Jon and Sam
“Evening, fellow insomniacs. You’re listening to WWAL, The Wall.”
Sam dutifully played the wolf-howl sound effect that always accompanied the radio station’s name.
“I’m your host, Jon Snow, and this is my co-host, Sam the Slayer.” Jon grinned at Sam, who blushed, like he always did. “Ask him how he got that nickname sometime, listeners, it’s one amazing story.”
“Please don’t ask me.” Sam pleaded into the mic, blushing furiously.
“Anyways, you know why you’re here listeners,” Jon stretched out in his chair. “It’s midnight, you’ve got a paper due tomorrow, you’re staring at a blank word document, or a google doc, or, if you’re that rich hipster who lives on my hall, a really loud typewriter. Or you’re cramming for an exam. Or making your notecards for that presentation tomorrow. Or you’re between projects and just can’t seem to sleep. The darkness is closing in and it’s hours before morning. Well, fear not listeners, because Jon and Sam are here to take care of you tonight, and every night. So until the light of dawn breaks through your window, let us be your shield against anxiety, that fire under your procrastinating ass. No crowns, no glory, we are the watchers on the Wall. This is … Night Watch!”
Sam clicked their intro music on. It was a mashup of dialogue clips from past shows, a jumble of musical stylings, and finally concluded with that signature wolf-howl.
“So, Sam, what have you dug out of the radio station archives this time?”
Sam beamed, tugging his microphone closer. “Well, it’s actually quite fascinating. I actually found a rare recording of Rhaegar Targaryen, of the band The Tragedy of Summerhall. It’s in excellent condition and I feel privileged to share it with you, listeners. This is a perfect example of the folk punk movement that began in the 1980s. Listen closely for the roots of Celtic punk, which is popular even today.”
“Anything about that rumor of a guest appearance from Lyanna Stark on this track?” Jon asked.
“I don’t like to gossip, Jon, even old gossip. Those rumors were never confirmed and music scholars have never definitively answered whether Lyanna Stark is on any recordings of The Tragedy of Summerhall at all.” Sam readied the track. “Once again, this is The Tragedy of Summerhall, featuring that elusive folk-punk legend, Rhaegar Targaryen.”
“And possibly an appearance from former heavy metal star Lyanna Stark!” Jon hurriedly added.
“No, there isn’t!” Sam protested. “It was never confirmed or proven!”
“Or properly denied!” Jon hit ‘play’ on the music.
Sam mute both of their mics. “You’re so insufferable sometimes Jon.”
“But you love me,” Jon smiled.
“Of course,” Sam bumped his shoulder against Jon’s and blushed. “But Lyanna Stark was never confirmed to sing for The Tragedy of Summerhall. You can’t spread lies about musical history.”
“Calm down, Sam, the only people who listen to us at this hour are zombified insomniacs or stressed-out crammers trying to write a twenty-page term paper the night before it’s due. They probably don’t care one way or the other about the Lyanna Stark rumors.”
“But I care.” Sam insisted.
Jon faltered. “Ok, sorry. I’ll cut it out.”
They listened to the track. The audio quality was indeed excellent for something so obscure.
“How’s stuff with your dad?” Jon asked.
Sam shrugged. “The same. Won’t answer my calls. Returns my letters. My mom sent me a care package, told me to send her letters to a P.O. Box she got at the post office two towns over, so she can stay in touch without him knowing about it.”
Jon’s face contorted, trying to sort out which emotions to cling to.
“I mean, at least I can still stay in touch with her, for now.” Sam blinked furiously. “Sorry, it’s just …”
“It’s not right. They’re your family. They shouldn’t … you’re nothing to be ashamed of, Sam.”
“Maybe I should have kept it up, just for three more years,” Sam frowned. “I don’t know if I can keep up with the tuition, Jon. It’s a lot. I’ve got my work-study jobs, I’ve got scholarships, but … it’s a lot, to come here.”
“You’re going to get into that Honors Program.” Jon sounded as determined as if he’d just declared they’d hold the WWAL against zombies until sunrise. “Half tuition. That, plus your scholarships and your work-study … you’ll make it.”
“I hope so,” Sam said, doubtfully.
“You’re the smartest person I know, Sam, you’re going to make it.”
Sam looked at Jon, puppy eyes meeting puppy eyes.
Rhaegar Targaryen’s wailing was winding down.
“Oh, we’ve got to come back on the air!” Sam flailed for his microphone, blushing furiously. “That was The Tragedy of Summerhall, featuring Rhaegar Targaryen. I’m Sam, he’s Jon, and you’re listening to WWAL, The Wall.” Sam clicked the button for the radio’s signature wolf-howl sound effect.
“And now, something for you late-night moshers who don’t want the party to end quite yet,” Jon pulled up the next selections. “Three exclusive tracks from a local folk metal band, Giantsbane. I have been told to play these tracks in order, no interruptions, or face the wrath of their frankly terrifying lead singer Tormund. Seriously, that man is … huge.”
“So, enjoy some heavier folk metal than you were expecting at this hour. This is Giantsbane.” Jon started the tracks.
The music began, slow at first, and then quickly increasing in intensity to something loud and frantic.
