|You Win or You Die
Author: ofwingsandthings PM
Revision of my modern mob AU. Ned Stark left the business a long time ago, or so he thought. Unfortunately for him, he's being called back. With him, he takes his daughter, Arya, who finds herself running for her life, along with an annoying, bull-headed mechanic who is hiding a secret of his own. There are about four Sansa POV chapters in this fic.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Crime - Arya S. & Gendry - Chapters: 23 - Words: 75,518 - Reviews: 138 - Favs: 69 - Follows: 125 - Updated: 04-22-13 - Published: 07-30-12 - id: 8375350
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Well I'm really glad you guys are liking this, because it was sort of touch and go at the beginning there ;)
The walk to Harrenhal was only five miles, but it felt like they walked over whole countries that day. Part of that was due to the fact that the Mountain refused to walk alongside the road, where they might be seen. Apparently amongst their company there were some high profile hostages, and highway patrols were on the lookout. So seeing as the last thing the Mountain and his thugs needed was more of Tywin Lannisters annoyance and rage, they walked as far away from the highway as possible. As a result, their path was mostly through the woods, slowing them to almost a crawl so that by the time they got to Harrenhal, the day was almost over.
As she tromped through the woods, getting bitten by mosquitoes, sloshing through creeks and having branches whip her face, Arya clutched the bull necklace, Gendry's present to her. She had thought that no one cared or cared to know that it was her birthday, but Gendry did. He had remembered, which was surprising enough, but what was more, she recognized his handiwork. The bull necklace was most assuredly made by the same person who had made her wolf necklace that still hung around her neck, tucked away and hidden under her shirt. A little piece of home even when she was miles and miles away.
"Local artist who works in a car shop," the vendor had said when he sold her the necklace. She had never guessed in a million years that the artist would be Gendry. He just didn't seem the type to create something so beautiful. The bull's horns looked ready to charge, a look of defiance in its carved face, the muscles in its body poised and ready. When she shifted it in the speckled light streaming through the leaves, it almost looked like it moved.
She wanted to take out her wolf and compare the two, but that, however small, seemed too risky. Someone might make the connection and realize who she was. Her identity was her only weapon here, as well as her biggest weakness. If Tywin Lannister knew who she was... She didn't care if he had saved Gendry's life. He was a Lannister, and every Lannister was an enemy. She hated to think of Gendry there with him. What if he was actually just taking Gendry off somewhere quiet so that he could torture him to reveal Arya's identity and kill him?
Ugh, he was so stupid! Just thinking about him made her angry, and she shoved the bull necklace in her pocket. What was he thinking, lying like that? Obviously he wasn't thinking! He never thought! If Tywin hadn't shown up at that very opportune moment, they would have killed him or worse! Why couldn't he have just kept his stupid stubborn mouth shut? He was more trouble than he was worth.
But at least Gendry had some worth, with his brawn and imposing look, Hot Pie was an entirely different story. After Gendry nearly got his head shot off, and drove away in the back of Tywin Lannister's car, Hot Pie had clung to her like a giant squid. Unlike Gendry, he was constantly terrified, whining to Arya the entire walk to Harrenhal.
"Back in the sixties, when it was up and running, a roller coaster broke, full of kids, and they all died," he said of Harrenhal, wiping the pools of sweat off of his double chin. "That's why they had to shut it down, and now the kids haunt it. Anyone who goes there can hear their screams."
"Really?" Arya said sarcastically.
"Oh yeah," Hot Pie said in earnest terror, nodding vigorously. "Their souls are tortured, locked there forever."
"You know what that sounds like to me?" Arya asked him.
"What?" Hot Pie replied, eyes wide.
"Bullshit," she snapped flatly. "Leave me alone."
With that she picked up her pace so that he couldn't follow her. She was sick of people following her, she decided. But... As the day wore on, she realized it was weird having Gendry gone. More than once she looked over her shoulder and expected to see him there, ready to roll her eyes and think dark thoughts about how annoying he was, only to remember that he was gone. She might not even see him again, maybe never.
