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Departure

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As the anesthesia lifts, he regains consciousness. As he regains consciousness, the throbbing in his head becomes more and more immense — more and more present. He shuts his dry eyes, from the noise and the harsh fluorescent lights. He remembers. He’s in the intensive care unit. It’s a haze. He hasn’t died — or maybe he has.

An oxygen mask covers his face and his nasal cavity feels pressurized — he can’t breathe through his nose — and viscous salt — he realizes it’s blood — flows down the very back of his throat, flowing down to his stomach. He wants to cough. He can’t. He wonders if he’s going to drown in his own blood — choked to death after he made the paramount decision to try and live a complete life.

He hears words in a language he doesn’t know — right before a nurse notices he’s awake. Her shadowed face — kind brown eyes — look down at him and she tells him that his surgical wounds are flushing out. His face is packed with gauze. She tells him to try and relax and to go back to sleep. He still feels limited and silenced — because he can’t scream at her that she should fucking try to sleep with this pounding in her brain and this shit in her head.

He does go back to sleep though. The next time he opens his eyes, the room is dark.

 

 


The date and the calendar notification feels like this latent bomb in the palm of his hand. It was made clear to him that he cannot do this himself — he cannot drive himself to surgery. He cannot recover from surgery by himself. The medical staff’s written directions to him were just the latest in a series of reminders of how very basic things in life that others take for granted have become inordinately difficult for him. There’s actually no one in his fucking life that he can call and ask for a favor — drive him to surgery. Feed him soup afterward.

He’s sure a lot of it is his own fucking fault — just like how this brain tumor is his fucking fault. Or, at least, the extent in which it has grown.

He told the medical staff the truth — about how he has nobody — in this grim hope that his honesty would spur them into action. Maybe they have a list of professionals that they can contact, that he can pay a nominal sum to, to ensure that he doesn’t die over the course of a pivotal couple of weeks.

They had just looked at him blankly and had made useless suggestions. Maybe there’s a relative he can call — even if they are far away. Maybe there is a coworker he can trouble.

He has no relatives — no family. So that was ruled out quickly. Due to his condition — or, God, maybe not due to his condition at all — maybe he is just a shitty, unlikable person just naturally — he can count the number of quasi-friends he has on one hand. The problem is that they all work together. The problem is that they all have the same fucking work schedule.

His doctor impressed on him that time is of the essence. A millimeter here, a millimeter there of additional growth — and he could be stroking out and blood could be hemorrhaging out of his every orifice — he could be dead before he even hit the age of 30.

He is not so sure he’s especially motivated over the prospect of living past 30. After all, he has held a heavy gun in his hand, other times a knife, and just wondered what it would feel like for it all to stop — before he reamed himself out for being too weak to find out.

So — he did his best to schedule his surgery during a break in filming, during a hiatus.

The surgery is still a month away. He bats away some engorged flies from a sandwich before he picks it up and takes a dry, unappetizing bite. He uncaps a bottle of water and shoots back three, four extra strength Tylenols. The heat always makes his headaches worse — maybe it expands the blood and makes the blood press all the harder against his skull. His palm is sweaty, and his body trembles a bit from the pain. He cannot take another fucking day off to lie in bed, wallowing in this shit. He’s scared that he might actually get fired over this. He used to be a workaholic. Now, he’s some broken asshole with an old-man, little-boy body who can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. He often tells himself that he is only getting the surgery because he cannot do his fucking job adequately anymore. He can’t even lift up twenty pounds anymore.

Though. That’s a lie. There are other reasons why he’s opting for surgery.

She’s across the tent. She has a pen — several pens — tucked behind her ear. She’s sweating through her blouse and there is an oversized bagel crammed into her mouth. A notebook — an old-fashioned sight — he thinks it’s personal and not for work — is pressed tightly to her chest as she furiously hammers out some sort of email, some sort of text message on her phone.

When she feels his eyes on her — when she looks up — he immediately averts his eyes and starts walking away in the other direction.

 

 


They all flinch or duck as a huge wave unexpectedly smashes into the seawall. Missandei automatically — and carefully, because she remembers that one time she really bit it and cracked her lip open — lunges over in front of Dany in order to get the brunt of the onslaught. Wardrobe takes a stupid amount of time — and they are rapidly losing light. She was told that a storm is set to hit the coast over the next three days. What had previously been a small chance of inclement weather about a week ago turned into a surefire raging storm set to come by the weekend. Bullshit weather report.

The slap of ocean water against her back is alarmingly cold — but also kind of refreshing because she’s been just sweating her ass off all day. Her sacrifice was also for nothing. Dany got drenched anyway.

“Oh, Jesus — Goddammit! Fuck!”

Drogo is under the umbrella, crouched protectively over his camera as his hands run over it, brushing off water, pressing buttons — apparently holding his breath until he hears whirring — after which he grunts and starts checking footage. He sighs as Grey kneels down next to him, gingerly setting his own camera down before trying to help Drogo.

“Is it okay?” Missandei asks.

“Not sure yet,” Drogo grumbles.

She looks back at everyone else. “You guys all okay?”

Jaime kind of laughs — eyes crinkling in the corner. “Oh, sweetie,” he says, kind of warmly, kind of with an edge. “Someone get this one a new shirt.”

She looks down at herself — her white blouse is completely translucent now that it’s wet. Her sports bra is flesh-colored. The cold water pulled out goosebumps and also her headlights. So freaking annoying. She grits her teeth. She resists crossing her arms over her chest because she doesn’t think she has to. “Ha, ha,” she sarcastically says to him. “You’re twelve years old.”

But it’s a relief when Sandor throws a warm, man-sized maroon t-shirt into her face.

“So,” Drogo cuts in. “This mic is totally fucking toast. But the camera is fine.”

“Whoop whoop,” Tyrion says dryly, raising up his clenched fist.

 

 


She lightly and randomly clinks her glass of wine against Daario’s can of beer as she eases herself down into the vacant seat next to Brienne. Tyrion looks relieved to see her — it makes sense a few seconds later when he asks her to please order him a plate of simple boiled rice. He tells her he has had an unfortunate case of the runs over the last day and he’s trying to baby his stomach. He tells her that such a thing is very hard to mime to their server.

Missandei leans back in her seat and, in Low Valyrian, she calls out to a nearby server and asks her for Tyrion’s order.

She shoots Tyrion an amused look after he profusely thanks her. “You couldn’t trouble our other native speaker?” she says to him, quickly shooting her eyes to Grey.

“What?” Tyrion says, voice lilting up. “No! The trust is gone!”

Grey lightly shrugs — only the barest hint of a smile on his face as he aimlessly twirls his can of beer around on the table top. Crumbs of broken peanut shells sit underneath his arm. He says, “Man, you accidentally mistranslate something one time, and you never hear the end of it.”

“Man! That was no accident!” Tyrion says, trying to maintain his pseudo anger, his small body lightly wiggling from failing at holding in his laughter. He points a condemning finger at Grey. “That was fucked up.”

 

 


She was down one fiance when the transgression happened.

She caught him cheating on her via webcam, a very humiliating way to find out, as she was loud-talking to him over a sketchy connection while on location a few hundred miles east of Winterfell — in front of her colleagues.

The conversation was horrible and stilted — as it had been for months — even when the internet connection was good. He used to ask her when she was going to come home for good — talking as if the very thing that she loved to do, the thing that gave her a sense of purpose — was this temporary flight of fancy. In return, she pointedly asked him when they were going to get married. By that point, the question was more a punishment than it was an actual curiosity.

Then she caught movement on the bed. Then a whole lot of shit suddenly made sense — like the one time he blew her off after she surprised him by spending 30 hours on a plane to get to him in time for his nameday. He said he had to work.

And then she lost her mind and generally started shout-screaming into the computer, willing the shitty connection to stabilize for just a few minutes, so that she could fucking tell him that he is a piece of shit and a liar. All of it was bluster to generally hide how badly hurt she suddenly felt.

After the connection was cut, the room fell to a hush. For a while, none of her friends and coworkers knew what to even say.

And then she started bawling — uncontrollably, pathetically.

Tyrion references the incident in jokes. He likes to paint himself as a hero of her life. She mostly remembers him gruffly walking up to her to shove a wet-wipe into her hand. She also remembers him helplessly looking to Brienne, who was struck dumb, basically saying, Hey, you’re a woman! She’s a woman! Make her feel better!

Brienne awkwardly hugged her. And then they all took her out and told her that they were paying for all of her drinks. It was very sweet in the moment, and she eagerly took in their goodwill — she kept telling herself that she actually had people who cared about her.

In hindsight, getting wildly plastered after being jilted and broken up with — after being betrayed and possibly being exposed to a bunch of STDs for however fucking long — well, that shit messes with one’s mind. Maybe she picked him because he wasn’t there that day to witness the carnage. Though later, he certainly would hear about it through the grapevine.

Or maybe she chose him because he is just so fucking sweet and so fucking considerate and so fucking nice and thoughtful — and smart. He is just so fucking smart and talented and just puts everything into what he does. He was such a good friend to her.

She knocked on the door to his hotel room. He looked sleepy when the door opened. She remembers thinking it was very cute — so fucking cute. And then she pushed her way in. And then . . . it got really weird. And now, they never really say anything substantial to one another anymore.

 

 


They have to wake up at 4 a.m. to make the train. It’s still dark outside, and he finds Dany there early, engulfed in a big sweater and holding a cup of coffee even though once day breaks, it’s going to be sweltering hot again. He finds her to be generally pleasant, but she’s also his boss, so his outlook is colored by that. They make somewhat strained small-talk — mostly because they seem to have very little in common. She is rich, beautiful, famous, and basically talks for a living. He is . . . not rich nor beautiful nor famous. And he generally sucks at holding conversations for very long.

They talk about logistics — how the footage is looking — and they also talk about the little funny things that Daario or Tyrion said the day before. They recap the whole wet camera thing and talk about how that was kind of freaky — they almost lost a camera — and they can’t believe that the wave got so big. Nature is crazy.

He’s relieved when Jaime sidles up to them, his own cup of coffee in his good hand — his prosthetic hand hanging innocuously at his side.

Dany and Jaime actually do not interact much outside of shooting. They manage to have really crackling on-camera chemistry — so he’s read, so he’s been told — but they do not seem to like each other very much off camera. During production meetings, their fundamental different outlooks on what the series is supposed to be and how it’s supposed to look kind of becomes very transparent.

 

 


He generally always has a camera on him, even when it’s just his phone. It’s a compulsion he has, to always be taking pictures, to always be filtering the world through a lens. People have asked him about it — with the best of intentions — and he has had to talk about it — during job interviews.

He thinks that it’s easier for him to be around people — lively people — when there’s a camera in his face. The camera is like a shield or a barrier that gives him an out — from participating. But he can still be there, in their presence.

A camera also freezes moments — it captures the world and the space that they live in — and it immortalizes it. A camera can be truthful, or it can lie.

 

 


He decides to ask Tyrion to do him a huge favor. He picks Tyrion based on superficial reasons — Tyrion is relatively unattached and unencumbered by social obligations. He also picks Tyrion because he looks at Daario or he looks at Drogo or he looks at Jaime or he looks at Sandor — he looks at their maleness and their bodies and sees how it conveys masculine strength — and it just makes him feel a little sick to his stomach. The prospect of even lightly talking to any of them about shit that they cannot possibly even fucking understand.

And it’s not that he can’t handle teasing or mockery — he very much can handle that due to the amount of practice he’s gotten in — it’s more that he is tired of giving explanations. He thinks that no one else has to work so hard to explain who they are and what they are all about. Certain things are givens and certain people take it all for granted — the non-ambiguity of who they are, of their gender and sex and all of it. He’s just fucking exhausted.

It’s probably insulting in some way — that he assumes Tyrion would have the greatest chance of understanding.

 

 


“Hey,” he says. “Do you have anything going on around the thirteenth of next month?”

“Huh?” Tyrion says inattentively, his eyes not leaving the monitor in front of them. “What do you mean? We’re off next month. Did Missandei schedule something? What the fuck — that bitch — why would she —”

“I’m asking for a personal favor,” he says quietly.

Tyrion abruptly shifts his gaze at that. “Is everything okay? What do you need? Do you need money? Do you need a job reference? Oh my God, are you fucking trying to leave?”

“Damn,” Grey mutters. “Stop guessing. Do you have the thirteenth free or not?”

“Seriously?” Tyrion says, already pulling out his phone from his pocket. He quietly wonders out loud what is happening on the thirteenth as he pulls up his calendar and checks the date. “It’s wide open, man. Now — what is up?”

“I’m having brain surgery that day. I need someone to take me. And to wait there. And then to drive me back home.” He fucking just wants to crawl into a hole and just die. Because it sounds so pathetic and stupid when he says it all out loud.

“What the hell,” Tyrion whispers, his mismatched eyes going wide now. “Are you okay, man?” And then after a few micro-moments slip by, he mentally shakes off the fog and he says, “Hey, of course I’ll take you. What the fuck, though?”

“You know my headaches?” Grey prompts.

“Oh my God!” Tyrion says — this time loudly. “Are you fucking dying?”

“Shh!” Grey hisses. “Keep it on the DL, shit. I’m not dying, okay?” Technically — not yet. Technically — there is a possibility. This nuanced information is just too much to share right now. “I have a benign brain tumor. It’s not cancerous. But it’s pretty big. And it’s . . . causing all sorts of trouble.” He points to his right eye — or the area behind his right eye. “It’s here.”

“The fuck, man,” Tyrion says in awe. “Oh my God, I hope you are okay. Why is this something you are keeping secret?”

 

 


When he wakes up again — he hears the steady beeping from the machine next to him. He can see wires in his peripheral vision. His head feels like it weighs a million pounds, but he manages to lift it. He sees a tube — yellow — and then he belatedly realizes that it’s a catheter — and once his mind makes that realization — his body can feel the fucking catheter, rammed up his useless, lifeless, wrinkled, dead dick.

He sinks his head back down into the pillow — and his swollen face is still jammed full of gauze. And he just feels like — he feels like he probably made just a horrendous mistake. Maybe he could’ve lived indefinitely the way he had been living. Or maybe he should’ve just bled out and died on the surgery table.

His entire body tenses when he sees the shadows shift in the room — he can hear the beeping from the monitor next to him go faster and faster, in time with his heart and his pulse.

He hears a low, “Shit.” And then more shadows shift around.

And then he sees Jaime’s clear eyes and his unshaven face looming over him. And this isn’t at all what he expected — he wants to fucking rail at the injustice of it.

“Shit,” Jaime repeats softly, urgently. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry Tyrion’s not here. If you can believe — that stupid fucker actually got himself into a car accident. He’s okay. But he broke his arm, and he can’t drive — and he’s currently fucking doped up on meds. I actually am in charge of both of you guys now. Um — anyway — the whole time — he called me from the ambulance even — he kept telling me that someone had to be here. For you. And he feels really awful about this. I do, too.” Jaime pauses — blinking rapidly — swallowing. “I talked to your doctor. He said everything went really well. You’re going to be okay.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Before even the onset of what should have been puberty, a tumor started to grow in Grey’s brain, too close for comfort to his pituitary gland. A hormone called prolactin began flooding his system. At the age of 13, he already had twenty times the normal amount males typically have of prolactin in the body — the same amount that new mothers typically have in their bodies. By the time he underwent surgery at age 27, his prolactin level was seven times that of a nursing mother, a hundred and forty times that of an average male.

Prolactin is a lactogenic hormone, used to help women produce milk after childbirth. Prolactin works antagonistically with testosterone. High prolactin levels result in low testosterone levels.

Grey first learned of this seated in a doctor’s office, after years of ‘toughing out’ the fatigue, blinding headaches, and muscle weakness finally got the best of him — after years of blaming himself for his excessive weaknesses — also after an errant comment he had received from Missandei, actually. She said to him that migraines disproportionately affect women — it is weird that he has migraines — and so he should really consider seeing a doctor. It was really more the way she said it — with this sense of dwindling respect and this vague frustration over his stubbornness.

During that pivotal specialist visit, the symptons that he did not list were his general depression, because he thought it was normal to him and there wasn’t a name that he ever called it, his eating disorder, and his complete and utter inability to obtain, let alone maintain, an erection.

But the effects of the elevated prolactin level was already written on his body — and his doctor was perceptive.

 

 


He cannot vocalize to Jaime to get the fuck out of the room and get the fuck out of his life in general. Jaime doesn’t know him well enough to be able to read the subtle thought waves he’s trying to send out of his busted face — bruised and swollen and unrecognizable as it must be.

Grey kind of freaks out — the emotions overcome him when he looks up into Jaime’s really symmetrical face — he’s trying to talk — and it’s getting hindered by his general sobbing — which is very humiliating and strange because he never allows himself to cry. And then the crying makes him start to choke. And then he’s really just choking and gasping for life through the blood. Jaime’s face twists and morphs into panic right before he disappears.

And then a nurse is there — the same nurse. She’s looking over his vitals — she’s steely and cool and nonplussed because she probably sees this kind of shit every day of her life, whereas he’s living through it for the very first time — the very first time — and then she tells him to “relax.”

Under his oxygen mask, without the ability to breath out of his nose, he cannot even spare a breath to tell her that she really needs to get this motherfucking stranger out of his room — if he’s meant to fucking relax.

He lies there helplessly, as he listens to the nurse explain to Jaime that Jaime needs to keep feeding Grey ice chips. His throat and his mouth are very parched.

 

 


She only learns about Grey’s surgery because Tyrion broke his arm in a car accident. Tyrion was at an intersection and his light was green — he was halfway through when a black SUV rammed into the side of his Mercedes. Jaime called her in a stress-induced panic to ask her information about his brother’s medical history. Due to the nature of their work — due to all the legal and insurance issues that arise when a lot of time is spent traveling in and sometimes subsiding in more primitive locations — she has access to a lot of paperwork and a lot of information. In a daze, she had asked Jaime why he didn’t just phone up Varys himself. She also incredulously asked him if he really did not know his brother’s allergies or any medical conditions he may have or have had. Tyrion is unique. This must have come up before.

Jaime snapped at her and told it was all beside the point, and he is in the midst of rearranging his entire fucking life and canceling his plans for the break in order to play nursemaid to two assholes, so she can cut him a little slack and just pass the information over without the colorful commentary.

She had said, “Wait. Two assholes?”

 

 


She first came across him through a sheet of paper — his shoddily written and oddly resentful resume. Later, Tyrion had dryly told her that it must have been the very first time that Grey was called on to write up a resume. Drogo got the job because he had worked with Sandor, Tyrion, and Jaime in the past. Daario got his job through a connection with Daenerys. Notably, that is also how Missandei got her job.

She had corrected him and said she actually got the job through years of putting herself through school and then years of climbing up the ladder, years of being an abused and glorified personal assistant.

Tyrion reminded her that she was a baby, in the grand scheme of life. Her ‘years’ of work don’t fucking equate to nothing — in his humble opinion.

Perhaps her very first solid impression of Grey was simply just Tyrion snickering and walking off — tossing over his shoulder that he knows of Grey — definitely knows the guy’s work — hears he’s a good, responsible, hard-working kid — hears a lot of good things, actually — deeply hireable. He suggested she stop her fucking try-hard bureaucratic paperwork bullshit and just give the guy a fucking call and see what’s up.