“Not really my kind of thing,” Sam admitted.
“I kinda like it,” Jon bobbed his head to the beat.
“Thank you,” Sam said suddenly. “For … you know, everything.”
“We’re friends, Sam,” Jon said simply. “I’ll always have your back.”
There was a long moment of silence.
Their kiss, or rather, their kiss and the subsequent further kisses, lasted through all three of the Giantsbane songs.
Stannis and Oberyn and Sansa and Varys and Ellaria and Bronn and Lollys
“So, as this is a new club, we need to assemble a Board, and fast.” Stannis frowned at the picture on the slideshow Sansa had put together for him earlier in the week, following his instructions. The picture on the slide was a poster for Age of Ultron.
People in the club were giggling.
“Since I founded this club, I’m currently the President. However, we will be holding elections in the spring, so keep an eye out if you’ll be attending this college next fall. Sansa is the Vice President.”
Sansa gave a regal wave and smiled. There was a smattering of applause.
“And Varys has volunteered to be our Head of Marketing –”
“Actually, Mr. President, I am now more interested in being the club’s Social Media Administrator. I’m already Head of Marketing of the Mummer’s Dragons, I’d hate to neglect one club for another. But I can certainly update the club’s facebook and twitter accounts.”
Stannis faltered but recovered quickly. “Um, that’s fine. So, we need a Head of Marketing –” Stannis stopped. A newcomer was waving his hand.
“Good evening,” the man stretched languidly. “My name is Oberyn Martell.”
Stannis saw several club members staring, openly. While he didn’t feel the initial attraction so many of his friends apparently did upon seeing someone, he did notice when a stranger was aesthetically attractive. This man was attractive, athletic but thin, not jacked up and intimidating muscular like some of Robert’s friends were. He had dark hair, tousled in such a way that had to be by design, and bronze skin that reminded Stannis of the Moroccan exchange student from high school Renly had dated for a month.
“I volunteer to be the club’s Head of Marketing. I’m a sophomore Marketing major, and I’ve crafted several promotional campaigns in the past.” He looked around. “Do I have any opposition?”
Nobody raised their hands.
“Well then, um, welcome, Oberyn,” Stannis looked at his notes. “So, we have two more positions open. Treasurer … Varys didn’t you say you had someone?”
“He sends his apologies, he is unable to attend tonight’s meeting. He did want me to give you this tentative budget proposal, if we collect enough signatures by next week we can get funding from the college within the month.” Varys handed over a packet of papers.
Stannis glanced through them, impressed. “Well, I don’t raise any objections,” he passed the packet around the room, everyone flicked through it, some with more interest than others. There were murmurs of approval.
“And … Secretary. A Secretary would take notes during the meeting, send out weekly emails, and take minutes during our Board meetings.”
A tall black woman next to Oberyn raised her hand. “I was the Secretary for the Shakespeare Society last year.” She wore her hair long, in dreadlocks, with a faint reddish-orange tinge to them that Stannis couldn’t tell for certain was from a dye or not.
“And why are you no longer their Secretary?” Stannis asked.
“Because I decided to take an acting position rather than an administrative one in the club this year. They’ll give me an excellent recommendation, I assure you.” Ellaria smiled, a warm and friendly smile.
Sansa nudged Stannis with her elbow. “My roommate Margaery’s in that club. I’ve heard Margaery talk about her, she’s good.”
“Well then, pending my meeting with our mysterious Treasurer, we have a Board!” Stannis twitched a smile.
There was another smattering of applause.
“Um, that’s about all I had on the agenda for tonight. We’ll be posting polls on the facebook group for suggested screenings in the next week, so keep an eye on that!”
Stannis came to the final slide of the PowerPoint, a list of the various web addresses and official club email. Club members got out their phones and snapped pictures. “Um, you’re all dismissed.”
“We have the room for another half hour if you want to mingle!” Sansa hastily reminded everyone.
Some of the club members left. Others lingered, chatting with each other, or approaching the Board with suggestions and questions. Stannis fielded answers and began shifting some of them to Sansa, who handled people far more effectively than he could.
“I’m Bronn, thanks for starting this up,” a shaggy-haired boy said, holding out his hand to shake Stannis’. “We really appreciate it.”
Stannis glanced at the woman next to the man. He’d seen her in the past year, a large girl who always sat in the front row of lectures and had a personal aide to take her notes for her. Lollys something, that was her name.
She clung to the man’s arm. “Thank you,” she said, her breath labored.
“Um,” Stannis glanced between Lollys and the man. “Are you, uh, her …?” he tried to remember if ‘nurse’ or ‘aide’ was the proper term. “… aide?”
The man’s face set into a rigid mask.
Lollys glared at Stannis. “He’s my boyfriend.” She clung to Bronn’s arm tightly.
“Safe space, yeah?” Bronn glared too. “Rainbow Guard wouldn’t let us in.”
“Of course this is a safe space,” Sansa was at Stannis’ side, smiling at Bronn and Lollys. “Our President will, of course, apologize for his assumption.” She shot Stannis a meaningful look.
Stannis felt his face burning. “I’m sorry. Of course, I’m … I’m sorry.”
