“Good morning Dr. Clegane.” Sansa smiled brightly at the man hunched over his desk.
He grunted a reply, not looking up from his work.
Sansa cleared her throat and moved farther into his office. “I’m excited to finally get the chance to work with you. I’ve been here for—“
“I know how long you’ve been here girl. It’s my bloody clinic.”
“Of course. I just meant, we’ve hardly crossed paths. It will be nice to...”
“Will you just get on with it please?”
“Yeah, I just came to tell you that your patient is ready for you.”
“That was simple, wasn’t it? Doing your job? Save me your empty words, I don’t have time for meaningless blather.”
She knew she could not show weakness if she were to stay on as his medical assistant.
“What you may see as meaningless blather, I see as common courtesy.”
“Fuck your courtesy.”
“Why are you being so rude?” Sansa legitimately wanted to know.
“Trying to sniff out a coward. I have to know if you can handle a dog barking, because when he bites, he’ll break you if you’re soft.” He shifted in his seat, his gaze teatering on that of predatory. “Tell me, are you a soft Little Bird?”
“I am a Stark from Winterfell. A wolf of the North.” Her eyes turned ice and she laid her palms on the edge of his desk and leaned in. “And I will rip the throats out of anyone who tries to break me. Tell me, Dr. Clegane, who’s stronger? The dog? Or the wolf?”
He kept her stare as an understanding came over them. He stood without breaking eye contact. “You’re a bold little thing, that’s for sure. But tread carefully, this is still my clinic and you are still my employee.”
She didn’t say anything else, only turned and left. She knew he had a reputation for being cold, but it was something else to experience it firsthand. She couldn’t let it get to her though, she did in fact have a job to do.
Under normal circumstances, Dr. Clegane exclusively worked with one medical assistant. However, Shae has gone on maternity leave. Now for the past two weeks Clegane had been recycling through all the assistants in the office. More often then not they’d be dismissed from his service in tears.
Sansa was hoping he wouldn’t toss her out in the same fashion. She had drawn his name for her very first Secret Santa exchange and had specifically asked the office manager Tyrion to be placed on his service. Tyrion had readily agreed seeing as options were dwindling down.
Now she was on a mission to figure out the inner workings of Sandor Clegane and give him a holiday gift that would without a doubt put a smile on his face. No matter his temperament, nobody would be able to say that Sansa Stark didn’t give the best holiday presents.
As the day went on she tried to be as short and pleasent as possibly during her exchanges with the imposing man. He seemed to appreciate it. She could only tell because he hadn’t been overly rude to her anymore. This was a step in the right direction. Now it was time to begin her information extraction.
Sitting in his office at the end of the day, Sansa took stock of the room.
“Is that your dog?” She asked, breaking the quiet.
Sandor looked up from his computer at the picture sitting on the oak bookshelf.
“No.” His curt reply had her head jerking back to him as he looked down and scribbled some notes. “I have a framed photograph of someone else’s dog in my office.” The corner of his mouth raised a tiny bit and his eyes met hers with a hint of amusement.
She silently chuckled, completely taken aback by his humor. Sansa had been working at his medical office for nearly a year now and she had heard many things about the man, but never once that he had a sense of humor.
“I have a dog too, her name is Lady. She’s the sweetest.” She offered, hoping he’d tell her about his dog in return. She needed to find some common ground and dogs were great connection makers.
“Stranger wouldn’t know sweet if you threw a damn cake in his face.” He spoke while continuing to concentrate on the work he was doing.
Sansa smiled brighter. “He can’t be that bad, you have a photo of him in your office after all.”
“I suppose not.”
Sandor went back and forth between studying the computer screen and scribbling things down. Meanwhile Sansa took the time to continue her visual hunt for clues.
He didn’t have a lot of personal touches. His degree was the only thing hanging on the wall. A large number of medical textbooks aligned the shelves of his bookcase. A coat rack that held a large black jacket, hat and scarf was in the corner. Under the window he had an handmade wooden sailboat. It looked delicate, like if you’d touch one of the sails with just the slightest pressure it’d snap in two.
“Do you like to sail?” She asked.
“What?” He sounded mildly annoyed.
“That’s a beautiful boat there.” She nodded to the figure.
He regarded the sailboat off to the side of him. After a moment of silence, he sighed and spoke while staying on task. “My hands were very clumsy in the beginning of med school and I had a teacher who suggested I take up the hobby to help steady them.”
“Did you build many?”
He stopped what he was doing and looked at her. “Aye, I built many.” He glanced back down.
Another several minutes went by without either of them speaking. Sansa began twisting her hands together in her lap. Nervous to ask.
“So...how did I do today?”
“In regards to what?”
She nodded. Then realized he wasn’t looking. “Yes.”
“Are you still sitting in my office?”
“Then you did fine.”
A weight lifted from her chest. “That’s good to hear.”
“Is it?” He set down the pen in hand and clasped his hands together, regarding her with interest. “And why is that?”
“Well, I’d hate to be released from your service.”
“It’s only a matter of time before I make you run away crying.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Hasn’t Shae worked with you for years, she seems unscathed.”
“Shae is a lion. She knows when to push back and when to retreat.” He took his glasses off. “Can a wolf learn their place.”
She sat up straighter. “Wolves are smarter than dogs are they not?”
“I’d say that’s debatable.”
“And I’d say you’d lose that debate..”
His eyes looked thoughtful as his head gave a slight nod. “You’re going to give me trouble.”
“I’ll only give as much as I get.”
“I give a lot, Little Bird. More than most women can handle.” He raised a challenging brow.
“I can take it.” She assured him. Hearing his innuendo, but ignoring his bait to trip her up. She could play on his level and be just fine. It wasn’t her first rodeo with a cocky man after all.
“I bet you can.” He smiles and closed the folder on his desk. “I’ll see you in the morning then.”
The day had gone better than she’d hope. She had learned that Sandor had a troublesome dog and built model boats. He even had a bit of a sense of humor. Though he had been vulgar at a point, she wouldn’t be bothered by his attempts to drive her away, she’d seen much worse than him.
She wasn’t sure how this was helpful, but it was more than she had been expecting. She thought on what kind of gift she could get him based on dogs and boats. Maybe an amusing painting of a dog sailing on the ocean. Maybe she could get a laugh out of him, or at the very least a smile. Or how about a painting of a dog and a wolf getting along, playing in the snow. Bridge the gap between them, show him she was an equal and would not be scared away. His office was so bland, he really did need something in there.