A/N – As predicted, the season premiere of Game of Thrones has inspired me to update ridiculously quickly on this story. I can't wait to see Arya & Gendry in next week's episode! But until then – here's a new chapter! And I thought everyone could use a breather from all of the stress & plotting & talking & danger, so it's a bit of a fluff chapter that I think you guys will really enjoy : )

Arya wakes up to Nymeria barking at the door. She groans and rolls over in bed, burying her head deeper in the pillow. After meeting with Sansa yesterday morning, she spent the entire day talking strategy with Gendry and getting nowhere. Some time around midnight he said, "Arya, either you can shut up and take your pants off, or you can go back to your motel and be a basket case by yourself."

"Very supportive," Arya had said.

"It's for your own sanity, I promise. I'm just trying to help. You aren't going to come up with a plan to overthrow the Baratheons in one night."

"That's what you think."

But Gendry had been right. Arya ended up wasting hours and hours in her room, absently petting Nymeria, and jumping from scenario to scenario, each more ridiculous than the last, finally falling asleep around six in the morning while dreaming of poisoning Joffrey's wine at the wedding rehearsal.

Nymeria's barking is insistent, and someone won't stop knocking on the door, so Arya huffs loudly and hauls herself out of bed. She whips open the door and Nymeria bolts outside.

"Morning," Gendry says.

Arya eyes him suspiciously. He's cleanly shaven and wearing dark jeans and a rather tight black shirt that pulls taut across his chest. "Well don't you look well rested," she says.

"And you look like shit," Gendry responds.

"Charming."

"Hard not to be when it comes so naturally." Gendry strides into the room and throws himself down on the bed, hands tucked behind his head. "Did you sleep at all?"

"A little."

"Mhmm." He sits back up and clasps his hands together. "Okay, here's what's going to happen. You're going to shower, put on a bathing suit, and pack a bag. Then you're going to call Jon and ask him to take care of Nymeria for the night. And then you're going to get in my car."

"I am?" Arya asks.

"You are."

She stares at him for a long minute, waiting to see if he's going to explain or say anything else.

When he doesn't, Arya mutters, "Fuck it," and goes to get in the shower.


There's a sleek black sports car waiting in the parking lot outside of Arya's motel. The glossy paint shines under the afternoon sun, and Arya has a feeling there's an engine worth thousands and thousands of dollars sitting under the hood.

"Where the hell did this come from?" Arya asks. Her fingers are itching to touch the car, to run a finger across the smooth exterior, to open the hood and feast on the mechanics.

"A guy owed me a favor," Gendry says. "It's on loan for the day."

"A guy owed you a favor?" Arya mimics. "Gendry, this car has to cost more than my house."

"He owed me a big favor."

Part of Arya wants to push the subject, but a bigger part of her just wants to slide into that warm leather seat and drive.

"Come on then," Gendry says. He slips a thin key out of his pocket and heads to the driver's door.

"Hey, wait a second!" Arya says. "I'm driving."

"You don't know where we're going."

"Well you could tell me."

"Well then it wouldn't be a surprise."

"Well I hate surprises."

"Well I don't care." Gendry gives her a pointed look. "Now get in the car."

This is not how Arya likes things to work. She likes to be in control. She likes to make the calls. And she definitely doesn't like to sit in the passenger seat. But she has to admit that she's more than a little curious to see what Gendry has planned, and after this many consecutively stressful days, maybe it'd be okay to let someone else call the shots for awhile.

"Fine," Arya says. "But once we get wherever we're going, I'm driving. Deal?"

"Deal."

Arya opens the passenger door and slides into the bucket seat. This has to be the nicest car she's ever set foot in, and she's dying to get her hands on the steering wheel. "I kind of hate you," she says as Gendry's slips the key into the ignition and the car starts with a gentle hum.

"That's okay." He takes a pair of aviator sunglasses out of the glove box and puts them on. And then he turns towards Arya and grins.

Fuck he's attractive, Arya thinks. She has a strong desire to jump over the seat and start going at it in the middle of the parking lot. But instead she says, "Aviators? You realize you kind of look like a douchebag, right?"

His grin widens, which only frustrates Arya further. "I think I look good," he says. "Don't you think I look good?"

"Asshole," Arya mutters, crossing her arms and sinking down into the seat. "Come on then. Let's get this show on the road."

