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the lone gay dies but the pack survives

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Twelve months ago the closest Jon had gotten to Birmingham Pride was two blocks. He wasn’t even in colors aside from two small shirt collar pins, pink-purple-blue and black-grey-white-purple. It was a journey on a whim- taking a day away from the family to celebrate part of himself they didn’t know (and likely wouldn’t understand). Four drunk and rowdy locals and two stab wounds later, he’d woken up dazed in the hospital with the largest, gingerest, motorcycle gang looking man he’d ever seen asleep across the room. Turns out Tormund was in fact a biker and his contingent in the parade just so happened to pass Jon limp in a puddle of blood on their way to line up. According to the PCs it was solely thanks to their escort of the ambulance that Jon had managed to make it in time to pull through. He’d cleared out just after Robb and Catelyn arrived, staying long enough to accept their tearful gratitude and taking Jon’s pins for sefe keeping. To his family and the constables and the news it was just a stroke of bad luck for a man on the way home from work. 

 

Two months later Jon called Tormund as soon as he was discharged home. Somewhere along the line one thank you drink turned into two, then three, then riding with Tormund and the Free Folk on weekends, meeting his daughters. Twelve months to the day after Pride 2018, Jon fists his hands in the fabric of Tormund’s pink-yellow-blue muscle tee as they rumble through the streets in a parade he’d only heard through the ringing ears of blood loss. There’s glitter in his hair and an almost painful grin on his face and an entire black-grey-white-purple flag riveted to the bike snapping around in the wind behind them. He throws out bead necklaces and once even stands on the seat to toss a rubber bracelet at someone holding a sign saying “HI MOM, GUESS WHAT?” When the crew stops intermittently to revv the engines in time with the deafening crowd, Jon will press his lips to pulsating veins in Tormund’s neck to feel the man bellow and laugh. Twenty-eight years on Earth, thirteen years wondering if he was too broken to love, twelve months of proving himself wrong. Jon Snow is here, he is queer, and it’s not like his family is going to see him wrapped like an octopus around a leather wearing, motorcycle driving man so he might as well go crazy. At the next stop Tormund leans back to bury his hand in Jon’s glittery curls, and Jon kisses him deep to the tune of screams and cheers all around. All in all it’s a perfect moment. And then he sees his sister. 

 

She stands ahead at the edge of the road barrier with her mouth wide open next to Margaery Tyrell, who’s wearing nothing but a tiny denim skirt and a flowery bra with far more straps than necessary. Her shirt is orange-white-pink and someone’s gone over her freckles in gold paint and right there in her frozen hand is a rainbow flag.   The absolute astonishment of seeing a Stark in the middle of the pride parade momentarily overrides Jon’s panic. 

 

“Sansa?” Jon shouts over the roaring engines. Still looking equally stupefied his sister waves her flag at him. He can see her mouthing Jon? Margaery is holding his sister’s other hand, looking between Sansa and Jon with furrowed brows and... oh. Jon can see the moment she knows he’s worked it out. 

 

“What the hell are you doing here?” Sansa shouts back. Tormund, who like Margaery had been glancing between the two chooses that moment to yell out “Me!” A few other Free Folk laugh. Jon is tempted to pull the man’s hair except he knows Tormund likes that. The bikes are moving again. Tor can’t stop since he’s leading the contingent, but he drifts them closer as they pass by. Margaery smiles and blows them a kiss. Jon cranes his neck back to look as long as he can until the two women disappear behind a yellow flag. The last thing he sees is Sansa texting furiously. 

 

“You alright?” Tormund asks. 

 

“What the fuck just happened.” he replies. Later when they turn off the street at the parade’s end and drive the bikes back to their reserved street parking Jon fishes his phone out of the saddlebag to finds one text. 

