my own way. So I enlisted. I was hoping that I could send some money back, help out, maybe show everyone I could contribute to society.” he snorted. “What a great job I’ve done.” he muttered.

Arianne sighed. She went over to side of the path and motion for him to join her. He followed and they sat down. Arianne moved behind him and let him lean back against her.

“Who all have told about all this?” She asked.

“Hardly anyone,” he admitted. “My roommate, Sam. I was overseas with him. That’s about it. I don’t talk to many people.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. There’s still a huge stigma around PTSD, as much as we like to think we’ve gotten better about it. The culture of the military is all about sucking it up and pressing forward, and we get in our heads that admitting to having nightmares or flashbacks means you’re weak, so we keep it to ourselves.”

Ariann took his hand in hers. “Well maybe it’s time to stop that.”

Jon took a deep breath. Then it all came out.

“Talking about your service in general is usually frowned on. You talk about what you did in a good way, and you’re boasting. Talk about it in a bad way, and you’re complaining. So we just don’t talk about it.”

He squeezed Arianne’s hand. She could hear his voice getting higher, less monotone and controlled.

“But it’s gotta come out somehow,” he continued. “All the fear and anger and resentment and pain explodes when it’s bolted up for too long. That why more vets have died to suicide than in actual combat, in this, our most recent of crusades.”

His voice was cracking now. “Go on,” Arianne urged him. “Let it out.”

He drew a shaky breath. Then he swallowed and kept going.

“And then when we come back, it’s like the word moved on without us. People don’t keep up to date with Afghanistan or Iraq, or whatever sandblasted backwater we get sent too. We come back to the obligatory ‘Thank you’ from people who don’t even know what they’re thanking us for. No one cares, not really. So you wonder why you ever went over there, why you spent six fucking years away, why you risked life and limb and watched friends die and got your hand scorched if it doesn’t mean anything. You start to wonder if your service even mattered at all, if your death would have improved life back here at all. And you want to think it would, but as you think about it, you realize…”

That was it. The dam broke. Jon started weeping. All the penned up emotion from six year of holding it in released as he sobbed in Arianne’s arms.

She just held him, as he had done for her.

Eventually he stopped shaking. He looked at guiltily.

“I’m sorry I broke down like that,” he muttered.

“Stop that,” she told him. “You have every right in the word to this, and you should never let anything convince you otherwise.” She took his face in his hands and made him hold her gaze just like, God, had it only been last night? “You said it yourself. You can’t bottle up everything. You can’t just ‘suck it up’, so stop apologizing for feeling. You have to want to get better.”

Jon sniffed and nodded. “I know,” he said, his voice still shaky. “Thank you.”

She smiled. “Like you said. We can fix each other.”

They stood up and brushed themselves off. It was getting late, the shadows of the trees were growing longer as the sun sank as they walked back, hand in hand.

It was nightfall by the time they returned to the city. Jon directed Arianne to the apartment building where he stayed with Sam.

“This is it,” he said as the pulled up to a rundown looking wall of brick. He turned to her, smiling. “Thank you. For everything.”

She smiled back. “You, too.”

He was getting out of the car when he felt a tug on the back of his jacket.

“Give me your phone. I want to put my number in.”

Jon blinked. It seemed hard to believe they hadn’t even exchanged numbers after all this.

Arianne kissed him on the cheek when she handed him his phone back. “You better call me,” she scolded with a smirk.

Jon knew he must have had a shit eating grin but he didn’t care. He wasn’t going to keep it in anymore.



Chapter Text

“When you said you would be back ‘late’ I was thinking midnight, or maybe eight in morning,” Sam said by way of greeting as he opened the door. “Definitely not six in the afternoon. Did something happen?”

Jon just smiled at him. “Remember how I said I met a girl at Dany’s party last night?”

Sam nodded. “Yeah, and I was worried that you were drugged,”

“Well, I stayed over at her house,”

“I guessed as much, continue,”

“And then we made breakfast at her place.”

Sam blinked. “Well,” he shrugged, “I don’t know why I expected you to do any less. Come on in. I guess you’re the real Jon Snow.

“There better be a good reason you ignored a day’s worth of text,”

“I met a guy,”

Tyene considered. “Did he kidnap you?”

Arianne rolled her eyes. “No, I wasn’t, I—”, Arianne’s head snapped to her cousin. “Wait, how did you get into my apartment?”

She looked back innocently. “Oh, I used the key you gave me.”

Arianne squinted at her. “I never gave you a key.”

Tyene shrugged. “Fine, I picked the the lock, happy?”

Arianne rubbed her temples. “Lucky for you, I am. I met a guy at Dany’s thing last night and we hit it off.” She walked in to sit on the couch. Tyene joined her, curing up like a cat on the cushions.

“How was he?” Tyene asked.

“You mean what kind was guy was he, or….?”

“How well did he fuck.”

Arianne snickered. Her cousins didn’t beat around the bush when it came to that particular subject. “The first time was ok. It was quick and he was obviously out of practice but enthusiastic, and he seemed like he was genuinely trying to get me off. Also, we were both bordering on drunk, so there’s that.”

Tyene raised her eyebrows. “And there was second time? After that?”

“He stayed over. After we made breakfast—”

“Wait, he made you breakfast?”

“Hmm? Yeah, he was up early and then we made omelettes.”

Tyene nodded in surprised approval. “Sounds good, but how was the sex?”