When they met face to face, he wasn’t at all what she expected. She’s not sure what she expected, exactly. She actually doesn’t think she thought enough about any of it to create any anticipatory images of him in her head. She supposes she didn’t expect for him to not be white — though Drogo isn’t white and that didn’t throw her for a loop. But then, his name is Drogo. Tyrion’s dwarfism wasn’t a surprise to her, either, but that was likely due to his family name and the fact that everyone in and out of the industry has at least a vague awareness of who the Lannisters are.

In any case, a quiet and intense-looking, really young guy wasn’t what she expected. She originally thought he was some wunderkind or something. She thought he was much younger than she is — age is not really something they are supposed to ask about for legal reasons — but then later, she really shoved her entire foot in her mouth when she learned that he speaks Low Valyrian fluently and she started kind of showing off her language skills like a stupid idiot who does stupid idiot things.

In Low Valyrian, she referred to him as her younger, or little, brother — it’s a gender neutral term in the sense that it can be used to refer to younger males or younger females — but it’s also a vaguely effeminate term. He had been taken aback by the usage. He generally paused for a while, and then he answered her joke with a shit ton of seriousness, and in the Common Tongue also, which is generally devoid of those kinds of honorifics.

She felt like an asshole. And she was confused. And then she kind of spent an entire day being distracted and doing some investigative Googling. She looked closer at his filmography and his work experience, which was extensive enough to make her doubt her assumptions about his age. And then she managed to stumble on some school records — he was a runner at one point, a very good one, good enough to warrant small local news stories — and that was how she learned that he is actually a tiny bit older than she is. He is a few months older than she is.

So it wasn’t a glaring faux pas. But in the context of her culture and probably his culture — it is not an insignificant embarrassment. It was unintentionally emasculating. And now she’s gunshy and generally never speaks Low Valyrian directly to him. She only speaks it around him.

 

 


When he jokingly told his surgeon, Dr. Martell — a no-nonsense and efficient Dornishman — that he could probably live indefinitely as an asexual half-human adult-child — Dr. Martell cuts right through the pathetic joke and gestured to his MRI film, clipped up and illuminated. The tumor was just a dark spot on the film to Grey’s untrained eyes. It had been growing for a decade — probably more. Probably fifteen years.

Dr. Martell’s statement kind of just hung — the quiet space allowed Grey to generally condemn and blame himself. There had been signs something was wrong with him. Lots of them, actually. In the back of his head, he must’ve known. He always had such excuses. He was always traveling for work. He told himself he doesn’t trust doctors overseas. He told himself he has no time for doctors at home. The scant memories he has of his father was that his father was a self-sufficient man who was never sick a day in his life. But that was what his father told him. His father was flawed. And people hold onto their genetics, in obvious and not-so-obvious ways.

Dr. Martell told him that if the tumor grew just a little bit more to one side — he will undoubtedly go blind. If it extended a little bit more another way, he could just die.

He had plainly asked Martell something like, “Well, I could die in surgery, too, right?”

He remembers Dr. Martell pausing. And then admitting that there’s a small chance of paralysis. A small chance of a stroke. A small chance of brain damage. A small chance of death.

Martell didn’t speak of the potential gains that day. But they didn’t really need to be said. Grey was always weighing his options.

Right now, Martell’s smile is just so bright and so unencumbered that Grey temporarily forgets about Jaime. Dr. Martell lifts the oxygen mask off his face. He thickly says, “We got it. We got it all.”

“Fucking hell. Are you sure?” It’s the first thing he’s said in what feels like days.

“Yes.”

 

 


It’s two days before he can leave the hospital. In the two days, Tyrion visits and blithely does not express one bit of fucking contrition for fucking burdening him with Jaime and for fucking sharing secrets. But he thinks he'd sound like such a fucking girl — if he were to be butt-hurt all over Tyrion just because Tyrion blabbed about him to his brother.

He catches sight of himself in the mirror — his face looks like it’s been cracked wide open — it still looks like it’s cracked open even though it’s now closed up — there’s a plug that is stopping his brain from leaking out the hole that was drilled into his skull. There’s a plug that is stopping him from fucking dying right on the spot.

Dr. Martell tells him that it will be no time at all — before he is back to looking beautiful again. And to him, it sounds like one really fucking badly timed joke.

No one seems to be overly alarmed that he can’t walk out of the hospital on his own two feet. He gets wheeled out. He gets picked up and put into the backseat of a car. He is essentially a fucking infant.

“How’re you doing, champ?” Jaime says from the driver’s seat of the car. He’s in a good mood. The hospital staff members love him. He’s a minor celebrity, what with being the co-host of a modestly popular travel and food show on cable and all.

“Tired,” he says. “In pain.”

He hears rattling. He sees Tyrion holding up an orange bottle of pills. “Got something for that,” he says. “I have muscle relaxers you can have, too. They gave me a prescription for my arm, but I hate the stuff because I just feel nauseous and drugged up on them.”

“Uh, you probably should not be giving him random meds to take, dipshit.”

“Uh, do you have a medical degree?”

“Uh, do you?”

 

 


She wakes up with a jolt and checks her phone right away. And her gut drops when she sees that it’s four in the afternoon, and it’s already starting to get dark outside. Not having a fixed schedule is really messing with her body’s ability to get over jetlag.

Her floorboards squeak and the house is cold — she hasn’t programmed her thermostat to turn on yet. She hasn’t succumbed to the reality of being home yet. She used to think that owning a house would make her an adult. She would think about her parents, and think about how meaningful this would be to them. A house is a bizarre symbol of permanence — when her life is very impermanent. She spends less than four months out of the entire year at her house. It mostly sits vacant and empty — not at all like the home that she has foggy memories of. She remembers a lot of kids, a lot of adults, a lot of family.

She came home to vacant house and about a third of the furniture and a third of the general ‘stuff’ of the house gone. She expected as much — but it still made her emotional to see it, all the same. And when she saw that Jared took the fucking espresso machine — even though she bought it for him, she used it way more than he did and she loved that fucking thing — she kind of just started to sob like an insane person in the middle of her kitchen. She keeps telling herself it’s not the guy. The guy is a jerk. It’s what the guy had represented. That’s what she’s mourning. He stole a bunch of years from her life. She can’t believe he also stole the fucking espresso machine.

She has no TV anymore because it was his TV, so she flips the lid to her laptop open and puts on some program — she can’t watch any travel shows, she can’t watch any sort of documentary-type programming because she’s always seeing extra things in it all and some of it is annoying and some of it is distasteful and some of it is distracting and some of it is deeply interesting, but not for the same reasons other people find these programs interesting.

So she puts on a horror movie, as background noise while she digs around her near-empty pantry for some carbs that she can throw hot water on and subside on temporarily. She has to go grocery shopping. She has so many phone calls to make — she has to call her cable company and disconnect it because she doesn’t have a TV anymore. She has to take Jared’s name off all of the bills. She is glad he was financially irresponsible and couldn’t afford to buy a house with her. She is glad that they decided to wait until after the wedding to put his name on the deed. She is glad for a lot of things — all things considered.

She wonders if she should disconnect the landline. That was a Jared thing. He wanted it. He used to say it’s more secure than cell phones. She’s not at all sure that is accurate.

She hits the talk button on the phone — holding up her glowing cell phone in her other hand. She’s faithfully punching in the phone number that she’s reading off her cell phone into the landline phone.

 

 


Tyrion’s phone buzzes when they are only five minutes into the drive. “What the fuck is this number?”

Grey’s head is uncomfortably lolling back and forth, side to side. Each jolt or wiggle of the car sends his wounds into spasming pain. And he’s already frustrated because he asked Jaime to drop him off at his apartment, but Jaime did not ask him for his address. And Jaime did not ask him for the fucking directions. And from what he can tell, Jaime is not driving to his apartment at all.

“Hello? Who is this?” Tyrion says into his phone. And then after a pause, “Oh. Why are you calling me from a landline? Oh. No. Yes. I don’t know. Hey, I’m okay, too. Thanks for asking and for caring. We’re heading home right now. What? Okay. Talk to you later. Bye.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Tyrion can tell Grey is pissed. That’s why Tyrion uneasily fluffs up a white pillow on the bed with his non-broken arm and says, “Hey, dude, remember that one time you asked me to help you out during a scary and important moment in your life and I like, got my car smashed into by a crazy bitch and almost died? I mean, we both almost died this week. Let’s just call it a wash. I mean who can blame whom, really? Who’s really at fault here, really?” And then more gently, Tyrion says, “Is the room okay?”

The room is actually about the same size as his entire apartment, and it’s been professionally decorated. There is an expensive looking humidifier next to the bed — he is positive that it’s a new purchase specifically for him, and that manages to send him into another abstract rage fog. There is some nondescript, bland artwork on the walls. Photographs of bridges in black and white. He is not a fan because it looks sloppy. During his internship and then subsequent fellowship, they sent out specialized photogs specifically for architecture pics — that’s how difficult it is to take proper pictures of buildings. Everything in this bedroom is dark wood — he’s too unfancy and too poor — relatively — that he cannot name the wood. There is a white quilted bedspread that he is probably going to get dirty if he lies on it. It is all some uncomfortable, fancy shit. He just wants to be at home in his tiny, shitty apartment, in the stale threadbare sheets that he bought at a grocery store.

“I want to be at home,” he says.

Tyrion sighs. “I know. But guess what? You can’t take care of yourself right now.”

“Fuck you.”

“Is that not what your fucking doctor explicitly said?” Tyrion’s voice is hardening. “To all of us?”

Grey really has nothing to say in response to that. So he says nothing at all.

“Dude, it’s just for a few days. Once you get back on your feet — once you can actually walk and shit — you’re free to leave and resentfully nurse yourself back to your bitchy self. But — um — you’re also free to stay here. For as long as you need to or want to.”

After a long pause — one in which he hates himself because Tyrion has a point — and his head is just fucking killing him still — still — he asks, “Whose house is this?”

“It’s my house.”

 

 


During the initial stages of getting to know one another casually because they work together, she had quickly decided that he was not at all her type. Even if she were single, he wouldn’t be her type — because she is fucking shallow. He was also severe, overly serious, quiet, and too work-oriented. He responded to her light joking and her cheerfulness with wordless pauses that made her feel like she was gangly and awkward. She knows that she isn’t awkward. He was the only one that made her feel that way.

But then later, after they stumbled on a rather important set of commonalities — both of them are Islanders and both them have lost their parents at a very young age — they started to pass the occasional long flight, the occasional long train ride, the occasional long bus ride just engrossed in conversation with each other. She told him she studied languages because she had always wanted to do some sort of international aid work — based on her life experiences and her family’s experiences — and she tried for a while. But in the end, here she is — here they are, making a television show for entertainment.

She felt something move inside of her, when he quietly told her that she does isn’t frivolous.

Much later, after they became friends, she was mowing down a rice bowl, partially acting as the overseer of two women from marketing and PR for the day. They had glossy hair, fashionable lip colors. She could see flecks of makeup powder coating their faces — it wasn’t an entirely bad effect. Actually, they made her wonder how long it has been since she got all dolled up and put on a dress and actually felt pretty and womanly.

And they saw him walking by with Drogo. With Drogo, it is all entirely predictable, the way that women respond, react, and talk about him. It is entirely obvious. He very obvious in his handsomeness and sexual attractiveness. Guys who look like him have historically been her type.

So she listened to the predictable, appreciative, and thankfully nonspecific murmurs from Margaery and Gilly about Drogo’s ridiculous hotness — wholly based on the fact that they don’t know that Drogo has this tendency to sit on people so he can fart on them because he thinks it’s funny — and Drogo also cannot even fucking remember the names of the women he sleeps with because he doesn’t even try to remember their names — because he’s a bit of an asshole like that.

Missandei was distracted by the dichotomy of experience when she heard Gilly softly say that the other guy is also really cute. Then Margaery echoed that — the other guy is cute, too.

It was those two damning statements, pounding in her head — egging her on — kind of stirring her into a jarring and unexpected possessiveness that — when she was suddenly fucking single because she is so deeply unlovable — well, those were the words that made her push her way into his hotel room, and then embarrassingly push her body against his. She looked at him drunkenly and she decided that Margaery and Gilly were right. He is cute. Unlike Drogo, he is the kind of guy that becomes more and more attractive the longer she knows him.

He kissed her back when she kissed him. She forced herself to take her clothes off fast, before she could sober up and rethink it all. She should have sobered up and rethought it all. Because she ruined a really good thing. She ruined a nice, growing, but still fragile friendship.

She has a reuseable bag full of produce hooked on her arm, and a sad little bouquet of mixed flowers in her hand. She’s trying to go vegetarian for a week because their diet has been very meat and grain-centric for the last three weeks. She’s been a little constipated because of it. She continues to stun herself over how sexy she manages to be. Her heart is pounding in her throat as she knocks on the door.

She can hear shuffling inside — some footsteps — shit, she was impulsive. She cannot fucking believe this idiot got fucking brain surgery and didn’t say a fucking thing about it to her.

Her heart leaps to her throat when the door unlocks, when it swings open. And she deflates, and her guts crash when she sees Jaime.

“Whoa,” he says, evidently surprised to see her.

“I brought flowers,” she stammers, shoving the bouquet into his chest. He lifts up his prosthetic hand to anchor it there. “For Tyrion. Because his arm.”

Jaime smiles ruefully. “My family apparently has bad luck with that appendage.” He looks down at the shitty, shitty flowers. “Thanks for this. I’ll uh, put it in some water, I guess. You want to come in?”

 

 


Missandei’s visit is very short. When Tyrion enters the room, he immediately and perceptively tells her that Grey is just zonked. He is drugged and he is unconscious and probably will be for hours. Tyrion spies the flowers — which Jaime says are for him — and then Tyrion swings his eyes back on her, which makes her kind of what to shiver a little bit from self-consciousness. And then he tepidly thanks her for the flowers. He asks her if she wants to sign his cast.

His cast is unmarred and blandly beige. She scribbles a drawing of a spider — she panicked and it was the only thing that came to mind that she was sure she knew how to draw — eight legs — and then she signs her name underneath.

After Missandei leaves, Jaime — leaning against the kitchen counter — gestures to the paltry grocery store bouquet quizzically and asks, “What’s up with the flowers? You guys have something weird going on?”

Tyrion’s amused laugh is short and succinct. He says, “I don’t have something weird going on with her. But him —” Tyrion points to the closed door of the guest room. “Maybe he does. She’s been fucking texting and calling me incessantly, asking about him.”

 

 


Being home is her only chance to catch up with her friends. They are not really the type to write her letters or long emails. Sometimes she calls them and has a chat with them over the phone. But they all tend to be busy.

And she always manages to be just a little bit shocked over the kind of personal progress that they make in her absence — Ygritte is pregnant again, for one. Missandei learned this because Ygritte shot down sushi for dinner as she touched her stomach — that was when Missandei did a doubletake and saw that the stomach is totally pregnant. She is kind of a shitty self-involved friend sometimes. She’s also usually too busy to be on social media, which is where these sorts of life announcements get made these days.

Missandei manages to stumble over her words a little bit, when she tells them that nothing much in her life has changed. It’s a canned answer — because when they find out about the whole Jared and the whole naked blond in the bed thing — they effectively just lose their shit all over the dinner table.

“He’s such a disgusting piece of shit scumbag!” Obara says, slamming her hand on the table, making Ygritte flinch a little bit, rattling their plates and silverware. Obara has infidelity issues. Related to her father issues. Her response does not surprise Missandei at all.

“I mean, the relationship was probably pretty bad already, for it to get to that point,” Missandei says blandly. She’s been doing a lot of hard thinking and a lot of depressing self-assessments. “So I will take some responsibility for that. We probably should’ve ended it a while ago.”

“Man, fuck that. Fuck that guy. Good luck to his new slut. You know how this shit goes down. Once a cheater, always a fucking cheater.”

“Long-distance relationships are the pits,” Ygritte says sympathetically.

“That reminds me,” Missandei says, picking up her glass of red. “I have to make an appointment with my doctor. And get a status check on my uterus. Make sure it’s not horribly infected with syphilis and whatnot.” Then she groans lowly into the glass before taking a sip. “Honestly, I am having a terrible time dealing with this. I know you guys are fooled by how put-together I am and by how I’m not pushing out psychotic grief waves.” She pauses — waiting for either of one them to laugh. They do not. “I feel overwhelmed.”

She is strategically refraining from admitting that part of why she feels overwhelmed is she fears she was probably emotionally cheating on Jared while he was physically — and maybe emotionally, who fucking knows? — cheating on her. It’s this really uncomfortable thing that she has only started to see clearly, now that she’s had a lot of time alone to really just think about the last year. This is a big part of the reason why she’s not condemning him into the fiery gates of hell. It would be hypocritical to. In a way, she almost understands that scumbag — she understands how it could have happened. Maybe.

She also tries not to commandeer the entire dinner with her depressing crap — so she spends a fair bit of effort trying to sound upbeat, as she asks Ygritte questions about her pregnancy and her son. She asks questions after Ygritte’s husband, who is apparently same ol’, same ol’.

Her phone chimes, and she immediately flips it over to look at the screen, her brows furrowed — breaking their policy of no distractions at the table.

“Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s fine.” It’s just a stupid text from her brother reminding her that he’s picking her up at nine sharp tomorrow morning.

 

 


For as long as he can remember — for his entire life — he has always been very soft. He used to tell himself that it was in mind as well as in body. He also used to rationalize it all by telling himself that his body was paying penance for how emotionally and mentally weak he was. His parents died and that almost broke him. He spent his childhood in a strange new place struggling in a strange new language and was mocked and bullied over his stuttering efforts — and he just let that affect his moods so much. He fights to hold onto the memories of his early childhood, but the throbbing headaches he’s been suffering from just shoots them out of his head. He can’t even remember his parents faces anymore — and he doesn’t know another lackluster human who refuses to hold onto who he is like he does.

He had always known there was a reason why he had to constantly diet and carefully pick his food so that he won’t gain weight. He also cannot seem to lose weight. He is a respectable weight on paper, but on his body, it is formless and soft and pillowy. He had always known why he was the most hairless, the skinniest, fattest, most oddly shaped athlete in school. He could run a million miles and spent hours lifting at the gym — it would make no difference. And he knew why. He used to tell himself he was just a fucking loser and a failure and he should’ve died along with his parents. It was a freak mistake, that he survived.

His life is littered with failed encounters — he can’t even call them romances because he is not capable. He regrets hoping — with her. He regrets his optimism with her.

When he wakes up — it is still pitch-black dark. And he has an erection that is so hard that is almost painful. He feels like his skin is breaking apart. He won’t turn on the light — he is too wrapped up in the bewilderment of it all and the grief — and also the relief. He remembers conversations he’s had with all of his doctors. Without the tumor pressing on his pituitary gland, testosterone is flooding his body. He remembers Dr. Aemon laughingly joking around — telling him that he is going to finally go through puberty, at age 27.

 

 


He drops the big wad of soiled tissues down into the toilet, flushes it, and generally worries much too late that it’s too much and the tissues will clog up the pipes and cause the toilet to overflow. His face is still tender and swollen — that is nothing new. It will continue to be jacked for weeks. But what is new is that he cannot fucking stop these fucking hard ons. He also can’t stop his brain from obsessively thinking about sex — sometimes sex in an abstract way. Sometimes sex in the sense that he probably can fucking have it now. That is liberating. Sometimes sex in the sense that he closes his eyes and he can still see her amazing, beautiful naked body standing in front of him, and it just makes him want to fucking die. It’s actually mostly sex in that sense, the kind that is just making his core all fucking jittery and amped up.

