|bound_by_honor (bound_by_honor) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2012-03-13 16:36:00
|Entry tags:||arya stark, eddard stark|
Who:: Theo and Nell
What: A meeting between strangers
Where: Passages Hotel; In front of the ASOIAF Door
Warnings: Likely none.
Theodore and Eddard got along quite well. Running the Wynn was Theo’s life, but the appearance of Eddard made things somewhat complicated. As did the addition of Raegan in his life, though he wouldn’t have traded that for the world. She was family and Theo had no intention of leaving her to her own devices. Eddard - Ned as he insisted on being called - had proven to be a guiding hand when it came to his niece. For that, and for everything else that Ned had done for him, Theodore relented about visiting Passages Hotel. He had been wary at first, given Ned’s fate in the show, but he understood the worry and concern Ned had for his family, particularly his daughters.
Dressed casually in a navy blue business suit and crisp white shirt, Theo entered the hotel and climbed the stairs. His key had a number scratched into it and he assumed that was the door he was meant to find. It didn’t take long at all for him to insert his key and open the door. Winterfell was before him, recognized on sight by the main room Eddard knew so well. “It’s much more impressive here,” Theodore muttered to himself, taking a step forward. Eddard was just as eager to cross the threshold, but they couldn’t. It simply wasn’t possible, and both men were a bit frustrated by it. Just let me watch, Ned requested, and Theo nodded, adopting a comfortable stance with his arms crossed in front of his chest. He could see why Ned called it home.
Nell squinted despite her oversized glasses as she studied the exterior of the Passages Hotel. She supposed she would have found it interesting enough under different circumstances, but right now? Right now all she wanted was to be in bed. Or alternately, to be lounging in some heavy shade with a bloody mary. The insides of her head were threatening to trade places with the outside, and even the mere thought of hair of the dog was enough to make Nell groan in pain.
What was she even doing here? Nell had come to Vegas to catch up with friends and party like it was her job to, so why was she standing outside a completely foreign hotel (one that didn't even boast a casino) in the middle of the day? She had stopped her day and a half of continuous partying for this trip down the strip, all for teenager sharing her headspace, because of the interesting things she had read in her journal. All these months with Arya in her head, and this was where it was all supposed to lead. Nell should have been more skeptical about what she would find inside, she knew, but after Seattle she had conceded the fact that absolutely anything was possible. Sharing her head with a fictional character was almost normal compared to some of the things she had experienced those 5 years ago.
Taking a deep breath, Nell walked into the Hotel and made her way across the different floors. Arya told her that she would know when they were "there," and Nell trusted the girl enough to take her word for it. Arya reminded Nell a lot of herself when she was that age - alone, angry, mistrustful - and given the similarities in their past, Nell couldn't help but feel fondness for the girl. At least Nell had found friends upon coming to Seattle; Arya was all alone. Nell hoped they could finally find the answers about her family that Arya had chased for so many years, so that the girl could finally get closure. In her almost 24 years on this planet, Nell had learned one very important thing: everyone deserved closure.
Nell lost track of how many floors she had climbed and doors she had passed when she felt the key in her pocket thrum. It wasn't a very loud or noticeable noise, but there was a palpable shift in energy that seemed to get stronger with every step she took forward. Nell was so caught up in the excitement of the moment that she didn't realize the man standing outside the door until she almost ran into him. She caught herself in time to avoid colliding into him, but not enough to not make the situation awkward.
"Oh, hello," she said with a grimace, her voice sounding dry and cracked to her ears. "I didn't realize anyone else would be up here."
Theo, in all honesty, hadn’t even heard her approach. He felt how close she was before she’d even started talking and he shifted to accommodate a second person, though he gaze didn’t stray from the door to Winterfell for very long. “It’s okay,” he replied, sounding wholly unconcerned. It took him a moment to figure out that she wasn’t leaving, another to come to the conclusion that it was probably her door too, and yet another to recognize the way her voice sounded.
“Late night last night?” he asked, a half smile on his face as he glanced at her again. She was young, no more than 25, and somewhat familiar. Where could he have seen her before? Theo wracked his brain for a reason how he might know her. She wasn’t local to Las Vegas. He knew everyone that was anyone in Vegas, which meant she’d have to be someone notable from elsewhere. New York? No. Miami? Also no. Los Angeles maybe? No. He was stumped, but it was hardly a pressing concern for the moment. “Is this your door too, then?”
