He’s got to be mad. A stark - ha ha - raving lunatic. What on earth was he thinking? This was never going to work. He’s never going to convince his family he’s into some stranger he’s never even met. Sure, he has a decent reputation, but that’s not to say he’s going to be anywhere near Robb’s type.
The ice cubes in the otherwise empty plastic cup rattled as he brought it away from his lips, gulping down the last of the G&T. That had lasted all of two seconds. He never had been good at pacing himself and the nerves were most definitely setting in. A part of him even hoped that he wasn’t even going to turn up.
As long as he could remember he’d been pushing down any of the anxieties he felt for a rosy exterior. The eldest sibling putting on the brave face. He was the one who held it all together. It was as though he’d been pegged to be the one to get engaged any moment since early adulthood, and here he was flying back to watch his youngest sister tying the knot. No matter what he did, nothing ever felt good enough; to him at least.
Sitting back in the seat and enjoying the luxury of business class, Robb sighed, rubbing his fingers at his temples in a vague attempt to lessen the brewing tension headache.
“I can help with that if you’d like,” a vaguely familiar husky voice interrupted his thoughts.
Robb eyed the well-made leather shoes on the feet of the man stood beside the seat. Confusion ebbed away as the realisation struck him. He was actually here.
“… I’m going to take that as a no?” The man chuckled.
He wasn’t afforded the full moment to truly take in the sight beside him before a gorgeous specimen of a man was shimmying his way past him. “I-,” began Robb, distracted by one of the most magnificent of arses, perfectly displayed by the cut of the trousers, before his eyes. Undecided as to whether he was relieved by the extra leg space afforded to him by his pricey ticket or cursed it, he flattened himself to the leather seat, more for show than anything else. Resisting the itch to do what he’d listened to Sansa complain about many a time and set a hand against him under the pretence of steadying him, he clutched at the arm of the seat with a tight grip.
“You?” The man prompted him to come back to his senses as he settled into his own seat beside him, only the wider chair arm and attached table to separate them.
“I’m fine,” Robb claimed, scowling slightly from the pain. He was definitely not fine.
His companion snorted, shrugged, then went about finding the in-flight magazine.
“I assume you’re…”
A smirk tugged at the rosy lips. “Theon. Try not to make any more assumptions about me.” He winked playfully at him. It set his nerves alight.
Nothing was said, but it was brought to his attention that couldn’t have been more obvious by the way Theon bit his lip to keep from grinning.
Robb watched him from the corner of his eye, mesmerised by the way in which he wet the tip of the finger with which he flicked the pages against his lip every so often. The way his long pitch hair framed his face.
This was all Smalljon’s fault. In a fit of drunken depression, he’d told both him and Wylla of the woes surrounding his heartbreak, and his embarrassment at the thought of going to Arya’s wedding alone. He could just about recall through the haze brought on by one too many drinks taking the business card into his own hand, sceptical and yet strangely hopeful, like reading the most positive of horoscopes. Was it the quality of the card and printing that had swayed him or just simply a moment of recklessness? A number and nothing else, as though he needed no introduction. In fact, from the very beginning, there’d been a definite air of nonchalance on Theon’s end of the line. Like he could take or leave the offered work.
A few moments later he caught sight of Theon glancing over, and shared a bashful smile with him, easing the tension somewhat.
“There’s really no need to play so coy.” Theon’s smile flashed bright white as he leaned over, a hand falling against Robb’s, hair falling free from where it had been tucked behind his ear. “It’s not as though I’m about to get scared off.”
“I’m not,” denied Robb irritably.
Theon tilted his head in genuine curiosity. “No?”
“I’m… “ he began awkwardly, playing with the empty cup, “I’ve just never done this before.”
“Never flown before? Or never hired an escort before?” Theon asked, his green eyes twinkling with mischief.
Robb hissed at him to be quiet, only entertaining his guest further, his own eyes scanned those around them. The last thing he wanted was for there to be something there who knew him or his family.
An air stewardess appeared beside them, smiling warmly, her hair in an intricate updo and lips a daring shade of red. “Can I get you anything, gentlemen?”