He doesn’t want to leave the bedroom. He doesn’t want to leave the bathroom. He supposes that he was already anticipating this — when he demanded that Jaime drive him home, when he was pissy to Tyrion for being nice to him.

He needs to stop being such a fucking little wuss though.

After he washes his hands, he finds Jaime in the kitchen, leaning over a steaming cup of coffee. He folds up his newspaper when he spots Grey and straightens. He holds up his ceramic cup. “Want some?”

“Do you live here or something?”

Jaime gives him a slightly amused smile. “I, uh, actually don’t. And good morning to you, too.”

“Sorry,” he mutters, touching his hand to his face — and then immediately fucking regretting it as he stops himself from crying out in pain.

Then, out of the fuzzy corner of his eye, he sees Jaime sliding a crisp white napkin with two pills on it. His painkillers. A steaming cup of coffee follows. As does a bowl of very loose oatmeal. He looks up at Jaime dumbly. And he thinks that Jaime must know — because Jaime is not a fucking idiot. And despite his doctor’s best efforts at following the law, there were plenty of context clues lying all around.

It’s this awareness that makes him ask, “Why? Why are you here? Why do you care?”

Jaime shrugs, shuffling his own empty dishes around and putting them into the sink. Then he inhales — long but sharp — before he says, “I feel like I understand what you’re going through. And it’s a shitty and lonely endeavor. I wish that someone had been around when I — nevermind —” He trails off, shrugging. “But you know, I guess the big difference between you and me is that I lost, whereas you — you have gained. It probably doesn’t feel like it yet. You’re probably just wigging out over just surviving still. And I get that. I really understand that feeling, too.”

 

 


By the time she sees him again — and not in King’s Landing, not once while they were on break because she needs to right herself and be right with herself and not engage in some volatile impulsivity just because she is still currently a bit tender and emotional — his face is out of bandages, but it still looks like he was involved in some horrific bar fight that really did not go his way. More than a month has passed. They are back on the job. He’s helping Hodor load heavy equipment into the back of the van. Hodor generally looks at him anxiously and tries to get him to knock it the hell off.

She sees Drogo walking up to them and clapping Hodor on the back before his hand shoots out, and he shoves Grey back a few small steps. She’s close enough to hear the guy say, “What the fuck, man! What the fuck happened to you? And why the fuck did I only just hear about this!”

It is only at the tailend of the statement, that she can pick out that Drogo is concerned, not mad.

Grey slowly shakes his head at Drogo. He says, “They just don’t make greeting cards for this kind of thing.”

“Fuck, man. You’re crazy.”

“Maybe a little.”

And then he sees her — or rather, he’s always known that she was hovering right at the edge of his line of sight, and he is only just now acknowledging her — they are only now just acknowledging each other. He kind of nods at her. He’s not looking directly at her. He’s refusing to. And he says, “I heard you came by.” He lets the statement kind of hang for a little bit. Then he says, “Thanks.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

A month after his surgery, right before he’s due back at work, he sits alone and uncomfortably in Dr. Aemon’s office for his follow-up, looking at Dr. Aemon’s framed degrees and also framed photos of his family. Dr. Aemon’s wife is attractive and brunette and has these bulbous boobs — the daughter takes after her mother, but has long hair — Grey yanks his eyes away from the photo and generally uncrosses and then recrosses his legs. He generally wills his fucking dick into not embarrassing him in public.

When Aemon enters the room, he asks Grey how everything is going. After many lessons learned about transparency and honesty, especially when it comes to talking to his medical professionals, Grey tells. Dr. Aemon that things are going fine — though the one thing he is alarmed about is how often he thinks about sex. It’s actually constantly. He is constantly thinking about sex. He has to masturbate all the time. He went from just about never masturbating to doing it on the daily. It is excessive. He doesn’t know how the hell he is supposed to get anything else done. Women are very distracting. Did something go wrong? Is he going fucking mental?

Aemon laughs kindly, before telling Grey that everything actually sounds rather normal — and upon seeing the skeptical look on Grey’s face — he straightens in his seat, clears his throat, and says, “You’re basically going through an extremely accelerated version of puberty. Your body is getting slammed by testosterone.”

“It’s very pleasant,” Grey deadpans, “when you feel like you are losing your fucking mind.”

Dr. Aemon chuckles. “It can’t be all bad. And it should taper off and level off soon. In the meantime, I’d be careful and I wouldn’t take any unnecessary risks if I were you.” Upon Grey’s blank look, Aemon says, “Studies show that high testosterone levels are associated with dangerous behavior — violence.” He pauses, lightly drumming his fingers together underneath his chin. “And also risky sexual behavior. Remember that it’s important to always use protection.”

Grey slumps his shoulders and points his face down into his lap. He says, “Oh, God.”

 

 


Dany tiredly, and perhaps exaggeratedly rubs her temples with the tips of her slim fingers and says, “It’s an outrageous cost.” She slides her elbows onto the table and tosses another look at Jaime. “That might not resonate with you,” she says drawing out the syllable in disgust, somehow managing to make ‘you’ kind of rhyme with ‘Lannister.’

Early morning production meetings are the best.

“Missandei will make sure we don’t blow the whole budget on catering,” Jaime says, expending effort toward keeping his voice light and his face neutral. “Won’t you, hon?”

Missandei knows better than to answer Jaime’s patronizing questions in front of Daenerys — even if it’s a blatantly sarcastic joke agreement. She mostly just sits at the table stiffly and looks down at her tea.

“Why don’t you bankroll the entire thing then, if it means so much to you?” Daario says challenging.

They can see Jaime actually break a sweat a little bit — in trying not to roll his eyes. “Of course it doesn’t matter to you," Jaime said, addressing Daario. "You’re just a sound monkey. And God forbid you ever step out of Mommy’s shadow and have a real opinion of your own, you parrot.”

They all pretty much collectively flinch at how easily such harshness just rolls off his tongue.

“That’s fucking really rich coming from you,” Daario says testily. He doesn’t have Jaime’s quick-wittedness. His returns in arguments are just big, angry, direct swipes. “Your fucking family.”

“What about our family?” Tyrion interjects casually. “Universally loved and adored and devoid of any controversy? I agree!”

Jaime ignores his brother clunky attempt at lightening the mood. Instead, he turns to Grey and Drogo. He succinctly tosses out, “Widescreen. Letterbox anamorphic format.”

Drogo scoffs — and then sighs — and then pivots his chin real quick to glance at Grey, who is sitting beside him. He crosses his arms over his chest. Then to Jaime, he roughly says, “What do you want me to say? Obviously that would be fucking amazing. Obviously I’d shit my pants. Obviously, Jaime.”

“Grey?”

He clears his throat. “It’s really expensive. We’d need additional equipment, lighting, an entire local film crew — and then there’s the Valyrian filmmaking system, which is really challenging to deal with —”

“What you’re talking about is all shit under Missandei’s purview,” Jaime cuts in. “So now we all fucking know her stance on this. Thanks. What I’m asking is what you think — what do you think and feel about this, talented camera genius guy?”

“Hey, if you’re interested in what I think — I think this would be awesome to score.”

Jaime keeps his intense gaze on Grey and blindly holds up his prosthetic hand the general direction of Sam’s face. “Noted, Tarly. Thanks for chiming in.” Then to Grey, Jaime pointedly says, “Well?”

And — he knows what Jaime is trying to do. He knows that he exists in this cushy position of neutrality most of the time. He never likes to get involved in their petty squabbling. He doesn’t care. He just wants to show up and do his job. He just generally does whatever the big wigs tell him to do. He knows that he is favored by Dany — she respects him. He knows that everyone else knows it, too. And he knows that his newly formed, strange personal relationship with Jaime is something that Jaime is underhandedly trying to capitalize on — to stick it to Dany.

He softly and reluctantly says, “I would love it. It would probably be the most beautiful thing we’ve ever done together.” He swallows the awkwardness down and he can still feel the tenderness in his face with each motion. “But, I understand that it’s not realistic.”

“Man! You don’t worry about realistic!” Jaime says, voice increasing in volume. He gestures over to the other side of the table, about where Missandei and Brienne are sitting. “You got people who have your back —”

Brienne flicks her eyes back and forth in bewilderment, at being suddenly pulled into the discussion. She says, “Uhh. . . .”

“— Your job is to push it to the limits. Their job is to tell you when you need to scale back.”

“This is just not a profitable endeavor and the network hates it!” Dany says, practically shouting at Jaime. “It’s hard for them to sell this format overseas!”

Jaime bares his teeth. “I honestly don’t give a fuck if people in some third world country are too poor to buy a proper TV and can’t watch this fucking episode!”

Drogo’s hackles get raised at that. He immediately goes rigid in his seat. “What the fuck did you say, man?”

“Relax. It was a joke. I care a lot about people in the third world.”

 

 


He’s mindlessly shoving stewed beef and vegetables into his face — he is constantly fucking eating because he is constantly fucking starving. He is probably fucking starving because he is wired — he now has copious amounts of energy that he has to burn off or else he’ll explode. Maybe he means that his dick will explode because that’s what it feels like sometimes. He really hopes that this excess of testosterone will stave off obesity. Because at this juncture in his life, he honestly cannot stop himself from overeating.

He gets pushed — his face careens forward and almost plants itself into the hot bowl of stew. He twists around and sees Daario’s humorless grinning face. His arms, bare, ripped, and tan because it’s been a fucking scorching million degrees lately, are now innocently crossed over his chest. It gives Grey this flashback of high school, these memories of being hassled and groped in the locker room. His classmates’ nickname for him was ‘man titties.’ They weren’t especially creative, but they got their point across. All he could do when he was a kid was put up with the groping and pretend he didn’t hear them — maybe occasionally forced himself to laugh along with them.

“What?” he says defensively, throwing a scowl at Daario.

Daario quickly licks his lips — pausing to think over his next words. Then he says, “You’re one of the popular kids, now? You’ve fucking made it, haven’t you?” Daario snorts.

Grey throws his spoon down on the tray as a course of red hot anger flares in him — it’s bright and it’s urgent and he just wants to smash Daario’s stupid fucking face in. Daario has some bullshit concept of blind loyalty. And Grey didn’t say fucking jack to nobody when he accidentally caught Daario creeping into Daenerys's room in the middle of the night — because he just doesn’t give a fuck, what people do behind closed doors. But he did that guy a fucking favor by keeping quiet. He knows he has done this guy a fucking favor. And now he is just getting random grief for no fucking reason — because Daario needs to prove that he’s a big and bad man.

“What the hell happened over break?” Daario says. “You come back and your face is all fucked up and you’re drinking from Jaime Lannister’s asshole.”

Heat breaks out of Grey’s face and his jaw hurts from clenching. His body is tight when he shouts, “I’m fucking trying to eat! Get the fuck away from me, right now!”

A bunch of gazes in the immediate vicinity fall on him. He’s shaking — even now that his rage has crested and his anger has started to dissipate. He has never lashed out at anyone like this ever before.

 

 


Over dinner, Missandei kind of giggles into her hand and a never-empty mug of beer as Yara raises her arms over her head and does a tight, long stretch, lightly groaning a bit. Her breasts, just a little exposed in her tank top, press together with the motion, as she sways side to side. Brienne stiffly ignores all the male gazes — from the locals and also from members of the crew — that have suddenly zoomed in on them. She sweeps her spoon around her bowl, cleaning up the edges of her thick porridge.

Yara cracks her neck audibly. “See? I’m telling you. At home, I’m just another nondescript white lady. It’s like, take me or leave me. Whatever. But here, I’m like an eight. Maybe a nine.” Yara speaks with the authority of years on the job, years of experience that stand in contrast to her actual age. Her family is dynasty. Her dad is the famed Balon Greyjoy. She readily admits, with a rakish grin, that her presence anywhere is the direct result of nepotism.

But her brash words are just a defense mechanism. Yara has trained herself to cut to the chase, to be the first to say all the insulting things she knows people say about her. Those — usually men — who don’t know her well say that she has a chip on her shoulder. She will say that non-conformity is off-putting to some people. “And among lesbians?” Yara adds. “Forget it. I’m like out of the stratosphere hot.”

“And why is that?” Missandei asks, only vaguely curious, only vaguely paying attention to Yara’s theory. She’s been drinking a tad.

“Probably the novelty. Probably how people idealize Westerners.” Yara shrugs. Then she suddenly says, “What about you?”

“Me?”

“Yeah, if I’m a fucking eight, you’re a fucking eleven hundred. When are you gonna stop being a sad sack and get back out there, get fucking plowed by some guy you have a language barrier with?”

“Come on, Yara,” Brienne says softly, her face brightening up with color. “Missandei will likely be able to communicate with every person who —” Brienne wrinkles her nose in distaste, “plows her.”

“Oh my God, that’s right!” Yara says in a stage whisper. Then she says, “That’s awkward. Speaking the same language as your one night stand.”

“Huh,” Missandei says dully.

“I like your eyes,” Yara says, rapidly changing the subject in her inebriated state, gazing over at Brienne. “They’re so pretty.” The compliment has vestiges of the first several months after their meeting. Yara’s gaydar had been way off. And Brienne was terrified by all of the sexual interest pointed in her direction. There were long discussions to pass away idle time — Brienne agonized over her apparent and latent homophobia. But Missandei told her it probably wasn’t the fact that Yara is a woman. It was probably that Brienne is scared of sex. Missandei told Brienne that it was okay. Sex is honestly really scary sometimes.

 

 


They are spending a couple of days exploring the outskirts of Lhazosh, scoping out the area. She has to wake up early to meet with a money exchanger that their local fixers, Mara and Kashee, found for them. The rate is really good and all of it is done in the lobby of the hotel right before she tiredly hits up the pretty adequate continental breakfast provided for foreigners like them. She feels like a mafioso, with the entire production budget jammed into a briefcase next to her legs.

Later, the two DPs and Pod, the camera assistant, amble down the stairs together — already chattering about stuff she can’t make out. Behind her sunglasses, she lightly waves them over. Behind sunglasses, she can stare at him unblinkingly like the creep that she is. There is something different about him. Due to the obsessive amount of information she has consumed through internet searches, she has read that brain surgery and the removal of a significant tumor can drastically alter a person’s personality. Maybe he was only nice to her because he was sick. Maybe he only thought she was interesting because he was sick.

When they get within earshot, she says, “Gonna eat?”

“I don’t eat hotel food,” Drogo says tightly. It was something she anticipated. Drogo has a bunch of rigid, self-imposed rules. He has a personal code that he always abides by. He has lectured her on hotel food and its shittiness. He has told her that if he is gonna get food poisoning — which has never happened ever in his entire life — it will be from fucking hotel food.

“How long before the first stop?” Grey asks. In contrast, this guy is very, very easy. He’s not necessarily easy-going. But his standards for his own personal comfort are insanely low. His new mode of dealing with her is to not ever look directly at her. It honestly makes her really, really sad.

“Um, maybe four hours?”

“I can wait.”

“Man, I cannot,” Pod breaks in, leaving them to hit the buffet.

 

 


She is all that he can see now. That’s why he takes the front seat of the van, next to Emile, their rotund driver with a serious ‘stache and an aggressive 11 a.m. shadow on his face. Grey takes the front seat so he can focus on the road and not get distracted by her long bare legs in khaki shorts, by the way she fills out her tank top, the way the fabric clings to her curves. Emile probably likens himself to some sort of comedian. He is capable in the Common Tongue, a strong accent that sometimes makes three syllables morph into one. He yells his punchlines at them, over the stuttering bounce of the dirt road — before his riotous, wheezy laugh tapers off into silent hiccups. Emile has some light body odor issues — this stale sweat smell mixed with cologne spray and local spices. When he’s not joking around with them, he’s turning up the music loudly and singing at the top of his lungs. He thinks he’s doing them a favor by only playing Western pop hits from thirty years ago. In another situation, Grey’d be really fucking amused by Emile. Drogo sure is. Drogo keeps laughing himself out of his nap.

Mostly, Grey is just so pissed at himself and his body that even Emile’s loud outtakes are not enough to kill the boner resting on this thigh. He is now constantly hyper-aware that he has a thing dangling in between his legs all the time. A thing that represents his manhood. It’s a thing that he used to be cursed by — in a different way.

He associates sex with such ugliness. It has facilitated such fucking ugliness in his life.

He feels terrible because he cannot stop picturing a respectable person naked. It is awful and mortifying, and he doesn’t know how he’s supposed to get through the next fucking two days. Every second feels like a minute. Every minute feels like an hour. He keeps seeing her as the sum of her body parts, sometimes as her individual body parts. Out of his own volition, he keeps imagining fucking being inside some of those body parts. It is an entirely alien obsession. He used to admire the way women look aesthetically and intellectually — like they were artwork. He looked at them like he looked at pictures. This fucking new brain is fucking terrible.

He’s too nervous that his body will betray him in front of her, so he refuses to take a nap during the long drive. He is just stuck in the mental purgatory of all of his memories. He hates his body. He hates the look of it. He hates taking off his clothes. He remembers being sixteen and having his girlfriend at the time tell him she was ready to have sex with him — and it was just this tepid warmth and excitement and fear that spread out from inside of him — the prospect of having sex. It was nothing like how he heard other guys explain it — this urgency that needed to happen, lest they fucking spontaneously combust.

He remembers the fucking disaster that followed. He remembers trying to force it and then trying to fake it and then trying to make it — on sheer biological conviction alone. He is a guy, therefore it had to happen. He remembers her sobbing, and then her accusations. He remembers her breaking up with him, and then subsequently the rumors she spread around school about how he couldn’t get his microscopic dick up because he is a total fag. That was during the days when school-wide assemblies speaking out against hate-language were really taking off. They felt like salt in his wounds. He spent a hilariously stupid amount of time actually trying to figure out if he actually was gay — maybe that was his problem with girls. He was just a kid, so he let Bob Pomper fondle him after school — they were both trying to figure shit out — as he generally tried not to weep in anger and self-hatred. One thing his father did impart onto him before his father died was that men don’t cry. Soon after that incident with Bobby, Grey decided that he probably was not gay. He might not be straight either. He might be ‘other.’ He might be ‘not applicable.’

 

 


Poor Pod is jumpy because Drogo keeps snapping at him. He scrambles to get the right equipment, to grab the right lens without hesitation, but it seems that no matter how hard he tries, nothing he does really satisfies Drogo. Grey, in contrast, is a lot less aggressive. While not exactly warm and kind, per se, Grey has a general disinterest in Pod, which means he doesn’t care about Pod enough to yell at him, which is something Pod can live with.

Missandei is great. She is very nice. She never raises her voice, even when he makes little mistakes. And she is also very, very pretty and makes his heart flutter a little bit whenever she gets close because she smells so good. She also barely notices that he’s a guy — a man, albeit a young one. She sees him as a kid. He is only four years younger than she is.

“Sun sets kinda early,” Drogo says gruffly, putting the cap on his camera lens before he starts cleaning up — before he detaches the lens from the body and hands over the equipment to Pod. Pod has broken out into a nervous sweat because he cannot tell if Drogo is speaking directly to him or if Drogo is just musing out loud. If Drogo is speaking directly to him, he had better answer Drogo or else Drogo is going to flip out and demand to know whether he’s listening or not. Pod’s proud parents have no freaking clue that this is what his cool jet-setting life entails — being someone’s bitch. All the time.