Lolly was still glaring, but looked slightly less upset. Bronn seemed weary rather than accepting.
“See you next week,” Sansa said, offering her hand to Lollys first.
Lollys shook Sansa’s hand clumsily, smiling at her. “Your hair is orange.”
Bronn smiled and kissed the top of Lollys’ head.
“Not in front of people!” Lollys blushed and pushed at Bronn.
“See you next week,” Bronn said to Sansa, ignoring Stannis. He and Lollys left.
“My brother’s in a wheelchair,” Sansa said, not looking at Stannis. “Just so you know.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t grow up with people like that. I don’t know how to … what to say.” Stannis felt like his face was on fire. “She always has an aide with her in classes, I just thought he was one of them.”
“Do some reading,” Sansa suggested tersely. “Plenty of resources online.”
Stannis felt ill. He’d alienated two new members, and his VP, all in one go. He hoped Lollys and Bronn would be back, so he could do better. He didn’t want to be like Renly, making people feel unwelcome in a supposedly ‘safe space.’
“Hello, Mr. President,” Oberyn was there, suddenly, Ellaria at his side.
Stannis took Oberyn’s hand on instinct, feeling oddly scrutinized as the two of them stared at him.
Ellaria smiled, nodding to Oberyn before drifting off to speak with Sansa about the upcoming showcase from the theater department.
“So, asexual,” Oberyn said, releasing Stannis’ hand. “Such a waste.”
“I was talking to Ellaria earlier, before the meeting started, wondering what she thought of asking you out.” Oberyn smiled, all teeth. “We’d even agreed. That’s rare, usually it takes us some time to decide one way or another on someone. We’re open,” he added, taking Stannis’ silence to mean something else entirely. “Don’t worry, we don’t cheat.”
“That’s … good.” Stannis managed through gritted teeth.
“I mean, I’d have to be crazy to cheat on her, right?” Oberyn nodded at Ellaria, expression softening as he looked at her. “But sharing, that’s different.” He grinned at Stannis. “If you ever change your mind, let us know. We’re very experienced.”
Stannis had no idea how to respond to that, though an angry voice inside of his head – which sounded worryingly like Robert – had quite a few things to say about Oberyn, starting with an expulsion from the club.
After the meeting was completely over, Stannis slunk back to his dorm, burning with shame and frustration. He hadn’t managed to tell Oberyn off, hadn’t figured out a way to get rid of Oberyn and Ellaria, had no idea whether getting rid of them would be justified or not. Then there was Lollys in his mind, looking at him, hurt and angry, and Bronn looking half ready to tear Stannis’ head off.
“Hey, Stannis! Sorry I missed the meeting, one of the RA’s in the Manderly dorm got sick, I had to cover for him. Next week, for sure!” Davos had his door open, the signal that he was accepting visitors despite not being on duty as an RA.
Stannis felt his stomach lurch. Already beset by too many emotions, Stannis barely managed a stuttered agreement and a hand wave before vanishing into his dorm room.
Tyrion and Varys
“Why is he never in his fucking office?” Tyrion growled.
Varys settled onto one of the chairs in the lobby. Ze examined the newspapers and magazines on the coffee table critically. None were promising for a long wait.
“I mean, we did email, right? He said ‘come on by anytime,’ and we gave him a time, and here we are, and he’s nowhere to be found!” Tyrion paced back and forth.
“Calm yourself. We might be waiting for quite a while.”
“Easy for you to say. I had plans!” Tyrion grumbled, settling onto one of the chairs across from Varys.
“It’s a Friday. Early in the semester. What plans could you possibly have?”
“Volunteering at Planned Parenthood.”
Varys raised hir eyebrows. “You aren’t serious.”
“Yeah, I am,” Tyrion glared. “What? They need volunteers. I’m good with math, they need help with their accounting, it’s good work.”
“Really. You. At Planned Parenthood.” Varys stared at Tyrion.
“Drives my dad up the wall.” Tyrion grinned.
“Because of the abortions?”
“No, because I spent all last spring helping people sign up for government healthcare.” Tyrion fiddled with his phone. “My dad won’t even talk about the other stuff. Government healthcare though, wow, he won’t shut up about ‘welfare queens’ and drug addicts sucking up all his hard-earned cash. Like he even pays his taxes,” Tyrion scowled, swiping at his phone viciously. “Someday the IRS is gonna come calling and take everything, the town house, the country house, the lock boxes full of gold, everything. And I’m gonna just sit there and laugh at him.”
Varys knew better than to comment when Tyrion was in one of his moods. Ze decided to change the subject. “Tinder?” ze nodded at the phone.
“Nah, Grindr today. I’m diversifying my portfolio.”
“Ah,” Varys crossed hir legs, settling into a new position. “So, that rumor about you and Oberyn in a contest to see who can sleep with the most people by winter break is …?”
“Baseless.” Tyrion smiled slyly. “I’m gonna win though. He’s got those devilish good looks, but I can bag people he can’t. Everyone wants to say they’ve fucked a dwarf.”
“Playing up the fetish angle, lovely,” Varys wrinkled hir nose. “Even if you win, you lose.”
“Whatever,” Tyrion shrugged. “I’m half the man he is, but I’m twice the man he is in the sack. And I’m going to prove it.”