Arianne shot her a mildly annoyed glance. Sometimes, their interest in that topic seemed a bit much. “Well, first I was gonna corner him in the shower, but then he took a cold one in under three minutes —”

“That’s not a real shower!”

“I know, right? Anyway, I had him go back in, and this time it was much better. I can’t even remember the last time I had sex and gave a crap about the guy.”

Tyene nodded and studied her. “So what was he like? Besides the sex.”

Arianne gave her smile like a lovesick schoolgirl. “He was great. Sweet, soft spoken, easy on the eyes, good listener. God, it’d been so long since I’d been able to really talk to somebody.”

“What’d you talk about?” Tyene asked, tilting her head.

Arianne shrugged. “My shitty dad, PTSD, ways we can make life not suck so much.”

“Wait,” Tyene put a hand up. “PTSD?”

“Hm? Yeah, he was in the army. He just got back a few months ago and he’s still adjusting. We aired grievances, said we’d stay in touch, and I dropped him off at his place just now.”

Tyene sighed. “Damn it, Ari, you turned a one-night-stand into charity case,” she scolded.

Arianne’s face went red. “That’s not it at all!” She said, indignant. “I think he’s a great guy, more than that, a good guy, and God knows, those are running out!”

Tyene just shook her head. “You’re telling me that this has nothing to do with Quentyn? Nothing to do with Arys, or any residual guilt from that?”

Arianne didn’t answer at first. Of course that wasn’t the reason she was already falling for Jon. Was it? What if this was just some subconscious guilt trip?

“No.” She eventually said. “It wasn’t like that. I won’t let it be like that.”

Tyene regarded her cousin for a moment. “You said you met at Dany’s thing, right?”

“Yeah, why?”


Arianne thought back. It was hard to believe it had all started less than twenty four hours ago. A twenty four hour roller coaster ride of sex, omelets, abandonment issues, and emotional handicaps. “He looked broken,” she finally said. She shrugged. “I thought we could be broken together.”

Tyene didn’t respond at first. The then she just shook her head and sighed. “Arianne Martell, you romantic-minded fool. You really feel for this guy, don’t you?”

Arianne nodded. “I do,” she said. “God help me, I really do.”

“Jon, you do realize that a one-night-stand isn’t a cure for PTSD, right? I mean, you really know that?”

Jon rolled his eyes. “Of course I do, Sam, it’s just…” he struggled to find the right words. “It wasn’t even the sex that made me feel better. It was her.”

Sam looked skeptical. “I’m not sure that’s quite how it works.”

Jon frowned, trying to think of a way to explain a concept he himself still didn’t grasp. “Do you remember when you first met Gilly?” he asked.

“Of course,” Sam immediately answered.

“Did you automatically feel better about the word? Like everything was just a little better because now you knew this person? And you just felt right in their presence?”

Sam considered. His first encounter with Gilly hadn’t been under healthy circumstances, but… some of what Jon was saying still hit home. “Yeah,” admitted. “Yeah, I can understand that.”

“It’s kinda like that,” Jon said. He looked around the apartment. “Where is Gilly, anyway?” he asked.

“She took Little Sam to the doctor,” Sam told him.

Jon gave his friend a grin that suggested a good natured joke at his expense. “But I thought you were a doctor?”

Sam gave an exasperated sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. “For the millionth time, I’m still in school, and I’m going to be a medical anthropologist.”

Jon snickered. “Whatever you say, doc.”

Sam regarded Jon for long moment. “What did you say her name was? Arianna?”

“Arianne,” Jon corrected immediately. “He name is Arianne.”

“Well, she managed to put in a better mood than I’ve seen you in for the last three months. I guess there’s something to be said for that.”

Jon woke up hours later in a pool of sweat. That wasn't unusual, in the slightest, but today felt different. He didn't feel the residual fear that the nightmares usually left behind. There were no echoes of explosions, no phantom smell of his own scorched flesh. Instead it was a feeling of... elation?

Then he realized his thighs were especially wet. His first thought was that he had pissed his bed. Then he realized that wasn't it either. This was more… sticky.

“...Fuck,” he said aloud, more surprised than anything. That hadn't happened long time.

He tried to remember the dream. There had been a girl, unsurprisingly. Arianne, he thought as he remembered how clear she had been in his head. They had been kissing. Just kissing.

“Fuck,” he muttered again. I’m already head over fucking heels for this girl! he realized. And I have to clean my sheets!

Chapter Text

Jon’s finger hovered the ‘call’ button as he mentally debated whether or not now would be a good time. When Arianne had given him her number and told him to call, she hadn’t been explicit about how long to wait. Factor in that Jon had never been in a relationship where he made the first call, or any call, now that he thought about it, and he was left pretty clueless about what to do. The closest thing he’d ever had to a girlfriend had been Ygritte, and he didn’t think that relationship was a great model to go on.

Eventually, he steeled himself and pushed the button. They had said ‘goodbye’ Saturday evening. It was Monday morning now. A guy calling within thirty-six hours didn’t seem too desperate, right?


Expecting a guy to call within thirty-six hours didn’t seem too desperate, right?

Arianne had had more than a few - well, some could be called boyfriends - but she’d hardly ever been the one waiting for a call. All through Sunday, she’d worked with her phone on and out beside her, checking frequently just in case she’d missed his call. If Tyene could’ve seen her, she would have been relentless.

Then the phone finally buzzed.