“Beer o’clock, friend?” Emile says brashly, probably repeating something he has seen on TV. “Beer o’clock time?”

 

 


Emile is a really messy, mischievous drunk, and when Grey sees the guy hanging all over Missandei just a little bit too heavily — when he spots Missandei’s grimace and the horror-smile she has plastered on her face as she leans away from his face — when he spots Emile touching her hair — well, he reluctantly makes his way over to like, rescue the damsel in distress.

He presses both of his palms into Emile’s chest, trying to get his attention. This is honestly a task more suited for Drogo — but Drogo has already left the joint with some girl that sold him coconut water.

Emile falls out of his grasp with a dull thump. “Shit.” He squats down and grabs the guy by the shirt and yanks him back to his feet. And then he mutters a good night to Missandei — leaving her stranded in the outdoor restaurant with the bill like a gentleman — and also because she always pays the bill — and walks the short five-minute distance before he shoves Emile into a motel room, onto a motel bed. Emile’s snoring rattles. Emile occasionally throws out these punctuated statements in his native language. Grey does not understand.

His heart thuds in his chest when he sees that she’s waiting for him, outside of the motel room.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Grey spent nearly the entire month at Tyrion’s house. The delusion that he fed himself for the imposition was that he told himself it was a matter of convenience for everyone involved. If he were to go home, they’d just follow him there. It took a bit of time for Grey to succumb to the fact that Jaime and Tyrion are both stubborn and they evidently felt pity for him and they were insistent on forcing their goodwill on him — for reasons he does not understand, but he gathers that there is a deeper context there, probably familial context, considering they are brothers.

In truth, he stayed because he grew to like their company.

As for Tyrion, part of his reason for welcoming Grey into his house was steeped in a sort of mild altruism. He works with the guy. He likes the guy. It’s kind of hard for him to like people because people are generally awful. Tyrion figured that it would be a shame if the guy died or suffered some post-surgical infection due to his own negligence.

The other facet of Tyrion’s supposedly kindness is that he actually hates breaks in filming these days, so Grey served as a distraction for him to pour his energies into. His big house feels empty. Being alone in it is a depressing thing. His wife has shacked up with his fucking asshole of a father and divorce continues to be a bitter and grueling process because he has an excessive amount of pride and he is currently in the mode of not wanting to give that bitch an extra cent. He was actually heading to the hospital to tend to Grey after leaving his attorney’s office, his head filled with a very visceral rage, when he was sideswiped by some other cunt with brown hair, who had only the barest of resemblances to his wife — but it was enough. So he wanted to fucking kill her. But the aid car got there really fast and they shoved him into the ambulance before he could beat her to death for totalling his Mercedes.

Jaime’s constant presence at Tyrion’s house was both very straightforward and also rather oblique. He clearly wanted to atone for something. And he clearly had wisdom he wanted to pass along — yet he could only release the information in fragments. He is always holding back. It was easy for Grey to let it slide because he’s never in the mode of pressing people for information, for his own sake. And after the incident in which Jaime walked in on him without knocking on the door — and after he experienced Jaime being gracious and sheepish about it — well, Grey figured everyone is entitled to their secrets.

 

 


Missandei would like to get their friendship back on track. She would like to erase her awful drunken decision-making. She would like to go back in time, before she sloppily threw herself all over him and wantonly told him that he can fuck her however he wanted to — she mostly said it out of this throbbing insecurity she has about her own attractiveness — she tried to make herself come across as sexually adventurous even though her primitive brain was scared out of its mind at the prospect of whatever she had just signed up for.

In hindsight, she can now see that he really, really, really wasn’t fucking into it — or her. She was so fucking weird and so fucking awkward around him afterward, when she realized just how fucking embarrassed she should be. And she does — feel so fucking embarrassed. She remembers her hand shoved down his pants. He didn’t ask her to put her hand there, so now she wonders if she like, fucking sexually assaulted her friend and if he was just too nice to stop her. God, she remembers her sweaty hand feeling around for his penis. And then finding it. And then she remembers the thread of panic that zipped down her spine, as her brain screamed out her inexperience. She has only had sex with two people — Jared and also her high school boyfriend, whose wedding to another man she later attended.

And she had no fucking clue he was even gay and struggling over it. When Harry came out to her, she had cried in shock — also because she was being broken up with — and she had wondered out loud how he could be gay because their sex life was good. And then there was the horrendous fucking pause on his end — this long, awkward pause that just tortured her and made her question her sanity, a pause that made it clear to her that he didn’t think their sex life was good at all.

And that was that. She was this parentless orphan who was unloved by all men — and apparently one who was also bad at sex.

Her shittiness at sex came back to haunt her full throttle when she desperately and nervously babbled at Grey. She threw brainless compliments at him on autopilot. She called him baby — it was crazy and too intimate — as she was trying to get him to touch her naked body. She told him he was so hot and that she needed him — even though that was something she never actively thought about — in regard to him. All the things she desperately said were designed to elicit a response. And she couldn’t elicit one response.

Then she got on her knees and undid his pants and put her mouth on his soft penis and shit got way, way worse.

She wanted to crawl into a hole and just die the next day, when she woke up alone in her hotel room and remembered what had transpired. She was sure he hated her.

Over the break, she read a lot of pop psychology articles — a number of self-help books. She has decided that her brain had short-circuited and she had freaked out because she caught her fiance cheating. It was a slow burn of insanity. It was insanity that snuck up on her. She decided that she has low self-esteem and a low sense of self-worth. That was why she stayed in a bad relationship for so long — deep down she didn’t think she can do better. Deep down, she doesn’t think she deserves more.

So says numerous quizzes in women’s magazines. But actually, regardless of the source, she does agree with these assessments.

She has decided that she has to work on herself and really love herself before anyone else can love her. Stopping short of that is just inviting dysfunction back into her life. She has been ignoring all of the stupid, cliched advice from her friends — most of them have been telling her she needs to get laid, stat — she needs to get under a new guy in order to get over the old. She doesn’t think she needs to get laid. She needs to . . . get paid? Yes. She needs to focus on work.

She has also decided that she needs to stop being such a chickenshit, and she needs to be an adult and apologize to Grey. And then she needs to act normal around him. And maybe she needs to make a case for why he should give her a second chance to prove to him she’s a human being worth knowing and worth cracking the occasional joke with. Hopefully he will forgive in time.

 

 


“Hey,” she says, lightly swaying back and forth on her feet just outside of Emile’s motel room. They can hear him snoring inside. “Fancy a nightcap? My treat.”

Grey grimaces. “Uh, I, uh, probably shouldn’t drink more. Early day tomorrow and stuff.”

“I mean, it doesn’t have to be alcohol. You can get a snack,” she says hopefully. “Or dessert?”

“I’m, uh, kinda tired,” he says. “But thanks. But uh, I think I’m just going to turn in.”

“Oh, okay.” She tries to valiantly smile. “Thanks a lot for your help back there.”

“Oh, sure,” he says vaguely. “No problem.”

She nods. “He was starting to get a little handsy. He’s a nice guy, but it was a little weird.” She kind of laughs uncomfortably. “You know what it’s like.”

He tilts his head a little — she can see him glancing her at real quick, before he carefully and doubtfully says, “I guess I do know what it’s like to be a nice guy who is a little weird.”

Heat floods her face. “Oh, no! No no! I didn’t mean it like that! Oh my gosh, I didn’t mean it that way at all!” She had meant that he knows what it’s like to be accosted by unwanted advances. She was freaking trying to ease into a direct apology. She was trying to freaking transition!

“Don’t worry about it,” he says. “It’s cool.”

Neither of them know what else to say.

 

 


There are actually some notable plus sides to his new lease on life — to the low prolactin level and the increased testosterone. His energy is off the charts. He used to spend eight hours asleep and wake up feeling like he only got two. Now, his body buzzes — it buzzes with this capability he has never had before.

He gets up early to go on a run. He constantly has to figure out new ways to burn off his excess energy, to burn off some of the sexual frustration. He can only jack off so many fucking times a day.

He’s been finding that he can run faster than he ever could. He feels his muscles stretching and condensing in his body — doing what they are meant to do. He actually feels kind of strong.

He also finds that his mind feels sharper — he comes to decisions faster and he feels more secure in them, even the most minor, most innocuous ones. He also feels more in control of his emotions — they have been muted down. He no longer feels like his emotions are an out of control freight train that will betray him at any moment.

 

 


Drogo takes a big glob of jam and smears it all over his toast, which is already dripping in butter. The sight of it makes Missy a little nauseous. “She let me fuck her ass last night. During round two. I think I’m in love.” The sound of his voice also makes her a little nauseous. Drogo has repeatedly reminded her — whenever she asked him in the past to cool the bro-talk around her — that she should be honored that he sees her as one of the guys enough to not hold back and censor himself.

“Did you even check to see how old she was?” Missy accuses, hostility open and clear in her voice.

Drogo snorts, evidently very amused by her sudden flare of anger. “Older than she looks, actually.”

Pod shifts uncomfortably. He hates confrontation.

“Well, I’m happy for you, man,” Grey cuts in tepidly, his face lightly tense from concentration as he carefully drips some cream into his coffee. She’s never seen him drink anything but black coffee before. Then he sighs. “What is on the itinerary for today?”

He totally knows what the itinerary is. Of course he knows, both because the itinerary is simple but also because he is Mr. Over-Prepare. He is trying to deflect, and he is trying to change the subject.

 

 


He mutely hands Pod his spare scarf, which he’s sure probably smells musty from being shoved to the bottom of his travel bag for so long. It’s so hot — they are constantly babying their equipment and taking frequent breaks under the shade umbrella. The wind is drying out his eyes and the sand is irritating them. He catches her gaze — her face is shiny from a sheen of sweat, and she’s just radiating out peppy cheerfulness as she squints against the harsh sun. She’s just all smiles, and he doesn’t understand how she can be like this when the conditions are so harsh. She checks out his covered face.

“You have mummy face.”

“Excuse me?”

“You know, wrapped up. Like a blue mummy.”

She kind of does a really bad, really fucking adorable impression of a mummy walking, with her arms held out in front of her. It takes him a beat, but then he understands what she’s conveying. “Ah,” he says. “That’s interesting.” He thinks the sand is hot enough that it’s melting the soles of his fucking sneakers. He feels like a real lameass.

“Oh my God!” Drogo suddenly shouts, from a few yards away. “It’s so hot. I am dying!” Drogo dramatically uncaps a bottle of precious water and wrestles off his white t-shirt with one hand. He bunches up the shirt and pours water over it, saturating it. Grey catches Missandei staring — at Drogo’s exposed body, at his bare skin, at the musculature — and then Grey figures he doesn’t need to be an awkward interloper here. He silently walks back over to where his camera is lying on a cooling pad, bending over to touch it as Drogo pulls his wet, white t-shirt back on. It really is ridiculously hot. But the sand dunes are beautiful.

“You want some of this?” Drogo says, calling over to him. He has half his bottle of water left. Grey hears him laughing. “I’d offer it to you, babe,” Drogo says to Missandei. “But I feel like I know what your response would be.”

“Fuck off, dude. In your dreams.”

“Yeah, that sounds about right.”

 

 


Emile is blessedly quiet for once — he’s a consummate professional when he needs to be. They’ve turn on the overhead light in the way-back seat. She has her knees braced against the back of the seat in front of her — her feet just dangle and sway with the motion of the car. Her tablet and her notepad are balanced on her lap as she takes down notes. Drogo is sitting in the seat in front of them, seat belt undone, body swiveled around so he is facing them. Pod is sleeping with his face pressed against the window next to Drogo. And Grey is all long limbs and body heat, a respectable distance away from her, but still next to her.

They are going over the locations, brainstorming what equipment they will need, which crewmembers to take, what needs to be rented, who needs to be hired, when to shoot at each location — and weighing the cost of it all with what they want to do in their hearts of hearts.

“Dany is going to hate the desert,” Missandei says.

“That’s ‘cause she’s prissy,” Drogo says, grinning.

“Jaime is going to hate the desert, too.”

“That’s ‘cause he’s prissy,” Drogo repeats faithfully, his grin widening.

“We need a hoodman for every monitor,” Grey says, interrupting, brusque and businesslike as usual. “Can you check the rental house and see if they have enough? If not, tell me so that I can have Pod or some of the assistants make some.”

“Sure,” she says, jotting the note down on her tablet. “Will do.”

 

 


When they get back to the city, back to the hotel that the rest of the crew is staying in, Missandei gives them a half-hour break before they have to reconvene. First thing he wants to do is shower and probably rub one out in the shower. His attention on this is singularly focused — even as he runs into various crew members in the hallway who all insist on saying hello to him and asking him how it’s going. He generally mutters hello back and tells them that everything went fine.

In the privacy of his hotel room — he takes off his clothes. His habit is usually to get undressed quickly and to generally not spend a lot of time looking at himself — such is the extent of his disdain for himself — but tonight it is different. Perhaps it’s because he’s remembering the way Missandei looked at Drogo. Or perhaps it’s because his clothes have felt different on his frame lately — looser.

To his eyes — besides the new explosion of zits that are sprinkled over his back and busted face — his body generally looks the same as it has always been — even though something huge and pivotal has changed in his life. To his eyes, his body is still generally odd-looking and shapeless and weirdly flabby in places. He still will favor loose t-shirts that hide his flaws in their billows. He still understands why his classmates called him man titties. What has changed is that the area behind his nipples no longer drive him insane with the sensitivity and the aching. He now understands that it was crazy, all of the things he had desperately normalized about his body because his denial was so strong.

He’s been overeating lately. He’s been a lot looser with his usually strict diet. But if anything, he has maintained his weight, if not outright lost some of it. He tells himself this has to be a byproduct of the tumor removal.

 

 


It’s hot and Yara mentioned that it rained the other night. The air is sticky and humid. Missandei's is freshly scrubbed, and she’s waiting around in the hotel bar when he slides into the stool next to her. He orders a beer from the bartender before focusing his attention on her. She looks at him quickly — she feels his eyes roving over her body, taking in the loose linen pants and the light, backless top held together by ties. She feels his forefinger ghosting over the curve of her bare shoulder before he gently presses down and runs his blunt nail down her arm. She shivers unconsciously.

And she’s about to swat him off when his eyes crinkle in the corners and he laughs, deep and throaty. “You look really nice,” Drogo says.

She rolls her eyes. She says, “Yeah, yeah. Whatever.” Because it’s their thing. He flirts. She doesn’t. He teases her. She’s uptight about it. He mocks her for her general repression. She puts up with it.

“No, I mean it,” he says, lowering his voice. “I like the shirt.”

They pause as the bartender comes back with Drogo’s beer. Her face grows hot in that time. And then she stammers out an awkward laugh. And then she casts him another look. And then she shakes her head at him. And then she mutters, “Thanks.”

“You know,” he says quietly. “You weren’t available before.”

Now, her laugh really is genuine. She says, “Who says I’m available now?”

He shrugs. “I meant that you had a man before.”

She’s playing with her cocktail napkin, folding it and unfolding it over and over again, buying a little bit of time. She thinks that what he means is that he kept a reasonable distance out of respect to her fiance. She thinks that he probably thinks that it was a really gallant gesture on his part. She thinks that he thinks that he should earn some humanity points for this. “Yeah,” she says vaguely. “So I did.” This is precisely why Drogo’s attractiveness tends to diminish, bit by bit, the longer she knows him.

Drogo chuckles again — he always laughs like he has the upperhand in all situations. “You’re one of those,” he says confidently, before he tips his beer back and empties a third of the bottle in a series of swallows.

“One of those what?”

He’s still smiling at her. He’s still so amused. He says, “One of those feminists.”

“Oh, God. You say that like it’s a dirty word.”

He sets his beer down, and he gazes at her steadily. “Babe, that’s not a dirty word,” he says, voice a low rumble now. “I can probably teach you some real dirty words sometime, though.” And she gets it. She gets why women respond the way they do to Drogo, as flawed as he is. She really, really gets it.

“Wow. You really score with these corny lines?”

The spell breaks at that. When he laughs, it comes out more as a snicker. And she feels him nudging her, gently pushing her shoulder with his so that she sways in her seat. She’s back to being his bro, his pal. “I sure do,” he says. “But seriously, you’re fucking hot. So if you ever feel like getting a workout in, if you feel like doing some moaning and groaning — feel like just having some easy fun — if you just simply just want to get fucked real good —”

“Oh my God, I will come running to you,” she cuts in sarcastically. “Right away.”

He looks at her out of the corner of his eye as he takes another swig of beer — his expression now skeptical and superior. She loses a lot of her confidence in this time. When he places his bottle back on the bar top, Missandei lowers her voice to just about a whisper, and she says, “Drogo, you know me. You know what I’m all about. I’m boring. I’m a prude. I’m uptight. I’m a make-dinner and watch Netflix kind of girl. I’m a farmer’s market Sunday kind of girl. I’m a cuddle on the couch kind of girl. I’m a relationship girl.”

Drogo finally frowns in distaste. He says, “Man, don’t sell yourself so short.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

The hotel gym smells pretty rank due to the blistering heat outside and the fact that there is a busted air conditioner. There are five rotary fans going furiously around the perimeter of the room, but all they really do is just circulate the body odor around the tight space. Grey feels bad for the women there.

Actually, woman. Brienne is the only woman in the gym. He specifically feels bad for the way Jaime treats her sometimes.

Brienne and Jaime work closely together because she is the script supervisor and a producer. She — along with Missandei to a lesser extent — is also their go-to person whenever they have any question on the local customs or the politics of any city, town, or randomass chunk of land they are filming on. Missandei’s knowledge tends to flow innately and naturally — driven based on her natural curiosity about places. Brienne researches and studies like her life depends on it. It’s because she really hates being caught off-guard. Improvisation is not her strength. This is one of the reasons she and Jaime clash. There are many reasons though.

Grey plugs in his earbuds and he nods to Jaime as he walks by. Jaime is sweating buckets and sprinting shirtless with a steady intensity on the treadmill. At home in King’s Landing or Casterly Rock, Jaime has a personal trainer and a nutritionist who creates these meals plans for him. It’s not that he likes or particularly wants to live like this. It’s that he has to. He likes to bitterly joke that it’s because his only value is his looks, his celebrity, and his notoriety — he has to fucking maintain or else he is not hireable. Jaime’s insecurity — whether based in reality or not — is that he is not at all like Grey or Drogo or Tyrion or Sandor or Missandei or Brienne or everyone else. He doesn’t actually really have a talent or a noteworthy skillset. Jaime is grimly aware of why the idly rich and attractive tend to be neurotic, insecure basketcases. Jaime is grimly aware that he is older than a lot of the people he works with. He is aware that he will only continue to age.

Music is blaring in Grey’s head — and this is a luxury because he used to not be able to listen to music as he worked out due to his crushing headaches — as he gives nods to Drogo and Sandor. He kind of glances at Daario real quick, but he still thinks that guy is a dumb asshole at the moment. So fuck that guy.

He slides a set of 45-pound weights into the bar. He crawls onto the bench and flips over onto his back. He spaces out his hands evenly and then he unracks. His arms feel steady. And in shock, as he lowers the weight, he immediately notices how much easier this is than he remembers it being.

After he first set, he slaps some more weight onto the bar — doubtfully.

And then after his second set, he puts even more weight on the bar, this time with growing confidence.