Before Robb could get a word in edgeways, Theon spoke for them both. “A couple of your bottles of whiskey for us both, ice, and some hot water and lemon please, sweetheart.”
“Of course, sir.” She hadn’t even flinched at the term. Charming fucker. There was no way he’d ever get away with that.
“Oh and,” he leaned further over Robb to get closer to her, his voice lowered, “if you wouldn’t mind, I’d be over the moon if we could get a couple of glasses from upfront.”
She laughed at him trying his luck, “you’re going to get me in trouble!...” Nipping her lip, she put on a show of considering it. “But I’ll see what I can do, honey.”
Robb’s heart thumped in his chest. No one should be allowed to smell this fucking good. A perfect mix of sage and salt. He could almost feel the refreshing hit of harsh ocean winds.
A few moments after handing over the goods she’d sashayed along the aisle and returned with a couple of tumblers, delivering them with a wink. “Enjoy.”
“You came prepared,” Robb commented as he watched Theon produce a packet of sugar and a miniature bottle from his pocket.
Theon’s expression softened slightly, while hands continued with the task of concocting drinks. His long fingers flicked at the packet before tipping out sugar into each of the glasses with the lemon. “Eventually, no matter where you’re sat, you long for something a little extra on these flights,” he explained, adding drops from the bottle. Suddenly, he looked over as if considering something. “Usually, anyway…” He glanced over with the first hints of uncertainty in his face and added the whiskey and ice before holding out the drink. “An old fashioned for an old soul.”
“Gods… that’s good,” murmured Robb as he took a sip, even after having been dubious, and rolled back his eyes as he leaned back into the seat. “Thank you.” He’d best take this a bit slower than the last one.
“So, what's his name? Her name?”
Robb frowned. “I didn’t even-”
“I know,” interrupted Theon smugly.
Sighing, Robb swirled the drink in his hand, looking down into the glass. There was no point denying this was why he’d come to hire a professional as his date and it seemed Theon would not be misled. “Olyvar.”
“What happened?” Theon asked, watching him intently.
He forked his fingers through his hair. “I was wasn’t ready to- I uh… Well… You might be able to tell, I can be a little cautious at times and, well-”
“You weren’t ready to be out out?”
At first Robb had been ready to leap to his own defence, but there was understanding there in his tone. “Yeah, something like that,” he smiled weakly, taking another sip.
“And this way you don’t need to verbalise it.”
“Well, I mean, I wouldn’t quite put it like that.” Seeing Theon’s raised brow he scowled. “You’re one to be judgy.”
Theon snorted once more, crossing his long legs away from Robb and angling himself towards the window.
He’d lost even the man he was paying. The rest of the flight became even more awkward than it had been when he’d first appeared, if that were even possible. He didn’t know when he’d fallen asleep, but he woke with a start as the wheels of the plane hit the runway. How could anyone enjoy flying? Not even decent seats could ward off the dry nose and throat, and the uncomfortable feeling in his ears. It was no wonder he rarely went home. That’s what he would tell himself… and anyone else who asked.
The seat beside him was empty, and its previous inhabitant now sat across the aisle at someone else’s side. Theon squeezed the hand of a somewhat older woman and smiled as he planted his lips against it. Flushing pink, she giggled and batted him away playfully.
Robb couldn’t hear a word they were saying to each other. Perhaps he didn’t want to, he mused as he watched them chatting together. Theon was in his element and it took much longer than he’d hoped for him to notice he was awake and to acknowledge him sat there watching.
“You’re a lucky young man, with this one,” the woman told Robb fondly as they both watched him retrieve and then pass her her luggage while getting ready to get off the plane, and eventually planted a kiss against Theon’s cheek, leaving traces of pink lipstick behind.
“You’re pissed off with me,” Theon noted, as they finally got out of the taxi at the hotel and out of earshot of anyone else around them. He’d thought himself lucky on first sight of the bashful redhead, with the endearing the blush surrounding his freckles, now he wasn’t quite so sure.
“I just hope you can restrain yourself in front of my friends and family,” muttered Robb quietly. He squinted in the bright sunlight and looked around at the place, anywhere but at Theon. How were they already quarrelling?
