sentential: (jon/robb (game of thrones))
[personal profile] sentential
title: leave the lights on (until I come back from the dead for you)
fandom: Game of Thrones
pairing: Jon/Robb
rating: R
summary: Modern AU. Robb is dead for seven weeks before he comes back to Jon. It's the longest they've ever been apart - or ever will be - and those seven weeks are the worst of Jon's life.
spoilers/notes: The AU setting is pretty extreme so this should be spoiler-free. For the purposes of this story, Jon is adopted - so it's not-quite incest but I'd err on the side of caution if you're uncomfortable with incestuous subject matter. Apologies for any errant commas (the Oxford comma and I are having a spat). Inspired by section 21 of You Are Jeff by Richard Siken - which I actually posted as a prompt at a new comment fic meme before I slipped and wrote it myself. 3548 words

The apartment is the worst place Jon has ever set foot in, he thinks. It’s cold and empty and the paint is patched up with different shades of off-white. The bed frame creaks and he can never get comfortable. All the place has is a kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom just off a funny little hallway which intersects the two. The tap only drips if Jon doesn’t turn it the whole way when he shuts it off but that isn’t much of a consolation when he wakes from an uneasy sleep to the sound of it. He gets up one night to shut it off and discovers that the kitchen light is on. He’s sure he hadn’t left it on but he wouldn’t put money down that he hadn’t, not with the amount he‘d had to drink.

He ends up getting himself a glass of water before he shuts the tap off because his head hurts. It’s too soon for a hangover, or it should be, but the world is too cruel to obey the rules of what should be, Jon knows. Robb should be alive and this apartment, that they’d shared, should feel like home and they should be happy.

He drinks the water and is almost back in bed when he realises he still hasn’t turned off the kitchen light. He climbs into bed anyway. The light stays on all night and Jon hardly sleeps.

When he sleeps, Jon always dreams of Robb. There’s Robb: hiding from him in the woods behind their father’s house. There’s Robb: laughing. Robb, with his first girlfriend, smiling as he introduces them. Robb in a bar with a lot of people Jon doesn’t know. A thousand iterations of Robb and his dreams rarely let him reach out and touch him the way he wants to.

Ned had asked Jon to come back home and live with them after Robb had died. “You can’t stay in that apartment, come home,” he’d said and added “son” to the end like he meant it. It had been a long time since he’d been Ned Stark’s son though.

The adopted child, Jon had always been different from his siblings. Sansa looked at him with pity and tomboyish Arya had found a sort of outsider’s solidarity with him. Their mother, Catelyn, had done her best to love him as she loved her own children but her resolve had, finally, failed when she’d found Jon and Robb doing things which “brothers simply should not do” in the old shed where, until a few weeks before, they’d mostly just hidden out to smoke pot. And, okay, maybe brothers didn’t give brothers handjobs and crush their mouths together, eyes closed, breath hitching, as though this was the only thing in the whole world, but Robb had tried to talk her around. Robb had told his mother (she wouldn’t let Jon call her ‘mother’ anymore) that he was as much to blame as Jon was but Catelyn would never believe it.

Ned had asked Jon to come back home and Jon had wished he could say yes but he knew that ‘home’ didn’t exist anymore. Home was the place where he and Robb could hide out in the shed or in the shadows of the trees and where Jon could tousle Arya’s hair and laugh at Bran when his dart struck the wall rather than the dartboard. Home was gone and Robb was gone and Jon lived alone in an apartment which felt like the worst place in all the world.

The apartment had been home once, too, though. When he and Robb had moved into it. It was the summer between years at college, seventeen, and they’d loved the place. They’d loved living in each other’s space and having nowhere to go and, even when they hadn’t loved it, they’d made it work. They’d had a little over a year. It had been a good year. Even the worst days had ended with Robb asleep beside him and that was enough — just that was enough to make them good days, really.

“You should move out,” Sam says, but Jon has nowhere to go. They were going to go to university together. God, their naïve dreams. They were going to leave this apartment and go to a whole new town where nobody knew them and no-one would say “aren’t you the Stark boys? I thought you were brothers” and look at them like they were a freak show. They were going to escape together and be together. Jon told himself he wasn’t going to cry anymore, at least not when people could see, but he cries, then, in front of Sam.

