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Stark Reflections

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Sandor Clegane wasn't sure whether to be happy or annoyed when Sansa asked for another bowl of stew. He supposed she must have been completely famished after not eating anything for almost 24 hours, and she had complimented him exceedingly on how good it tasted - "I've never had rabbit stew before," she'd told him - but he also wondered whether this little girl was going to eat through his reserves.

Reserves? he thought. Sandor shook his head in bewilderment at his own inane thoughts. It's summer, for fuck's sake, he reminded himself. He had a whole section of potatoes in the ground, he had corn growing, and there were six different kinds of vegetables doing quite well in his garden. In addition to his crops, Sandor had chickens, two little pigs, and now, two wild turkeys. In town, he had a side of beef at the Leeston Cold Storage.

In fact, Sandor should have been appreciative that the girl had complimented his cooking, but all he could do was to wonder when she'd be gone. Emily Post would be rolling in her grave. Sandor wasn't used to being a host, especially not to young ladies. It would be easier if she wasn't here. That way, he could be alone again, have the place to himself, enjoy the peace and quiet, relish in his own thoughts. Contrary to the common cliche, two could be a crowd and Sandor felt smothered by Sansa's presence.

"I think I can help you clean up," Sansa offered hesitantly. Before he had a chance to turn around, Sansa had already tried swinging her legs toward the edge of the bed.

"No!" he yelled. But it was too late. Sansa screamed, her face turning dangerously pale. Her mouth hung open in a silent gasp as she froze like some campy statue in a horror house attraction. Sandor rushed over and helped ease her back into a more comfortable position. She whimpered as tears ran down her cheeks.

Once Sandor had her back in a reclining position, he stepped back and let her have it.

"What the fuck did you go and do that for?" he yelled. "For fuck's sake you're bleeding again!" He stomped across the room and opened a cabinet that was stocked with medical supplies. He came back with fresh bandages, gauze, and tape. Sansa was taking deep breaths waiting for the pain to ebb away. As Sandor approached her with the dressings, she held up her hand and gave him pause.

"I was so comfortable that I forgot. How bad is this?" she asked trying to twist her head to see the gash in her side.

"You need stitches. When I walked into town last night I went to the Doc's place but he's not in Leeston this week." Sandor had a worried look on his face. He took a deep breath and said, "I can do it, but it wouldn't be pleasant and we'd probably end up looking like a matching pair." As he said that, he pointed to his own scars.

"I can ... wait ... what?" Sansa looked up and Sandor. "I heard your truck when you came back. Didn't you drive into town?"

Sandor sat down and set the dressings on the table. "I tried, but the landslide cut off the road ... in a couple of places," he admitted. "You might be here for awhile. It's twelve miles into Leeston. You can't walk and I can't carry you that far. At least not over that terrain." Sandor pointed to her leg. "You're going to need to be off that for awhile," he added.

"What did I do to my knee?" she asked.

"You dislocated it. I put it back in, but it will need to heal before you can put any real weight on it. At least two weeks depending on how bad it is."

Sansa nodded gravely. She grunted as she tried to shift herself to her left side a little bit. She would need as much access to the gash on her right as possible.

"I'll need a heavy gauge sewing needle, thick thread - cotton if possible." Sansa twisted her head further trying to examine her wound.

"Do you really want me to sew you up? It'll hurt like a bitch and I'm not exactly a seamstress."

Sansa had a strange look on her face. Sandor crinkled his brow as he waited for her to say what was on her mind.

"I know you think that I don't belong here, that I shouldn't have been trekking on my own like that, but there's a lot you don't know about me. I have my reasons for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone. All you need to know right now is that ... " Sansa paused trying to find the right words. "I really can take care of myself," she told him. "I'm a doctor."

Sandor's good eyebrow crept half way up his forehead. "You're a doctor?" he asked not quite ready to believe her. Sansa nodded.

"A doctor of what?" Cruel sarcasm was thick in his voice.

"I'm a third year resident in Seattle. I'm training to be a surgeon."

When Sandor realized his mouth was hanging open, he snapped it shut. That explained why she hadn't reacted when she'd seen his face for the first time. If she really was a surgical resident, she would have seen far worse. Other people's insides were a lot harder to look at than his outsides.

"I'm going to need to get this done," Sansa said, snapping him out of his thoughts. "If I don't do this soon, we're going to have a bigger problem."

"Infection?" Sandor asked.

Sansa shook her head. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. "I have to go to the bathroom."

Sandor nodded. "Right."