“Oh come on… she was a nervous flier.”
It was the truth. Mostly. Ok, well, it was a bit of harmless fun. Robb had been asleep and she was clearly in need of some distraction. He truly hadn’t expected Robb, nor anyone else, to care one bit.
“Right…” Robb sighed, dragging his suitcase away and down towards the entrance, talking over his shoulder. “Look, I don’t care. You can do whatever you want. When I’m not paying for you.”
Theon scoffed, shocked by this outburst, “fuck… right you are.”
He’d become accustomed to the odd customer becoming a bit of an arsehole, but this took him by surprise. Robb had come off like the good boy type, baby blues peering at him nervously when he thought he wasn’t about to get caught. Perhaps that's why it had thrown him. He should attempt to rectify the situation, this wasn’t good workwise, but it was strangely difficult. He wanted the attention restored and yet he was reluctant to work for it.
Having been lead away from the main complex, they were finally shown to one of the stone built ‘villas’. It was stylishly made up, sumptuous fabrics, furs, and a roaring fire in a stove. Despite the beauty of the place Robb continued to look on edge.
“Is there a problem,” Theon asked as he began to empty the clothes from his bag and hang them in the wardrobe, wondering if he wanted to know.
“Every time we’ve stayed here before I’ve been in the same room. With my family owning the place we tend to have our ‘usuals’… Anyway, you know the type of place whose idea of a ‘double’ is in fact twins pushed together?”
He couldn’t hold back the smirk. “Afraid you won’t be able to resist?” he asked mischievously, a hand smoothing over a crease in one of his shirts. “Like the danger of a mini bar in the room.”
Robb shook his head, trying not to laugh. Climbing onto the bed, he then threw his head back against the headrest, his brows knitted together. “Sorry… I’ve been a dick.”
Couldn’t argue with that.
“Your head is still troubling you?” He watched Robb nod and wince. Nipping the inside is cheek, he forced a forgiving and sympathetic smile despite himself. “How about you let me work some magic.”
“Like I said before, that won’t be necessary. I really won’t be wanting that… service.”
“Oh honey,” Theon laughed, “I’m liking that we share headache cure preferences, but that’s not what I’m offering. Sit forward,” he instructed Robb, shuffling onto the bed behind him. Carefully, he worked at the tension in his shoulders. “You need to ease up. Are you always so highly strung?”
Robb stifled a groan at his touch. “Gods - sorry… you’re fucking good at this.”
“It’s quite alright, I like a man moaning between my thighs,” teased Theon, grinning as he watched the tips of his ears turn as red as his hair. To his delight, the response was an embarrassed little laugh.
“The answers no, not really. Sometimes I lose myself… usually by surprise.”
“Hmmmm… I can-” imagine.
The door swung suddenly, cutting him off, and crashed into the wall in the small entrance hall from which the main room and bathroom came off.
“Robb!” Called a young woman's voice excitedly. “Robb, we-”
Two of them appeared in the doorway, stood side by side and eyes blown wide.
“Oh! Hello there, we're sorry to… intrude. Completely forgot you’d brought a date!”
“You’re not. That's not-,” Robb panicked. “That's not what’s happening.”
The taller of the two, of similar colouring to Robb, laughed and covered up her mouth, while the shorter brunette raised a brow and motioned downwards with her finger, “you might want to… you know”, and threw a cushion over from the chair she went on to sit in.
An altogether different kind of groan emerged from before Theon as he shared a grin with these two girls, allowing his hand to stroke Robb’s shoulders reassuringly as they left him.
“Theon, these are my sisters; Arya, the bride to be,” he motioned to the one that was now sat in the seat, “and Sansa.”
Sansa smiled politely. “It’s lovely to meet you, we’ve heard such great things.”
This he was dubious about. The arrangement had been so last-minute that he doubted Robb had even gone as far as to make things up. “Oh?”
“Well, we’ve heard you exist,” she admitted, tucking hands into her jean pockets. “Which is a lot from Robb.”
