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Stark Reflections

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After they had finished their lunch, Sandor Clegane took up the dishes and cleaned his kitchen. Sansa had barely been able to choke down what was left of her omelet. She'd been left in a turmoil of mixed emotions. She felt stupid about having walked so far off course because she hadn't thought to turn off a phone that was no use to her on the trail anyway. She was still feeling sorry for herself, but was also angry that she was still feeling sorry for herself.

Sansa sat at the table feeling useless and fidgety. She resented feeling that way, especially in Sandor's presence. He already thought of her as a spoiled princess, and she wanted somehow to help, but there wasn't really anything she could do without getting in the way or causing more of a fuss. She managed to swing her legs toward the bed, hobble over by leaning on furniture for support, and lay herself down on the cot. At least Sandor wouldn't have to do that for her.

"I've got work to do outside this afternoon," Sandor informed her. "Do you have to go to the outhouse?" he asked.

As if she didn't feel useless enough, the question had made her feel like a toddler in toilet training. With no comment, she shook her head.

"Then you best get some rest. You've had a difficult morning and you need to heal." To both their ears, Sandor's voice had sounded strangely compassionate with no hint of snark or irritability. Sandor turned and went outside, leaving Sansa alone.

Sansa let her gaze wander around the room, but couldn't think of what to do with herself. The only thing she could do at the moment was read. She leaned down and pulled her backpack closer. Sansa dug out her pocket novel but her mind was too flighty to focus on a silly little romance novel. She snugged down under the quilt and listened to the sounds of the cabin and wilderness around her.

The clock ticked quietly on the mantel. The beams of the cabin creaked ever so slightly in the stiff mountain breeze. A momentary squawk broke out from the chickens. Sandor was likely feeding them. A large, heavy door creaked as it swung on its hinges. The barn, maybe? A few long moments later, Sansa listened to a repetitive hollow thonk! as Sandor chopped firewood. Sansa closed her eyes and imagined him doing it, swinging those muscular arms as he split the logs. When he was done chopping, the mountain man carried the wood up to the porch where he stacked each piece on a pile next to the cabin wall.

When her stomach rumbled, Sansa wondered what Sandor would be cooking for dinner. The rabbit stew for breakfast and the omelet lunch had been positively scrumptious. She found it amazing that a man could be so ... so capable in everything he did. Sansa would be the first to admit that she wasn't much of a cook herself. Of course, being a surgical resident didn't really allow time for cooking much more than Kraft dinner or warming canned soup in the microwave.

Sansa pushed herself down under the soft warm blanket. Maybe Sandor will teach me to cook, she thought as she drifted off to sleep.

The chores finished, Sandor came back in the cabin to find Sansa in a deep sleep. If he'd realized, he wouldn't have stomped through the house mumbling and grumbling like a 600-pound grizzly bear. He tried to tiptoe quietly - as much as his 6'-6" frame would allow - while he washed up and got things ready for supper.

He was hesitant to start making cooking noises just yet. The girl needed her sleep and he didn't want to wake her. Sandor silently moved to the dining chair closest to the bed, sat, and watched her. He didn't know what else to do with himself. Alright, truth be told, he couldn't help himself.

Sansa wasn't exactly what he would call an attractive sleeper. Her face was squashed against the pillow with her bottom lip pulled down and she was drooling. She was still pretty. Her thin pointy nose and clear pale skin made him envious. She seemed so delicate regardless of the deep snore that emanated from her.

When he'd been carrying her around the yard for some fresh air, he'd felt not just the weight of her in his arms, but the heat that radiated from her. Even under the stink of dirt and sweat, he'd gotten a hint of her natural aroma and it had tantalized him. And then after he'd made her have a bath ...

Sandor winced as a sharp pain stabbed through his gut. She had smelled so good.

Sansa reminded him of everything he couldn't have and would never know. Sandor longed just to have a face that he could show in public. He wanted to stroll the streets of Leeston in the afternoon sun instead of sneaking in through the back doors of the shops in the middle of the night. He wanted ...