The apartment is empty and cold and Jon doesn’t have many visitors. He’d deferred his university place for a year — even though he’d wanted to cancel it all together. Uni was where he was going to go with Robb. It was part of that life. He didn’t have that anymore.

He goes to back to sleep in the middle of the afternoon and gets up and gets drunk and goes to bed again. Sleeplessness circling an inability to do anything but sleep.

He cuts himself shaving the next day and looks at the blood and thinks things he knows he shouldn’t.

His shrink tells him to write letters to Robb with all the things he’d want to say to him. There hadn’t been a chance for last words and, apparently, they are an essential part of letting go. Jon doesn’t want to let go. He wants to grab hold of Robb with both hands, like he was real again, and press his fingers into Robb’s skin and kiss him and tell him that he’s not allowed to leave.

He goes back to the shrink and she asks to see the letters. He tells her he hasn’t written any. He has no answer to give, when she asks him why.

Ned calls by again to ask Jon to come home. “You don’t have to go through his alone,” Ned says.

“I do.” Jon says, “Robb’s dead. I don’t have anyone else. There was never anyone else.”

“You have us.” Ned says, “your family.” But Jon can tell that Ned’s not going to be bringing Bran and Rickon and Arya around to visit anytime soon, not with the way Jon smells of whiskey and hasn’t shaved since he cut himself last week.

The girl from the flat two doors down asks him if he’s alright when she sees him. When he doesn’t reply, she goes on to say, “has your boyfriend left you or something? You’re taking it really badly if he has.”

“Yeah,” Jon says, and mumbles the word again, under his breath, as he fumbles with his keys.

The view out of Jon’s window is a car park and he stares at it for hours. Cars come and go, and the lights in the other buildings begin to turn on as it gets dark, then off again as their inhabitants go to sleep. It’s September, so it’s starting to get dark earlier, and Jon sleeps more the more hours of darkness are offered him.

It’s in October when the girl from two doors down asks if his boyfriend’s back. Jon snarls about whether or not he looks any better and she says, “well, no, but I thought I saw him the other day, down in the car park.”

Jon only stares out of the window more after that.

Robb’s ghost is everywhere: in the sounds he hears at night; in the memories associated with every object.

Robb had insisted they buy a desk and they’d spent all day going to every different second-hand furniture store in town, looking for a nice old desk that wouldn’t be too big for the tiny flat. They’d carried it home between them, laughing, Jon mocking Robb’s choice even as Robb defended it.

Robb’s clothes are still in the wardrobe. Jon still feels a little ache of regret every time he remembers how Robb had put his laundry on before he’d gone out that day, that last day, so there aren’t even many things left that really smell of him.

He’d refused to wash the sheets until someone had made him, even though they didn’t smell like Robb anymore.

He turns the radio on to get rid of the silence then turns it off because the songs are awful and mostly unfamiliar and the DJ’s obnoxious and the callers are worse. The silence is worst of all though.

When it’s completely silent, he can’t even imagine hearing Robb’s key turning in the lock — that Robb’s come back home.

Whenever he imagines the sound of that key, Jon is suddenly conscious of every muscle in his body.

He’s washing up one day, washing up dishes which he’d left on the side for so long he’d had to let them soak before he could even attempt to scrub them clean. He’s just turned the radio back on because, yes, there’s the noise of plates clanking together, and water sloshing, and the squeaking of the wet cloth on porcelain, but somehow that’s not enough. Besides, being annoyed with someone else is better than being left with his thoughts. So he’s listening to the radio and it’s as bad as usual until it isn’t any more. The radio is playing Robb’s favourite song. Or, god, maybe it wasn’t his favourite, but it was the song Robb had played, one afternoon, up in his room — when they’d been in the home which was really home and not this place — and Robb had played it and they’d just listened until their eyes had met and Jon had smiled and they’d kissed for the first time.

Jon almost drops the plate he’s holding but doesn’t. And he just stands there, holding the plate a few inches above the water, and listens. Maybe it’s his favourite song now, not Robb’s, but it’s on the radio and it’s early October and the light from the window above the sink is bright and harsh and Jon has to sit down because he just can’t.

Robb’s ghost is everywhere, in everything he’d ever touched (which is everything) and in every shadow and in the radio which is playing that song.

Jon wakes up and thinks he can hear footsteps in the hallway but it’s just the dripping tap. The tap is dripping again and the kitchen light is on again and he turns it off this time. He crawls back into bed and he listens for the footsteps.