“Ah, well, that’s something I’m sure I can live up to.”
“Mum sent us to hurry you along,” said Sansa, finally getting to the point and looking expectant.
Robb got up from the bed, leaving him with just the lingering warmth from the heat of his body. “I need to change before coming up, but we won’t be long.”
“Maybe we should wait, just in case,” Arya tittered with a wink, primarily directed toward Theon, having almost immediately, and quite rightly, pegged him as someone who would appreciate the implication.
“I wouldn’t dare hold us up,” Theon joked with a wink, but backed it up with reassurance, “it wouldn’t be a great first impression.”
“Oh I see,” cooed Sansa, “eager to please the future in-laws?” His sister was a romantic who had turned her daydreaming into the resorts incredibly popular wedding planning services. She’d been ready and waiting for each and everyone of her sibling’s to announce engagements from a young age.
Robb began impatiently shooing them towards the door. “Out!” He insisted, giving them nudges despite the protests and closing it behind them. Still in good spirits after they were gone, he glanced over at Theon with a bright grin, “sorry about that.”
The force of it was enough to bowl him over.
“Don’t apologise, it's clear you have a lovely relationship with your family. I’m sure you would be anxious for any first meeting to go well.”
The low winter sun streamed through the sliding glass doors to the outside, and over Robb as he pulled his sweater up and over his head. Theon had been able to feel and see that he was well built below the clothes, but it still hadn’t prepared him for the unobstructed view. The muscles of his back and arms flexed as he hoisted the suitcase he’d brought onto the bed, turning towards him in the process.
Fighting not to openly ogle the sight in front of him, Theon slid over, silently offering to help with the cufflinks Robb was struggling with. His fingers slyly took advantage and caressed the wrists below. No client was ever opposed to a little looking after.
Clearing his throat first, Theon looked up at Robb, the shirt still open against his chest. “If you did want to change the terms,” he paused as Robb met his eyes, “just let me know.”
“No,” Robb said, far too quick to make the decision for Theon’s liking. “Thank you, but I find the idea abhorrent.” His face turned as red as a tomato as though he had previously imagined he was having an internal conversation. “That’s not what I mean! I definitely don’t think the idea of having sex with you is abhorrent. Shit. I just think it's immoral.”
“I see. You just think what I do is immoral.”
“That’s not what I mean!”
“That’s exactly what you mean,” Theon snapped. This was unlike him. This wasn’t something he got angry about, not when he could be condescending instead. “What is it? Do you have some sort of knight in shining armour fantasy? Honey, I make more in one night than the average person does in a month.”
He almost - almost - felt bad about it as he saw Robb become ever more flustered. “I-”
Theon interrupted him, unwilling to let him have his say.“You think I don’t have my pick? You don’t think I don’t have financial security and enough offers to choose which job I want to go on?” He asked now with open curiosity, standing up from the bed and hands moving to button up the shirt. Wylla had assured him he wouldn’t regret taking Robb on and the desperation in his voice over the phone had swayed the decision in his favour. “I’ll let you in on a little secret, shall I?”
Robb’s Adam's apple bobbed in his throat before he could nod, otherwise frozen still.
Smirking, Theon leant in to his ear, allowing his lower lip to graze lightly against the stubble of Robb’s jaw. “I enjoy it. I like eating expensive foods, drinking the fanciest of drinks, and travelling to exciting places, all on someone else's account. But most of all? I enjoy fucking and getting fucked.”
His mother cradled him in her arms for what felt like an eternity, and that was before she planted the kisses against his hair. A couple of decades earlier and he’d have refused to allow her to let him go. And if he was truly honest it was tempting even now. Especially now.
“Oh, I’ve missed you.”
Robb laughed. “Mum, I’ve barely been gone a couple of months.” He wasn’t even going to bother reminding her of his age and the fact that she had four younger children.
“And who is this?” She interrogated once she had stepped away to get a good look at her son’s date, torn between excited curiosity and suspicion over the man beside him.
“Mum,” Robb reached to place a hand against Theon’s arm, “this is Theon.”