“Why don’t you just proposition him and forget the whole silly contest?”
“Oh no, see, I’m gonna win, then I’m gonna have him begging to show him how I won.” Tyrion grins. “Me, him, and his girlfriend, in my dad’s bed in the town house. Merry Christmas to me.”
Varys gave up.
“So, speaking of that contest, which totally isn’t happening,” Tyrion waggled his eyebrows. “We’ve got some time. You wanna …?”
Varys snapped one of hir fans open and fluttered it in front of hir face. “I’m afraid we will never be at that point in our friendship.”
“Never say never!” Tyrion cheerfully said.
“You couldn’t handle me,” Varys drawled.
“Oooo, really? That sounds like a challenge!” Tyrion pointed at Varys. “Don’t underestimate my skills.”
“I don’t doubt in your skills, I doubt in your discretion. I prefer to keep my private affairs private, as you well know. You prefer to use Tinder with the same frequency others use Candy Crush.”
“And Grindr!” Tryion beamed.
Varys set hir fan down. “I am, at heart, a private person, Tyrion. You are not. So you will never ‘handle me,’ in any sense of the word.”
Tyrion sighed dramatically. “Well, if you change your mind, let me know. Contest or not, I think I win sex bingo with you.”
“What’s the prize, platform shoes?” Varys fired back.
Tyrion laughed. Varys laughed.
Professor Brynden Tully walked into the lobby, tying his long gray hair into a ponytail.
“Professor Tully!” Varys stood up gracefully. “We have a meeting with you.”
“What? Oh, yes, of course, come on in to my office.”
The office had posters of Medieval battles and weaponry all over the walls. Prominent, beside his diplomas, was a framed photograph of a younger Professor Tully, holding an enormous black trout beside two smiling redheaded girls.
“Your daughters?” Tyrion asked.
“My nieces,” Professor Tully sat down behind his desk. “So, this is the new club, yes?”
“Yes, we need an academic advisor, to sign off on paperwork and approve our requests for guest speakers. We wouldn’t be bothering you all that much, most of what we need from you could be conducted via email.” Varys smiled. “We’re currently working on becoming officially recognized by the college administration as a legitimate club. In order to move forward on that, we require your signature.”
Tyrion passed the paperwork over.
“Uh-huh,” Professor Tully read through the mission statement. “And this is different from the Rainbow Guard how?”
Varys and Tyrion exchanged a look.
“I think I’ll let you take it this time, my friend,” Varys said, settling down for a long rant.
They got Professor Tully’s signature.
Stannis and Justin and Asha and Melisandre and Selyse and Satin
“Never have I ever …” Justin grinned. “Sucked a dick.”
Asha drank. Selyse blushed and drank. Melisandre kept her eyes on Justin the whole time and slowly, deliberately, drank, until he looked away. Satin drank.
Stannis didn’t like the game. He didn’t like the party. He didn’t like parties at all. But Asha’s swim team friends had returned, triumphant, and decided to throw a massive party at someone’s off-campus house. There was alcohol and music and people dancing and people grinding against each other. Stannis, apparently, didn’t socialize enough. Stannis, according to his friends, needed to get out more.
Stannis wanted to keep having friends, because he’d never had so many, and such close ones at that. Which was how he’d found himself at a party, surrounded by increasingly drunk people, his discomfort at a simmering but manageable level.
“You should drink too, Justin. You’ve sucked my dick.” Asha said, gesturing at him with her glass.
“You’ve got a dick?” Satin asked Asha, eyes wide.
Justin turned crimson.
“Oh, awesome!” Satin squeaked. “That is … oh my god.”
“What?” Stannis asked, before he could help himself. Of everyone in the group, he was the least inebriated, but he’d had a beer before they’d started the game to try and cut his anxiety down. Normally he wouldn’t have asked a question like that.
“She’s got a strap-on dildo,” Melisandre explained. “And Justin has apparently sucked it.”
Selyse was beaming. Satin was eying Asha with open admiration.
Justin was redder than Mel’s hair. “Doesn’t make me any less of a man,” he grumbled, taking his shot reluctantly.
“Oh, give it a break Justin, plenty of guys like it up the ass,” Asha reached over to punch him on the arm.
“I’ll go next,” Melisandre straightened up. “Never have I ever … had sexual thoughts about an RA.”
“No fair!” Justin drank. “Val was my freshman year RA! Good god, that woman should be illegal.”
Selyse drank, much to everyone’s surprise. “Val was my freshman year RA too,” she admitted.
Justin reached over and fistbumped Selyse.
Stannis stared at his cup. Then he drank.
Everyone stared at him.
“Oh my god, who?!” Justin yelped.
“Who was your freshman RA?” Selyse asked. “I know it wasn’t Val.”
“No, hey, maybe it wasn’t this freshman RA.” Asha smirked. “Maybe it’s his current RA.”
“Davos?” Satin whispered.
Stannis said nothing, which was as much a confirmation as anything.
“Thought you didn’t get crushes?” Asha squinted at Stannis. “What, you get a switch flipped or something?”