He listens for the footsteps for six weeks, then seven. It’s cold in the apartment and empty and Robb is never, ever coming home, Jon knows.

Jon, too, is never, ever coming home.

He lies awake at night except when he gets drunk enough to sleep. He listens for footsteps and sees Robb’s ghost in his coat hung up in the hallway, and in the coffee cup he used to cradle in both hands.

Sometimes the tap drips, and sometimes he doesn’t remember leaving the lights on, and once he hears Robb’s favourite song on the radio but he’s still just waiting for something more substantial than a ghost.

It’s been seven weeks and Robb’s been buried for five of them.

Arya had come to visit, after school, one afternoon, and Jon hadn’t meant to cry in front of her but he had.

Jon’s shrink has pretty much given up on him and Ned still wants him to go back to the big house which has as many ghosts as this place and isn’t home anymore either.

Jon is lying awake and listening to car engines and not-quite silence.

It’s been seven weeks and, when he hears the footsteps, he thinks they’re coming from next door. He screws his eyes shut and listens. They’re coming from outside, definitely. Then he hears the lock. No-one has a key, no-one but Jon and the landlord and the landlord wouldn’t call this late at night. Robb’s key must have been on his person when he’d died but no-one had given it back to Jon. Their father had dealt with all that. Maybe, their father still had a key.

There are footsteps in the hallway and he’s heard the door creak open and closed by the time he gets up. He doesn’t turn the light on in the bedroom, just heads straight for the hallway.

The hall light isn’t on either and he can hardly see in the dark but he knows that the shadow is Robb. He can’t believe how slowly he walks toward it, not thinking anything except Robb’s name. When he reaches it - him Robb, he isn’t sure what to do until he’s hugging him. He holds him so close it hurts, and he presses his face to Robb’s neck, and finds that he still smells like Robb. He’d almost forgotten what that smell was but it’s there, and he knows it, and it’s everything. Everything is here and back with him and he lets his lips brush the skin of Robb’s neck and whispers his name.

His eyes are adjusting to the darkness but, probably, he ought to turn on the light. He needs to see if Robb is really Robb; he needs to examine Robb’s eyes as though they were fingerprints. But there is time enough for that. Instead, he reaches underneath Robb’s clothes and searches out all the places he knows, feels Robb’s heart beating fast beneath his ribcage and kisses him properly.

It’s just like before, except that Jon’s hair is longer and he’s got at least five day’s worth of stubble, and he’s exhausted, and it’s been seven weeks since Robb left him for the longest time that he and Robb have ever been apart. Those seven weeks were meant to be forever but then there’s Robb and he kisses just like Robb does and puts a hand in Jon’s hair, like Robb does, and he feels the same and smells the same and, when Robb says Jon’s name, it is like hearing the song on the radio all over again: too familiar.

Jon thinks he’s dreaming but he still takes Robb to bed with him. This might be the only chance he’ll get and it’s so much better than a dream. It hurts to breath and Robb climbs on top of him on the bed and pins him down with his hands and his mouth and Jon has no thought to spare for questions. He rolls Robb over so he’s on top of him and he says, “never leave. I won’t let you leave,” and Robb doesn’t say anything, just kisses him.

Maybe it lasts forever or maybe it’s minutes. Jon comes far too fast the first time but Robb keeps kissing him, keeps covering with his hands and his body, and it isn’t long before Jon’s hard again.

The first thing Jon thinks as he wakes up the next morning is that opening his eyes and finding that Robb isn’t there will be the hardest thing he’s ever had to do.

He screws his eyes shut against the morning light and remembers. He remembers the footsteps, remembers Robb’s hands and Robb’s body and the way he’d smelt like Robb and how he’d said “Jon” and nothing else. He remembers until he stops remembering and starts feeling. There’s another body in the bed and it’s warm and breathing. There’s warm breath on the back of his neck and an arm on his chest and Robb’s thigh is grazing his own.

He opens his eyes.

The light coming through the gap in the curtains isn’t bright but the hand on his chest is Robb’s.

He doesn’t want to wake him, the boy who came back from the dead, but he turns over in bed as carefully as he can and just looks at the sleeping boy. Every part of him is Robb and Jon thinks he could count the freckles on his face and neck, if only the light were a little better.