“Mrs Stark,” Theon held out his hand with no hesitation, charming as he seemed to always be, “it’s lovely to finally meet the woman who raised such a gentleman.”
Robb felt the heat returning to his cheeks. He was sure most mothers reacted well to this, but Cat’s eyes narrowed and her lips pursed as she took the hand in her own.
There was no beating the bush with her. “And what is it you do, Theon?”
A choked sound escaped Robb. “Mum...”
“Cat,” chuckled his father, “take it easy on the young man.”
Theon wet his lips nervously, leaving Robb unable to tell whether it was real or another ploy. They should have prepped for this. He was such an idiot. How did they not have a story yet?
“Social anthropology,” Theon said as cool as could be, “I’m coming towards the end of my PhD.”
Robb breathed a sigh of relief, but not yet content, she pushed on. “And then?”
“Mum!” Robb interrupted, shaking his head and taking Theon’s arm to steer him away until they came to a stop by a table of drinks. “Sorry about that. I should’ve warned you. You were quick on your feet at least,” he breathed out a sigh of relief and took a glass of champagne.
Clearly controlling a smirk, Theon sucked in his lower lip and reached for one of his own. “It’s easy to do that when its truth.”
“Oh! Shit, sorry,” he couldn’t help but laugh. “I didn’t think to ask.”
Thankfully, Theon laughed along. “You chose not to ask.”
“I chose not to ask,” Robb admitted, embarrassed. “You must think I’m such a bumbling mess.”
Theon’s hand came to cradle his jaw and pulled him in for a chaste kiss. “Perhaps just a little,” he told him softly, taking his lips again, “but a sweet bumbling mess, and I’m certain the guy that’s been staring at you since you introduced me to your parents agrees. 4 o’clock.”
“Olyvar,” confirmed Robb, glancing over his left shoulder to take in the blond man speaking with some of the other guests while watching the pair of them out of the corner of his eye. His heart raced, but he wasn’t convinced it was over the right thing.
“Robb! Long time no see. How’s it going?” Olyvar asked, walking over to them and clasping a solid hand onto his shoulder.
“Well. Glad to be home for a week or so though. How about you?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m good.” An awkward silence followed in which they simply just stared at each other. Robb felt his mouth turn dry. He didn’t know what he’d expected to happen. They’d parted amicably and there was no reason to be hostile, but nor was there any sort of suggestion that they might fall back into old habits and steal away into a dark room.
“Hey, I’m Theon, nice to meet you,” Theon interrupted the moment, for which Robb was grateful, despite suddenly panicking about his decision to involve him in this. What if they had have picked up where they left off had Olyvar believed him to be single?
The new comer reluctantly turned away from Robb, eyeing Theon carefully. “Olyvar. Likewise.”
“Are you friend or family, Olyvar?” Asked Theon casually, his beautiful face miraculously innocent.
Though initially thrown by the question, Olyvar quickly recovered and altered his posture to one which was far more confident of his place. “I’m a friend of the family,” he said with a confident smile.
Theon hummed, putting on a show. “Ah, I see. Robb mentioned someone who was like a brother to him.”
Olyvars brow creased and looked from Theon directly to Robb, looking for backup and confirmation “... I think you probably mean Jon?”
“Yes,” Robb lied. He’d not yet told Theon anything about Jon, but he was going to take advantage of his to reassure his ex and remove Theon. “Actually, sorry Olyvar, I should probably introduce them, but we’ll catch up soon, I promise.”
“Of course,” Olyvar’s face brightened, “I look forward to it. A drink maybe.”
“It was great to meet you, Olly,” Theon called back as he was steered away.
Robb hissed at Theon as they walked away, “why?” Why be purposefully difficult.
Pressing his eyes closed, Theon shook his head in disbelief as though it were the most obvious thing in the world, and the corner of his mouth turned into a grin. “Have a peek back in second or two,” he recommended, a hand resting against the small of Robb’s back.
Sure enough, Olyvar stared on after them, eyes currently fixed on Theon’s hand, which Robb became acutely aware had moved tantalisingly lower. Robb couldn’t claim that he minded, or that part of him didn’t hope for it to fall lower.