They arrived at Harrenhal late in the afternoon, and Arya was tired. She hadn't slept that night, with Gendry gone. She had crawled under the bus and stayed there, her eyes open, her ears alert, but no one had come for her. Tywin had stayed true to his word on that account at least. She had made it to Harrenhal more or less unscathed.
Hot Pie had been right, about Harrenhal being creepy. It was creepy, all broken down and empty and unused. It stretched out over a pier, into the biggest lake that Arya had ever seen. It was almost like the ocean, so wide that she couldn't see the other side. It disappeared into the horizon, tiny waves lapping at the shore. The effect wasn't calming or relaxing, but eerie. There was a fog that had settled in over the water, and the lake stank like death.
Harrenhal itself loomed ahead, dark and dank. The rides were decaying, overgrown with weeds and covered in dust. They groaned with every wave, and every shift in the wind. The wind screamed and whistled through the structures, which at one time must have been painted brilliantly, but now the paint had faded and chipped away. As they walked through it, the rides looming over them, casting monstrous shadows. It had such a forgotten feeling, a certain deadness that seemed to sing the same hollow song in Arya's heart.
"Tywin Lannister wants to get this place back to its formal glory," Chiswyke informed the group as they walked towards the end of the enormous pier. "You can imagine why. Just think of the money this place could bring in."
Arya looked around at the broken down rides and the creaking planks under their feet and thought that restoring Harrenhal to its formal glory would probably cost more than it was worth. Gendry might have been good with cars, but this... This was a whole different matter. Arya just hoped that he would be useful enough so that Tywin would keep him. 'Just do me a favor, and for once in your stupid life don't die.'
She kicked at a piece of trash. Why did she care if he lived or died? She didn't! He was a fucking idiot, and she was tired of idiots! He'd probably do her a favor by dying! Then no one would know who she was, and her identity wouldn't be in danger of being discovered. If Tywin came back with no Gendry, she'd be happy. She would.
"Okay," Chiswyke said, halting the group, "you, you, you and you, come with me."
Hot Pie and Arya exchanged nervous looks as they stepped forward along with two others. Chiswyke didn't give any explanation for what he wanted them for, he just signaled them to follow. They branched off from the group and walked past a carousal and a ferris wheel before they stopped in front of a restaurant and what looked to be some offices. Chiswyke banged on the door of the restaurant, and an old man with a thick, disgusting beard came out, his beady little eyes glaring at all of them.
"This here is Wheeze," Chiswyke grunted. "Wheeze, meet our new recruits."
Arya and Hot Pie looked sideways at each other.
"A couple of sticks and a fat kid," Wheeze said with a grunt, eyeing them all. When his eyes passed over Arya, her skin crawled. "I suppose if you like to eat, you know how to cook? Ehh piggy piggy?"
Hot Pie's face went beat red, and for the first time Arya felt a stab of sympathy for him.
"Don't call him that!" She snapped.
"And who's this, ehh?" Wheeze said, narrowing his eyes at Arya. "Looks like a boy, but you can never tell these days, with the short hair. What are you, some sort of lesbian?"
Arya glared at him. She decided she hated Wheeze.
"I'm not a lesbian," she snarled. "I just happen to like my short hair."
"She's got a boyfriend, that one," Chiswyke said with a chuckle. "A real live one at that."
"I do not have a boyfriend!" Arya cried, but they both laughed.
"This one's bound for the shit pickers, I think," Wheeze said with a wheeze.
"The shit pickers?" Arya spat in indignation.
"Yeah," Chiswyke gloated. "See you get the lovely job of picking up all the shit that's been left here over the years. You'll fit right in."
Arya curled her hands into fists and tried not to loose her temper. But she wanted so badly to hurt them. She hated them. Hated them.