He touches Robb’s hair and Robb makes a little, grumbling, half-awake noise. He moves in his sleep, just a bit, before he opens his eyes but they’re the same eyes — Robb’s eyes.

He says “Jon” and Jon thinks fuck, what if he’s come back to me and that’s the one thing that’s different, that the only word he can say is ‘Jon’, only then Robb is saying “I missed you,” and pulling Jon in for a kiss.

“I can’t believe it,” Jon says, minutes later, as they lie there with their legs interlocked, just looking at each other.

“I can,” Robb says and doesn’t say you don’t know what it cost me to get back here — even though a part of him wants to.

“It was, fuck, Robb, it was hell, without you. I— I don’t know how.”

Robb puts a hand on Jon’s cheek, smiles and says, “I know. I couldn’t— me either. So let’s just—”

Neither of them says ‘never be apart again’ or ‘never leave’; Jon just says “yeah” and it’s agreed.

They don’t stay in the apartment; they don’t even stay in town.

They go somewhere else: somewhere where no-one will think they are brothers or that Robb used to be dead.

It’s easy to fall asleep with Robb next to him, pressed skin to skin and just there. (Jon thinks: where he belongs.)

He doesn’t forget about the nights when he couldn’t sleep or dripping taps or listening for footsteps. And, sometimes, when Robb is late getting home, Jon can’t help but wonder whether death has come back to claim him again. He holds him tighter, fucks him harder, those nights, and Robb never says anything but he knows. They both do.

When Jon slips one night and actually says, “don’t leave, don’t ever leave me,” it takes every bit of resolve that Robb has not to tell him the truth.

Robb wants to say: I can’t, I can’t ever leave you. That was the deal. If I do, I die again — forever this time. But he’d promised not to tell Jon that. It was part of the deal, too. So, Robb just kisses him and says “I won’t” instead, careful, and a little afraid.

There’s one time when they fight and Jon tells Robb to “get out, just leave, I—” and Robb is scared he’ll die if he does but he leaves anyway.

When he comes back, begging Jon to forgive him, he hates the fact that he’s also begging not to die. Only Jon’s there saying “no, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have, I only— god, it was so hard, so impossible without you and I—” and he seems more sorry than Robb is, even, so Robb hugs him tight enough to bruise and never leaves again.

It’s not easy. Living never is, Robb supposes. Dying would have been easier. But he has Jon and they have a life together, just the one life between them, and he knows he’s made the right choice.

Jon is the only one who knows that Robb came back to life. That was part of the deal, too, though an unspoken part. Dead boys aren’t supposed to come back and most people won’t welcome them home with open arms.

It’s hard: cutting ties, never seeing people again.

Once, Jon goes home to see Arya in the semi-final of a martial arts competition and it almost breaks Robb’s heart that he can’t go. Jon spends the whole visit feeling guilty because they’re all saying how much better he looks now.

“I wouldn’t be better,” Jon tells Robb, afterwards, “not without you, I couldn’t be, and they must think—” Robb kisses him so that he can’t finish but that isn’t the end of the guilt.

“I’m glad you went,” Robb tells him, “how else could I know that everyone’s okay?”

But all their smiles are strained that night and for days afterwards and Jon says, more than once, that it should have been him who died which makes Robb want to hit him and kiss him, both at once.

Most of the time, it’s easy though, like this is the way they were always supposed to live. They make new friends and change and grow and alter but they stay together. Always.

Robb asks Jon, once, if he ever thinks that he’d rather live without him and Jon looks like he’s about to cry or commit an act of violence.

“I don’t mean it like that. I don’t want to split up. I just thought you—” Robb says.

Jon looks at him and says, as though he knows, “you can’t leave” and, even though Robb knows he means or it would break me, there’s a part of Robb that just thinks of it as a statement of fact.

“I won’t,” Robb says again. He never says ‘I can’t’ because, well, he could, and dying is easy. “We’ll be together for as long as you want me.”

Jon’s eyes ask him for a promise and Robb just puts his arm around Jon’s shoulders and rests his forehead against Jon’s. It’s going to be a beautiful forever, he thinks.

Date: 2011-08-24 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, I love this so much. ♥ The things these boys do to my heart, man. :)

I like how this is a completely different time and place, and yet Jon's loneliness and longing still feels true to character. Him and Robb are just so adorable here, despite it being a rather less than brotherly scenario. It's such a bittersweet romance and so sad, but I love your characterisation and imagery. I want to drown in it.