“Late doesn’t begin to cover it,” she replied with a small shake of her head, the most she could manage in her condition. Nell followed the man’s gaze through the door, and felt the bottom of her stomach drop right out - a feeling that, for a change, had nothing at all do with her hangover. It was Arya’s home. A place she had not seen since she was 10 years old. Nell could feel the tumult of emotions going through Arya as though they were wracking her own body, and stood speechless for a long moment, utterly overwhelmed.
“By the gods,” she whispered, unconsciously projecting her Alter’s thoughts. The room was for the lack of a better word - stark, beautiful in its simplicity and grandeur. There was nothing gaudy or elegant about the great hall. It’s power came from the harshness of the details, and the dark stone emanated a cold energy that seemed to travel through the magical barrier that separated the worlds. It looked horribly uncomfortable to Nell, but she knew it was the last place Arya had ever felt truly safe.
Nell realized much too late that the man next to her had asked her a question, and was probably waiting for her answer. “What? I mean, yeah. It is. Sorry. This is just a lot for me to process right now.” She turned back to look through the door, craning her neck to check how far inside she could see. “I heard we’re supposed to be able to go through these things?”
Theo chuckled at the blonde’s reply. Honestly, he shouldn’t have been surprised. Vegas was all about partying and nearly everyone who came here came to party. She certainly seemed like she’d had a rough night and he was tempted to share his secret hangover remedy just because of how she looked. It was the next thing that came out of her mouth that sent a chill down his spine. Ned knew those words, having spoken them quite a number of times. He watched her as she looked through the door, ignoring Ned’s rather loud request to ask the girl who she had within her.
He’d almost forgotten he’d asked a question by the time she replied, but the answer she gave only confirmed what he’d already assumed by her reaction. She was a Stark, or at least someone familiar with the main room of Winterfell. Ned was betting on either his wife or his daughters; he hoped she was the latter. “We are,” Theo replied with a slow nod. “I can’t seem to break the plane though. You’re welcome to try though,” he added, taking a step to the side and gesturing toward the door.
“I wonder why,” Nell said softly, more to herself than the other man. She stepped towards the door, hand out in front of her. She didn’t know what she was expecting. Maybe there’d be a dramatic change in temperature when she crossed the threshold. Or maybe a cool rippling effect in the air like she had seen in all those science fiction movies. She certainly wasn’t expecting her hand to hit an invisible barrier, hard as rock and equally unforgiving. Nell was lucky she hadn’t jammed her fingers into the clear wall, because she knew without a doubt that it would have hurt like hell. “What the hell?” Nell pushed her sunglasses off her face to rest on top of her head, and began to explore the door with both hands. Just as she had feared, there was no way through.
“But everyone else seems to get through just fine. Is it just this door that’s broken somehow?” She looked at the man expectantly, even though she knew he had no reason to know any more than her. Now that she was finally looking, she noticed that he was an older guy - mid 40s she’d guess - with a refined sort of aura around him. She could tell just by looking that the suit was quality (thanks, Anton), and felt mildly curious. Of course, now wasn’t the time to inquire about his story, not with Arya screaming to high hell in her head.
Theo watched as she stepped toward the door with her hand outstretched. He didn’t say anything as her hand hit the barrier or as she began to explore the door with both of her hands. It was even easier to see how hung over she was once her sunglasses were up on the top of her head. Once he got a clear view of her, he recognized her as Orin Monarch’s daughter, from Seattle. Well now, that was very interesting. He wondered where she was staying before he even realized thinking about it.
“I don’t think so,” he replied, taking a step forward to rest his palm against the barrier. “I think it’s just not open yet. I wasn’t here when the hotel opened, so that might be why?” Theo shrugged and took a step back. “I’m not all that worried. I’ll keep coming back to try and get through. The man in my head, he needs to go through for his family.” He glanced at Eleanor and then back to Winterfell. “Who do you have?” he asked quietly.