Christ! What the fuck does it matter what I want? Sandor screamed inside his head. He was who he was and he'd always be stuck with this face so what was the use in dreaming his stupid little fantasies?

What has she done to me? Sandor wondered. He'd only spent a total of ten hours with her and the girl had already turned his whole life upside down. Sandor stood up faster than he'd intended causing his vision to swim. He stumbled back against the chair making it scrape across the floor. Sansa opened one eye and stared at him.

Sandor froze. He tried to think of something quickly. "I ... um ..." He took a breath and got his wits about him. "I'll be starting supper so I thought I'd give you some time to wake up before we eat."

Sansa smacked her lips and opened both eyes, blinking rapidly. "Can you take me out back first?" she asked hesitantly. Sansa was reluctant to mention the word outhouse when she really wanted to call it something else. Nasty was the first word that came to mind.

Sandor picked her up and carried her and tried desperately to pretend he was carrying cordwood. Getting rid of her would come none too soon.

They spent the rest of the night in uncomfortable silence. Sansa pretended to read her book and Sandor made it appear as though he was tinkering with an old fuel pump. Really, the only thing on their minds was each other.

On the fourth morning of her incarceration, Sansa woke to another brilliantly sunny day. Normally, waking to such amazing weather would have been a reason to rejoice. Those warm, clear days on the trail had made her feel freedom that she couldn't express in words. Today, Sansa felt anything but a sense of freedom. Sandor secretly felt the same way. The previous three days had been a long, mundane routine, especially for Sansa. Sandor at least had the option to go outside, tend to his work and do whatever else he was doing just to get away from Sansa.

Sansa spent her days exercising her knee. The kneecap felt like crushed glass was lodged in it, but she knew if she didn't exercise it, the joint would freeze and the pain would be unbearable. She still couldn't put any weight on it, but at least it was bending.

When Sandor was in the cabin, Sansa attempted to draw him into conversation, but he would have none of it. He bitched and moaned, but mostly tried to ignore her. During long silent moments during which Sansa tried to force her concentration to reading, she would look up to find Sandor staring at her. He would suddenly look away to continue on with something he'd been working on. Sometimes it was the other way around. Sandor would be aware that Sansa was studying him. He supposed it was the doctor in her, as though she were examining a patient. Sandor wished there could be more in her eyes. In his heart he knew she would never see him as more than a curious medical case.

And so it went over those last three days. This morning had been no different.

At the crack of dawn, Sandor was up and made oatmeal for both of them. He tended to Sansa's needs as required, then he was out the door. Sansa was now able to hobble about the cabin, but didn't dare to try and go much farther. She slowly wandered over to the book shelves and perused Sandor's collection. Many of the books were expected for a man like him. There were books on farming and raising animals. Sandor had several medical reference books. Some volumes were dedicated to identifying trees, plants, herbs and wild berries, while others were detailed in how to fix or build anything. Sewing, simple machines, geology and English grammar were also among the subjects on his shelves.

It was the last book shelf that puzzled Sansa. That one entire unit was filled with every Lord Varys book ever written. Sandor didn't seem like the kind of guy who would be interested in the type of books written by Lord Varys. The well-known author was a quite peculiar man who had written several dozen fantasy novels. He wrote stories about dragons and mystical warriors in strange lands. Varys insisted he had been abducted by aliens and wrote a "true account" of learning secrets from them regarding the fate of the dinosaurs and how they were linked to the ultimate demise of our planet. No one really even knew his real name. He called himself Lord Varys and insisted that it was his true identity.

It was quite a stretch for Sansa to imagine Sandor cozying up to a Lord Varys novel after studying the common medicinal plants of the Pacific Northwest regions. Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. Before Sansa even had a chance to wonder who would be knocking on Sandor's door and why, someone unlocked the door and two large burly men burst into the room.

"Well, hello there little lady. You must be Sansa Stark. We've been looking forward to meeting you."