“Just because he’s asexual doesn’t mean he can’t have crushes,” Melisandre said. “Let’s keep going, Satin, it’s your turn –”
“No, I’m curious too!” Justin said, louder than his usual tone. He’d taken many drinks during the game and alcohol made him even more boisterous than usual. “How does that work? Like I’ve always wondered about that. Do you jerk off?”
Heads swiveled. Nearby partiers were staring at them now.
Stannis felt his face growing red. Suddenly he wanted to get out, away from his drunk friends horrible party and Justin’s questions and all those eyes looking at him.
“It’s Satin’s turn,” he said, firmly.
“Do you jerk off?” Justin asked, point-blank.
“It’s not your turn yet!” Stannis snapped. “That’s the rules. If you’re not going to play by the rules, I’m not going to play anymore.”
Justin slumped back, cowed.
Stannis felt frozen. He could leave, obviously, in a huff, but what good would that do? Would they all hate him, or worse, pity him? He could imagine them speculating if he did storm off, joking about him, laughing …
Asha punched her no-labels-non-exclusive-ok-for-lack-of-a-better-word-boyfriend on the arm. “Knock it off, Justin, you’re being an ass.”
“No’mm not,” Justin mumbled, slurring his words.
“Yeah, you were,” Selyse glared. “Stannis is right, those aren’t the rules.”
“Moving on,” Melisandre turned her attention to Satin. “Your turn.”
… Stannis blinked. Oh. They wouldn’t have laughed at him. Justin had been drunk, and an asshole, and they’d called him out on it. His friends.
“Sorry,” Justin said, looking at Stannis briefly. “That was out of line.”
Stannis nodded, and that was the end of it. Inwardly, his heart soared and his stomach churned, though that could have been the vodka and soda and cheap chips he’d consumed that evening.
“Um, never, uh, never have I ever …” Satin began, looking panicked. He faltered. “Um, fuck, I had something, and I lost it … er …”
“Never have I ever,” Melisandre swooped in, saving Satin. “Had a crush on a roommate.”
Satin flashed her a grateful look, then drank twice.
Asha drank too. “So, does that mean you’ve had a crush on two roommates, or your two current roommates, or what?” she asked Satin.
“Not saying,” Satin smiled.
“Are they gay or what?” Justin asked. “Jon and Sam?”
Satin shrugged. “Why don’t you ask them yourself?”
“Why are you so curious, anyways?” Asha tugged on Justin’s hair. “You wanna try a guy? One of my exes would be totally down to ménage with us, just sayin’ …”
“Remembered what you forgot?” Melisandre asked, trying to steer the conversation back to the game.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Satin blushed. “Never have I ever … smoked pot.”
Asha and Justin drank almost in sync. Selyse giggled and drank, muttering “Bible camp” under her breath. Melisandre downed her whole cup and began pouring herself a fresh mixture of rum and coke.
Stannis drank too.
“Whoa, no way!” Justin laughed. “Where were we? That sounds hilarious!”
“It wasn’t.” Stannis rolled his eyes. “Robert had a party, I thought I might as well give it a try. I coughed a lot, laughed a bit, and then I ate an entire plate of brownies in the corner by myself.”
“That sucks,” Asha said. “Gotta get the right kind. Takes the edge off after a shitty week. I just go to the beach and listen to the waves, it’s … mmmmmm, so good.” She grinned, nudging Justin. “We should do that sometime, together. One of my exes makes these amazing cookies, mixes the weed in, it’s great.”
They kept going, getting steadily drunker. Satin had once been arrested for “soliciting,” having been hanging out in a part of town notorious for that and wearing tight jeans, but was never charged. Justin had been suspended in high school for an over-the-top attempt at asking his girlfriend to the prom which had involved coordinating the marching band into a giant heart during school hours. Selyse, while a counselor at summer camp, had gone skinny-dipping and later had sex with her boyfriend in the woods. Melisandre, Justin, and Asha had all gone commando at one point. Satin had crossdressed for a play. Stannis had kissed his date to the Prom. Melisandre had burned down an abandoned building (by accident, she insisted.) Asha had been in a threesome, but she wouldn’t specify which combinations.
“Never have I ever … had sexual thoughts about anyone in this group.” Satin sloshed the last of the vodka into his cup. He downed the drink.
Selyse and Melisandre looked at each other, laughing, and drank from each other’s cups. Selyse was laughing so hard she was crying, leaning against Melisandre for support. “I think I’m drunk,” she giggled. “I think … I think I’m drunk now.”
Justin and Asha looked at each other and drank too.
“Duh,” Justin said, keeping his eyes down on the table.
“Yeah,” Asha winked at Melisandre and took a second drink.
Melisandre smiled slowly, and drank again. Then her gaze shifted to Stannis. “Sorry, if we’re being honest here …” she took a sip. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s … fine.” Stannis looked at his cup. He looked at Melisandre, and Selyse. He took two sips.
Mel actually blushed, burying her face in the crook of Selyse’s neck. Selyse was still trying to control her breathing, giggling, red in the face.
“We should probably get going. The boys are gonna start shooing people out soon, don’t wanna hit the lines for cabs back to campus,” Asha yanked on Justin’s arm. “You coming home with me tonight?”