Drogo has been half-paying attention to the whole thing. He calls out, “Damn, boyyy, you’ve been eating your Wheaties!”

 

 

 

“The fuck, Pod!” Drogo barks after he trips on a power cord and nearly careens into a clueless Pod who is directly in his path. “Move your fucking skinny ass! Goddammit.”

Grey silently side-steps the drama — side-steps Pod’s freakout and Drogo’s explosion — and sprints into the restaurant with a bunch of lights cradled in his arms. The restaurant is open for business and it’s hopping, not insanely busy, but lively. He has twenty minutes before Jaime and Daenerys show up. Missandei, Tyrion, and Brienne are going over the script, Daario and Sandor are checking levels, and he has to ask them to please move a little so that he can start hiding lights, tucking them in innocuous corners. Jaime really hates lights. Grey learned this his very first day on the job and had to put up with a long-winded rant about it from Jaime, had to listen to Jaime condescendingly call him “kiddo” and treat him like he was a fresh film school grad.

Jaime hates unnatural lighting. Jaime hates ‘sleekifying’ scenes. Grey knows he has done his job correctly when Jaime walks into a place that is lit as naturalistically as possible and doesn’t start bitching viciously about the lighting.

Dany, on the other hand, can put up with more robust lighting. She sometimes prefers it, to soften up her face. Grey has to make adjustments for her, too. He and Drogo have to manage a constant balancing act.

 

 


Scenes in which Dany and Jaime get drunk on local hooch is a staple of the series — and it’s kind of a silly component — but they all also work their asses off to consistently film these segments in new, creative ways. There’s actually an art to this.

Currently, Grey is real shitfaced. Currently, Drogo is also real shitfaced. They spent the bulk of the night — hours — in the restaurant chatting and taking swills of this liquor made partially from human spit. As expected, Dany gagged the first few sips she took. Then they eased into it and started pulling from Brienne’s notes — pontificating on this practice of fermenting alcohol, a practice designed to convert the complex starches in the local tubers down into simple sugars — musing on the historical, political implications, chatting about the ingenuity, discussing the surprisingly light taste of it.

There are no retakes, and Drogo swears under his breath when his silent giggling shakes the camera and maybe ruins his shot. Grey is doing one of the things he does best — he might the very best in the world at this — at walking backwards on rocky old streets as motorbikes unnervingly whiz by right next to him — while shitfaced — pointing a camera in Jaime’s and Dany’s faces.

Jaime and Dany are mocking him. They are shitfaced, too. They are probably shitfaced the most.

“He’s so serious,” Dany says, putting on a deep and masculine affectation. “Look at how seriously he takes his work.”

“I like your pants,” Jaime slurs. “I like how it looks like you can buy an apple for those pants. One single apple. Are we not paying you enough? Your fly is down, by the way. Dany — isn’t his fly down? Tell him his fly is down.”

“Darling, your fly is down.”

“It’s like, all I can see. It’s like, really distracting. It’s obscene really.”

“You’re embarrassing him, Jaime. Look at his face right now. Honey, you are so cute and so shy. Honey, zip up your pants, please.”

They are fucking with him. His fly is not down at all. Missandei squelches down a laugh as she sees Grey smoothly release an ever-suffering and silent exhale, right before he gets fed up and grumbles, “I quit. I’m quitting right now. You guys are being abusive.”

“Baby, you can’t quit me,” Tyrion cuts in, “even if you tried.”

 

 


Her cheeks feel flooded with warmth from the alcohol and also from nerves — as she musters up the guts to lightly jog up to Grey. Her arms feel stupid and weird swinging at her sides — and she tries not to get stuck on that hang-up too much — as she leans over and watches him load up his equipment.

Hodor — also drunk — grunts loudly because that’s how he communicates with the local guys. There’s always a language barrier of some sort. They are all shoving stuff into the equipment van. It looks rough and messy, but it’s actually a carefully choreographed ballet. When they first started together, Missandei used to think it was helpful to hang around him and translate occasionally between him and the local crew they hired. Hodor put up with it for a while because he’s just a massive sweetie. Then one day Tyrion pulled her aside and told her to fucking knock it off. She was messing up a good system Hodor already had and was making it inefficient.

Missy checks the time on her phone. Yikes. She sees his crouched shadowed figure pause when he detects her presence. “Five o’clock start time tomorrow,” she says, needlessly reminding him. Tomorrow, he and Drogo are going to be split up into two teams made up of locals they hired. Tomorrow is all about capturing hours upon hours of b-roll.

“Gotcha” he murmurs, standing up suddenly, pulling the strap of his bag over his head. He turns to face her.

“Do you wanna grab a drink real quick?” she blurts.

She sees his eyes widening in surprise. “Oh my God, you have got to be kidding me,” he says. And then — miracles of miracles — his face twists and changes and morphs into a smile. A really nice smile. “God, I am so loaded right now that I’m almost scared for tomorrow. Because right now, I’m thinking that we got some fucking amazing-ass shots and shit just looks so beautiful and epic and sweeping. And I’m afraid that when I look at this shit again tomorrow, I will just want to fucking kill myself over how godawful it actually is. So no, Missandei. I do not want another drink.”

 

 

She rotates the hot cup of spiced cider — what he had sarcastically called a bold and revolutionary choice — in her hands and generally feels very shy and self-conscious as she generally refrains from reaching over and experimentally touching his face — because he told her that if his face still looks a bit banged up — it certain feels more than a bit banged up. Instead, she asks him if he was scared.

“That’s actually a tough question to answer,” he says, orienting his gaze up to the ceiling as he thinks. A glass of perspiring soda is in front of him, largely untouched, drowning in melted ice water. “I guess I don’t really think I was scared — but I was also simultaneously terrified. If that makes any sense.”

She quickly shakes her head in these tiny motions. “It doesn’t.”

He puffs out a short laugh. “I mean that I wasn’t so much scared of dying. I was scared of all the stuff that comes afterward — the stuff that goes along with living. Like, the possibility of living life in pain. Or living with paralysis. Or blindness. Or whatever.”

“But you’re okay,” she says. “The surgery went perfectly.”

He hesitates. Immediately, Missy starts reading all sorts of things in his hesitation. He says, “There are trade-offs. My head is so much more clearer without the headaches. I feel a lot sharper now — and lighter in some ways. But . . . I also feel different.” He gently nudges his dripping glass of soda a little more to the side. “It’s like I’m a different person now.”

“You’re still you. And you’re always going to be you,” she says, with such earnestness that it smacks her right in her own face. Heat also crawls her face as she replays what she just said back to herself. She realizes how cliched and how dumb it sounds. It’s such a dumb thing to say. She’s also embarrassed she said it with such authority, as if she knows him. She’s blushing, and she hopes he can’t tell.

He shrugs. “Maybe,” he says, this forced neutrality coloring his voice.

 

 


They end up talking for hours, sitting there until last call in the hotel restaurant bar. On Missandei’s part — as happiness just chokes her in the throat — she’s ever-aware of the late night hour and also of their very early meet time. At this rate, they will only sleep about two hours. But the opportunity to sit and talk with him so candidly — just like the good ol’ days — is one that she is reluctant to end. So she keeps her mouth moving — she keeps chatting about a million different things, from the stresses of their work to her financial worries now that she’s all single-income — to the fact that she is alone now for the very first time in years. It’s a scary prospect in so many ways.

She keeps looking at his nervous face — familiar and yet not. Out of respect for him, she generally sidesteps a few questions that she wants to ask about his health. After all, health is a private thing to most people. She sees him listening attentively — and she also sees him stifling some yawns. She feels so very guilty over it, but she also doesn’t want to end the night. A big part of her attributes this openness to the fact that he is drunk enough to forget that they are estranged. She is drunk enough to stop being so freaking awkward. A part of her kind of already knows that this all ends the moment they part ways to go to bed.

Missandei is the kind of girl whose Common Tongue language teacher — a remedial language and speech class that she was shoved into when she first immigrated, to stop her stuttering and to also teach her the language — momentarily paused a one-on-one tutoring session to tell her that she was a very beautiful girl, that she looked like Princess Tigah. Princess Tigah, Missandei later learned, is one of the sidekicks on a popular children’s animated show. Princess Tigah is totally dark-skinned and ethnically ambiguous, like Missandei is. Princess Tigah’s power is that she has a staff that she beats the supervillians with — the same staff also drums out some sick hip hop beats when the Princess squad isn’t fighting crime.

That basically sums of Missandei’s impression of her own looks. She is very shy and self-conscious about her apparent palatable foreignness. She has a hard time accepting compliments at face value. She tends to read hidden meanings behind the things that people say about her face and body. She grew up without her mother. She grew up mostly scared and without adults who would impart a sense of identity onto her. She spent her childhood trying to be invisible and quiet, because it sucks to be the sad and tragic new kid in school that the teachers forced other kids to be friends with. As an adult, she struggles with having her own voice. She tends to adopt personas, based on who she is around and based on who other people need her to be. She hasn’t realized this yet — but this is probably why her relationship degraded over time.

She hasn’t realized this yet, but the reason why she feels drawn to Grey is probably because she doesn’t feel compelled to adopt a personality around him. She has become rather addicted to his non-expectations.

On Grey’s part — he is engaging in this long conversation with Missandei because he is drunk and he is loose and he actually feels unencumbered, for the first time in a very long while. He has momentarily forgotten all of his baggage and all of his hang-ups. He has also momentarily forgotten that she is female and she has the body parts of a female. His eyes stay trained on her face, and he thinks that this is a really, really cool moment — he’s having a really, really nice time — as he tries to keep up with what she’s saying. However, he’s drunk enough that he later won’t remember a lot of details from this long series of conversations — only that they had it.

 

 


When he wakes up, it is still dark outside, still the middle of the night. Grey wakes up suddenly — and he feels disoriented, because for a moment, as he fights the lingering hold of his dream, he forgets where he is. But quickly, the dream completely dissipates from his mind and all that is left is the sticky, wet mess in his briefs.

His heart is going fast — making him feel like he had just been jogging. He blinks rapidly a few times in the dark, as the awareness kicks in. He realizes what just happened. And he finds it really annoying and really fucking pointless. He stops himself from thinking much deeper than that because he’s not a person that likes to think too deeply about himself. Because it generally just depresses him to do that.

He accepts that this is a new facet of his life — it’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. He tells himself this is a byproduct of staying alive. He remembers all of the information his doctors gave him. They told him he’s rather unique. No one crams years and years of puberty into just a month — practically no one. They had hinted to him that he should be kinder to himself.

It burns his eyes a little bit, and he is rendered temporarily blind, as he flips on the bathroom light, strips off his boxers, throws it in his laundry bag, and then starts groggily washing his sticky penis and sticky testicles. He thinks back the hospital room and the catheter up his dick. He thinks back to his own reluctance in calling the things on his chest breasts. And then he ran that half marathon and was so tired and elated and alarmed when he noticed the wet spots on his shirt. He thought he was bleeding at first. It was worse when he went into a nearby restroom to clean himself up, squeezed his really tender skin, and a white, watery discharge came out. It brought relief, and it ended up becoming a routine practice for him that he folded into all of the other weird shit about his body. At the time, he thought that this shit was so fucking rich. Right now, as he washes the soap off his limp dick, he’s thinking the very same thing. There is just bullshit leaking out of his body all the fucking time. There is just going to be bullshit coming out of his body all the time.

After he’s done, he’s just about ready to collapse back in bed — but then he remembers that some tiny middle-aged woman comes by to collect all of their laundry and charges them based on the kilo. He thinks about that nice lady picking up his briefs saturated in jizz and he just wants to punch himself in the face over it. So he delays sleep for a little bit, nakedly crouched in the plasticky bathroom, as he sprays water on his briefs and tries his best to wash it up with hotel shampoo.

 

 


“Hi,” she says softly, eagerly smiling at him when she sees him dragging his feet all the way to the van. It’s adorable. She hands him a paper cup of watery black coffee, which he takes.

“Oh, thanks,” he mutters distractedly, clearing his throat before he grabs onto the roof of the van and starts swinging his body into one of the back seats. He mutters, “God, I’m so fucking tired and hungover. I barely got any sleep.” He says it because he’s cranky, and he’s also thinking about how he woke himself up during the night because he had to clean up his wet dream.

Missandei, though, immediately feels really silly and dumb — because she is thinking that it’s completely her fault he didn’t get any sleep. She had been greedy and selfish and had kept him awake for her own amusement. She feels sad all over again, as she watches him navigate around some of the local crew members, before he takes a seat next to Pod and starts quietly talking to Pod about what gear was packed — whether they have enough rope, just in case.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

The restroom is a hot spot during the eighteen hours that it takes for them to get back to King’s Landing. That’s two flights — one ten-hour one and one six-hour one with a two-hour layover in Braavos. She’s going home a day early with Jaime, Dany, Tyrion, Yara, and Brienne as the rest of the crew — the camera and sound guys — stay behind to pack up the stuff and wrap loose ends. They will end up pulling an all-nighter. Drogo, who sucks at all-nighters and attributes his C-average in school to the fact that his body prioritizes sleep over work — will end up subsiding on a diet purely of energy drinks and hard pretzels. She had forced herself to wave goodbye to Grey — because they’re friends. Friends do casual stuff like wave to each other.

But it seemed like he didn’t see her, which was kind of disappointing, but hey. It happens. He was busy.

She has an aisle seat and Brienne keeps whispering apologies to her and Yara every time Brienne has to slide by to use the restroom. Missandei is long past the point where she feels any embarrassment over diarrhea — her own or other people’s. Jaime has developed a mucus-y, hacking cough, which later gets diagnosed as acute bronchitis. They later learn one of their fixers, Mara, ended up in the hospital with an IV drip — treated for exhaustion.

After a grueling eleven days, Missandei arrives home by taxi, smelling ripe — with her eyeliner messily wiped and smeared down her cheekbones. She plants herself face-down into her bed and passes out.

 

 


Grey is at home and reading on his bed when his phone rings. He checks the caller ID and when he picks up the call, Tyrion is on the other line — wasted. Tyrion drunkenly rambles on about how women lie and how women cheat and how women are whores. It’s an entirely surreal experience — Tyrion calling him, as if it’s a normal thing that happens — him picking up the call, as if that’s a normal thing that happens — and then the stream-of-conscious babble of distraught emotion.

When he shows up at Tyrion’s house — there are a lot of cars parked in the driveway, and he finds that there is, bizarrely, a full party in swing. Everyone is dressed to the nines. Everyone is staring at him. He’s in a t-shirt and jeans. And Jaime, in a suit, is also looking at him, perplexed. Then, a smile spreads over Jaime’s face. He lightly says, “I see we have a crasher,” before he tilts his head to the back — out toward the back patio. It takes Grey a beat to realize the clue. He gives Jaime a short nod before he makes his way to the yard.

He finds Tyrion slumped over on a lawn chair. A dark green bottle of champagne sits at his feet. His cast, at this point, is a mottled mess of Sharpie graffiti. And Tyrion is swaying back and forth when he approaches.

“Oh God, this is so dramatic,” Tyrion mutters. “Thanks for coming to the rescue. But as you can see, I’m actually fine. A little embarrassed, but fine.”

“Well, I had nothing else to do,” Grey says. “You sounded upset on the phone.”

Tyrion smears his hand down his face. His hand is still covering his mouth when he says, “Just when I think I’ve gotten over the hump, something new just magically presents itself. And it’s like, ‘Ah ha! Hello, you piece of shit, pathetic fucker!’”

Grey now knows why Tyrion reached out to him.

“Shae has reneged on all of her unreasonable demands. She says she wants the divorce to play out swiftly and quietly.”

“That’s good though,” Grey says softly. “Right?”

Tyrion’s shoulders lift up in a dull shrug. “She wants our divorce finalized so that she can marry my father. I suppose that it doesn’t matter to her to get my assets right now — not when she can make a grab for my inheritance. I suppose it’s all the same in the end. In the end, I lose. Though joke’s on her. I wasn’t going to take a goddamn penny from that fucking monster anyway. She can have it all. Though, I’m not sure my brother and sister are as charitable to whores as I am. So they might take issue with this. Jaime doesn’t know yet.” Tyrion pauses. “It’s so fucked up. I don’t know what the fuck I did in life to deserve this shit. I know I’m not a good person, but I don’t think I’m a horrible person, either.”

 

 


When Grey goes back into the house to fetch Tyrion a glass of water, he sees that Jaime is busy trying to occupy the guests’ attentions, trying to distract them from the fact that Tyrion is MIA. It’s this preoccupation that makes Grey neatly bump his head right into a woman’s head. A swatch of red hair gets tossed into his mouth as she recoils.

“Oh, ow,” she says, clutching at her forehead.

“Oh my God, I am so sorry!” he says in rush, reaching out to touch her arm but stopping short when he realizes that she is a stranger. “I wasn’t watching where I was going. Are you alright?”

She laughs uneasily, before she lifts her hand off her face and straightens up, looking him in the face. “Yeah,” she says reluctantly. “I think I’m alright. God, that hurt though.”

“I probably have a real thick head,” he says.

She smiles. Her eyes are blue. She blinks suddenly — as if jolted — and then she thrusts her hand in between them. “I’m Sansa, by the way.”

“Grey,” he says, shaking her hand.

 

 


Jaime and Tyrion both have a real talent for compartmentalization, probably due to their upbringing — complicated and tragic at times — and also due to the fact that they are brothers who have had some sort of working relationship ever since Tyrion, at age fifteen, started up an underground essay-writing ring for dumb college jocks and made Jaime the frontman — the face — of the whole operation. That dynamic has carried through to the present day, one in which Tyrion is the visionary behind the camera and Jaime the personality in front of it. It plays on their obvious strengths, obvious weaknesses, and is based on superficial perceptions that, in troubling ways, have caused Tyrion to drink in excess and break down his marriage and have caused Jaime to go down a road that led him toward . . . a very public meltdown and the loss of his hand.

Tyrion is very alert, very serious, and very professional as he helps advocate for Grey, as they sit in an informal meeting with Daenerys at the production company’s headquarters. This came about because Grey was grumbling to Tyrion about the limitations of bulk and how he’s been thinking about taking a page from a blog he’s been following — a robust and fine machine he can hold in the palm of his hand.

Dany looks at Grey. “You . . . want to build a camera,” she says slowly. “Do you know how to do that?”

“Technically, I’ve never done it before,” he admits.

“But technically, he’s not going to be the one actually cobbling this together with his own two hands,” Tyrion interrupts, getting into sales mode. “It’d get fabbed. And he’s already thought about this to death — you know this guy. You know how he works. He just needs a budget approved.” Grey didn’t ask for Tyrion to be in this meeting with Daenerys — he was just honestly just bitching out loud to the director — but Tyrion, having perceptively sussed out Grey’s own strengths and weaknesses, strong-armed his way into this meeting.

“Okay,” Daenerys says. “Write it up. I’ll approve.”

“Okay?” Grey says questioningly, surprised at how easy this is.

She laughs. “Yes! Okay!”

 

 


She, unlike Grey, has to be in the office all the time when they are back at home in King’s Landing. It’s actually rare that they will run into each other when they are at home. And they do — run into each other after he and Tyrion exit out of Dany’s office, after Tyrion hollers her name clear across the room, catching everyone’s attention.