She’d been anticipating the call for so long, she almost forgot what to do. She answered just after the first ring.



Jon froze. He’d figured he’d have at least three rings to nail down what he was going to say.

“Arianne?” he asked tentatively.

Jon?”, she answered. “How are you?”

“Good.” Cut the small talk! he told himself. He took a deep breath.


Would you like to go out again?”

Arianne couldn't help but grin. “Yeah, I’d love too. What did you have in mind?”

There was a pause on the other end of the line. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “I didn’t really think out what I was going to say.”

Arianne rolled her eyes but she was still smiling. “Maybe you could take me to dinner, and then we could come back and watch a movie?”


Jon took a deep breath. He could manage dinner and a movie. “Yeah, that sounds great. Do you have a place in mind? I don’t know any good places to go.”

Don’t worry,” she assured him. “I know a great place that some cousins of mine own. How do you feel about Mediterranean food?”

“Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had any,” he admitted. “This will be a first.”

Awesome. Is tonight ok?”

“Yeah, tonight’s great.”

You want to pick me up?”

Oh. That might be a problem, Jon thought. “I don’t actually, uh, have a car...”

No problem. What time should I come over?”

“Does six work?” Jon asked.

Sure. I’ll be there.”



Arianne paused after his response. Was there anything else to say?

“Are you feeling any better about...”

Yeah, I’m doing fine. Talking about it helped. I got some good sleep last night.”

“That’s good. So, six tonight?”

Yes, ma’am.”

“Great. Bye.”

Arianne ended the call and let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding in. She looked at the time. It was nine in the morning. She had just over nine hours. She could totally make the the rest of the day productive with that on her mind.



When five o’clock rolled around, Arianne saved her work and went to get ready. She knew her cousin’s restaurant wasn’t anything fancy, but she still felt like looking good for what would be her first actual date with the first guy she actually gave a shit about in longer than she wanted to admit.

She drove to Jon’s apartment building and sent him a text, asking him which one was his. She wanted to see who ‘Sam’ was.


Jon had spent the day reading. It was an old history book that glorified Alexander the Great. When he’d been a kid, Alexander had been one of his heros. That had been before he realized that Alexander was little more than an over talked-up conqueror, and not even a brilliant one at that. But he and Robb had loved the book, and the story. They’d fought over who got to be Alexander during their games of make-believe, and who had to be the Persians. He’d been hoping the book would bring back good feelings. All it ended up doing was reiterating how different he’d become.

His phone buzzed and he saw Arianne was asking what his apartment number was. He checked the time. Eighteen-zero five. He tried not to get annoyed. He was still adapting to the fact that the rest of the world didn’t run on as tight a schedule as he was used to.

He texted her back and put the book away. He’d been anxious all day. It had been over six years since he’d been on a date, and those had been tag-alongs with Robb.

He wished Robb were here. Robb had always been better with girls. And people. And life.

When he’d gotten the news last year, he’d been half way into his tour. He’d made a request to attend the funeral stateside, but it had been rejected on the grounds that they weren't true siblings. Catlyn probably wouldn’t have accepted his presence anyway.

A knock on the door brought him back to the present.

Arianne looked better than him. She was wearing jeans and a purple shirt with her leather jacket. He hair was back in a loose ponytail and her makeup was minimalist, but she still looked breathtaking.

He felt shabby by comparison. He’d showered and shaved, but just about all his clothes were the same khaki pants or the same black t-shirt. He had about ten of each because choosing had been annoying. Now he was wishing he had spent more time on that.

He put on a smile and stepped aside. “Come on in.”

She returned the smile and came inside. Now he was wishing the apartment was more presentable. It wasn’t messy, that wasn’t the problem. In fact, it was too clean, almost spartan. But neither Jon nor Sam had any eye for decor, and it wasn’t like they had extra funds for that anyway.

Jon asked, “So, are we heading to dinner now, or...?” He didn’t really know what else they would do.

“Actually, I wanted to meet your roomate,” Arianne said. “You said his name was Sam?”

Jon nodded. “Yeah, it’s Sam. He’s asleep right now. Hang on, I’ll go get him.”

Had Jon and Sam been alone, he wouldn’t have hesitated to make the obnoxious noise possible to wake him up, but if Sam was asleep, that also meant Gilly and Little Sam were asleep, and Jon would literally kill a fucker who tried to disturb them. He left Arianne on the couch as he went to bring Sam from the bedroom.

When Sam walked out, hair disheveled and eyes half closed, he stopped dead in his tracks when she saw Arianne. He looked back and forth between her and Jon a few times, as if to say ‘how did you manage to get a date with a girl that looks like that?’.

Jon ignored the look. “Sam, this is Arianne. She and I met at Dany’s party the other night.”

Arianne gave Sam a smile and small wave from the couch. “Nice to meet you, Sam. Sorry to wake you up.”

“No problem,” Sam immediately said. “Nice to meet you, too.”

“Jon said you and he were overseas together. How did you meet?” She asked.

“I was a medic in the same unit as him before he went into the Rangers. I got out a few years ago and started going to school.” Sam answered. “Where are you guys going to dinner?”

“My cousins own a restaurant that does Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. After that, we were gonna go back to me place and watching a movie.”

Sam nodded. “Fun,” he looked back and forth between them again. “Well, I hate to keep you waiting. Have fun. Don’t expect me to wait up.”


“So what should I expect of your cousins?”

Arianne considered a moment. They were only a few blocks from the restaurant. “They’re an assortment of characters,” she eventually said.