“Fuck yeah,” Justin beamed, leaned forward, misjudged his distance and sloppily kissed Asha’s mouth.
“Get a room!” Selyse was still laughing, panting, and hurled her empty cup in their direction.
“Got a room, got two to choose from!” Asha grinned. She yelped when Justin hauled her up into his arms.
“I love you,” he insisted, eyes shining. “I love you so much I’m gonna eat you out for like, ever. Not even gonna use my dick until you ask for it.”
Stannis, stomach already churning from the alcohol and bad food, put both of his hands over his ear and groaned pointedly.
Justin and Asha left, calling their goodbyes over their shoulders.
“Well, this was fun,” Melisandre stood up, carefully balancing. “Come on, Selyse, let’s get you some water.”
“I’m fine, honest!” Selyse insisted, still giggling. “Oh, whoa …” she held her arms out like she was walking on ice. “The world’s gone all … spinny spinny.” She snorted, laughing still.
“Yes, it has,” Melisandre put her arm under Selyse’s, guiding her. “Come on. See you boys later!” she waved, steering Selyse towards the kitchen.
Stannis stood up, leaning on the table to make sure his legs were steady. He’d have to drink a few cups of water before bed, but all in all he’d managed himself pretty well. He wasn’t Robert, at least.
“Hey, you wanna share a cab back?” Satin asked. “We’re going the same way, I mean.”
“Sure,” Stannis nodded. He and Satin both stumbled, and ended up leaning against each other while staggering down the stairs.
“Um, so, about that last thing, in the game,” Satin said, as they wove their way through the house and past swimmers and scantily-clad fans, looking for the exit. “Um, having sex thoughts about each other.”
“Yeah?” Stannis had a sinking feeling in his stomach.
“I was just, um, I thought you should know, I mean, I didn’t want to be weird or anything, but … the thing is that I … I have …”
They were outside now. The shock of cool night air was pleasant after the stuffy heat from inside the house. Stannis and Satin were no longer leaning on each other.
“It’s stupid, never mind.” Satin stuffed his hands into his pockets, looking at the sidewalk.
Stannis had seen enough movies to understand what was happening, even if it had taken him much longer than he suspected Asha or Melisandre would have taken in a similar situation.
“You have a crush on me,” he said.
Satin gulped audibly. “Yeah. I do.”
“And you thought … what? The drinking game would lead to something?”
“No!” Satin took a step back from Stannis. “I just, I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know how to tell you, and you’re ace, and I know, and I’m an asshole, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t have made you uncomfortable, that’s not fair to you. I’m sorry. I’m an asshole.”
They waited for a cab in silence, and eventually one arrived.
“I’ll take the next one, sorry,” Satin said, taking another step away as Stannis reached for the door.
Stannis considered him. He’d never really thought of Satin in that way. Granted, he’d never thought of most people in that way. His list was very short, limited to a high school best friend, his two closest female friends in college, and an RA who’d been practically a friend or at least a confidant his freshman year.
Satin was aesthetically attractive, Stannis could tell that, he understood that.
Stannis was slightly drunk. Satin was slightly drunk. Satin had a crush on him.
Why did Satin have a crush on him, of all people? By all accounts Jon Snow, Satin’s roommate, was considered quite attractive by many students. Then again, Stannis had a hard enough time understanding his own attractions, limited and rare as they were, so he hadn’t spent much time at all considering how others saw him.
“Come on, that’s ridiculous, we’re both going to the same place anyways. Get in.” Stannis slid into the cab and told the driver the address of their dorm building.
Satin hesitated, then got inside the cab.
Sansa and Brian/Brienne
Sansa finished slotting in the quarters and hopped up onto the countertop in the laundry room. It was going to be another long, frustrating, awkward night hopping from common room to common room.
Margaery had sexiled her. Again. For the fifth time in two weeks.
Sansa was trying, really hard, to be a good roommate. It was Margaery’s room too. If Sansa had been sexual, she’d probably have sexiled Margaery too, right?
But Sansa couldn’t shake the feeling that even if she hadn’t been asexual, she wouldn’t have sexiled her roommate quite so much.
“Oh, hey, Madam Vice President!”
Sansa looked up. One of the club members, the one who said they went by “Brian” or “Brienne” depending on the day and preferred ‘they/them’ pronouns. “Oh, hi … um, which name should I use?”
“Brienne, today,” they shrugged. “Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal.”
“Sure it is. Good evening, Brienne.”
“Waiting on your load?” Brienne asked, heaving their clothes into an empty washer. “People have been pretty good about not taking laundry out that isn’t theirs this semester, I don’t think you need to worry.”
“Oh, no, it’s not that,” Sansa blushed. “My roommate … um, sexiled me.”
“Oh. That sucks.”
“Yeah. It keeps happening.” Sansa scowled. “And I need to get this paper done and all the common rooms are so loud.”
Brienne looked around at the loudly grumbling washers and dryers. “And it’s better here?”
“At least the people who come through are usually gone quickly.”
Brienne frowned, slotting quarters into the machine. “Uh … I have a single.”
Sansa raised an eyebrow. From anyone else, she’d have assumed that was a pick-up line, but Brienne knew Sansa from the club meetings.