She realizes belatedly — and with a bit of irritation — that Tyrion intends for her to get up out of her seat, step away from her computer, and actually walk on over there to talk to them because he beckoned her. But she decides it’s not worth taking a stand on and she probably should stretch her legs anyway — so she pushes her sliding desk chair backwards a few feet and launches herself onto her feet.

In heels, she towers over Tyrion. And she’s almost Grey’s height. Her lipstick feels tacky and is drying her lips out. Her jeans feel abnormally tight around her thighs. She actually feels very awkward looking at him with makeup on her face. She usually is never wearing very much makeup when they are on location shooting — there’s no point. “You summoned?” she says to Tyrion, unable to shed the sarcasm from her voice. And then to Grey, she says, “Hi. How are you?”

“Hello. I am well.”

“We got some equipment changes for you,” Tyrion says.

“You couldn’t email?”

Tyrion smiles. “Really, I just wanted to see you sashay all the way over here.”

“Dude, that’s messed up.”

 

 


“Oh, woof,” Margaery says, her eyes suddenly far away, this dark grit just coloring her sultry tone. “Hello, hotness. Hello, father of my future abortion.”

Gilly and Missandei both follow her gaze. They had been talking about potential TV spots for the forthcoming Deepwood Motte episode — the one that was shot while Missandei’s personal life came crashing down on her like a house of cards. As she turns around, Missandei half-expects that Drogo or Daario or Jaime is lurking around in their vicinity and have probably found some stupid excuse to pointlessly take off their shirts even though it’s an office environment — so the shock hits Missandei square in the face, when she swivels her head around and sees that Margaery is looking right at Grey. He is literally just standing right outside the editing room by himself, staring down at his sandwich, trying to pick something out of it. A second later, they see that it’s wilted lettuce saturated with mayonnaise. He drops the lettuce leaf into a nearby garbage can.

“H-him?” Missandei says, reverting back to her six-year-old self — she’s stuttering.

“Who is that? Is he new?” Gilly asks.

Margaery swats Gilly’s arm with the back of her hand. “No, Gils! That’s that one guy.”

“Oh, okay. I remember now!” Gilly’s tone is peppy, not sarcastic — as if Margaery really did miraculously kickstart her memory. “Wow. He looks different.”

“He reminds me of those twerpy dudes in high school who are all skinny and awkward and nerdy-looking when they were kids. But then summer break happens — they get smacked by puberty — their voice drops — everything drops — and then when autumn rolls around, it’s the first day of school and he fucking shows up all six feet tall and with a five o’clock shadow, and it’s like, fucking kill me, Jesus, you’re so fucking hot now.”

“W-what?”

 

 


While Grey is home, he manages to fit in another follow-up appointment with his doctor, who expresses a lot of approval over the state of his health. Grey reports that, mentally and psychologically, everything seems fine. Physically, he is over the moon — he says this in a deadpan even though he mostly means it — it’s just that it’s near-impossible for him to sound genuine when he is stressed out and nervous. Being in a doctor’s office reminds him of sickness and death. He is always stressed out and nervous in a doctor’s office.

But he tells Dr. Aemon about his energy level, his improved strength and coordination. He tells Dr. Aemon that when he exercises now — it actually feels productive. He can tell he is shedding off the ‘baby fat’ — that is the term that Aemon had previously used. It seems like a fucking miracle, to finally be rid of that weird paunch in the middle that made him look kind of pregnant. He tells Dr. Aemon that he’s frankly really relieved that Dr. Aemon was right — that his obsession with sex has levelled off somewhat. While it’s still very insistent, and erections are still a problem in his life — a serious statement that manages to make Dr. Aemon laugh — generally, he feels less ruled by it all.

Later, in private, with Jaime, he tells Jaime that he’s still going a bit nuts over it all still. He keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop. He keeps hitting the pause button on his life because all of this — the way his hormones are now — all of it feels temporary. Grey tells Jaime that he’s not sure when the rug is going to get pulled out from under him again. He mumbles to Jaime that he’s aware, now more than ever before, just how obsessed with sex their society is in general. It is in his face all the time. It is exhausting. He feels that people — women — look at him differently now — he catches them staring at him — he must be haplessly pushing out some sort of pheromone now that attracts them. What if this all is just a really bad dream — or a really good dream — and it all gets taken away tomorrow?

“Dude, just call her.”

“What?”

Jaime smiles. “Call her. And ask her out.”

 

 


Harrenhal is a relatively short distance from King’s Landing, and that is why a lot of the film crew — mainly those who profess to have a fear of flying — decide to drive the six hours. They also get to hire some of their own local camera, security, assistants and other production guys right out of King’s Landing. And she really does mean guys. She’s worked in this business long enough to know that it’s largely a testosterone-fueled affair, which is sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes something she is completely apathetic to. Most of the time it’s fine. That’s what she tells herself.

Yet, the fact that she is so fucking excited for this shoot signals that there is at least a little bit of delusion in her. She is so fucking excited as she wakes up, puts on some clothes, and stops off at her favorite bakery for coffee and a fatty almond croissant — she ends up buying like, forty of them, for the entire crew. She is excited to not sweat herself constantly to death. She is excited to wear jeans and long sleeves. She is excited for hot cocoa in front of a roaring fire. She is excited for massive fir trees and maybe foggy mornings in front of the lake. Okay, so she is idealizing and romanticizing this a lot — but she is jazzed. She is so fucking excited that the director on this shoot is Olenna. Tyrion is naturally staying back to continue working in post-production on his episode.

Olenna is also going to be on-screen talent — of course she is. Because Olenna is a fucking legend, a freaking trailblazer — a woman who found success in a male-dominated industry — and one of the reasons Missandei decided to do the work she does. She read Olenna’s memoir at a pivotal time in her life, a story about growing up in in an abusive home, marrying an abusive husband, and making it at all costs. Missandei has only corresponded with Olenna a few times on the phone and saw her once at a staff meeting — Missy has also emailed Olenna’s assistant a lot. That was really cool, too. Missandei might actually be a bit starry-eyed over this. Or more than a little starry eyed.

Missandei flips open her pink box. “Croissant?”

Jaime tiredly shakes his head. “Sorry, sweetness. I’m on a diet.”

She frowns — both because he rejected her croissant and because Jaime has a real problem calling people by their names when he doesn’t quite see them as his equal. That’s the working theory, anyway, based on what he calls Brienne on a regular basis. She thrusts the pink box at Grey, sitting next to Jaime. They are now BFFs. It’s really weird. “Croissant?”

She expects him to reject it, too. Because she knows him to be insanely health-conscious with food. But he says, “Uh, okay. Sure.” He leans forward to look inside the box, seeing that it’s all the same thing. He picks off a croissant from the top. She hands him a napkin.

 

 


“She likes you,” Jaime says, when Missandei is out of earshot, slouching a little bit further down in the slippery and uncomfortable airport chair.

Grey finds that every tear into the croissant creates this rain shower of crumbs all over his lap. He’s distractedly trying to brush it off and keep himself clean. “Obviously,” he mutters. “I’m really friendly and deeply likable.”

Grey shoves a jagged shard of pastry intro his mouth and almost goes into diabetic shock at how rich and how sweet it is. It’s good. He thinks. It’s just that he hasn’t eaten so much as a bite of cake since he was a kid. It’s been years since he’s eaten something like this. But since he was hit by adult-onset puberty — that’s what Jaime likes to call it — Grey’s been hungry all the time and now, for the first time in his life, he’s actually worried about losing too much weight, rather than gaining it. Also, she seemed like she needed a win. She seemed like she really needed someone to take one of her croissants.

Jaime grins. “I’m serious. She is like, into you.”

Grey scoffs. “No, she’s not. Trust me. She’s just a really nice person. And — we’re friends.”

“Dude, she was harassing Tyrion constantly while you were recovering.”

“Dude, Tyrion inspires people to harass him.”

“Dude, you are being obtuse on purpose.”

“I’m really not.” He sighs. “There’s a whole backstory here. I don’t really want to hash it out right now because I’m tired, and it doesn’t seem like fucking airport conversation as we wait to board with a bunch of our colleagues. But you generally know about my shit.” Grey rolls his eyes and he uses the croissant in his hand to vaguely gesture to the general vicinity of his crotch. “Apply my shit to her. Apply my history with women to her. Apply my general track record as a human being to her.” He rips off another chunk of the croissant with his teeth — a shower of crumbs falls on his navy t-shirt — and he stores it in his cheek as he says, “That’s how I know.”

“Alright, alright!” Jaime says, patting Grey’s knee with his prostheses. “I hear you. It’s a sore subject. I won’t bring it up again. Don’t bust a nut. Jeez.”

Jaime laughs as Grey’s hand shoots out and shoves him into the other armrest, crushing the croissant against Jaime’s shoulder in the process.

“Oh my God! You’re making a mess!”

 

 


During their first on-site production meeting — after they settle into their hotel rooms — it becomes apparent that some of the crew members are going to have a really hard time working with Olenna. She is decidedly very old school — it’s something Missandei attributes to Olenna’s aesthetic and preferred working style — it’s something that a few of the guys attribute to Olenna’s advanced age. Olenna is also very nitpicky. She is relatively slow — slow to adjust, slow to speak because she takes her time thinking, slow to bang out solutions via verbal ranting. She is just not Tyrion. And perhaps the greatest sins of sins is that she also keeps challengingly asking them why — why mount a GoPro into the side of a car? Why mount a GoPro to the side of a train? Why mount a GoPro on top of a tree? Why use a GoPro at all? Why? Why?

Drogo, more or less, barely contains his boiling hot volcanic rage and basically spits out that they do it because they can. His answer is inelegant and also a little bit inaccurate to how he feels, deep inside. He’s really thinking about budget and getting the shot however they can. He’s really thinking about how he works on this show and he works with these people because it’s not the same ol’ same ol’ bullshit in which an attractive bimbo mugs for the camera and moans as she takes a bite of pasta in front of stupid landmarks that are littered on postcards in every tourist trap. What they do is different — that’s why.

Of course, Drogo resentfully refrains from verbalizing any of this to Olenna just because he just doesn’t like her — she's a rich white lady who looks down her nose at people like him — but he tells himself he just doesn’t respect her work. He has decided to just stubbornly dig his heels into the ground. The problem for him is that Olenna doesn’t suffer fools and she has been in the industry for decades. She has come across her fair share of Drogos over the years, and she incisively broke him down right away as a superficial, prettyboy meathead a few brain cells south of developmentally disabled. So the way she talks to him is condescending.

After the supremely unproductive meeting, right before a car comes to take the crew to dinner, Missandei walks up to the guys loitering around in the lobby. Specifically to Drogo, she says, “Can you please try to work with her?”

And he snaps. “I’m fucking sick of women always telling me what to do and why I’m wrong all the time!”

She recoils. And Grey, expression tense, immediately places his hand on Drogo’s shoulder. To Drogo, Grey says, “Hey, stop.”

Drogo must mean Olenna. He must also mean Dany. And he is also probably talking about her. Missy says, “Wow. Okay then.”

Missandei walks away from them with a steely resolve and determination. It’s relatively easy to, with the numbness that she feels inside. But then, in the middle of dinner — one in which she completely ignores the camera guys — the numbness, which was truly just shock, starts to give way. She starts to replay the entire interaction. She starts to feel dumb over the way she walked up to Drogo with generally good intentions, but she did walk up to him with the intent of sort of nicely ‘correcting’ him. And so she will cop to that. But he has to cop to his severe overreaction and his general meanness. He made her feel very small.

Then, she starts to bitterly think that it must be so fucking hard to be Drogo. It must be so fucking hard to be super attractive and be super respected in his work and to have all of three, maybe four women occasionally asking him to not be a fucking flaming asshole. They are not even asking him not to be an asshole, period. They are fucking asking him to tone it down just a little bit. She was asking him to just try with Olenna. She had asked him to please just stop talking about fucking women in the ass in front of her. He can talk about it behind her back. He can talk about anonymous penis-in-vagina sex all fucking day in front of her face. But she just has this limit when it comes to listening to him talk about women’s asses. And he cannot even fucking refrain from doing that around her. And now he’s crying like a fucking bitch because some woman he finds no value in because he doesn’t want to fuck her on account of her being out of his age range — he’s crying like a fucking bitch because she was a little bit curt to him. Well boo-fucking-hoo.

Missandei bitterly thinks that it must be so hard to be a man in ways that she will never fucking understand because she is just a fucking stupid girl. She deals with the anger and frustration how she always does.  She puts on a blank and brave face during dinner — everyone knows something's up because she's tense and she's not chatty — and then when she gets back to her hotel room, she generally just puts herself into the shower and she starts crying.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 


When Drogo yelled at Missandei, Grey actually . . . he actually wanted to punch Drogo right in the throat. It was a visceral response not prompted by any forethought at all. He just saw her body go rigid and saw that collapse behind her eyes, and he just wanted to fucking murder Drogo over it.

Obviously, he didn’t actually hit Drogo. He didn’t do much of anything. He has started identifying his aggression-fueled mental outbursts as the result of testosterone, and thus — something unnatural to him. He ultimately realized that their argument was none of his business, and it was not his fight — this is what his rational brain keeps repeating. Grey still manages to feel really shitty and awful about his inaction, all the same. He keeps trying to put himself in her shoes and think about what he would want in that moment. He knows that he would want to be left alone. That is what he did for her. There’s this niggling thought in the back of his head though — that he is wrong somehow.

At dinner, Drogo also feels real shitty over the way he had snapped at Missandei. She didn’t deserve it. He was stressed out, and she caught him at a bad time. He can’t exactly get a handle on his guilt or his regret — these are historically tough feelings for Drogo to grapple with. So he mostly pushes the bile down — he shoves food into its place — he works hard to appear okay — he starts cracking jokes to Grey and Daario under his breath about old, decrepit, senile Olenna. He decides to just let the thing with Missandei lie and just to move on and let it go. She’ll get over it soon enough.

 

 


When Grey picked up his phone to call Sansa and ask her out — he was sweating buckets of nervousness. His mind flashed to Missandei and a sick feeling in his stomach grew. Jaime, blithely unaware of the intricacies of Grey’s inner turmoil, keeps harping on keeping things light and casual with women — he keeps emphasizing fun. He keeps saying there doesn’t have to be pressure in it. He keeps saying that no one is getting married tomorrow.

One thing Grey has noticed about Jaime, in the relatively short time that they have been friends, is that Jaime does not seem to have a significant other. In fact, Jaime does not even really express any interest in women — and Grey is starting to realize — gradually more and more — that this is their commonality. This is something they both perversely understand. Grey knows why he doesn’t chase women the way that Drogo and Daario do. He had a brain tumor that killed his sex drive. He couldn’t do much of anything with a woman even if she was in his grasp. His problem was clear cut and easy.

But Jaime, as far as Grey can tell, does not suffer from the same biological oddity. Jaime’s apparent apathy toward women is either self-imposed or ingrained or something else — maybe Jaime is gay? But he hasn’t heard or seen Jaime express interest in men, either.

Grey doesn’t know why he even listens to Jaime, why he takes any sort of relationship-related advice from Jaime. But he did. And it went okay. He took Sansa to the park and they stared at sculptures and just talked. He wanted to do it that way because it was daylight, they were out in public, and they didn’t have to look at one another. Grey has this acute awareness that seeing someone — going on dates with someone — eventually leads to having sex with someone. As much as his stupid body seems to be ready for that — and wanting it — he just finds that he needs more time to figure things out. What he likes about Sansa — other than the fact that she is nice and she is beautiful — other than the fact that she has this sadness in her eyes that he masochistically finds appealing — is that she is also cautious. She told him that she has just gotten out of a bad relationship — perhaps a series of bad relationships. She told him that she wants to take things slowly.

His body — his dick — revolted at that. His brain — the smart part of it — rejoiced. His gut and his heart just screamed out — asking him what the fuck he is doing. He does not know what the fuck he is doing.

 

 


She’s just gotten out of the shower and her hair is wrapped up in a towel when she hears the light knocking on her door. Thinking that it can be any number of work-related things, from Dany wanting to go over tomorrow’s schedule or just Brienne stopping by for a quick chat because they’ve both been geeking out over working with Olenna — Missandei throws on a hotel robe to cover up her nakedness — and she’s already putting on her brave face as she swings the door open.

It is neither Brienne nor Dany. It is Grey. And he looks stunningly uncomfortable.

“This is a bad time,” he says, making more of a statement than asking her.

Her hand flies to the opening of her robe, below her neck, and she cinches the flaps tightly together in her fist. “No, no. It’s cool. What’s up?” she says, opening the door wider, letting him enter if he wants.

“I just wanted to check in on you,” he says.

“Oh.”

She doesn’t want him to run away in fright at the sight of her, but she’s also getting this really surreal, really excruciatingly mortifying sense of deja vu. She remembers the last time they were in a hotel room together. She remembers all of the rejection. She remembers the part where she silently dressed herself and tried not to cry in front of him — before she ran back to her room and cried for real.

Funnily enough, he’s thinking about the exact same incident. He remembers how mortifying and depressing it was when she pulled off his shirt. He remembers how he couldn’t look at her because he couldn’t stand to see the disgust on her face. He remembers being obsessed about his failure to perform a very basic act that all fucking guys can do. He remembers his panic making things worse. He remembers knowing that it was fucked, as she went down on him. He remembers thinking that she was going to hate him, and she was going to stop being his friend.

He walks in. He leaves the door slightly ajar, but still mostly closed for the sake of her privacy. He cannot look anywhere close to her vicinity. He mostly looks toward the ceiling. “Um, I wanted to say that Drogo was a jerk to you. And it wasn’t right. And I stood there, and didn’t say anything about it. I don’t want you to think that I agreed with it — because I don’t. I’m sorry. For not speaking up.”

She stares at him in shock. She stares at this apology in shock.

“What we have — our friendship — it means a lot to me. I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize it. I don’t want to . . . do anything that makes you uncomfortable.”

She’s crying again. She raises her hands to press her fingers lightly into her closed eyes. “I don’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, either,” she says thickly. “I’m sorry that I did.”

 

 


His heart is hammering in his face, making it swell up, just choking him as he marches the distance back to his own room. He keeps clenching and unclenching his hands. He keeps thinking that he really believed talking to her and apologizing to her would make him feel better about the state of things — but it’s actually freaking him out a little bit. He doesn’t quite understand why he’s so freaked out — why he had to cut the conversation short and just run the fuck out of her room — but he’s having a bit of a hard time right now. Just in general. He’s having a hard time with life. He knows he should be happy and carefree — he just can’t make himself get there. He actually just feels slightly terrible all the time.

He bursts into the bathroom, when he gets back to his room. He roughly unbuttons his jeans, pulls down the zipper, and shoves his pants down a bit with one hand. And it is as he suspected. He is erect. He leans forward and bangs his forehead loudly against the wall — kind of thinking about the hole where his tumor used to be. The hard-on is almost painful. He feels like it would diminish how he feels about her — it would diminish her — if he were to fucking touch himself right now. He feels like a fucking psychopath. He feels like he is losing his fucking mind.

 

 


One unchanging aspect of their show is that it constantly changes. For every Plan A that is written down in the schedule, there is a Plan B and perhaps Plan C that is floating in the wind, ready to be plucked and realized in the event that Plan A falls through. And Plan A does frequently fall through. They build the show this way on purpose, to capture a certain aesthetic and a certain feeling. It goes back to Jaime’s aversion to things that look too perfect and too sleek.

