The Widow's Dagger had been calmed for a week in the Summer Sea, and Tyrion was growing restless. Not just restless to reach their destination, but a more urgent, private sort of restless, the kind a gentleman found it difficult to take care of in the crowded hold where he slept. In addition to the lack of privacy, it was stinkingly hot and everything reeked of unwashed sailors – not exactly conducive to a romantic evening (or even ten minutes) alone with one's right hand.
The heat did have certain perks, though. Asha's shirt fairly clung to her body with the sweat, leaving her dark nipples clearly visible through the fabric as she worked the lines. He kept hoping the captain would finally strip off to the waist like the rest of her crew had done weeks before, but so far no such luck. Nevertheless, it was difficult to take his eyes off her, as much as he tried to be discreet.
Inevitably, she noticed his lustful gaze. But instead of mocking him, as he'd expected, she just smirked and then seemed to go out of her way to bend over while coiling a line, in just such a way that her shirt gaped at the neck and gave him a tantalizing glimpse of the sweaty hollow between her small breasts. Under normal circumstances, she wouldn't be to his taste – too thin, too sharp-edged – but there was something about her, something he couldn't quite identify, that was growing ever harder to resist, something apart from her 'only woman on the ship' appeal. Besides, beggars couldn't be choosers.
"Captain, a word?" He was a paying passenger, the only one she had at the moment, he figured he had a right to… what? To speak with her alone, at the very least. It would be up to her if anything further came of it.
Asha shrugged and ushered her into her cabin, the only private quarters on the ship. It wasn't fancy, nothing more than a hammock slung between two thick wooden beams and a desk with her navigational charts spread out hopefully across it, but it was out of sight of the rest of the crew, which was more than could be said for his own accommodations.
She sat on the single chair, leaving him to stand – not that he towered over her even when she was seated, by any means. "What is it?" she asked, looking both impatient and amused.
"Any idea how long we'll be stuck here?"
"If I knew that, I'd take up a job as a soothsayer and leave sailing forever. It could be hours, days…"
"Weeks? If it's much longer, we'll run out of fresh water. Couldn't your men, I don't know, row or something?"
She looked at him as if he was mad. "This isn't a longboat, we can't just break out the oars."
"You could start swimming," she suggested with a smirk.
"We may be running low on water," he said, changing tack, "but I still have a cask of Arbor gold stashed away below-deck. Let me offer you a glass. We'll send someone down to fetch it up and…"
"I have my own wine, thank you," Asha replied curtly. "What is this about, exactly? Are you trying to get into my pants?" She sounded more amused than angry at the possibility.
"If I were, would you say no?"
She laughed, low in her throat. "It's not as if I haven't noticed you looking at me. Everyone else has. Dila says I should fuck you." Dila was the massive Summer Islander she'd taken up with early in their voyage.
Tyrion arched an eyebrow. "Does he, now?"
She nodded. "His people think that it's a charitable duty to lie with those who need it – especially if they can't get it any other way. He says it makes the gods smile to give to those in need. Like feeding a beggar, say."
"Are you suggesting I'm a beggar?" Never mind that he'd had the same thought about himself only moments before – it was more insulting coming from her.
She didn't answer directly. "If we could make it to one of the Summer Isles, you could just go to the temple and choose a girl to satisfy your desires – they all take their turns serving there when they're young, it's some sort of rite of passage."
"I'd certainly visit the sept more often if they offered that service."
"Dila's volunteered to do the job himself if I won't. He thinks it might bring the winds back if the gods are better pleased with us."
Tyrion blanched slightly at that prospect – the strapping sailor had double his height and was hung like a horse, if Asha's gleeful hints about his prowess were to be believed. "I'd rather get out and push."
Asha laughed again. "I warned him that Westerosi men tend to be oddly touchy about that sort of thing, but you know, I don't think he quite believed me. You might have to watch your back."
He thought the captain was teasing, but it was hard to be certain with her. "Or you could just perform the act of charity yourself and save me the bother."
She ignored his proposition. "You should just be glad the crew haven't taken it into their superstitious heads that you're the Hermund aboard the Dagger."
"The one bringing the bad luck upon us." Her voice took on the cadence of a tale learned in childhood."Hermund Codd sailed with King Urron Redhand. Redhand's greatest ship, Fylla, was caught in a storm so terrible that it seemed they would be lost, and only a sacrifice to the Drowned God might spare them. Hermund had the misfortune to have been born with a clubfoot, and no doubt all men did despise the Codds back then as well. So they tossed him overboard, and the storm calmed at once." Her tone strongly suggested that particular course of action was still a distinct possibility in the present day.
"I rather think I prefer the Summer Islanders' way of solving the problem," Tyrion said, though his hopes of such a pleasant resolution were dwindling swiftly. "It seems considerably more civilized."
"Or at least it makes the process of dying from thirst pass more enjoyably and quickly if the crew spend the time fucking each other senseless," she agreed.
"Well, we'd best get down to it, then," he said cheerfully. Asha laughed uproariously, bending double at the waist and clutching her stomach as if it ached. "If the search for dragons proves fruitless, perhaps I'll hire myself out as a fool," Tyrion continued. "Am I truly that hilarious?"
"No," she managed, once she'd caught her breath. "Not hilarious, hideous. The funny part is that you don't seem to know it."
"Believe me, I'm well aware how repulsive I must be to you - to any woman. I've had to learn to make up for it."
"With your wit and charm?" The curve of her eyebrow and the smirk on her lips let him know she was still far from convinced, but maybe, just maybe, beginning to come around...
"With those," he agreed, "and other assets as well."
"Of course." She nodded in understanding. "Your gold."
"Well, I am paying you for my passage..."
"But not for access to my passages," Asha snapped back at him.