“I didn’t mean, not like … wow, that sounded bad,” Brienne held up their hands. “I just meant, if you wanted somewhere quiet to study, I’ve got a single room. There’s a desk and a chair that’s pretty much cleared off, you can use that. I’m just gonna work on an essay and wait for my laundry to finish.”
It was tempting. She didn’t know Brienne very well, but they seemed nice enough.
“Look, I’m sorry, I made this weird. I’ll leave the door open and everything if that’ll make you feel better. I just thought … might as well offer?” Brienne shrugged their shoulders. “Wish someone had offered that to me my freshman year, y’know?”
Sansa nodded. “Yeah. Ok. Thank you.” She hopped down off of the countertop. “What floor are you on?”
Brienne’s room was surprisingly tidy for a college student’s. A few unwashed mugs of tea, some stacks of papers on the floor, jackets draped over a plastic bin, that was the extent of the mess.
“I mean, I should be working on my essay, but really I’m catching up on Vikings,” Brienne admitted once Sansa was settled at the desk. They were on their bed, plugging a pair of headphones into their laptop, which was covered in stickers of medieval weaponry and bands Sansa had never heard of or seen before.
“What’s that?” Sansa asked.
“Show on the History Channel. It’s awesome.” Brienne grinned.
“I should check it out. I’ve been watching a lot of How To Get Away With Murder, I could use something new.”
“I’ve got the first two seasons on DVD, if you wanna borrow them.”
“That’d be great, actually,” Sansa smiled, and got back to work on her essay.
By the time Brienne’s laundry was done and Sansa’s was too, Sansa had gotten all the progress on her essay she was likely to complete, and Margaery still hadn’t texted back.
“Um, could I borrow the DVDs now?” Sansa asked.
“We can watch on my tv if you want, I don’t mind rewatching the beginning again.”
Brienne stretched out on their bed, and Sansa sat cross-legged in the chair. The show began, rather more brutal and bloody than Sansa usually cared for, but it continued well enough. She liked the characters, wanted to see whether Ragnar’s quest for leadership would succeed or fail. And she loved everyone’s hairstyles.
Sansa noticed that Brienne brightened visibly whenever Ragnar’s wife Lagertha appeared onscreen. Especially during fight scenes.
“She’s, uh, really pretty,” Sansa offered after a while.
“Augh, I know,” Brienne groaned. “She’s … perfect.”
Sansa frowned, unsure of how to react to that.
Margaery finally texted back, around the third episode, apologizing with many blushing emoticons.
“Thanks, this really helped.” Sansa said, packing up her stuff.
“Anytime.” Brienne was replacing the DVDs into their plastic cases. “I mean it, just text me. If I’m free you can hang out here whenever. Especially if you want to marathon more Vikings.”
“Thanks, I think I will. This was fun. I really appreciate this.” Sansa felt that, had she been at all interested in sex, this might have been the part where she was supposed to kiss Brienne or make some suggestive comment. She’d watched enough movies and tv shows to know that, and had felt the societal pressure before. However, this time it wasn’t uncomfortable. She thought about it, knew she had no interest in it, and moved on in her line of thinking. “Um, see you at the meeting?”
“Always,” Brienne waved their hand.
Sansa smiled all the way back to her dorm room.
Stannis and Satin (and Davos)
They were on their second mugs of water, possibly their third. Satin had wanted to go off to his dorm room, but upon admitting that his roommates were off at the radio station for another few hours, Stannis had insisted on hydrating together. Hangovers were not a life experience that bore repeating.
”You drank more than I did, I’m not letting you go to sleep until you’ve drunk more water than me too.”
“Gee, thanks, mom,” Satin snorted, slurping the water from one of Stannis’ mugs.
They were sprawled in the Common Room, an eerie place at this late hour. Everyone on the floor was either out partying or asleep. Remnants of previous students littered the area: torn papers, a broken stapler, empty soda cans, a textbook someone would no doubt be scrambling to recover come morning.
They were sprawled against each other on one of the couches, something that usually Stannis would not have done. Perhaps it was the alcohol still thrumming pleasantly in his veins. Perhaps it was how Satin hadn’t so much as laid a hand on him or made a grab for his belt.
“Ok, there, done!” Satin downed the last of the water and set the mug down on the floor. “Now can I go to sleep? Please?” he flumped his head against Stannis’ shoulder.
“Sure,” Stannis said, aware, and not in an unpleasant way, of Satin’s warmth. “I mean, if you wanna …”
Satin didn’t move. They sat, in silence, touching, but not significant-wink-touching-touching.
Finally Stannis decided to speak up. “Look, I … this is … a bit weird, but … would you be open to … cuddling?”
“With you?” Satin asked, in the tone of one trying desperately to remain casual.
“Uh …” Satin sat up straight. “Normally, this would be a come-on. But I think this isn’t a come-on? Unless it is?”
“It’s not. It’s … not sexual. At least I don’t think it is.” Stannis buried is face in his hands. “Gods, just … go, forget this ever happened, please.”
“Hey, I just wanna be sure of what’s ok here! I’m down to cuddle! Non-sexual cuddling. Cool. Your place or mine?”