"What's your name, shit picker?" Wheeze asked, flashing her a mocking toothy grin. Arya scowled at him. This was a bit of a problem. She couldn't say Arry, because that was a boy's name, and obviously they knew she wasn't a boy, but she couldn't very well tell them her real name.
"It's Nymeria," she said, saying the first name that popped into her head. Saying the name sent a stab of pain through her hollow heart. Nymeria was the name of her beloved husky who was probably lost or maybe even dead.
"Nemarnia?" Chiswyke said stupidly. "What sort of shit name is that?"
"You can just call me Nan," Arya sighed, giving up. "Unless that's too hard for you?"
"Watch yourself, shit picker, your boyfriend's not here, along with Tywin. You've got no one to look out for you now, no one to protect you-"
"I don't need protection!" Arya snarled, glaring at Chiswyke, but he only laughed.
"Look around you," he said, stepping forward and leaning very close to her face. His breath stank of tobacco and beer. "This here is our territory. Tywin might think he's calling all the shots, but, well, do you really think he'd notice if a little piece of shit like you disappeared? If you scream, no one will hear you. So just think on that."
Arya did look around her, and she realized that Chiswyke had a point. She had no Needle, no Gendry and even no Tywin. She could handle herself, she knew, but against a throng of men who were three times her size? There was no where to run, there was no way to run. She was trapped, and she hated it. She hated being helpless. Arya Stark was not a mouse, she was not helpless, but it appeared that Nan was.
"You done?" Wheeze demanded. "It's cold out here, and I got myself a beer inside to keep me warm. I want to get this over with."
Chiswyke leaned back slowly, his eyes never leaving Arya's. She glared right back. She might not be able to kill him, or even hurt him, but she would not be cowed. She would not let them scare her.
"Yeah," Chiswyke said, spitting, "we're done."
He turned and left, and Arya glared daggers after him. She hoped the creaking dock would suddenly give way under his weight and he'd fall and break his neck. 'One day I'll get him,' she thought. 'Then he'll be sorry he ever tried to frighten me.'
"All right you shits," Wheeze said, scratching his face and narrowing his eyes at them, "you work for me now. Whatever Wheeze tells you to do, you do it, or we'll tie a weight to your feet and throw you over the edge of the pier."
"You wouldn't... Not really, right?" Hot Pie squeaked in horror. Wheeze narrowed his eyes even more at Hot Pie, and then snarled, causing Hot Pie to jump and squeal.
"Piggy," Wheeze said with a wheezing laugh, giving Arya a defiant look. "Did I scare the little piggy? You better watch your fat mouth boy. You think I'm just throwing shit around? Why don't you wait, wait until the tide goes out, and then you go to the edge of that pier there, and you look over the edge? Then you'll watch your mouth."
Hot Pie nodded vigorously, white as sleet.
"Okay you lot," Wheeze said, straightening up. "You two, you're on paint duty. Piggy, you stay with me in the restaurant, and you, shit picker, you go down to the end of the pier to the fun house. You've missed dinner, but in your case, piggy, you could stand to loose a few meals. Now get!"
Arya sighed and pulled her jacket tighter around her shoulders as the wind began to pick up, the fog starting to become so thick that the rides on the pier were turning into nothing but groaning shadows. Hot Pie looked upset that she was leaving, but what was she to do? She turned and waved, but even that felt forced, and then she kept walking, and soon Hot Pie and the others disappeared.
The fun house wasn't far. It, by far, was the ugliest of all the structures. Once, it must have been painted with some sort of mural, but now that the paint eroded, the pictures looked grotesque and chilling, limbs and shapes all twisted together. A huge, creepy clown stood at the entrance, and when Arya walked by it, it cackled and rocked back and forth, it's laughter sending chills up her spine.
"I told you a million times, Chiswyke, to fuck off- oh," a filthy looking young man said, coming to the entrance. He looked Arya up and down with raised eyebrows. "Who are you supposed to be? Did Chiswyke send you?"
