“I’ll be with you in a minute!” a tiny voice shouted at him over the noise of air hammers and Pink Floyd.
Sandor grunted and shut off his bike. He leaned back on it and scrolled his phone while he waited. A few minutes later the tiniest, filthiest girl he’d ever seen made her way over to him.
“You got an appointment?” she asked.
Sandor stood straighter and raised his eyebrow. No way did this pip squeak work on bikes, his Harley was bigger than her. Just as Sandor was going to ask for the manager, her eyes went wide.
“Holy crap, you’re The Hound!” she exclaimed.
Sandor smirked and looked at her incredulously. Being the top ranked boxer in Westeros, he had fans, and his face was hard to miss so people often spotted him in public, but she wasn’t his usual fan base.
“Aye. I am. Also, yes, I have an appointment”
Sandor knew the owner of the shop, Jaqen, from his 6 months spent in lock up, Jaqen was in for lifting bike parts. After he got out he went straight and opened the speciality bike shop, Sandor didn’t trust anyone else with his bike – Jaqen was a genius.
Speak of the devil, Jaqen emerged from the back office. Sandor whistled loudly, gaining his attention.
“Sandor, my man!”
Sandor met Jaqen with a man hug and pat on the back.
“Jaq, how you doing?”
“Good, business is booming.” He gestured to Arya, “I see you’ve met my newest apprentice. Arya this is Sandor Clegane.”
Sandor extended his hand, which she took enthusiastically.
“I know who he is!” Arya scoffed, still looking up at Sandor with complete disbelief.
“Who knew she was your number one fan,” Jaqen laughed. “Arya, pull Sandor’s bike in.”
Arya nodded enthusiastically as Sandor tossed her the keys, he turned to Jaq and scowled.
“Can I trust her? Can she even get on the Harley?”
Jaqen laughed and patted Sandor on the shoulder, leading him to the back office.
“She’s tiny but she’s good man. When she walked in here I swore she was at the wrong place, but she insisted I needed her, kept coming back until I gave her a chance. Tiny but mighty that one. Huge fan of yours too.”
Jaqen handed Sandor a beer, which he took as he leaned back on the leather sofa in the office.
“Thanks, you coming to the fight tomorrow night? Could get you two tickets.”
“I wish I could,” Jaqen said taking a swig of his beer. “But, if you got two extra tickets, I know someone who would just about die to go.”
Sandor followed Jaq’s gaze to Arya as she skillfully drove his bike into the shop, it was too big for her, but Sandor was impressed at how easily she handled the beast.
Sandor got the aching filling in the pit of his stomach that change was coming, some sort of monumental shift was upon him. He didn’t know what. Didn’t know who, why or where but he knew it was coming.
He could feel it.
Sansa was sitting on her bed, doing a final review of her thesis paper when Arya came bursting into their small condo.
“SANSA!” Arya shouted as she heard the distinct sound of Arya’s roughly kicked off work boots hitting the wall.
Sansa immediately jumped to her feet and met Arya in the kitchen.
“Arya, what’s the matter? Is everything okay?”
She looked frazzled, not hurt, sad or angry, just completely bewildered – so very unlike Arya.
“No, well yes. But no.” she rambled.
“Okay, well which is it?” Sansa laughed
“I met The Hound today, Sansa!” Arya threw her hands in the air for added emphasis.
Sansa shook her head, “you met who now?”
Arya looked at Sansa in disbelief, like Sansa should obviously know who ‘The Hound’ was. Sansa honestly had no idea.
“The. Hound. Sansa! The boxer!”
Sansa wrinkled her nose, of course. Arya loved the sport while Sansa despised it. It was violent and personally she didn’t find it all that exciting to watch. Couldn’t these men do anything better with their lives that beat each other up? Not to mention how many kids and young people idolized them, what kind of example did that set besides violence.
As Arya rambled on about ‘The Hound’ this and ‘The Hound’ that, Sansa couldn’t help but laugh. Arya was always wild, but she rarely worked herself into such a state and Sansa couldn’t help but think about how different things had been between the two of them a few years ago.
Sansa was, by any definition, a people pleaser and there was no one she aimed to please more than her mother. Growing up Sansa did everything her mother wanted. She got good grades, she didn’t party, she volunteered, she dressed like a proper lady.
Arya was the exact opposite. She hated the idea of conforming to her mother’s idea of what a girl could and could not do and was much happier rough housing with their brothers or getting dirty with Ned in the garage. She wore loose jeans and t-shirts – it all drove Catelyn nuts!