This is why they are still bickering over the bathhouse scene. They have been bickering over this bathhouse shit for months, maybe even a year and some change, back when this episode was first conceived.

Surprisingly — or maybe not surprisingly at all — between their two hosts, it’s the male one who is being squeamish about the nudity. Dany is actually pretty okay with stripping down to nothing and hanging out in a unisex bath and spa for a day. Jaime’s reluctance — most of them are sure — has to do with his hand. He doesn’t want to be filmed naked — even with his dick blurred out in post production — because it means his hand or the absence of it is naked, too. Dany has had very little sympathy over this — she keeps taunting the guy and calling him a pussy, which does elicit her intended effect. Jaime gets irritated with her and for a while, he gets on board the naked train — in order to spite Dany.

But then after some time, he’ll hop right off and get squeamish about it again.

Right now, the discussion is over whether they should actually film at a segregated bathhouse and do he-said-she-said intercuts. Most of them hate this idea, including Olenna. “I’m old as dirt,” she says. “I’ve seen it all. I’ve birth more than a few. I don’t give much of a damn about bits.” She points to each of them, one by one, down a line. “I’ll look at your bits and your bits and your bits and your bits and your bits — and it won’t make a damn difference in my day.”

The other part of the discussion is over whether the crew should go in naked, too. It is a bathhouse. There are rules. At the same time. There are also laws. Against sexual harassment in the workplace. At the same time, from the point of view of the locals, having a bunch of cameras around when one is naked can be rough enough as it is — no matter how many release forms get signed — but being filmed naked by a bunch of guys who are dressed to boot — well, that could affect the shoot.

“I don’t have hang-ups about being naked,” Drogo says, nostrils flaring. “Shit, I’ll get naked right now.”

“Thanks for volunteering, Drogo,” Dany says dryly, as if holding back a sigh. “But we’re good for now. Keep your clothes on.”

 

 


They decide they really do not want a sexual harassment suit on their hands, so only a small number of the crew go into the bathhouse, and they can choose to be naked or not. There will be a lot of moving around and a lot of crouching and he will be dealing with a shoulder mounted camera. Grey generally decides that there is no reason why he needs to be completely nude to do his job. He feels like he can’t really walk around in jeans and a t-shirt, though. There are saunas and heat rooms. He’s going to be get really sweaty. It takes him some gargantuan effort to pull off his shirt. He feels scrawny and twerpy next to Drogo.

Drogo, naturally decides the very opposite — that nudity is very necessary. Drogo keeps explaining it away by reminding them all that he’s Dothraki. From that, Grey has gathered that Dothraki are not very squeamish when it comes to nudity. They are apparently very free with their bodies.

Missandei and Brienne also go in. Grey more or less has a panic attack over that — which only calms a tad when he realizes that Missandei is not taking off all of her clothes. She is wearing a swimsuit top with a pair of nylon running shorts. The sight of her skin generally makes him want to tie a rope the rafters and hang himself because she is still the most fucking gorgeous thing ever, and he is still a fucking freak of nature. So he’s glad that still hasn’t changed. He’s really fucking glad and not at all pissed.

“Bro, are we going to talk about the elephant in the room or what?” Drogo asks, wiping the steam from his lens with a microfiber cloth. This will be an ongoing battle they will face the whole day.

“What?” Grey feels stressed out because the bathhouse reminds him of his high school locker room. Except they don’t look alike at all.

Drogo gestures to Grey’s body. “Are you on ‘roids or something? What have you been doing, and can I get some?”

 

 


Drogo has his arms crossed over his chest. His feet are shoulder-width apart. He’s completely naked. Poor Brienne is hiding in a corner somewhere. Drogo is smirking at Missandei — at her awkwardness and at her squirming. “Come on, Missy, look,” he says. “You can look. I know you want to.”

“Stop it!” she says, hugging a camera to her chest, smashing it into her boobs, shutting her eyes and putting a hand blindly in his face. “I don’t!”

“You want to look so bad, you filthy, filthy girl.”

“Stop! Gross!”

Truth be told, Drogo is working overtime to make her laugh — to make her smile and to loosen her up a little bit. Because he just feels fucking terrible about the other night. And it’s working. She’s playing along with him, and she’s being friendly and cute. He’s relieved. He looks over at Grey — who generally averts his eyes, too. The guy is sometimes so impatient and stiff and pissed when they joke around with each other — the guy seems to prefer that they just work in silence together all the time.

“Missy, I know you’re obsessed with my body.”

A high-pitched giggle shoots out of her. Her eyes are still shut tight. “Shut up! I am not! I’m about to open my eyes now,” she threatens. “Your dick better not be in my face when I open my eyes or I swear to God, I will punch you in the nutsack!”

“Okay, children,” Olenna says — walking by in the nude. “It’s time to stop your foreplay. It’s time to get down to business.”

Drogo lightly chuckles. “Foreplay?”

 

 


Olenna is completely naked. Missandei cannot stop herself from furtively staring and flinching. She’s staring because she is so awed and she feels such respect for this woman who has balls of steel. She is flinching because she’s serving as assistant director and also as a third camera wielder today because Olenna appears on-screen — and whenever Olenna ambles over to her to look at the camera monitor, there’s always the slight brush of something — of Olenna’s breast on her arm, for instance. As she has told Drogo, she’s a bit of a freaking body-conscious prude, so she kind of inwardly freaks out every time her idol’s nipple accidentally lands on her body.

They all pretty much spend the first half hour of the shoot just giggling with each other. Some of the giggles are nervous — such as the ones coming from Jaime. Some of the giggling is just benign and funny. Some of the giggling sounds strangled and panicked — mostly the ones coming from Brienne, who is a bright shade of perma-red. Other giggles are kind of malicious — like the ones Dany keeps throwing at Drogo.

There are a number of restaurants in this cool wonderland of casual nakedness. They order up a few bottles of liquor. And they all start pounding shots — on and off camera — to loosen up.

And okay — so, okay. So like — okay. Okay. So she’s like, generally has an impression of what Grey looks likes, sans clothes — because she is fucking terrible and she accosted him and pulled off his shirt and pants that one horrific time that she will never repeat —

Or at least, she thought she had an accurate impression. Her cheeks are burning as she thinks. His body has changed. Does brain surgery make someone become like, a totally different looking person? Is that a normal consequence of tumor removal? Did the tumor make him that sick? She knows he complained about his headaches — but that was all he complained about. But there must have been more that the tumor did to him. And that is so terrible. And he was so alone that he had to talk to Tyrion about it. He couldn’t talk to her about it, even though they were friends. He probably didn’t feel comfortable talking to her about it because of what happened between them. And that is terrible. That is so awful that it makes her want to cry. She should have been there for him, and she wasn’t. She feels awful.

 

 


Grey leaves everyone for about twenty minutes, as he goes and captures some shots around the bathhouse. Most of the people bathing and chilling in the spa look more like Olenna than they do like Missandei. That is, they are generally older. Every time he does a sweep, he gently tells them that he’s going to be doing a sweep. He tells them where he’ll be orienting the camera — usually on their faces — but sometimes wider shots. They are very kind to him — they generally understand why he is there — and they gesture for him to go ahead.

He generally tries not to linger to long on any particular person or thing — except for the water — he lingers on the trickling water in the pool — and he keeps making the observation over and over again — that it’s so crazy how comfortable everyone is in their body — their unique, individualistic, diverse, and beautiful bodies. It kind of stuns him, over and over and over again, how people don’t automatically cringe and try to cover themselves up. They just are.

 

 


“I’m honestly really self-conscious about it,” Jaime says in the sauna, lifting up his bare stump as Grey, Drogo, Missandei, and Brienne record everything. “And my dick, I guess. That, too. No, just kidding. I don’t care about exposing my dick. It’s mostly the handlessness. It makes me feel very vulnerable. Helpless. And exposed. Which I guess is kind of poetic — considering we are all naked around each other right now.”

“James, if I can be honest with you,” Olenna says gravely. “I don’t notice it until you call attention to it. And if I were to notice it without you calling attention to it, I’m sure I’d give it only half a thought before I moved on.”

“Okay, thank you. I really appreciate that,” Jaime murmurs. “But my name is Jaime.”

“That’s not short for James?”

Jaime shakes his head. “No.”

“Are you sure?”

Dany suddenly doubles over, laughing this loud, unladylike, honking laugh, her arms crossed over her stomach, her nice boobs lightly bouncing and taking up a big chunk of the frame. “Oh my God!” she gasps. “That is priceless! She doesn’t even know your name!” Missandei thinks it’s unfortunate — that they have to blur that out in post-production. Dany looks so happy and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 


They are all models of professionalism, as they all pile into Dany’s hotel suite after dinner to go over the day’s footage. Two large monitors are mounted up over the gas fireplace, and Grey is on the ground, on his hands and knees, crouched over the equipment, fiddling with buttons.

Dany is sitting in a desk chair in a light satin robe that she brought from home — a lavender slip dress peeking out from underneath the robe. Her smooth bare right leg is hooked over her left knee and she’s curling her body to the side, clutching the armrest of her chair as the flaps of her robe falls open a little it, exposing her cleavage as she lets out another series of loud, snorting peals of laughter watching Jaime on a monitor, stiffly shuffle across the bathroom, awkwardly trying to keep his hand and his dick from appearing on camera. That was the very first shot of him — before he loosened up and became more at ease with his own nudity.

“What I like about this is the contrast between you,” Olenna points to Jaime, “and you,” she points to Daenerys. “And the conflicting message it sends about maleness and femaleness and about sexuality.” Her gazes falls back on the monitor, looking at herself, sitting casually on the far side of one bench, taking in the view. That shot is from Grey’s camera. “Ah,” Olenna says. “And here is the old crone — a useless and offputting figure well past her sexual prime. Makes one wonder why this poor thing hasn’t been put out to pasture already.”

They all collectively flinch.

Olenna grins. She’s thinking that they are young, and thus — uptight and overly serious. She suddenly swats at Drogo, who looks momentarily terrified out of his mind. “You, dear — shame we couldn’t get to see you on camera. You’re very photogenic.” And then she taps his bicep with her knuckles a couple of times. “That —” She gestures to an underwater shot that he captured with a GoPro HERO3. “I like that.”

 

 


They go on their third, maybe technically fourth date after he gets back from Harrenhal. There was half an hour while he was in Harrenhal when he took his phone and video called her, showing her the view of the lake, ghosted over with mist, and all of the tall dark trees that break into the horizon like sentinels. She told him that it sort of reminded her of home, of Winterfell, which is a place that she misses a lot. He told her that he remembers her talking about Winterfell — he’s been there, also. He was able to draw the comparison. His thoughtfulness there was why she considers that their third date.

At the moment, what Sansa likes about Grey is how utterly different he is from all the men she has known, including in looks. At this point in her life, her experiences have scarred her enough that she thinks different has got to be a good thing. She likes how he’s soft and quiet. She likes how he thinks for a long time before he speaks. She is used to volatility and loudness. She is also used to possessiveness. She likes that Grey keeps a respectful distance away from her at all times. She likes how he looks into her eyes when she talks. She likes that he is okay with just kissing. She keeps silently telling herself that this guy is different and that this guy is good. It’s still very early, but maybe this guy will be something real.

She takes his hand when they start crossing the bridge. They do a lot of walking on their dates. It rained the night before and in the morning, so the bridge is a little slippery and wet. She kind of softly grins at the back of his head. He must’ve felt it, because he looks over his shoulder to see if she’s okay — and he smiles back at her.

 

 


The bar is such a tight squeeze that Missandei keeps knocking knees with Obara, whose dark, pretty eyes keep crinkling in mirth as she holds onto the little ledge that they are resting their drinks on. She gets on her tiptoes every now and then, trying to keep a look out for their food. They are talking about shoes — and Ygritte. Shoes because they just went shopping together, and Ygritte because Ygritte’s feet have swollen into cankles, and she’s always too tired to come out for dinner. Obara shouts over the noise, and she tells Missandei that while she’s really glad Ygritte found happiness and love and domesticity, Obara misses the days when that woman used to take off her shirt and dance on top of tables — sending the two of them into a flurry of panic as they alternated between trying to yank their friend off of tables and yelling at the guys in the crowd to stop looking.

“I mean, can there be a happy medium!” Obara shouts. “Can she have a speed in between shitfaced and naked, and friggin’ virginal mother of two!”

“Oh my God!” Missandei shouts back. “She is really not a virgin!”

A few hours later, perhaps bleeding a little bit of hypocrisy — Obara goes hoes before bros and clutches onto the lapel of a guy with really amazingly groomed facial hair. She leans heavily into him and laughs with her head thrown back, her dark hair shiny and bouncy under the dim bar lights, as Missandei waves them off — telling Obara that she will take care of the check.

When she is alone, Missandei nibbles on some flatbread even though she is beyond full — then a shadow covers her entire area. She hears his warm, vibrating laugh.

“Well, look at this. If it isn’t little Missy, out in her native habitat.”

She looks up, her eyes wide. “Oh my God, hey!” And spontaneously — because she’s been drinking and because there is no precedence for this — she throws her arms around Drogo’s shoulders and gives him a quick, tight squeeze. She can feel him laughing as he presses his hand to her back, as he briefly holds her to his chest. “What are you doing here?”

His smile is wide and immense and genuine. His teeth are super white. He is insanely just so fucking beautiful. He says, “Probably the same thing you are!” He gestures to the other side of the room — where she sees a small group of people — also really beautiful, also really cool-looking, also mostly Dothraki. The bar has cleared out some after the happy hour rush. “Just grabbing drinks and a bite with friends.”

“That’s great!” she gushes. “Wow. It’s so weird to see you!” She momentarily pulls her lips in between her teeth and bites down self-consciously. Her hand falls on the sleeve of his shirt — he has a knitted scarf on — it’s so trippy to see Drogo in a scarf. She has this image of Drogo perpetually in a white t-shirt, barefoot, looking like he just rolled out of bed after a night of debauchery. This version of him is positively buttoned-up. “It’s weird to see you outside of work, I mean. It’s weird to see you without a camera!”

He reaches up, and he flicks her chin real quick, with the warm pads of his fingers. He says, “I’d say it’s weird to see you all dolled up and in a dress — but I’d be lying. It’s actually really, really nice to see you all dolled up and in a dress. You look beautiful.”

The embarrassment floods her face. She hooks her hand over his fingers and lowers them down from her chin — she’s just really kind of holding his hand now. She mutters, “Thank you.”

Drogo eyes her plate — sees that she’s just about done. “Do you want to join us?”

 

 


After a few hours, Drogo’s friends clear out of the bar, yawning and citing that they have work the next day. Drogo and Missandei, due to the irregularities of their hours, have more leeway when they are at home in King’s Landing. Drogo asks her if she has anywhere pressing she has to be tomorrow. She tells him she has a ten o’clock meeting at the office, but that’s it.

They remain at the table. Drogo tells her that his friends seem to like her — she fits in well with them. Missandei tells him that his friends are very nice. Then she asks him about his childhood and his upbringing — sort of the kind of question one would ask on a first date. But here, she asks Drogo only because she is genuinely curious. He’s a little reticent to talk about it — he keeps it light and generally sticks to the highlights. His issue is that it’s hard to talk about his childhood without people stigmatizing it. His issue is that nothing is all good and nothing is all bad — but he needs the time to articulate it all. But articulation and communication are not at all his strong suits. He’s better at expressing himself in images.

When Missandei asks him about how he got into film — well, that is much easier to talk about. His whole demeanor changes — he brightens up immensely and he talks about how the only way his dad was able to relate to him was through sports. And that was all that they had for the longest time — and that was the only thing that Drogo felt that he was good for. His dad showed up to all of his games, even as his dad got really sick. And then Drogo reached his limit, in terms of athletic ability. He wasn’t going to go pro. His body was hurting and it was already breaking down. He needed to get good at something else, if he were to have a future. And he had such a fucking obsession, playing around with a fucking CoolPix point-and-shoot that he and his siblings had gotten their mom for her nameday.

Drogo tells Missandei that sometimes people will ask him what his very first camera was — and he will kind of proudly tell them it was a fucking CoolPix. It’s a point of pride because he was raised by a single mom, and they didn’t have a lot of money — but they made it work anyway.

From that story, Missandei gathers that Drogo’s parents divorced and Drogo’s dad is not alive anymore.

With emotion, Drogo tells her that his dad was sometimes a terrible father — he was a serial cheater and physically abusive and racist and homophobic and sexist — and he was terrible at taking care of himself, which was maddening and heartbreaking — but he used to always carefully clip out Drogo’s photos when they appeared in the local weekly. He used to save them all in a plastic bag.

 

 


Grey notices that something is different — something is up — when he is handing over his passport to the woman behind the counter and lugging his suitcase onto the scale. Drogo is hot on his heels — impatient as usual — and grumbling about whether or not he will get a window seat.

Well, that immediately dies down when Missandei — who finishes checking in at the counter right next to them — walks by, hiking her backpack higher onto her shoulders. She catches Drogo’s face and then a slow, contextual smile just stretches across her face. Grey hears them exchange bland pleasantries, with Drogo assured and confident and her a little spazzy and nervous.

And he fucking wants to punch a wall over it. He fucking hates it.

 

 


“Hey!” she says, nudging him in the back with really overpriced airport pizza bagel in her hand. She noticed that he was sitting alone, Jaime having disappeared off somewhere at some point. Missandei awkwardly straddles the chair next to him — it’s one of those table set-ups where the pivoting chair is attached to the table so that no one has to do much chair shuffling at the end of the day. She swings her heavy bag full of her computer equipment, both for work and personal stuff — onto the tabletop. She nudges him again. “Do you want half of my pizza bagel?” she asks. “It’s too much for me.”

She sounds so happy. Usually, that shit really does it for him. Usually, he fucking loves that shit from her. But right now, he’s attributing her happiness to fucking Drogo, and he fucking can’t stand it. He also can’t stand to even look at her because he just feels shitty. He says, “No, I’ve eaten.”

“Oh, would you want to eat it later? I can save it for you.” She’s already unfolding napkins to wrap up half of the bagel.

“No. I don’t like pizza bagels.”

“Well, I’m not sure anyone actually likes pizza bagels, but maybe you’ll want a snack on the plane when you get hungry, maybe the airplane food will be atrocious — but you know, this airline typically has pretty okay airplane food —”

“Missandei! I don’t want your bagel.” He realizes belatedly that he had raised his voice. He realizes it when her eyes widen and she uncomfortably shifts back — further away from him.

“I’m sorry I’m annoying you,” she says, her voice devoid of emotion.

He shakes his head. “No. I’m fucking sorry for being an asshole to you.” He sighs. “I guess I’m just kind of tired. I didn’t get much sleep the other night. I kind of have a headache —”

Her face slackens. “You have a headache?” she repeats softly. “Oh my God, are you —”

“No, no,” he says quickly. “It’s not a brain tumor headache. It’s a regular headache.”

She looks at him doubtfully. “Do you want medicine?” She starts feeling around her bag, unzipping pockets and dipping her hands into the holes. “I might have some Tylenol somewhere.” She starts shaking her bag so she can listen for the rattling of pills in a bottle. She’s actually starting to get a little bit frantic over it.

He presses his hand on top of hers — to stop her fidgeting. He says, “No, it’s fine.”