Jon nodded. Then he looked confused again. “What does that mean?”

Arianne snickered and shrugged. “You kinda just have to meet them, but here’s the crash course. Obara’s a little older than us, she’ll be the tall one. She used to be in the Marines, she’s the main cook. Nym’s in charge of sauces and spices, and she may or may not have her girlfriends with her. Tyene is my age, she’s the bartender. She makes the best cocktails ever, but if you aren’t careful they’ll leave you flat on your ass in minutes. Also, they’re going to try and make you very uncomfortable.” She shot him a sly grin. “They’re very protective of me.”

Jon nodded again. “Should I be worried? About what they’ll do to me?”

“Well, that depends,” she smirked. “How well do you plan on treating me?”

“Like a princess that could kick my ass?” he suggested.

Arianne laughed, “Don’t worry,” she assured him. “You’ll be fine.”

Chapter Text

The restaurant didn’t look too fancy, just one of another thousand in New York. Her cousins had inherited the building from their father before he’d died, each bringing their own skills to the business.

Jon got out of the car first and opened her door, then held the door to the restaurant. She saw he still looked a bit nervous, so she held out her hand to him. He gave a smile and took, following her inside.

The room was softly lit, and there weren’t many people, a few people at the bar and a family in a both. Nym looked up from the hostess’s podium when she heard them come in, and gave her a bright smile.

“Arianne!”, she came over, arms outstretched for a hug. Arianne gave her a one-armed hug, not wanting to leave Jon. Nym looked him over after she unwrapped herself from Arianne. “Who’s your friend,” she asked, eyeing their hands, still laced together.

“This is Jon. He’s my date. Jon, this is my cousin, Nym.”

Jon gave a polite nod. “Nice to meet you, ma’am.”

Nym shot Arianne a wry grin. “Oh, going for a gentleman this time, I see?”

Arianne winced. She saw confusion flash across Jon’s face. “This one’s different,” she told Nym. “I’m thinking of keeping him.”

“Fair enough,” Nym shrugged. “You want a table or the bar?” she asked.

“Bar, please,” Arianne told her. “And ask Obara to make my regular.”

Jon pulled out a barstool for her and she took a seat. Tyene came over with two glasses and a bottle of whiskey.

“This him?” she asked Arianne.

“Yep. What do you think?”

Tyene gave Jon an appraising look. Arianne giggled a bit a how much he looked like he wanted to squirm. Tyene’s eyes lingered on Jon’s scar on his face, and then his arms with his rolled up shirt sleeves. She nodded approvingly.

Arianne felt a flash of irritation. She scooted her stool closer and put an arm over Jon. She shot Tyene a look. Don’t even think about. He’s mine.

Tyene just winked. Don’t worry, just having a little fun. “What would you like to drink?”

“Whiskey,” Arianne answered.

“Just a water,” Jon said. He leaned into Arianne. “I want my head as clear as possible for this.”

Arianne laughed. “You been working on that for a while?”

He smiled. “Maybe.” Then the smile slipped. “Arianne, I don’t know anything about you,” he admitted. “I want to help you like you’re helping me.”

Arianne pursed her lips. “Alright. That seems like pretty standard first date stuff,” she sighed and gathered her thoughts for a moment. “Well, I’m a correspondent for the New York Times, specializing in the Middle East. I go on radio shows sometimes and talk about why something would be a stupid decision, or why this group hates that group, but most of its just fact checking or writing small op-eds.”

Jon tilted his head. “How’d you get into that?” he asked.

“Well, when I was little, my uncle was part of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, so I did research to find out why we were over there and to learn about the names that kept getting thrown around. By the time I was in college, Quentyn and Obara were both overseas, so I researched those conflicts, too, and they’re really too complicated to just look at an overview of. This region is the result of hundreds of years of history that most people don’t bother to learn, so they can’t understand how it works. I originally went to study poli-sci, but then I took this journalism class and got hooked. So, I switched tracks, and I already knew so much about this region, so I went all in and made it my specialty. Got the spot at the Times a few years ago.” She paused to take a sip from her drink. “How ‘bout you?”

Jon just sighed. “I’m living off paychecks that I sent home. In the last six years, I haven’t been stateside for more than a month until now. At the moment, I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do when that runs out.”

Arianne thought for a moment. “What was your favorite subject in school?” she asked.

Jon considered. “History,” he said. “That was always the most interesting. Nothing else made sense.” He shrugged. “Now you see why I joined the Army.”.

“Well, you most definitely qualify for the G.I. Bill. Ever thought of being a history teacher?”

Jon snickered and gave her sarcastic smile. “Me? A history teacher?” He laughed.

Arianne laughed too. “I’m serious,” she said. “I had no idea I wanted to go into journalism, but here I am. You never know.” She rubbed his arm. “What all did you do in the Army?” She asked.

“Combat infantry, all five tours,” he answered. “I was good at running and shooting, they didn’t see much need to teach me anything else.”

She sighed. “Come on, Jon, you have to make the first step here. What did you want to do before you decided you had to enlist?”

He was quiet for a moment. “Politics always sort of appealed to me. My dad was in government. Robb was planning on it when he got out. But I don’t know if that’s for me.”

“How ‘bout this,” Arianne said. “By next Monday, I want a list of ten things that you would look into as jobs. How does that sound?”

Jon nodded. “I can do that.”