"No," Arya said. "Wheeze."
"Tell him to forget it," the young man demanded. "Either they give us what we agreed on, or we walk out. Simple as that."
"Erm no," Arya said. "Wheeze sent me because I'm supposed to be... Umm..."
"A shit picker?" The young man asked. He couldn't have been older than Robb and Jon, and thinking about them made her heart ache.
"Ugh," he groaned. "Not another one! We don't have room."
Arya didn't know what to say, but now that the clown had shut up, she could hear the sounds of people within the fun house, talking and laughing and yelling. They all sounded pretty young, but older than her. What was this place?
"Ack, well come on then," he sighed, waving her forward. She followed cautiously.
They wove through a maze of glass and mirrors, one the young man seemed to have memorized, because he slunk through them with practiced ease, so quickly that Arya had to nearly run to keep up. After that, he pushed through a set of cut-up curtains, and Arya found herself in a very odd room, one with a low hanging ceiling and several contraptions, like a floor that must have at one time moved back and forth. What was even more strange was that the room was full of young men, all smoking and drinking and lying about. They stank.
"Girls are upstairs," the young man told her, pointing to a set of uneven stairs. "Hopefully they'll have a spare sleeping bag. It gets cold here at night."
Arya nodded and buried her hands in her pockets, picking her way around the boys sprawled all over the floor, trying not to step on them and all their filth. She couldn't tell whether some of the stuff they had on the floor was garbage or not. One boy was eating a sandwich that looked as though it had been stepped on.
She climbed up the stairs, and felt at once, a rush of cold air. The upper level of the fun house was crowded as well, but maybe a bit less disgusting, and certainly much colder. That was because there was a door that had been taken off its hinges, leading out onto a balcony, and the cold air rushed in, blasting her hood off her head and ruffling her hair.
"Not another one," a voice sighed from somewhere to her left. Arya looked over to see a girl, maybe nineteen or younger, stand up, a cigarette between two fingers. She stumbled, and Arya could tell at once that she was probably drunk. Her clothes were filthy dirty, her hair tangled and her make-up smudged. "What's the problem kiddo? Mum and Dad tired of you stealing their booze?"
"I-What?" Arya asked, clearing the stairs and standing up. "What are you even talking about?"
"Well that's what you're here for, isn't it?" The girl asked, waving her beer in Arya's face. "Do yourself a favor, kiddo, and just go back to stealing from daddy's wine cabinet. It's not worth it."
She brought the bottle to her lips and took a long, unsightly drink, scowling when she was done.
"Definitely not worth it."
"What are you talking about?" Arya demanded, confused.
"The contract," said another voice. "What's going on, hmm kid? Didn't you know what you signed up for?"
This one belonged to a different girl, older than the first.
"I didn't sign up for this!" Arya shouted. "I didn't sign up for anything! I was kidnapped!"
The first girl laughed, but the second one gave her a long look.
"Tywin must be getting pretty desperate," she said. "I thought he'd crossed the line when he offered us our deal."
"What deal?" Arya demanded.
"Free booze and housing if we cleaned up this dump for him," the older girl explained.
"That seems like a pretty cheep deal to me," Arya grumbled suspiciously. The girl shrugged.
"It would be, if he didn't promise more," she said. "After this jobs finished, he'll give us what he promised."
"And what would that be?"
"Free drugs," the tipsy girl said. "And the good shit too."
"You're doing this, living here in this shit hole and picking up garbage so that Tywin Lannister will give you free drugs?" Arya spat, disgusted. The older girl shrugged.
"It beats sleeping on the streets," she said. "Did you see the city when you came in?"
Arya shook her head.
"It's a nightmare," the older girl said. "You look skinny, but you don't look poor. You've probably never worked a day in your life, am I right?"
Arya nodded begrudgingly.