“Maybe. All I know is that if I don’t get through soon,” she paused, pointing to her head, “someone is going to be extremely pissed off.” Nell had had enough time with Arya to examine the girl’s choices and actions, and knew just how far the girl was willing to go. Heads would roll if Arya Stark was kept out of Winterfell that was for sure. At least Nell had done what the girl wanted, which hopefully meant she’d be allowed to go back to bed without being plagued by any more crazy dreams.
Nell took a deep breath and pushed back her hair, her eyes shut tight in an attempt to will away the pain. She needed to get hydrated; those two bottles of smart water hadn’t been enough. The man’s question floated past the throbbing in her head, and her eyes opened slowly to study him again. He looked perfectly normal, but that didn’t mean she could trust whoever it was that shared his mind. Arya pointed out that he could be Cersei Lannister, or Joffrey, or Ilyn Payne, and that the only way she had survived as long as she had was by staying anonymous. “Someone who has gone by a lot of names to remain safe. I’m sorry, they don’t trust strangers. And after the life they’ve seen, I can’t blame them.” Nell made sure to keep her pronouns neutral. She couldn’t be too cautious.
Ned had been so sure that she was one of his children, but her reply left much to be desired. Theo reminded him that maybe he needed to make the first move in sharing who he was. There were a lot of people that could and would threaten, harm, or kill any of the Starks. Ned understood better and appreciated the girl's caution, recognizing that he was blinded by the chance to rescue Sansa and Arya. "I appreciate your caution, particularly if your door opens to Winterfell as well.".
Theo turned to face her and held out his hand. "Theodore Winters," he introduced himself. "I work at the Wynn, and I've only seen the first series of Game of Thrones on HBO." He smiled quite warmly at that, hoping that she would recognize that he wasn't a threat. He let that settle before adding, "I have Lord Stark in my head."
“No place is safe in Westeros.” Nell shrugged. Despite her high birth, Arya had learned the lesson early on, and it had become just another fact about her existence. She was a Stark. Winter was coming. Bad things happen even when undeserved. No place was safe. Anyone could be killed. “Thank you for understanding.”
Nell shook the proffered hand. “I’m Nell,” she paused for the briefest moment, as though hesitant about whether or not to give her entire name. “Monarch.” Nell wasn’t as cautious as Arya was, but then again, she didn’t have half of Westeros eager to capture her either. “I’m traveling at the moment. I’ve read a few of the books over the last few months.” Normally, Nell would have ripped through such a fantasy series in a few weeks, but Arya had been hesitant. As much as the girl had wanted to know her family was okay, she was equally afraid they wouldn’t be. So they moved slowly, plodding through the books only when Arya said she was ready. “The show was great as well.”
Nell’s jaw dropped, and she stood there staring at Theodore dumbly for a long moment before finding her tongue. “Lord Eddard Stark?” She blinked and swallowed, trying to process this information through the pounding hangover and the clamor Arya was making in her head. “But... but she watched you die!” It wasn’t exactly the truth, but it was close enough.
“No, no it’s not,” Theo replied. Eddard knew that all too well, but he could understand exactly why Nell, as she said she preferred to be called, was cautious, particularly if she had a Stark along for the ride. Ned’s children knew those lessons from the moment they could speak. It was the only way to survive in Westeros. “Ms. Monarch,” he greeted with a tip of his head and a warm shake of his hand. “I’m afraid my job leaves very little free time for reading.” Perhaps he should have read the books. It would certainly provide further information about Ned’s children, and Theo was beginning to understand a bit more why Ned had wanted as much footage as possible from the next season of Game of Thrones.
“The one and only,” he confirmed. What she said next made him positive that she was one of his daughters. “Arya or Sansa?” he asked, echoing the question Ned was screaming at him. She wasn’t Cersei Lannister, not with how she reacted to seeing Winterfell. The only other women who would have a reaction like her’s were Arya and Sansa. He realized, belatedly, that Sansa had been the only one to actually see him die, but Ned hadn’t known that until he’d watched the show. He’d thought Arya had seen him too.