She tries to stare straight ahead, but as they start to pull out of the lot, she can't help but glance at Gendry again.

Fucking attractive. Way too fucking attractive.


They drive for just over an hour, taking long and winding backgrounds, the sun shining down on the open top of the car. At first, Arya is fidgety in the passenger seat, but then she slowly relaxes, letting the tension ease from her body. She closes her eyes and leans back against the headrest, bathing in the warm sun, soft wind pushing through her hair.

When he's not shifting gears, Gendry reaches over and lightly clasps Arya's hand, his thumb running easily across the skin. They don't speak. They don't need to – it's as if Gendry knows Arya needs the silence. Needs the thrumming of the engine, the whipping of the wind, and nothing else.

When Gendry eventually pulls his hand away, Arya opens her eyes, blinking to adjust to the afternoon light. In just an hour, the scenery has completely changed around them. The urban San Diego streets have transformed into long, coastal roads, and Arya can smell the salt in the air.

"Where are we?" She asks.

"Encinitas," Gendry says. "My mom used to take me here when I was a kid."

His face looks softer than usual, far-off even. Arya leans over and plants a warm kiss to his cheek.

"What was that for?" Gendry asks.

Arya shrugs. "Nothing." She clears her throat. "So what are we doing in Encinitas?"

"We're going swimming. I told you to bring a suit, didn't I?"

Arya blanches. "Gendry, it's barely seventy degrees out. The water's going to be freezing." And I don't have a bathing suit.

"What happened to oh-so-brave Arya Stark? Can't handle a little cold? Aren't you from like Antarctica or wherever?"

"Montana," Arya corrects. "And there's a big difference between living in the cold and swimming in it."

"Fine, fine," Gendry says. "Come on then. Let's at least walk the beach."

He drives down a few more short roads, not seeming to need directions, and eventually pulls into a deserted parking lot surrounded by sand dunes. Arya can see just a sliver of ocean over the tall piles of sand. She's only been to the ocean a handful of times in her life, and is surprised at how heavy and moist the air is, how it clings to her skin.

"Come on," Gendry says.

She steps out of the car, and he takes her hand, pulling her towards the short boardwalk. The sand is surprisingly warm under her bare feet, and as they walk, the ocean comes into full view. Arya almost gasps. It's stunning. She can't believe she's been living an hour away from something so beautiful without seeing it.

The beach is small and deserted, and it feels as if it's just Arya, Gendry, and the ocean, and the rest of the world has receded quietly away. Arya inhales deeply, trying to let the salt air cleanse her lungs. She leans against Gendry, staring out at the gentle waves. His broad body is warm against her, and she tucks her head against his shoulder.

"Sure you don't like surprises?" Gendry asks.

"Shut up," Arya mutters.

"Okay," Gendry says. He brushes a kiss against the top of her head. "Okay."


They walk along the beach for hours before finally collapsing in the sand. The sun is starting to set, casting pinks and purples across the clear water. Arya sits between Gendry's legs, and he wraps his arms around her, pulling her close, nuzzling his face in her hair.

"We should move to the beach," Gendry says.

We? Arya wants to ask, but she let's the comment slide.

"I bet it gets old," Arya says. "I like it like this. I would hate to stop thinking it's somewhere special to be."

"How philosophical of you," Gendry mocks gently.

"It's not philosophy, it's logic," Arya says.

"Mhmm." Gendry breathes warm air against her neck and then starts to plant soft kisses across the skin. Arya leans into the touch, her entire body falling against his. He continues to kiss her, nipping against her collarbone, sucking on the lobe of her ear, brushing against the corner of her lips.

Arya finally turns and meets his lips, kissing him fully and deeply. She feels as if she's breathing him in, melding together. She twists her body around so that she's straddling him in the sand, and his arms instantly wrap around her, gripping their bodies closer.

The beach is deserted. It's silent save for the gentle crash of the waves and their heavy breaths. Arya moves against him, feeling his desire hard against her, even through their layers of clothes. She lowers her mouth and presses kisses down the line of his jaw, making her way towards his neck. When she sucks on his adam's apple and grinds hard against him, he let's out a deep growl.

"Fuck," he moans, suddenly flipping them over so her back is pressed flat against the sand. He presses his body tightly against hers and gives her a biting kiss that sends lust flooding through her.