Stannis thought of Satin’s roommates, his gay roommates, coming back in a few hours from the radio station. He thought of the two possibly seeing them in the morning, making assumptions, and starting rumors.
The first thing that Stannis was aware of was the texture of the inside of his mouth. It was utterly foul. He’d remembered to drink water when he’d gotten back to his dorm room last night. But he’d forgotten to brush his teeth.
“Auggghhhh …” Stannis rolled over. At least his head wasn’t pounding. All he had to do was stagger down to the communal bathrooms and wash out his mouth, and get some coffee into his system, then he’d be closer to feeling human.
Then Stannis realized that he was not alone in his bed.
Stannis sat up slowly, staring down. He was still dressed. His pants were still on. He’d been sleeping on top of the covers, in fact.
Satin, tangled in the blankets, had been under them to start with. He was also still dressed. There was drool crusted on his cheek.
So, two people could fit onto a twin XL bed. They just had to be skinny, and not move around much in the night.
“Um, morning?” Stannis prodded Satin on the shoulder.
“Mor … blerg!” Satin seemed similarly disgusted with his own mouth. “Oh god.”
“I was going to go brush my teeth. I don’t have an extra toothbrush, or I’d offer you one.” Stannis realized he’d run out of things to say.
Uncomfortable silence descended on them.
“This is weird, right?” Satin asked.
“Yes.” Stannis agreed. He wasn’t sure how to proceed. The media had given him little enough by way of parameters to follow, and for this, he couldn’t recall anything. He and the rest of the asexual club members were only starting to open up about their own experiences, and they hadn’t had a guest speaker yet. It was all down to instincts and difficult google searches. “Was that … ok?”
Satin shrugged, sitting up in bed and leaning against the wall. “I mean, I liked it? I get touch-starved, and I haven’t had a hug from anyone in about a month. And you’re probably the best cuddler I’ve ever met. But … that’s all it was. Cuddling. Which is like, fine, but … not what I want in the long-run?”
Stannis nodded. “And I … well, you’re attractive, obviously, but I don’t … I haven’t … I don’t think it would be fair to you, to try something like this again. You and I want different things, feel different things. And I don’t see that changing for myself.”
Satin sighed. “Well, worth a shot, I guess?” He ran a hand through his tangled hair. “Thank you? I’m sorry?”
“Thank you.” Stannis said. “And … I’m sorry.”
“Hey, not your fault. It’s our brains, right? Chemistry we can’t mess with.” Satin rubbed at his sleep-crusted eyes.
“I suppose so.”
“I should get going.” Satin clambered out of bed, stretching. “Walk of shame, and I didn’t even get to do anything last night,” he smiled, a forced smile.
“Are you going to be ok?” Stannis asked.
“Hey, I’m the creepy bisexual who climbed into bed with the President of the Asexual Club, I should be asking you if you’re ok.” Satin’s expression turned serious. “Are you ok? Seriously.”
“Yes, I’ll be fine.” Stannis wasn’t just saying that to make Satin feel better.
Stannis remembered them staggering to his dorm room last night, filling mugs at the water fountain, leaning against each other. He remembered, after the second mug of water, how they’d been laughing less and less and walking much more steadily. He remembered the warmth of the alcohol in his veins, nothing incapacitating but a steady thrum just the same. He remembered asking Satin if he wanted to cuddle, no sex, nothing below the waist, just cuddling in bed. And he remembered the cuddling, the feel of another human pressed against him. He hadn’t felt sick or panicky, he hadn’t wanted to shove Satin out of his room. All he’d felt was … closeness. And it had felt good.
Usually people touching him was a prelude to flirting, or outright aggressive flirting, so Stannis had become much more withdrawn about people touching him at college. In high school, he and Proudwing had been practically attached at the hip. Now, Mel and Selyse hugged him every so often, and then there were Asha’s “friendly” arm punches. But nothing more intimate than that with anyone.
But the thing with Satin … that wouldn’t go anywhere good. Satin wanted more, had been honest about what he wanted. Stannis had no clear idea where he identified under the asexual umbrella, and he was fairly certain that using a freshman’s crush for his own self-searching would be an asshole move.
“See you at the club meeting on Thursday?” Stannis said, as Satin pulled on his shoes.
“Oh, yeah, of course.” Satin looked at Stannis nervously. “I mean, if you don’t want me to come, I can –”
“No! No, I … look, just because we did that last night, that doesn’t mean I’m going to ostracize you from the club or anything. It’s a safe, inclusive space, for all. Not ‘everyone except the people who have crushes on me.’”
Satin smiled. “Ok. Um, I’m gonna head out. Thank you. Sorry. I don’t … I don’t know.”
“Me neither.” Stannis sighed, and walked Satin to the door.
Of course, when he was letting Satin out and waving goodbye, Davos was returning to his room a few doors down, carrying a laundry basket.
They all stared at each other.
Davos looked at Satin, and Stannis; and at their wrinkled clothing and sleep-mussed hair.
Satin blushed and walked down the hallway, hands shoved into his pockets, shoulders hunched.
Stannis made eye contact with Davos for one searing, paralyzing moment.
Then Stannis slammed his door shut.