Summary: Sharing Halloween candy is riskier than you would think.
Notes: Part of the A City universe.
"You went to Economy Candy without me?" Arya demands, as she busts through Jon's bedroom door without knocking, the door rattling against the drywall, making him flinch. "Sorry," she says for his benefit, her eyes cutting to his with her mouth turning down in a scowl. But she's not that sorry for her nerve jarring entry, because she tosses her book bag down on the ground with a huff and adds, "But so not fair."
"You were at school," Sansa says, digging in the pile of candy.
"Halloween waits for no man," Jon says around a mouthful of chocolate.
Sansa holds out a candy necklace that Arya snatches from where it dangles from Sansa's fingers before flopping to the rug. The white sofa he never uses and the overstuffed grey chair catty-corner from the bed are both empty, but Arya has always been more the type to camp out on the floor than sit properly in a chair and admittedly there's not a lot of room left on his bed.
Pulling her legs underneath herself Indian style, Arya stretches the thin elastic over her head and immediately bites more than one pastel colored, chalky ring of candy off the necklace. He and Sansa have been picking through the haul they got at Economy Candy for the last hour, and while Sansa is also working on a candy necklace, she seemingly has a method that doesn't allow her to nibble more than one off at a time, creating a pattern he's tried to predict between bites, where it lies against her creamy neck above the fuzzy edge of her cardigan. She turns the necklace slowly, her blues eyes almost crossed as she selects a color, and then tilts her head delicately to the left to snap the chosen one off with her eyeteeth. It's mesmerizing.
She's always been deliberate like that about the things she enjoys, careful and precise. Even as a little girl, Sansa wasn't one to tear into her presents. He can remember watching her at Christmas or on her birthday, carefully working at the tape, unfolding the paper, and smoothing out creases, until only her parents bothered to restrain their eye rolling and groaning pleas for her to hurry up. It shouldn't be surprising to see her go about eating her candy necklace in much the same way, but he can't stop watching her for some reason. There's a watermelon ring pop on her finger too that glistens every time she pulls it from her mouth.
"What else have you got?" his little sister asks, craning her neck to peer up on the bed, where the candy is spread over the comforter between where he sits back pressed against the dark wallpapered wall behind his bed with his legs stretched out and where Sansa lies curled in on herself at the foot, her calves peeking out of her full skirt and her head propped on a bent elbow.
He's been satisfying himself with anything chocolate in the hoard as well as a huge hunk of Big League Chew he chewed away at for nostalgia's sake until there was no flavor left, which didn't take long. But beyond the chocolate and wearable candy, there are Pop Rocks, Laffy Taffy, Mary Janes, Jolly Ranchers, Charleston Chews in vanilla and strawberry, strips of candy buttons, boxes of candy cigarettes Catelyn will not be happy about if she stumbles across them, and a significant stash of C. Howard's Violet and Lemon candies that Sansa insisted upon.
Jon grabs an envelope of grape Pop Rocks and tosses them to Arya. She looks at the pack and smiles up at him, already ripping off the top. They're her favorite. He knew they'd make her smile, and she needs to smile. Halloween has always been her favorite time of year, but outside of the disgusting costume she's got planned that includes several packets of fake blood, she hasn't seemed entirely in the spirit.
He chuckles, as she dumps the entire packet in her mouth.
"We have to leave some for the boys," Sansa says, nose wrinkling as her sister opens her mouth wide to display the entire pack of Pop Rocks rapidly snapping on her tongue.
Arya responds, but it's nothing more than a growl overlaying the hissing pops of her dissolving candy.
"I don't think she wants to share," Jon says, leaning forward to shift more of the candy around with a questing hand in search of a chocolate Charleston Chew.
He's not sure why they bother making them in other flavors, but Sansa prefers the fruit flavors to the chocolate. It makes them a good candy eating pair.
"A violet candy, please?" Sansa says, proving his wandering thoughts to be true, as she wiggles outstretched fingers that just fail to reach the pile. Arya makes another noise, one that is clearly an expression of disgust. "They're good," Sansa insists, as Jon passes Sansa a little purple box.
Sansa smiles too. Both the girls look happy for the moment, but it's Sansa's smile that he doesn't know what to do with, when she looks up through her blackened lashes at him as her fingers brush his. He always had an easy, natural relationship with Arya. He knows he's her big brother, he knows just how to tease a smile out of her or what to say to make her punch him in the arm. But with Sansa? Sansa's attentions never cease to feel new to him. New and sometimes confusing, but that's because they're new. Probably, he tells himself, swallowing what suddenly feels like too much chocolate melting on his tongue, as a visceral memory tightens the muscles in his lower abdomen.
Jon doesn't know if the little violet candies are any good, but Sansa keeps a couple of boxes in her purse at all times. He knows this inconsequential little detail, because he saw her popping them in her mouth on the bus during the week they spent campaigning, traveling around New York with Ned and Cat and the various people that are always in attendance during this time in the political season. It's the memory of the slightly sweet, floral scent on her breath, when she leaned into him, whispering about the reporter she nicknamed the Toad after the man asked one too many rude questions of the Senator that makes him shift and fumble a piece of candy, dropping it into his lap.
Yes, she said, tapping another little candy into her palm. A warty toad.
Jon frowned, trying to conjure up an image of the reporter in question and failing. Does he have warts?
No, he's just super rude.