And then he's sliding down her body, deft fingers unbuttoning her jeans and pushing them down her legs, pulling her black underwear with it so that her bottom is bare against the gritty sand.

"Gendry," Arya starts to say, wondering what he's planning, when all of a sudden, his mouth is on her thigh, and then the top of her thigh, and then his lips are against her, and his tongue is plunging inside of her, and she's pushing wildly against him. Her fingers thread tightly through his hair, yanking at the strands. "Fuck," she mutters. "Don't stop. Don't ever fucking stop. Shit. Fuck. Fuck."

The feeling is overpowering, overwhelming, and then his hand reaches up, sliding under her shirt, reaching for her breast, rubbing the hard nipple over her bra, and Arya finally let's go the sliver of constraint she was holding onto. His tongue flicks against her again and again, and his hand moves from one breast to the next, rubbing and teasing until it all swells up within her, and she comes hard, shouting Gendry as she does.

Her body collapses into the sand, and Gendry collapses on top of hers, breathing deeply. When she finally collects her breath, she manages to say, "Jesus, Gendry. You can't just— you can't just do that to people. Fuck."

He hugs her tightly and kisses the bare skin of her stomach from where her shirt had ridden up. "You're not just people," he says.

They lay like that for awhile, until Gendry starts pushing against her, pressing kisses once more across her skin, and Arya finds herself returning his favor, which leaves him a shaking mess and plastered with the most ridiculous, satisfied grin. And then, after awhile longer, they both want more, and they end up stripping each other's clothes off and fucking bare and hard in the wide open, praying that the wind drowns out the voices.

"I'm exhausted," Arya says afterwards.

They're curled together, coated in sand and sweat but not caring in the least. It's dark out, and only the moon and stars light the beach.

"You're welcome," Gendry says.

Arya half-heartedly punches him in the arm. "Not from you. Okay, not just from you. It's been a long week. Fuck, it's been a long month."

"I know," Gendry said. "That's why you needed this. We both did. Tomorrow, we'll get back to reality, but for now, let's just enjoy what we have right here."

"You're really cheesy, you know that, right?" Arya asks.

"You have really lame insults, you know that, right?"

Gendry stands up and tugs Arya by the hand. "Come on," he says.

"Where?"

"We need to wash off."

"Uh—" Arya stares at the dark water. "What exactly do you mean by wash off?"

Gendry gets a slow, evil grin on his face, and before Arya can use her best judgment and run away, he jumps forward, picks her up, and throws her over his shoulder.

"Oh, hell fucking no," Arya screams, but it's too late. He's already rushing them towards the ocean, running in, cold water splashing across their legs, and then he throws her far into the water.

It's freezing. Not life-or-death freezing, but close enough.

"You little piece of shit!" Arya screams. "I'm going to kill you!"

Gendry just laughs. "I'd like to see you try." And then he splashes her with a giant gush of cold water.

Arya sputters, energy suddenly rushing through her veins. "Oh, you are so not getting away with this," she says, splashing a giant wave of water right back at him.


It's past midnight by the time they get back to the car. They let themselves air dry back out on the beach before putting on their sandy clothes.

"We look ridiculous," Arya says, running fingers through her tangled her.

"I think you like nice."

"Liar."

Gendry smirks.

"Here," he says, tossing her the keys.

"All mine?" Arya asks.

"Until we get back to San Diego, yes. All yours."

Arya rushes over to the driver's door and yanks it open, hand slipping the key into the ignition before Gendry is even in the car. She can feel the power the second the engine hums to life.

She turns to Gendry and smiles. "I have to be honest, I think this is going to be my favorite part of the trip."

"I'd be shocked if you picked anything else."

Behind the sleek steering wheel, foot on the pedal of a strong engine, Arya finally feels like she's back in control of things. Like she can handle anything the Baratheons or the Lannisters throw at her.

"I hope you don't mind," Arya says, smiling. "But I'm planning on taking the long way home."

A/N – flufffffff chapter! I know this story has been a lot of plot, plot, plot, so I think we all (including Arya & Gendry) deserved a break. Hope you guys enjoyed! Please read and review.

Also, if you don't already know, here's a reminder that I run a game of thrones tumblr. You can follow me at: winteriscoming-eventually