 

| village inn on hurst at 3 if you’re late ill kill you

 


 

Jon catches sight of the back of Sansa’s head as Tormund opens the door to the Village Inn. He’s never lingered in the district long enough to know where things are and had to chew through mobile data to pull up directions. Not to mention having to pick their way through the crowd. It’s thirty minutes past three. He’d been dazed on the way over with Tormund dragging him along by the hand, but suddenly he feels rooted to the spot. There’s a lump in his throat and his heart beats in quicktime beneath knotted lines of scar tissue. He knows his family loves him, but now that he’s face to face with a test of that surety he can’t make himself move forward any more. Jon’s mother is dead. His father is gone far away. Ned has always looked at him behind a veneer of grief and Catelyn could only ever love him as another woman’s son. He’s lucky to have even that much. As ridiculous as it is, Jon feels like the world might end as Sansa turns around, locking eyes with him. She scrambles out of the booth and Jon is prepared for her to hit him or yell- not jump up to hang off his shoulders in a hug tighter than the iron bands of panic across his chest. He clutches back in instinct and a bright flash of hope. Jon knows he could hold his sister up forever if he had to. 

 

“I can’t believe you,” she says into his shoulder as she slides down. Her eyes are puffy and red with old tears. “I thought I was the gay cousin. Here you are with a huge secret boyfriend.” 

 

“Oh sure, I’m your cousin when you’re mad at me.” Jon laughs. 

 

“She’s just upset you found out before our Christmas announcement.” Margaery says and she beckons the three over. Tormund slides in first so Jon can sit across from Sansa, laying his arm over the back of the booth. Sansa eyes him in the same way she appraises Iron Age antiquities. 

 

“I know you from somewhere.” She says. “Did you ever work in Manchester?” 

 

“I was a visiting professor at the university ‘bout two years ago. Anthropology of the Arctic Circle. I’m back at Birmingham now.” 

 

“Of course. I did my Master’s there in ancient civilizations. Different department though.” 

 

“You fuckers in History always did beat us in paintball.” The two laughed. Tor reached out to shake Sansa’s hand and Margaerys in turn. “Tormund Jakobsson.” 

 

“Sansa Stark. And this is my girlfriend Margaery Tyrell.” 

 

“Aye, Jon’s told me about you. Thought it’d be a while yet until I’d meet any more Starks.” When Sansa purses her lips in confusion Jon jumps in. 

 

“Tor got me to the hospital last year. He’s already met Mum and Robb but obviously they don’t know about...this.” The words are scarcely cold in the air before Sansa pales, turning on Jon.  

 

“Jon, was your attack a hate crime?” She asks. “God it was what, five blocks from here? I can’t believe I never thought about that.” 

 

Jon sighs and flags down a waitress for a pitcher of beer. “They only wanted my wallet at first. I think it was a drug thing, not a queer thing.” Jon wishes she hadn’t brought it up. She looks at him askance in disbelief, but if there’s one thing Sansa excels at above all else it’s reading an atmosphere. She simply smiles at the two of them and leans over into Margaery’s side. 

 

“Well I’ll tell you my story if you tell me how long this,” Jon gestures at them, “has been going on. Four years ago all you talked about the whole summer was Loras and his shiny hair. And everyone on the planet knew he was gay.” 

 

Margaery laughs. “She thought it was a sneaky way to protect her straight integrity whilst going through the whole ‘gay awakening.’ It’s a good thing she stopped or else Loras might actually have left his shite ex for a lavender marriage. I swooped in just in time.” She smiles. “It’s been two years. My family knows and is keeping it close to heart until December. Obviously we’re only here because we figured there wouldn’t be a Stark within ten miles.” 

 

“How the tables have turned.” Sansa mutters into her drink. “So how long have you two been dating?” 

 

Tormund and Jon speak at the same time. “Ten months,” he says, while Jon replies “half a year.” 