Arianne gave him a smile. Then she pressed her lips together. “Can I ask a few more questions?”

“Yeah, of course. Anything.”

“What have your other relationships been like? You had too much skill the other night for it to have been your first time, but you seemed, and please don’t take this the wrong way, rusty. What’s the story there?”

Jon exhaled heavily. “In high school, I went on a few dates that never led to anything.” He gave a bitter smile. “I actually went into the Army a virgin. I got my Ranger tab before I got laid, if you can believe it. Then I met Ygritte. She was everything I wasn’t. Brash, uppity, non-conformist, didn’t given a shit about regulations. Half the time, I wondered why she choose the military, but she was good. We met. We fucked. For half a tour, I thought I was in love.” He took a deep breath.

Arianne didn’t say anything. She was finding with Jon that he would keep talking, he just needed a breather every now and then to clear his head. She waited for him to continue.

He did after a minute or so. “We got into a fight. Then, there was an accident. The base came under attack, someone got confused. We wound up shooting at each other. Ygritte got hit. She didn’t make it.” His eyes were watering. He gave a bitter chuckle. “She was always saying how I knew nothing. Nothing about women, the military, how it works in the field, how to keep your rifle in good shape, nothing. But she would teach me.” He took a sip from his water. “I might should’ve gotten a stronger drink.”

Arianne slid her whiskey over to him. “Don’t go overboard. You still promised me a movie, remember?”

Jon took a drink from the glass and nodded. “But, yeah, that’s the extent of my romantic experience. How about you?”

Arianne took her whiskey back. “You catch when Nym said ‘going for a gentleman this time’”?

Jon nodded.

“Well, that wasn’t for nothing. The guys I slept with to piss my dad off, they normally weren’t great guys. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to show my dad he didn’t control me, or too get him to control me, or whatever I wanted. So long as they were pretty. I put up with a lot shit from them. For while, I couldn’t seem to shake the habit of picking guys that were trouble for me. Arys was my first real attempt at a relationship, and you know how he ended up,” she shrugged. “So I guess as far as relationships go, neither of us are batting a thousand. But that doesn’t have to matter, does it?”

Jon shook his head. “I guess not.”


Obara leaned out the kitchen door to speak to Tyene. “What’s the spiel on him so far?” She asked.

“He’s polite, mostly quite,” she answered. “He was in the Rangers, and it’s not hard to tell he just got out. He’s handsome, in a broody type way, and he and Arianne seem to make eachother happy.” She smiled. “I think he gets a pass. For now.”

Obara gave a grunt of reluctant approval. “Rangers, huh? Not bad. They’re no Marine Corp, but they’re something. You think it’s time for me to come out?”

“Give ‘em a minute, they’re talking about Arys. I’ll give you a signal.”

Obara nodded and went back through the door.


“So, what are some positive stories from your time in the Army?” Arianne had finished her glass of whiskey, and Jon had made the jump to a light beer.

Jon leaned back in his chair. “There was this guy, we called him ‘Dolorous Edd’. He was always so pessimistic, but in resigned, expecting way. Like, he knew everything was shit, but he wasn’t gonna let that get him too down. Then there was this other guy, he was in the Navy before he came to the Rangers, we called him Iron Emmett. He was big and buff, classic recruiting poster material. We would box to blow off steam. Normally, he would take everything I had then pummel me, but one day, I guess I was just so pissed I lost it, and I don’t even remember knocking him out. I must have apologized fifteen times when he came to, but he just laughed. He was a great guy.” He took a sip from his beer. “They were all great guys. I loved all of them like brothers. They were my motivation when I didn’t know why I was over there.”

Arianne watched as his eyes began to water again. “So why did you leave?” She asked. “What made you finally decide to get out?”

He let out a long, tired breath. “Couple reasons. I think not being able to go to Robb’s funeral was the start of it. Then there was the personel change. They guys I’d served with forever kept leaving or getting transferred to new units, until I was left with a bunch of guys I didn’t know. But the real kicker, the thing that I think really did it, was the promotion offer, to First Sergeant. If I took that, it was pretty much a given that it was my career. And I didn’t want that.” He finished his beer in a big gulp. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “Maybe I just finally got tired of being shot at.”

Arianne could sense his mood darkening. It was like when they had taken their walk, when she could practically feel him brooding. “What’s something you’ve always wanted to do?” She asked, grasping at the first idea she had to divert his attention.

Jon looked puzzled. “I kinda want to travel,” he said sheepishly. “I haven’t seen much of the world, just central Michigan and war-torn Afghanistan. I would like to know more about how the rest of the world works.”

“That’s a good goal. Maybe we could go on a road trip?” Arianne suggested.

Jon smiled. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I would like that.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Arianne saw Tyene try to descreerly signal to Obara to come over. She fought the urge to roll her eyes.

When Obara came over, she was wearing the scowl she normally reserved for Arianne’s father. She had their food, but she got the feeling she was really coming over so she could give Jon her own once-over. She set the plates down and leaned over on the bar, not into Jon, but enough to establish the stand off.

“So I heard you were in the Army?” She said. “What unit?”

“75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Battalion.” Jon, to his credit, did well under Obara’s scrutiny. He didn’t back down, despite being shorter and smaller than her, but he didn’t try to act all macho or dickish either. Not that Arianne had expected him too. Her impression of him was one of quiet confidence, and his reaction fell right in with that.

Obara didn’t pull back just yet. “What’s your rank?”