"Then you don't know what it's like," the girl said, "to live in constant fear. You don't know when your next meal is going to be, or if you're going to wake up with a knife cutting your throat, or some man on top of you. Here, well it might be shit, but at least it's safe."
Safe. That was the biggest joke Arya had heard in a long time.
"What are we going to do with her?" The tipsy girl asked. "We don't have anymore sleeping bags."
"She can sleep near me," the older girl said with a shrug, "and you can give her your blanket."
The tipsy girl glared.
"Don't even try to argue," the older girl snapped, "you've had that blanket for weeks, and she'll freeze to death if you don't let her have it."
The tipsy girl took another long swig of beer, draining the glass, and then flipped the older girl off, stumbling off a few feet to pick up a ratty old blanket and then chuck it at Arya, before stomping away. The blanket stank of piss.
"Well," the older girl said with a small grin, "welcome to the shit pickers kiddo. You got a name?"
"Ummm Nan," Arya mumbled.
"Nan? Well you're lucky, that's easy," the older girl said, pushing her mass of curly red hair out of her eyes.
"Why, what's yours?" Arya asked.
"Ygritte," the older girl said, and when she smiled again, Arya saw that her teeth were crooked, but somehow that seemed to work. She was actually sort of pretty, if she did something about bathing. "Come on you, you must be tired. It looks like you haven't slept in weeks."
It was true, she hadn't slept in weeks, but she doubted she'd sleep that night. Not here, where it smelled horrible, and not just the people. Every gust of wind brought in the smell of the lake and the city that sat on the shore next to the pier. It was cold here too. So bitingly cold. She missed Gendry's jackets.
"Sorry but I'm next to the door," Ygritte said, motioning to a sleeping bag. "But it's almost better this way. The wind tends to blow straight back. Still, it's not nice to know that if anything crawled up from the outside, we'd be the first thing it goes for."
Arya pulled the blanket around her shoulders. It was getting dark outside, causing the shadows to creep and swell. Ygritte sat down and leaned against the wall, and Arya sat with her, though not in the sleeping bag.
"Cigarette?" Ygritte asked, pulling one out. Arya shook her head. "Smart choice. You'll save yourself the lung cancer. Wish I could say the same for myself, but... Well nicotine's addictive isn't it? Fucking capitalists and their fucking companies."
She lit the cigarette and took a long drag.
"The thing is," she said, "these calm me down. I just sort of stop fidgeting, and all my thoughts just sort of stop for a little bit, not like with weed, but different. It distracts me."
Arya watched as she slowly inhaled and then exhaled and she understood. She wanted something to distract her too. She wanted to stop thinking for a moment. There were too many murderous thoughts crowding in her head.
"Maybe I will have one of those," she said, holding out her hand. Ygritte gave her a sad look, but pulled one out just the same.
"You don't seem to be from the South," she said, lighting Arya's cigarette. On the first inhale, Arya coughed so violently she thought she would hack up a lung. The second drag was a little less worse. "You look like a Northern girl to me."
Arya blanched, unsure of what to say or do. She instead took another drag from her cigarette and coughed.
"It's okay," Ygritte said, "you don't have to tell me anything. I'm from the North too, as it so happens."
"You are?" Arya asked as Ygritte shook out her hair and then pushed it out of her face. She didn't look very Northern, but... Well now that she looked at her, Arya supposed Ygritte did look like she had lived in the cold. But there was something wild about her, something untamed that didn't really belong anywhere.
"Yup," Ygritte said, making little rings with her smoke. "But probably farther North then you've ever been."
"You mean... Like beyond the Wall?" Arya asked in a whisper. If that was true, then Ygritte was an illegal immigrant.
"That's where I was born," she said. "That's where I lived until I was ten, and then my mum got it in her head to move down South. It didn't work out as she planned."
She gave a bitter laugh.
"Is your mum still alive?" Arya wondered.