Fantastic work. :)

Date: 2011-08-25 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
♥ If any boys could tear my heart apart, it's these two.

I am so glad that it rung true with you. This is such a cool comment. Thank you for reading & I'm so glad you liked it. ♥

Date: 2011-08-24 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

This is so beautiful and sweet, oh my god. It's out there and strange but so true to the characters as well and ugh, my heart hurts. LOVELY.

Date: 2011-08-25 09:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh god. That Robb gif. I suspect that was Robb's exact expression when he realised he was dead - but not because it was dead, just because he couldn't get back to Jon and he just had to get back.

I am so glad you liked the fic! ♥ Thank you for reading & commenting - that gif is doing terrible things to my heart. </3

Date: 2011-08-26 01:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I suspect that was Robb's exact expression when he realised he was dead - but not because it was dead, just because he couldn't get back to Jon and he just had to get back.


Date: 2011-08-24 04:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was lovely. Honestly.

And that Robb came back, only to be with Jon, and it wasn't anything creepy attached to it. Like, no climbing out of the grave, nor becoming a vampire, nor a werewolf, nor Jon being dead and Robb was there to take him to heaven - he just came back.

And the descriptions, and Jon's pain and relief when Robb came back. And I liked that you made Jon an adopted child - it takes away that creepy brothers-by-blood thing that is always there, no matter how used to it you are and how much you read it.

Great job, and thanks for sharing!

Date: 2011-08-25 09:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm so glad you liked it!

The thing with Robb in this is that, yes, "he just came back" but he also doesn't tell Jon what he went through to get back - if, indeed, he went through anything at all. He is still just the same Robb though, definitely, not marked by the experience - except insofar as he can never leave Jon.

Thank you for reading & commenting. ♥ Apologies for the rambly reply! (:

Date: 2011-08-24 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh holy hell, this just broke my heart. I don't know if I'm just extra hormonal or what, but for the first time I actually cried while reading a fic. Thank you for the happy (though somewhat creepy) ending! I don't think I could stand more angst.

Date: 2011-08-25 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I need to stop writing fic about these boys which makes people cry. Jon and Robb need more happy endings! Thank you for reading & commenting & you have my apologies regarding the heartbreak. ♥

Date: 2011-08-24 06:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is so intriguing! I love how you depict Jon's grief. So stark and sad.

Date: 2011-08-25 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is definitely a bit of a weird concept but, ugh, Jon just exists to suffer or something. Thank you for commenting, bb. ♥

Date: 2011-08-24 11:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
this was both heartbreaking & lovely. :)

Date: 2011-08-25 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm so glad you liked it. Thank you for reading & commenting! ♥

Date: 2011-08-29 07:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh my gosh that was so beautiful and heartbreaking and just I AM A PUDDLE OF ANGSTY/FLAILY MUSH RIGHT NOW!! <333

“I won’t,” Robb says again. He never says ‘I can’t’ because, well, he could, and dying is easy. “We’ll be together for as long as you want me.”

That entire last paragraph BROKE ME, beautifully done through and through </3

Date: 2011-12-08 06:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
when she’d found Jon and Robb doing things which “brothers simply should not do” in the old shed where, until a few weeks before, they’d mostly just hidden out to smoke pot. And, okay, maybe brothers didn’t give brothers handjobs and crush their mouths together, eyes closed, breath hitching, as though this was the only thing in the whole world, but Robb had tried to talk her around. Robb had told his mother (she wouldn’t let Jon call her ‘mother’ anymore) that he was as much to blame as Jon was but Catelyn would never believe it.

This is .... a really good take on why Catelyn feels the way she does about Jon. That's the trick with modern AUs, nailing the feelings even if the motivations aren't the same. Anyway hi, you don't know me from Eve and I don't ship Jon/Robb either but hey lovely lovely fic. &hearts

Date: 2011-12-29 04:59 pm (UTC)
ext_475658: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
i am waaaaay late to the party on this one but god is it beautiful.

Date: 2012-06-25 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So I read this over on AO3 and didn't comment so will comment now. This was all kinds of angsty brilliance and awesomeness. Loved the Supernatural(T.V show) tome to it. lovely darling.
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