Sansa and Arya were polar opposites and Sansa really didn’t understand her, they were only 13 months apart in age, and a year behind each other in school. To say they ran with different crowds would have been a gross understatement. Sansa was a cheerleader, Arya hung out at the smoke pit. Sansa was popular with a huge group of ‘friends’, Arya was more of a loner type, hanging out with other kids who didn’t fit the mold.
They were polar opposites.
The turning point in their relationship came a few months before Sansa left for Riverrun. Sansa always knew she wanted to teach, and not at a stuffy private school like they attended, Sansa wanted to focus on the under privileged kids, the ones who she could really make a difference with. Catelyn was insistent that she attend Kings Landing University, Sansa was sure it was more of a prestige thing than an education thing.
Catelyn’s good friend, Petyr Baelish, was head of the arts department at Kings U and Catelyn insisted he would ‘take Sansa under his wing’. When Sansa expressed that she wasn’t interested in Kings U, Catelyn was outraged.
“How will that look to Petyr, Sansa. He pulled a lot of strings to get you this opportunity.”
The truth was, Sansa hated Petyr, and wouldn’t have felt safe being in a new city, alone, with him as her only ally. He would always come around for big family holidays or spend time ay Winterfell during the summer, and he made Sansa incredibly uncomfortable. His hugs always lasted a little to long, his lingering looks made Sansa’s skin crawl and he asked questions that always veered on the side of inappropriate.
He made her nervous.
It was finally at a family dinner when Cat pressed Sansa further for not wanting to attend Kings U, it was only Sansa and Arya at the dinner table with their parents, Robb was off at college and Rickon and Bran were at a friend’s house.
The thought of disappointing her mother ad Sansa contemplating going, just to please her, but something inside Sansa knew it would be the wrong choice, so she tried to hang out for other offers to come in.
“Sansa, I told you. Petyr will- “
Catelyn was cut off my Arya tossing her cutlery onto her empty dinner plate. She looked at their mom with such contempt.
“Gods, mom! The dudes a creep! He’s been obsessed with Sansa for years! No wonder she doesn’t want to go.
It was at that moment that Sansa knew, despite their differences, Arya would always have her back.
“Arya!” her mother scolded, “you cannot go around making false accusations like that.”
Arya scoffed, “they aren’t accusations, mom! Have you seen the way he stares at her? Its disgusting!”
After a disastrous argument between Catelyn and Arya they were sent upstairs, and the conversation was never brought up again. Catelyn refused to discuss Petyr having any impure thoughts about Sansa and insisted to Ned that he was an old friend, and he loved their kids like his own. Sansa was happy to let the awkwardness of the discussion by her time to make her choice.
Sansa eventually got acceptance to all her top schools, complete with full scholarships. She knew her place was in the Riverland’s. The school was top rated but apart from that Riverrun had a huge under privileged community, that was her passion. Her dream.
Catelyn was outraged at Sansa’s decision, which only heightened Sansa’s sudden need for independence.
Arya had come to Sansa the night she told her parents and told her she was coming with. She could fast track her high school diploma over the summer, and she would be 18 in August. Arya was even more desperate to break free from their moms influence and the ideal of what Arya should or shouldn’t do.
“I applied to college to be a technician.” Arya said proudly, knowing how much Catelyn would hate her doing something so middle class and primarily male dominated.
From that point on Sansa and Arya were thick as thieves, they still fought like sisters do, but they also understood one another a hell of a lot better.
Sansa was brought back to reality when she realized Arya was still talking about the boxer and some upcoming fight.
“So, long story short! Jaw got me two tickets to the fight tomorrow night and a private meet with The Hound afterwards!” Arya beamed as she jumped up on the counter.
Sansa groaned, even though Arya hadn’t directly come out and asked Sansa to go, Sansa knew that was her endgame. The last thing she wanted to do was spend her Friday night at a sporting event that she couldn’t stand to watch, surrounded by the smell of blood, sweat and beer.
“Arya, is there anyone else you can ask?” Sansa pleaded
Arya shrugged, “No one else likes boxing. Sansa, please!”
Sansa rolled her eyes, I can’t imagine why no one else likes boxing, she mused.
Arya was looking at her with such hope, Sansa sighed. If she was going to go, she may as well milk Arya’s desperation.
“Fine. BUT you’re buying sushi before the fight and you buy our drinks when we’re there!”
Arya beamed and jumped off the counter.