"... but my wealth is sadly diminished of late, and I doubt I could afford a woman as fine as you, my lady."
"I've never stooped to whoring, and I'll make no exception for you," she said, lips thin with anger. "And I'm no one's lady."
"My gold was not the asset I was referring to, in any case," Tyrion told her hastily, before she could throw him out of the cabin on his ear. "Even a dwarf may have skilled fingers, a clever tongue..."
"A tongue he uses to seduce innocent maids, I take it? I'm no innocent, in case you weren't clear on the subject."
"I'm under no misapprehensions, captain, and I lost my taste for innocence long ago." He tried to keep the bitterness from his voice, but didn't quite succeed. "Maidens are so tiresome, don't you think?" he added in an effort to lighten the mood once more. "Fumbling about awkwardly when they're not lying stiff as a board, and of course there's the crying..."
"You're not doing a very good job of persuading me by telling me you regularly make maidens weep, you know."
"Ah, but in the end they shed only tears of gratitude," he said with a sly smile.
"Somehow I think in this instance you'd be the one with cause to be grateful," Asha retorted. "After all, I've been fucked whenever I've felt the urge for the whole length of this voyage, while you've gone... what is it, at least seven weeks without? You must be aching by now."
There was no sympathy in her words, only a mischievous mockery, but he seized on it anyway. If that was the way she wanted to play this game, he'd go along with it. "Eternally grateful," he said, kneeling clumsily in front of her, "forever in your debt, your knight in shining armor..."
"Let's not go overboard," she said dryly, but she was smiling.
"Believe me, I have no intention of going overboard today or indeed anytime during the remainder of this voyage. If that means we're doomed, then so be it. My fate is in your hands." He laid one hand over hers, and waited to see if she would pull away.
She didn't, though she did roll her eyes at him. "Do you normally wear down your conquests until they sleep with you just to get you to stop talking?"
"Would that work? Because I have a great deal more I could say on many subjects of far-ranging and limited interest..."
"Shut up, Lannister. I'm sure you can put your tongue to better work than that." Her lips were dry and salt-chapped against his, but the kiss tasted like victory to him.
"Don't forget that you disgust me," she said as she stripped efficiently out of her sweaty clothing.
"It will be at the forefront of my mind at all times," he agreed cheerfully, struggling with his own trousers.
"Mind you," Asha added, hopping gracefully into her bunk, legs hanging out and spread wide as she swung gently back and forth, "I've never lain with a dwarf before. It'll be something new, at least... Oh. Well," she continued, after a moment's pause, "at least that part of you's normal enough."
"Not entirely stunted, no."
"I just won't look at your face," she said with a shudder he thought was probably at least partly feigned, and laid one tanned foot on his shoulder to draw him between her open thighs. The hammock hung just low enough that he could stand as he tongued her, and consequently, Tyrion was unusually quiet for a while.
And then a while longer.
And then a while longer still, until his jaw was aching and his knees wobbling uncomfortably. He glanced up at her hopefully. Asha was staring at the beams of the cabin's ceiling with her eyes closed. "It's all right, I suppose," she told him without opening them. "Relaxing. But you'll have to do better than that if you want the chance to fuck me afterwards."
"But I've been doing this for... right, right, fine." He knew she had the upper hand now.
"You might try asking me once in a while if I'm enjoying myself," she suggested helpfully. "Unlike your usual, ahem, paid companions, I don't pretend to like something if I don't. I could fake it, but what would be the point of that? I'm not looking for a bigger tip."
Tyrion spoke through gritted teeth. "Are you enjoying yourself, Asha?"
"I don't believe I gave you permission to use my name. You can keep calling me 'captain'." She was smiling again, he could hear it in her voice, and if he hadn't been so achingly hard, he would have struck her, or stormed out, but from her he took the abuse with, if not exactly good cheer, then at least a certain willingness borne from desperation.
"Are you enjoying yourself, captain," he said at last, the final word dripping with as much sarcasm as he could muster.
"Now that you mention it," she replied, "you could try using your fingers a bit harder. Yes, that's better... Why, I think you may have the potential to learn a thing or two after all." Following her guidance as best as he could, Tyrion found that she soon roused from her relaxed daze, moaning and twisting against him in the most agreeable way possible. Her thighs stiffened, straight out over his shoulders, until at last she shuddered and let them fall. "A vast improvement," she said once she'd caught her breath.
For a moment he wondered if she'd had her fill and would turn him out of the cabin unsatisfied. It would be just like her, he thought, cruel and funny at the same time. He could imagine the crew would find it hilarious, at least. He was relieved, then, when she finally offered him her arm to help him clamber into the rope bed with her. It rocked alarmingly, but they didn't tumble out. Yet.
Tyrion found that he fit snugly between her legs. "Oh look," she said, evidently amused as she lay back, "you're at just the right height. I don't have to see your ugly face at all."
"I could say much the same," he grunted, and to his relief she laughed. It was difficult to get purchase with his short, twisted legs at the best of times, let alone while swinging about in a massive crocheted doily. He gripped her hips in both hands to steady them and thrust into her as smoothly as he was able to under the circumstances. She rose up to meet him, joining them together seamlessly, and for a moment both of them were silent, giving the moment the respect it was due.
It couldn't last long, of course. Asha delighted in alternately ordering him about and flinging abuse at him, and he could give as good as he got. It was incredibly uncomfortable, awkward, sticky with sweat, and the best fuck he'd had in years. Possibly ever. Cursing one another, they came, struggling and gasping, together. She didn't object that he'd called her by her name in that last breath.
She wasn't one to linger long in the afterglow, as he should perhaps have guessed. "Come on," she told him as she tipped him out of the hammock, "get dressed."
"Are we in a hurry?"
"Idiot. You've been at sea seven weeks and you still can't tell that we're moving again? The wind's picking up at last."