Nell stared on in shocked silence as the man affirmed her suspicion. Arya generally linear thoughts had been replaced by a million questions, and combined with her own, they were enough to leave Nell dizzy. "Arya... but how?" Nell swallowed, trying to beat her thoughts into something that would make sense. "You died. She heard it. The entire kingdom knew of it. She had to go into hid - but how?" She leaned against the wall as she watched the man carefully, waiting for an answer. Coming to the hotel had been about seeing if the place was actually as creepy as everyone said, and assuaging Arya's concerns. Life-changing discoveries had not been a part of the package. Granted, it wasn't exactly her life that was being changed, but Nell still wished she had had a chance to be prepared for this.
The lines that separated Theo from Eddard dissolved for a brief moment when she said that Arya was the girl inside her. He couldn’t help himself. Theo pulled her into a tight hug a moment after she leaned against the wall. She wasn’t Arya and he wasn’t Eddard, at least right now, but in that moment, it felt like he’d just been reunited with his daughter. “I don’t know,” he replied finally, letting her go almost reluctantly. He stayed within arms reach of her, the door to Winterfell forgotten entirely in favor of assuaging his - Ned’s - daughter’s concerns. “He was surprised to find himself with me because the last thing he remembers is...that moment,” Theodore explained. “When is she from? How far after?”
Nell was too stunned to react to the hug until she was already in the man's arms, and for some reason she couldn't explain, she found herself hugging Theodore back. She knew perfectly well that she wasn't Arya and he wasn't Ned, but the hug was the closest thing to family contact Arya had had in years. "Wow, that must be awful." Nell said, concerned. Arya had been through a lot, but at least she was alive. She couldn't imagine what having an Alter who remembered dying would feel like. "She's 18." Biting her lip, she added. "It's been a long, long time since that day. She hasn't told me everything, but she's told me enough."
Eighteen. Ned was stunned into silence that his precious, beautiful little Arya was eighteen years old. “It has,” Theodore replied, his voice distant as he tried to work through his and Ned’s feelings. He would’ve missed all of it anyway, Theo tried to console, but Ned felt responsible for the way things turned out. “He’s sorry. He’s...All he’s wanted is to cross the door and find his girls.” Emotions started to affect him, his voice coming out a bit thicker than usual. Theodore had to clear his throat before continuing. “I’d...Would you like to get something to eat?” he asked. Now that he’d found his daughter, Ned wasn’t eager to let her go so soon.
"It wasn't his fault. Trust me, if there's one thing Arya knows, it's that. She took - the people responsible were made to pay." Nell had no desire to go into the details of Arya's kill list, and Arya was in no rush to reveal it to her father either. Eight years might have passed, and Arya may be an adult now, but she still did not want to see a look of disappointment in her fathers eyes. Not until she could see him for herself and know that he was okay. "I..." the words died in her mouth, as she found the urge to gag. Nell didn't know if it was just the idea of food that was making her queasy (she hoped that was the case), or if this reaction was something Arya was bringing on. Either way, she knew she needed to get away, regroup, and give the girl in her head some time to accept the fact that the father she had thought dead for almost half her life was once again alive and kicking.
"I'm sorry. The thought of food at this moment is threatening to my stomach. I think... I think it would be best if we tried this again when we can go through." Nell hated the fact that she was pulling a daughter away from a concerned father, but she really thought it best if the Starks were the ones who had this conversation, instead of their counterparts.
Relief swept through him when she said that Arya knew now how sorry Ned was, and that she didn’t blame him. It was disappointing to have her pull away and reject the idea of a meal with him, but Theo could understand it even if Ned couldn’t. This was about more than just Nell and Theo or Arya and Ned. “Don’t apologize,” Theodore insisted. “It’s a big shock for everyone,” he consoled. “I’ll keep checking the door and when it lets me go through, I’ll get in touch with you through the journals.” He didn’t want to insist that they trade contact information but perhaps it would be useful for her to have his contact information. Theo reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a crisp white business card. “If you need anything, just ask,” he said, handing her the card.
"I'll say." She nodded and took the card he held out. "Thank you. I don't need to tell you how eager Arya is to get through that door." Nell dug around in the bag on her arm until she found her small silver card holder. "My information is on here," she said, pulling the small white business card out for a man. "Please let me know as soon as you find out, no matter what time it is." Dropping the case back into purse obscurity, she pulled the glasses back onto her face and nodded at Theodore. "Thank you, Mr. Winters. I hope I see you again very soon."