 

“Oh, you were sniffing around me much longer than six months little crow.” Tormund counters with the same wry grin Jon ultimately fell for. “He came to my open lectures twice before asking me for a “thank you” drink.” Jon nearly aspirates his drink as Tormund takes over the conversation. He’s grateful for the chance to slow down, just sip his drink and watch his favorite people get to know each other. Sansa doesn’t even flinch when Tormund talks about Jon meeting his kids, doesn’t ask how an eight year age difference makes them look to other people. None of it seems to matter to his sister. Sansa had always taken after her mother and Jon can see the proud, unflappable integrity of Catelyn reflected in her. He’s shaken from having been outed so suddenly, but he knows that his secret is safe with Sansa for as long as he needs to keep it. And then Tormund catches sight of a familiar face across the room. . 

 

“Jon. Is that your brother at the bar?” 

 

Jesus wept. It’s Robb. Robb with his hand around a dark man’s hip nosing into the crook of his neck. Sansa has turned around and looks incandescently furious. For a moment Jon is positive he’s witnessing his brother cheating on his wife in the stupidest, most public way possible. And then Talisa comes around from the bathrooms and kisses both men. Flicks them with water from her hands. She’s the one who sees Jon and Sansa in their booth. Tog give Robb credit, he doesn’t draw away from either partner when she points them out. 

 

“Well I guess I’m not the only gay cousin.” Robb calls to them. 

 

“I need a fucking drink.” Sansa sighs. 

 


 

“You know Jon, it makes a lot more sense now why you never sexiled me in college. And you know what only you would come to pride dressed like some kind of goth Freddie Mercury.” Robb says later when they’re all walking out to the picnic area, chips in hand, slapping Jon across the shoulders. 

 

“Black always was my color.” 

 

Robb bellows a laugh. “Red too apparently. You and Tormund move quick. Should’ve known he’d stick around.”

 

With Jon’s blessing Tormund had gone home to the girls and left the Starks to work out whatever it was they’d stumbled into. A rainbow rabbit hole. An alternate dimension where Jon’s siblings were replaced with glittery bodysnatchers. All he needed now was for Bran to show up with his motor chair covered in streamers like the oldest gay in the village. 

 

“So you all finally decided to show up.” Came a voice from behind them. Robb and Jon jumped because even with the buzzing of his chair Bran could move around completely silently when he wanted to. Said chair was also draped in green-white-grey-black and, to Jon’s heart clenching pride, black-grey-white-purple. 

 

Robb must have been pondering long the same lines. “Did I fucking summon you?” he wheezed. 

 

“No. I saw you all on snapchat maps.” Bran deadpanned. “Arya and I always had a feeling. It’s nice to be proven right.” 

 

“Arya what?” Sansa says. “Is she here too?” Jon hears a loud whoop and stumbles under the weight of his youngest sister jumping on his back. He sees Gendry Waters walking over from the pink-purple-blue blanket they’d apparently been lounging on. Bran’s medical aide Osha twiddles her fingers from the shade and unless Jon’s suddenly gained another sister, that’s Rickon in a bright pink peplum dress and Barbie-blonde wig. 

 

“Christ Almighty Arya you’re going to kill me. I have a weak heart, you know. I got stabbed in it.” 

 

“But did you die?” She counters. She hops off and Jon can see her and Gendry are wearing matching NSYNC shirts. They say ‘Bi Bi Bi”. All around him is his entire family, startled and joyfully reveling in a commonality deeper than blood. Jon doesn’t know if he’s choking on his chips or just plain crying. Probably both. 

 

“Is Jon crying again?”  Sansa says. 

 

“Don’t worry, you’re still the prettiest! Drag face doesn’t count.” 

 

“Excuse me Robb, I’ll have you know I paid good money for my face. This is Tarte.” 

 

Talisa turns to Jon. “Too bad your giant boyfriend left. I think he might’ve actually died laughing.” 

 

“Jon has a giant boyfriend?” Arya perks up. 

 

“More like a giant husband. They act like an old married couple.” Margaery replies. 

 

“Everyone shut up,” Rickon shouts. “Mum’s calling me. Who wants to have a collective coming out?”