That's one of the worst things Sansa can say about someone, and it would be rude not to share with the boys. Rude and borderline cruel to keep candy from children, but Jon still recalls Cat's face the other night, when they were all too full to do much more than push their food around on their plate at dinner. You're expected to eat well balanced meals in the Stark household. That's an unbendable rule.
"After dinner, we'll share it with them," he says, attempting to be the adult voice of reason.
"It's worth spoiling dinner," Sansa says, before her tongue pokes out between her lips for the first violet candy she's tipped out of the box. "Halloween is brilliant."
As if to prove her point, she rolls onto her back, throwing her head back and pressing her hands to her stomach. Her hair fans out over his comforter, and he knows from experience that whatever it is—her shampoo, conditioner, or some other mysterious product that has never graced his bathroom's shower—will leave behind a lingering floral impression. Better there at the foot of his bed than all over one of his pillows, where it will distract him, keeping him awake and staring up at the ceiling. Girls shouldn't have any right to smell so good.
His eyes are still tracing the loose curl of her hair, when she makes a noise in the back of her throat, a humming, contented sound that makes his stomach swoop like a rollercoaster, as her feet point, toes curl, and eyes slip closed.
"God, you're so overdoing it, drama queen. Those purple candies are…" Arya trails off, and it's only when she stops talking that Jon realizes at some point she sat up on her knees to dig through the pile herself and now she's watching him with her mouth agape and her brows drawn together, hands hovering over the sugary heap.
He tries to think of something to say that would get her to stop looking at him like that, but his mind races, testing various responses, and they all sound weird and guilty. Arya's only thirteen—not a kid anymore quite, but still, only thirteen. He has no idea what it is she thinks she's caught him doing. He's not even sure what he was doing, and whatever he says might only make it worse.
He's frozen at his sister's pronouncement and only vaguely aware of Sansa rolling back onto her side, a feat she manages by grasping his ankle over his jeans and pulling, using him as leverage. By the time she's righted herself and let go, every muscle in his body has tightened. He crosses his arms over his chest, his head falling forward as his eyes water, his throat suddenly convulsing, threatening to choke him.
Up on her feet with a stomp, Arya swipes two handfuls of candy off the bed, as he loses the battle with his body and begins to sputter into the crook of his arm. She snorts, toeing her school bag open and dropping the candy inside before reaching for the strap.
The last thing he needs is for her to touch him again, but at his distress, Sansa kneels in the bed, crawling forward to rest her hand on his thigh. "You okay?"
He manages a nod, but has to pound on his chest with his fist and clear his throat like an eighty year old man to stop himself from choking in her face.
"Arya?" Sansa calls over her shoulder, but her sister disappears through the door, leaving it standing wide open, thankfully without further commentary. "Your brother is choking," Sansa says mostly under her breath.
She sits back on her heels, lips pursed, once he's gotten himself under control, the heat of his cheeks the only prominent lasting effect of his choking fit until she asks him, "What's wrong with her?" and he's forced to respond.
His voice has that scratched quality that could be from coughing or could be from the twist in his gut, as Sansa pulls away her hand from his thigh back into her lap. "Must not have seen anything she liked."
Christ. It's no wonder Arya noticed whatever it is she thinks she saw. He's probably as bad as the boys in her class at school, slobbering like a pack of wolves and wreaking of hormones. Sansa's pretty. No, she's beautiful, but he's always known that. Everyone knows that.
I really need a life. That becomes clearer with every passing day. If only he was well enough to go out and get a life.
"I could swear some of these are her favorite," Sansa says, flicking a packet of Pop Rocks away from where she kneels amidst the candy. "She can find just about anything to complain about."
"I'm sure she's just tired from school. Here," he says, sounding harsher than he intends, as he pushes the candy nearest him into a taller pile. "Take these upstairs. Take the whole lot of it upstairs. I think I hear the boys."
"Before dinner?" He wishes he wasn't so used to seeing her face crumple for that half second, when he disappoints her or confuses her after he turns in on himself. Watching the effect it has on her in that moment before she pulls it all together and her face becomes the pleasant mask of sweetness that hides whatever churns inside makes him hate his insecurities and fears even more than usual. But he is well acquainted with that flicker of a look on her face and has come to expect it. He just wants to make her smile. Even if he doesn't know what to do with them, her smiles are the best part of his day. "Are you sure? Spoiling dinner and everything?"
"Yeah. Take the elevator, so your mom doesn't see all this teeth rotting sugar."
"Should I leave you the chocolate?" Sansa asks, looking around for the discarded plastic bag they lugged the stuff home in on the subway.
She held onto his arm, her fingers wrapping around his bicep and her hip leaning into his, when there were no seats to be had. She didn't say it out loud, but she didn't want to grasp the germ ridden poles. Sansa is more accustomed to cabs and hired cars than the subway. It's a little precious, maybe, but he didn't mind. Not at all.
"No." There's a danger with sweet things beyond the threat of weight gain and cavities. Sweetness is addictive. You get some, you get the littlest taste, and only end up wanting more. That's how it works. Even Rickon knows as much. There's been very little sweetness in his life, very little temptation, but Sansa is teeth achingly sweet. "No, bring me whatever's left later."
"Tonight?" she asks, and there is it, the bright little smile that makes him twitch. "You still want to watch a movie?"
And there's only one answer to that. Even if it is dangerous.