“I was E-7 when I left. I only got out a few months ago. You?”

“I was with the 15th Female Engagement Team. I was E-7, too.” She gave an approving nod, then glanced at Arianne. “I think he’s ok. For now. Just give me a call if he causes any problems.”

Arianne saluted her with her fork. “Will do, cuz

Chapter Text

“So what do you want to watch?” Arianne asked as she turned on the TV. She pulled Jon down onto the couch and got him to lie down, then laid down herself and pulled one of his arms over her. Jon complied and wrapped her up, letting her burrow into him.

“Not sure,” he said. “Something light that we can laugh to, but that we could also fool around while watching.”

Arianne gigged and started scrolling. Then she felt Jon tense up as the iconic graffiti covered helmet of Full Metal Jacket passed by. “You okay?” She asked.

“Yeah, it’s just… I used to love that movie, me and Robb and my dad. I haven’t watched in years.” He left the rest unspoken, but it wasn’t hard for Arianne to know what he was thinking. He didn’t know if he’d be able to watch it anymore.

“Maybe we can watch that a different night. You wanted funny and light, right? Let’s keep looking.” They eventually settled on something she had on her DVR, a college spoof movie called PCU, Politically Correct University, because it was smart-funny, and non-consequential, and Jon had never seen it. It was good to hear Jon laugh so hard. She felt a warm feeling as the vibrations from the laughter spread to her.

It was also a seamless transition from the movie to Netflix ‘n Chill. She was pretty sure Jon didn’t understand the slang, but he understood her grinding against his crotch and moving his hand between her legs. She muted the movie as he slid his hands into her jeans, teasing her at first by rubbing her through her underwear. He nuzzled and kissed the crook of her neck and his other hand pulled up her shirt and slipped under her bra.

Arianne gasped and purred in pleasure, but Jon held her in place every time she tried to move her hands to him or turn around. “Later, Ari,” he whispered into her ear as his fingers made first real contact with her sex, causing a shiver to go up her spine. “Just let me treat you like a princess first.”

Arianne practically melted at that, his deep, rasping voice combined with his slow, deliberate touches in her center. She felt her body heating up, and frantically pulled off her jeans as Jon’s fingers sped up. When she tried to pull down her underwear as well, he pinched her nipple again, and whispered “Leave those on for now, please?” She was inclined to agree.

Jon’s fingers continued to explore her deeper as he sucked on her neck and kneaded her breast. Soon Arianne was moaning breathlessly, her hands grasping at the couch and Jon’s arms as he fingered her to orgasim. She held fast to Jon’s forearms as she cried out, cumming against his hand.

She could feel him pressing against her ass through his pants, and she wanted him. They pulled off their shirts and she undid her bra as she turned around and straddled his hips and began undoing his pants. Soon she was riding him, bouncing up and down on his length as held tight to her hips. It felt so good to have him inside her again. She liked being able to make him feel good.

Jon reached up to take one of her breast in hand, then sat up and began sucking on the nipple as she continued to ride him. Soon his thrust were becoming faster, more frantic. She guided his face up to hers and kissed him as he came. The warmth of him spread from her center all throughout her frame, and she pulled him tighter into the kiss, sliding her tongue against his and biting his lips, until she came as well, all around him.

They split apart, breathless. Jon propped himself up with one arm as Arianne fell into him. He leaned back into the couch, her head laid against his chest. They took a moment to bask in the afterglow, letting their breathing return to normal. When she found the strength, Arianne sat up.

“Come on,” she said, dismounting and pulling her shirt back on. She didn’t bother with her bra. “I want to show you something.”

Jon put his pants back on and followed her into the small room that served as her office. She sat down in front of one of the bookcases that covered the walls, patting the floor beside her, to indicate she wanted him to join her.

“These are the books that, if I had known about them, I would have showed them to Quentyn and Arys. To help them adjust.” She gestured to the bottom shelf. “I haven’t really been actively looking, but whenever I come across one, or someone recommends one to me, this is where I put it,” She looked at Jon, and saw he was watching her intently. “I would like you to try and read a few.”

Jon nodded calmly. “What would you recommend to start?” He asked.

Arianne pulled out two paperbacks and held them up. “The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, this is about Vietnam. It’s kinda political, but it’s beautifully written, and there’s a lot about coping with war.” She held up the other one. “This is Charlie Wilson’s War, it’s a nonfiction about the how CIA funded Afghan fighters against the Soviets in the ‘80s, and all the political intrigue behind it. It told me a lot about how the government really works, and how we first got involved in Afghanistan. This isn’t the real root, but it’s a place to start. I think it would be good for you to better understand the war.” She placed the books in Jon’s hands. “It would mean a lot to me if you’d read them.”

Jon took them and nodded. “I will,” he smiled at her. “I’ve been looking for something to read, anyway. Thank you. For everything.”

They didn’t stay up long after that. After making Jon promise not to start making breakfast without her, Arianne joined him in bed and turned out the lights. This time she was the big spoon, wrapping Jon in her arms. As she fell asleep to the sound of his steady breathing, she realized she didn’t know what she was getting into, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. He made her happy. They were good for each other. That was all she needed.

Chapter Text

He woke with Arianne’s arms still wrapped around him. He found comfort in that. He liked the feel of her next to him, that she was the first thing in his world that day.

I could get used to this, he thought. To her.

He felt her move, her arms drifting lower. He started to turn around. “Arianne?” He muttered, still groggy from sleep. “What are you doing?”