"No," Ygritte said with a quick shake of her hair. "Not for a long time now. Nine years now. That's how long I've been on my own."
"And now you're working for Tywin," Arya said, feeling rot in her mouth, or maybe that was the cigarette.
"Only because I have to," Ygritte said, "as soon as we get what we asked for, I'm out of here."
"Where will you go?"
Ygritte turned and gave Arya a long look.
"You ask an awful lot of questions without giving any answers about yourself," Ygritte said with narrowed eyes. "A secret for a secret, Nan."
Arya opened her mouth, and then thought for a long time. What could she say that wouldn't give away who she was?
"How about this," Ygritte said, "how does a girl like you end up in a place like this? Hmm?"
"I was on my way home," Arya said honestly, "but the Mountain got us before we could get there."
"Us?" Ygritte pressed. Arya swallowed.
"Yeah," she said, "umm... Me, Gendry and Hot Pie."
"Who's Hot Pie, your dog?" Ygritte asked and Arya laughed.
"No," she said. "He's one of the other new recruits. He works in the restaurant."
"Lucky bastard," Ygritte said with a snap. "What about the other one? What was his name?"
"Gendry," just the mention of his name brought anger to her heart. Stupid bull boy. "He got his arm broken by the Mountain, so Tywin's getting it fixed."
"Must be he's a special kid," Ygritte said, "Tywin doesn't usually fix broken things, he either dumps them, or has somebody else deal with them."
Arya had nothing to say to that.
"So," she said, "I told you my secret, now tell me yours. Why are you here? And where are you going?"
"You hardly told me a secret," Ygritte said with a huff, "but what the hey. I'm not here for the drugs, I mean, well I am, but not to use them. For what they can buy."
"What they can buy?"
"I'm going to sell my share," she said, "so I can go North and then get past the Wall."
"Why?" Arya asked, suddenly thinking of Jon, who was no doubt still stationed there, at the Wall. Ygritte looked around, and then leaned in.
"There's a man beyond the Wall," she said in a low voice, "and he's doing what no one else has ever done before."
"What's that?" Arya wanted to know, but Ygritte shook her head.
"That's why I'm here," she told Arya, "to get money and then get out and go help him. It's high time girls and people like me had their say in this fucked up world, and Mance can give us that voice."
"Mance?" Arya asked, but Ygritte clamped her hand over her mouth.
"Don't ever say that name," she whispered, "not if you know what's good for you, got that? I've told you too much as it is."
Arya nodded and Ygritte released her.
"It's time for bed," she said. "We get up before the sun rises tomorrow, and it's all work until the sun sets again."
Ygritte put out her cigarette and shuffled down into her sleeping bag, turning away from Arya. Darkness had fallen completely, and the room was black, the shadows of people sleeping only barely visible. Arya leaned against the wall and brought her knees to her chest, wrapping her blanket around her shoulders and staring off into the darkness.
Try as she might, she barely slept that night. There were a few hours, between midnight and about three in the morning, that she nodded off, but when she dreamed, it was only on her fathers face, and his blood spilling from his head, and Gendry's screams. After she woke, shaking, the sun was beginning to slowly rise, the darkness lifting. Unable to get the crawling out of her skin, Arya stood and walked out of the door and onto the balcony, looking out over the fog.
The tide had pulled out, and when she looked down, the pier had ended. Instead of water, however, Arya could see the mud in the gloom, and then something else. Lumps. She squinted, and as the sun began to rise, and the tide started to come back in, she saw what the lumps were, and suddenly she realized why the lake stank so bad. Decaying bodies, all tangled together, cement tied to their feet.
"They tried to run."
Arya jumped violently, but it was only Ygritte.
"Do yourself a favor, kid," she said softly, "play nice. Otherwise... You'll be joining them."
thank you guys, by the way, for your lovely comments. Reviews are like my muse, they inspire me to keep writing and improving