“Payback for last night,” she whispered in his ear as her hand slipped past his waistband. She brushed her hand over his length, feeling it stiffen against her fingers. She soon had it out of his pants and began stroking it in earnest, letting her other hand dance across his bare torso.

“Aren’t you-,” he took a ragged breath, “worried about the mess?”

Arianne just kissed the back of his neck and sped up. “Sometimes you just have to not worry,” she told him.

His body went tense, then he came undone in her hands and moaned her name softly, as she murmured encouragement in his ear. As soon as he got his breath back, he turned around and held her to the bed, not pulling away until she’d cum against his tongue.

Yeah, I could definitely get used to this.

“What are you writing?”

“Just starting that list of potential jobs you suggested last night,”

Arianne blinked. “I didn’t mean you had to do it now,” she said, but she smiled all the same.

Jon just shrugged. “I know, but I feel like getting it done now, while it’s on my mind.”

Arianne pulled out the other chair across from him. Her hair was still wet from her shower. She had played the gracious host and had him go first, and hadn’t taken no for an answer. “What have you got so far?” She asked.

Jon slid the notepad across the table. “Have a look.”

She gaze him a quizzical look as she read. “Skydiving instructor?”

“Hey, I was a Senior Parachutist, that kinda stuff would be easy.”

“Alright, That makes sense. What about coach? You know you normally have to be a teacher for that, right?”

He shrugged sheepishly. “This was just a first attempt.”

“No, I think it’s a great idea. You said you liked history, right? What bits?”

Jon paused. It had been awhile since he had really thought about it. “Ancient more than modern, usually. I used to be really interested in Alexander the Great and military conquest, then I realized that that stuff isn’t half as interesting as the politics and statecraft.”

Arianne looked at him intensely, eyes alight. “What do mean by that? Details please.”

He was starting to see the journalist in her, now that he knew to look for it. “Like, battles are cool, but history is so much more than just a timeline of clashing armies. I got really interested in why wars were fought, and what made the sides different, what factors led to those differences. I was interested in how empires or civilizations did things besides warfare, what they did with their power, how they interacted. Just looking deeper than the battles.”

Arianne reguared him for long moment. Then, “I think you should really think about studying history. If you’re interested enough, you could totally teach it. What’s an example of some opinions that changed?” She asked.

“Alexander. I used to think he was the coolest thing ever, then I dug deeper and found out he kinda just conquered for the sake to conquering, and didn't try to do anything else.”

“Did you think about that a lot? When you were deployed?”

“Well, you're there long enough to think about a little of everything, but yeah. I thought about how little I knew about that part of the world, relatively speaking.  How little most of us knew, actually, because we’d never been taught, so I would think about how I'm halfway around the world, fighting a war I don’t even know about because public school didn’t teach me, so I think about what else they missed. A few guys knew more about history than I did, and they filled in some of the gaps, but I still want to know more.”

“Go back to that bit about public school,” she asked. “What are your thoughts there?”

Jon paused, trying to think back to the thousand fragmented monologues he’d given himself. “It’s like this. History was taught on a timeline in little boxes. We had our obligatory chapters on Egypt and Mesopotamia, maybe China and India if it was an advanced class, then we learned about how amazing the Greeks and Romans were, then how great western Europe was, then how great America was, mostly with regards to the world wars, and very little about the rest of the world. And I didn't even realize that until I was in the rest of the world.”

Arianne rested her head on her hands and looked him with a little smile that might have been proud. “I really like that you think like that,” she said. “Maybe you could be what changes how we learn about the rest of the world.”

Jon was skeptical. “I doubt it. Just one teacher can’t do that much.”

She shook her head. “Not true, change starts with one person. Say you teach ten people, and each of them teaches ten more, and so one, and soon you’ve taught hundreds of people.”

He didn't say anything for a moment. “I’ll look into,” he conceded. “I'm just don't think I'm smart enough.”

Arianne sighed. “If you really think that, alright, but I think you could.” She looked back down at his list. “Why logistics and Human Resources?”

Jon shrugged. “That’s just some of the stuff I had to do as an NCO. I figure if I was good at it there, I might be able to make something out of it here.”

Arianne nodded. “Makes sense. Anything you want to add.”

He shook his head. “That all I got for now.” He checked his watch. “Do you want me to get out your hair,” he asked. “Let you get some work done?”

Her smile wavered. “Do you not want to stay a little longer?”

“No, no,” he backtracked frantically. He hated seeing that flash of disappointment across her face. “I want to. I would like nothing better than to just hang out with you all day. I just don’t want to be a bother.”

Arianne sighed. “Yeah. Yeah, I got it. I do have some deadlines coming up. Will you need a ride?”

“No, thank you. I’ll call a cab.”

“Ok,” She stood and Gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Maybe we can do lunch tomorrow? I’ll send you address of this great bakery.”

Jon smiled. “That sounds wonderful.”

The kissed again as they said goodbye at her door. Jon remembered the final, lingering feel of her lips on his for the entire cab ride back.

Sam greeted him at the door. He looked a bit excited. He asked how Arianne had been, but Jon got the sense that he was bursting to share some sort of news.

“She was fine,” Jon answered, not mentioning just how bad he was realizing he had it for her. “What’s up?”

“I got an email this morning. From Harvard.”

Jon froze. He knew what was coming next. “You get in?”

“Yeah,” he gave Jon the biggest grin. “I can hardly believe, it, man. I’m going to grad school at Harvard!”

Jon smiled for him. “You earned, buddy. When do you head over?”

Sam’s smile wavered. “Well, that’s the thing. You see, you know we’ve been looking for jobs and housing, and we got a great offer, but we don’t have long to accept it. We need to be there within the month.”

Jon nodded. “I got it. Will you need any help moving?”

Sam shook his head. When he spoke again, his voice was subdued. “Jon, I’m really sorry to spring this on you.”

Jon tried to act like he wasn’t fazed by the news. “Don’t worry about it, you told from the start what your plans were. Besides, you have a baby. You need your space.” You don’t need me waking up in the middle of the night thinking I’m on fire. “I totally understand.” He tried to smile. “Really, Sam, I mean it. I’m happy for you.”

Sam couldn’t return the smile. Then, he perked up. “What about Arianne?”

“What about her?”

“Could you move in with her?”

Jon’s mind instantly flew back to when he’d first woken up, how much he’d loved her being the first thing of the day. That could be every day. But… “I don’t know,” he said truthfully. “We met, like, three days ago.”

Sam shrugged. “Yeah, I guess that is fast. But, when it’s the right person, you kinda just know. You said that’s how you feel about her, right?”

Jon nodded. Sam had it right on the nose. He just had no idea how to tell her that.

After taking with Sam, Jon tried to think of something fill the day. First, he tried to consolidate all his stuff, so it would be easier for Sam and Gilly to move around it. It had taken all of five minutes. He didn’t have much stuff.

Then he thought about going on a job website, but he realized he didn’t have a resume. Nor did he have any real knowledge of how to write one. He made a note to research it later.

The rest of the day dragged, but the morning of the next day was almost painfully slow. Once Arianne had texted the address of the bakery, he had become a ticking time bomb, just waiting for the chance to see her. Just waiting to be able to do something.

He was a ball of nervous energy as he sat in the cab. He checked his watch. He was ten minutes early.

He took a seat on a bench and looked around. He looked around, taking in the sounds, and the way the impossibly tall buildings loomed over him.

Sam had been the reason he had come to New York. A little over three months ago, when he’d officially re-entered civilian life, it had been the only place with the promise of a roof. It wouldn’t have been his first choice, far from it, but he hadn’t had many other options. It had been made abundantly clear that he wasn’t welcome in the Stark home, even if there had been anyone left in it. He hadn’t yet linked back up with Pyp and Grenn and the rest of his old friends. So Sam had taken him in. And now Sam was moving on.

“Excuse me, sir, but I’m looking for my date? Dark, handsome, a bit broody?

He turned to see Arianne, smirking. He couldn’t help but smile himself.

“I can’t say I’ve seen anyone who meets that description,” he grinned. “But shame on him for keeping such a lovely lady waiting.”

Arianne rolled her eyes, but her smile only widened. “Come on. I’ve been wanting a one of their hot spiced brownies all day.”

“So why do you look extra broody today?” Arianne asked him before taking a bit of her brownie.

“Sam is going to grad school. At Harvard.”

Arianne paused. “Harvard? What’s happening to you?”

Jon shrugged. “Not sure yet. I’ll figure something out.”

She paused for a moment, looking like she was wrestling with a question. 

“Well,” she began tentatively, “would you like to stay with me?”

Jon nearly fell out his chair. “Do you mean that?”

“Of course,” She suddenly looked worried. “Jon, if I misread that-”

Jon shook his head. “I would love to, it’s just… I didn’t want to ask and be wrong and mess this up.”

Arianne reached across the table to hold his hand. “Don’t worry so much about messing up. You’re a great guy. Just do you. That’s how you’ve charmed me thus far.”

Jon felt himself go red. “Thank you. How have you been?”

She took another bite of her brownie. “I got a letter this morning inviting me to my ten year high school reunion.”

Jon snorted. “I Think I’d rather go to a funeral.”

Arianne laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to go. Maybe the twenty year one.”

Her phone buzzed on the table.

“Hold, a sec, it’s my brother, Trystane.”

Arianne smiled as she answered. Then the smile fell, replaced by a look of shock, then numbness. She gave a half hearted goodbye before setting the phone down. Jon was afraid to break the silence. Then she gave a bitter laugh.

“There must be a god,” she said. “It’s not possible that kind of irony just happens.”

Jon felt himself tense up. “What was it?”

She sighed. “That was my brother, calling to tell me that our father just died. The funeral in Arizona is in a few weeks.”

Jon immdialty felt a sense of cold guilt him for the quib he’d just made.

“Arianne, I’m-”

She cut him off bruskly. “Don’t worry about it.” She looked down at her half eaten brownie on the table.

He was reminded of how he’d gotten the news of Ned’s death, less than a month into his first tour of duty. He hadn’t had time to mourn, there had been more immediate concerns. Now that he thought about it, he’d never actually gotten around to mourning.

“I want you come with me.”

Jon’s head snapped up. Arianne was looking at him now. Her eyes had tears in the corners, but there was fire in them.


She nodded. “You’re the best thing to happen to me in a long time. I want to be with you.” She gave a shaky smile. “Beside, we can take that road trip we talked about. It’s a long drive to Arizona.”

“Will your family be alright with this?”

“You mean besides my cousins? Fuck them. I want you come with me.”

Jon nodded, hesitantly at first, but then firmly. “Alright. I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”