 

 


On the plane, he dully watches movie after movie as he generally avoids murdering himself from boredom and also from his stupid, pointless, testosterone-driven jealousy. They are landing in Winterfell — and then they are boarding a small cargo plane that will take them over the wall. When he told Sansa he was going to have a quick stopover in her hometown — her home city, really — she grinned and told him to try and wave to her parents’ house from the plane. The whole interaction was so mundane and cheery and innocent — it was like nothing he’s ever really had or experienced.

 

 


A giant burly man and a blast of icy wind greet them once they are on the tarmac. Yelling over the howling and the rumbling of the plane engine, their fixer introduces himself as Tormund. He says that they all have to weigh themselves and their equipment before they get on their plane. So that they don’t crash it and die from excessive weight. His ensuing laugh is hearty and thick — and his gaze falls on Brienne — who unfortunately ended up idling next to Tyrion. She looks especially tall as a consequence. Tormund loudly cracks some joke — most of them can’t hear him because the wind makes his voice indecipherable, but they know it’s a joke because he is holding onto his stomach and cracking up. Brienne probably didn’t hear the joke at her expense, either. But she is looking at the guy like she wants to smash her fist into his face. Behind her, Sandor puts a comforting hand on her shoulder — as if silently giving her the fortitude not to go smashing her fist into people’s laughing faces.

 

 


None of them really have access to the proper outerwear to brave the conditions beyond the wall — something that Tormund knew and anticipated. He has a pile of animal pelts waiting for them.

“Oh God, it smells like dog shit,” Jaime says, uncaring if he offends.

“Wolf shit, actually,” Tormund drawls, walking by. He throws pelts right into Grey, Drogo, Daario, and Sandor’s faces. He gently lays the fur coats over Missandei’s, Dany’s, and Brienne’s shoulders. Brienne shoves her arms into the sleeves resentfully as Tormund generally grins at her.

Even with the heavy coat, even with her heavy backpack weighing her down, Missandei still feels like she’s going to blow away — or slip on the pavement and just crack her head open and die a sad death in the cold, cold winter of the north. Ygritte was really excited when Missandei told her friend where she was going. Ygritte verbally painted this image of a winter wonderland of peace and joy. Not a frigid white storm of death.

“Ohhhh my G—!” Missandei squeals as her feet slip around on the pavement and she feels herself going down.

She doesn’t hit the ground though. Her feet are actually partially dancing and flailing off the ground a little bit. She looks over, and she sees Drogo’s laughing face. She sees that he has grabbed her by her backpack and is holding her up. She immediately grabs onto his warm body for balance, clutches the fabric of his shirt in her fist as he lets her go. “Don’t let me bite it,” she warns.

“Babe, I will never let you fall.”

Just like that, her feet slip out from underneath her and she hits the ground, via her ass, with a hard thump. She hears laughter. She also feels Brienne rushing over to her to grab her elbow, and she feels Drogo’s palm on her cheek. Missandei groans, rolling over on her knees. Maybe she will just crawl all the way to the plane. She says, “I hope my computers are okay.”

 

 


Dany blandly says the lodge is primitive — probably more to keep up appearances as a high maintenance bitch than anything else — Dany is surprisingly really good at hanging out in the muck with the rest of them. Jaime, on the other hand — is actually a bit of a high maintenance bitch — he’s been complaining excessively about how cold it is. He’s actually been off lately. He’s been moodier and more short-fused.

Dinner is crackers and fat. Blubber, really. Preserved blubber, pickled blubber, fresh blubber, cooked blubber. Tyrion had looked at the spread and had laughingly said, “Are you fucking serious? Grey — Drogo — get your fucking cameras out.”

Because dinner is just a lot of blubber — and because they are not used to eating just pure fat — most of them go a little hungry. Tormund tells them that in the dead of winter, there’s not much else to do besides get drunk, get fed, and get fucked. His eyes swing to Brienne at that — whether as a cruel joke or whether he’s actually being misguidedly flirtatious — none of them, including Brienne, know. She generally looks like she wants to spit vomit at him — and Missandei, personally, can see that a trainwreck is probably on the horizon, as Brie starts pounding mug after mug of warm ale to push past her discomfort.

The fire is actually nice. It’s like, the toasty fire of her dreams. Missandei pushes her bare feet towards it and sniffs in some of the crisp air, mixed with smoke.

“Hey,” Drogo says, smiling down at her before he takes a seat on the floor. “How is your ass?”

She kind of laughs and rubs at the thing in question. “It’s sore.”

“We sound like we’re in a porno right now. What’s my line again? Something like, ‘Oh, baby, are you too sore to go again?’”

She lightly slaps him. “Get your head out of the gutter, dude! That’s so fucked up! Why do you say these things to me?” She loves that they are getting along so well right now. She loves it.

“You secretly like it. You are secretly thrilled by it.”

“Actually no. No, I’m not.” She swats him again.

 

 


Grey generally decides to go to bed early because he cannot fucking watch another fucking second of the fucking Drogo and Missandei fuck show of his fucking nightmares. Jaime grabs onto his sleeve when he gets up to leave — Jaime is drunk — and Jaime aggressively asks him to fucking hang out for a little bit longer. But he shakes Jaime off, gives Tyrion a nod, and mutters that he really just has to go off and like — just fucking kill himself or whatever.

They have locks on all the doors of the lodge. It is kind of weird, but also kind of not. He might just be used to key cards or something. The large old-school key feels ancient in his hand as he fiddles around with the lock, as he jiggles the key in it and tries to get it to move. He might fucking be too stupid to unlock a fucking door. He grunts and roughly shakes the doorknob in his hand some more, as his other hand slaps the thick wood and his forehead dully hits planks. He mutters, “What the fuck!” to himself, over and over again. Perfect. Just perfect. Everything is just fucking perfect.

“Hey.”

His gaze immediately shoots out — over to the sound of her voice. She’s standing about ten feet away, watching him freak out on this door — nervously shifting back and forth on her bare feet. He shrugs in agitation. “What?”

She kind of blows out a nervous breath. She kind of smiles in pain at him. She says, “You kind of left abruptly. I was checking to see if you were okay. Is your headache still bothering you?”

“It’s fine,” he says curtly, turning back to his door, just banging his closed fist on it as he continues jiggling the key. “I just can’t get into my fucking room.”

“You seem pissed at me,” she says simply, slowly walking up to him. “You’ve been mad at me all day. Do you want to tell you why you’re mad at me so that I can maybe apologize, maybe fix it? Maybe tell you that you’re overreacting, and you need to get over it?” She smiles. Then she gently touches his hand and gently pushes him back a little bit. He lets go of the key.

And then he nearly loses his fucking mind as he watches her carefully and gingerly twist the key. He sees it turn all the way. He hears the gears in the door unlocking. And then he starts to laugh deliriously — because he really is fucking losing his mind — he feels like he’s on the edge of crying — he's starting to really fucking lose it. He laughs with his palm pressed against the door, bracing his body, keeping it hovered over hers. She starts laughing, too — with uncertainty — she is more than a little confused — she’s also a bit freaked out. She laughs along with him because she just wants to help him. Because she likes him a lot. She likes him very, very, very much. She likes him so much.

And then it’s like they suddenly realize their proximity to each other at the same time. The laughter dies in his throat and his mouth goes dry and his heart starts pounding, when he realizes that she is sandwiched in between him and the door. She is breathing hard — because she can’t catch enough air — as she generally fights to not repeat past mistakes, as she stares at his chest, and then his eyes, and then his mouth — which is a mistake so she goes back to his chest.

“You’re being really friendly with Drogo.”

Clarity immediately hits her in the face. She immediately understands what his problem is. He is jealous. And it’s an entirely unexpected and crazy thought. Because she was sure that he doesn’t actually care. She’s in shock. She blearily says, “Drogo and I are friends.”

On his part, he feels such regret and anger. He feels mad about timing. He’s pissed that they couldn’t have met one another after he had his surgery. “Me and you are friends,” he says quietly, with this pointless intensity.

“Not the same kind of friends,” she says, equally as soft. “Is that what you want me to say?”

“Is it true?”

And then she abruptly knocks her head back — slamming it lightly against the door. She does it because she can’t take this tension anymore. She says, “Oh my God,” as she hears his hand leaving the door, as she feels his hand slip in between the flaps of her jacket, as she feels his hand sliding smoothly against her hip and then the small of her back. Hot tears hit her eyes when her body moves, when he gently but firmly pulls her closer. He leans in — he inhales her — she closes her eyes — she feels the tip of his nose touching her skin — he tries to kiss her on the cheek, but she claws her fingers into his neck and she turns her head and she presses her wet mouth to his.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 


Before his surgery, he used to look at her and see a beautiful woman. Not just that, he used to see an intelligent, funny, optimistic, really kind, and complicated beautiful woman. It was this oddity to him, that someone like her put in so much time and effort toward getting to know someone like him — someone so socially awkward and quiet and weird. What he knows of people — and what he knows of life — and what he remembers about growing up — is that kindness is not something he expects to be freely given. He used to stare at her and wonder what her angle was — what her long game was. It took a long while before he started to entertain the thought that there wasn’t a hidden objective.

Last year, when she knocked on his door — when he saw the intensity in her eyes — when she pushed her way into his room and started kissing him — there was something that he craved from her, even if it wasn’t exactly sex — it’s actually intimacy, but he is never good at putting a name to that need in him. His desire for intimacy was why he risked kissing her back, even though everything about his past experiences was screaming at him, telling him he was making a really big mistake.

This time — right now — it is different. In so many, ways, it is different. His wants have changed. His needs have changed. How he feels has changed. They kiss with their mouths wet and indecently open — in a way that is painful and heady and desperate. They kiss frantically with their teeth clashing and their tongues fused together and shoved into each other’s mouths. Her tense body has latched onto his tense body, pressed from chest to pelvis, soft to hard. She keeps testing limits as he keeps reacting to her. He keeps digging his fingers into her ass so that he can smear her body against his — he’s not even thinking about the pacing of things or the fact that just minutes ago, he hadn’t even ever held her hand. And now he’s trying to dry-fuck her into the door. He doesn’t think about the procedure of being with her. He just wants to be with her.

She groans into his mouth. She arches her body into his. She blindly tries to climb him, to get at the right angle. She presses her breasts into his chest. She keeps his fucking erection pressed hard into her, with her heel digging into the back of his leg, holding him in place in between her legs as she exhales out a hot breath, as he roughly knocks her back a bit, thrusting at her, slamming her back into the door. It sends a jolt of fire into his body. She grunts as she bites him, as she breaks their kiss and drags her blunt teeth against his cheek. His body is sweating. He is going out of his mind. She is not even thinking. His dick is pressing right into her — she’s so, so fucking hot that it is ruining him — he really needs to fuck her or else he is going to die.

Her hands are all over the place. They are frantically trying to undo his pants and shove them down so that he can properly fuck her — without letting herself lose any contact with his body. She keeps trying to kiss his face — anywhere on his face. She keeps whimpering and throwing her head back into the door, every time he painfully claws his fingers into her ass and roughly grinds their sensitive parts together. She keeps holding onto him tightly because the bright ache that hits her eyes every time he jams himself against her. She keeps mindlessly grinding her body right back against his, chasing that, and she also knows that this time, it’s going to be different. Jesus Christ, she hasn’t been fucking laid in so long. She hasn’t had sex in so fucking long.

“Whoa, holy shit.”

They freeze. Her heart is pounding in her throat, their bodies still plastered together, and he looks ready to fucking murder over the interruption.

They see Tyrion and Daario down the far side of the hallway. They both looked stunned.

Daario is first to recover. A wide smile spreads across his face. He says, “Guys! Mazel tov! I’ll tell everyone why you're missing breakfast!”

“Fuck off,” Grey snarls, as his hand blindly searches for the doorknob. He wrenches the door behind Missandei open, sending her tripping backwards into the room, him tumbling forward and following her. The door gets slammed shut.

 

 


The last time they tried to have sex, he was in his head the entire time, in a blind panic, trying to parse out the beats, trying to figure out a game plan so that he could somehow make it work. That’s what sex is like with erectile dysfunction. Sex is a logistical nightmare, a complicated game of chess where he hopes desperately against all hope that he can make all the right moves. It’s a game that he almost always ends up losing at. Even when he managed to be successful at having sex — and his definition of success was that he managed to get semi-hard enough to get his dick wet — it wasn’t good sex.

The last time he and Missandei tried to have sex, she kneeled down on the ground in front of him. Her beautiful face stared up at him, open and hopeful and nervous. She was naked. He looked down at her position, and he thought to himself that it was all wrong and it wasn’t at all what he wanted. He remembered listening to the bragging from males during his adolescence. He remembered crass confessionals about hot girls sucking dick on their hands and knees.

Right now, the sex is just primitive and instinctive. Grey’s brain has completely taken a hike and the baseness of his body has just taken over. He can’t even gather enough of his wits to find enough words to say coherent things to her. He would tell her about how much she means to him, but all he can muster are grunts and expletives. Right now, he is just blind emotion and want — as he presses her into the bed, as he pushes his tongue into her mouth, as he roughly yanks off her pants and then her panties, as he throws them on the ground, as he fights with the clasp of her bra for all of one second before he feels a flare of frustration and just takes his strength and pulls it up and off of her arms and shoulders, stretching it and tearing it. His mouth waters once her breasts are exposed. He pushes her further down into the bed as he licks his way down her body, as he bites her soft skin and nipple — and she shrieks in surprise and starts blindly reaching for his erection. His brain gets more and more shut out the more and more of her skin that he bares. He remembers this fucking body. This body fucking haunts his dreams and disrupts his days. He needs to get into this fucking body.

If Grey’s brain wasn’t so exiled, he would actually do a lot of things differently. He has forgotten about Sansa, for one — he has completely and stupidly forgotten about Sansa. He would feel guilt over the fact that Sansa is a very, very nice and very lovely person who does not deserve what he is currently doing to her.

If his brain wasn’t so gone, he would also remind himself that this is fucking Missandei. Missandei eclipses all. Missandei is everything. He would also tell himself that she deserves a lot more than what he is currently doing to her.

His head hits her sternum when her hand closes over his dick. He releases a shuddering exhale and dumbly nods as he listens to her growl into his ear. She’s telling him to get up higher. He crawls up incrementally, as her feet and toes kick his jeans the rest of the way off. She is whispering things to him. With him within better reach, her hand drags itself down to the very base of his shaft. She cups his balls. He punches the bed, and he just grinds out this sexually frustrated cry through his teeth. She’s whispering, “Please,” and “now.”

He says, “Fuck,” because it’s all he can say. And he goes it at blind — just by feel. He pushes her bent knee further out. She grimaces because it hurts. He feels the throbbing of his fucking erection. It is an insane oddity. She is lying naked on his bed with her eyes heavily lidded and these muffled groans just coming out in aggressive little puffs. He reaches down and palms her breast, roughly smearing his hand over the nipple. She gasps and shuts her eyes. He shakes his head because this is the best thing. Her hand is helping to guide him, pulling and pressing the head of his cock at her entrance. He immediately dies a little inside and encases her entire head in his arm, for leverage. He starts to push into her. And he almost starts crying when he feels her heat and wetness around him. He swallows the lump in his throat. It takes forever to bury himself to the hilt. She starts dripping tears down the side of her face. He withdraws — it fucking feels magnificent — he shuts his eyes — and then he shoves himself back inside of her.

 

 


They fuck on the bed. They fuck on the floor. They fuck on the bed again, with his hand softly petting the bruise on her ass — from when she fell — as he roughly slams himself into her, over and over again until he orgasms. They fuck largely in the same way — one-sidedly. Grey currently has no concept of the broadness of sex, of the female side of sex. For years, he’s been entirely wrapped up in his own shortcomings and his own limitations that it has never occurred to him — that there are a variety of ways in which people experience sex.

The first time they fuck is decidedly very short and quick. It doesn’t surprise either of them. He’s just crazy with lust that it feels like just the touch of her soft lips to his neck could set him off. She just assumes he hasn’t had sex in a while — she certainly hasn’t had sex in a while.

The second time they have sex, with her on top and him palming and squeezing her breasts, is notably longer. It’s during this time that Missandei, so deliriously doped up all the oxytocin that her body is producing, looks down into his perfect face — so pained and tortured and turned on because he is inside of her — that she decides that she largely doesn’t care if the sex is all about him. She just wants to watch his fucking face contract — she just wants to watch his eyes roll back into his head — she just wants to watch how he is rendered just completely stupid — because he loves being inside of her that much. She keeps observing that he’s so fucking hot that it makes her want to eat him. She keeps justifying every doubt she has in her head with the fact that she just fucking needs his body right now. She will fucking consume his body right now. They will worry about everything else tomorrow.

She’s too sore after the third time — and too sleepy. Her voice is soft and sweet and feminine and breathy — as she wraps her arms around his neck and presses three soft kisses against his mouth — and then a fourth as she pouts and apologetically says, “I’m sorry, baby. But I think I’m down for the count.” She sinks bonelessly back into his bed. She yawns into his sheets. She mindlessly flips a flap of blanket over her naked body. She closes her eyes, and her breathing evens out.

It’s this really mind-numbingly cute image of her that finally jars him out of his sex brain. He looks down at her in shock. He looks down at his naked body in shock. He starts to realize what he has done — and a cold brick of panic weighs heavier and heavier on his back. He remembers Sansa.

 

 


He really cannot wait until morning to do this. Because he is a shithead of a human being, and people need to know this about him. They are still in the same timezone, so it’s just as late in King’s Landing. The lodge is dark and silent because everyone is asleep. He is just about fucking freezing his balls off — as he trudges out of the front door of the lodge, as he walks off a short distance for some stupid semblance of privacy. His boots are loose around his ankles — untied. His teeth are chattering. And his hands shake as he searches for her number.

“Hello.”

 

 


The conversation is short, succinct, and surprisingly, devoid of emotion. He can’t see her face — but through her calm voice and her steady breathing — he cautiously tells himself that she is taking it well.

Really, Sansa is just in shock. She was ripped from sleep after hearing her phone ring repeatedly. Her immediate reaction when she saw his name on her glowing phone was one of dread and concern — she thought he was hurt. Because why else would he call her at this hour?

It is entirely brain-breaking — that the reason for his call was to tell her that because she didn’t give him sex in a timely manner, he went and found someone who did.

Due to her past experiences with men and relationships — she automatically shuts down. She clamps down. She wants so badly to preserve her dignity, so she refuses to let herself scream at him and tell him that he is a fucking rotten asshole for doing this to her — and also for fucking announcing it to her in the middle of the night so he can clear his own fucking conscience. She wants to know why he just couldn’t break up with her like a normal person and just tell her it was due to general incompatibility. Why did he have to fucking cheat on her — and then tell her about it?

“Okay,” she says.

“I’m so sorry,” he says.

 

 


When Missandei wakes up — she immediately knows something is up. It takes her a moment to realize she’s not in her bed at home — it takes her a moment to realize that she is naked. In a cloud, she wonders how she got so naked. It takes her a moment to remember last night — to kind of blush in reflex over it, as the ache in between her thighs and the sore muscles in her limbs start to glow and become insistent things that her consciousness notices.

She sees him dressed, sitting quietly in a chair opposite the foot of the bed. He looks miserable.

And she knows that they are about to have a really bad conversation.

 

 


She knows that he expects for her to scream at him and maybe try to beat the shit out of him. She refuses to be such a fucking cliche and her pride refuses to let her unload all of her emotions onto him. It refuses to let her show him just how much he has hurt her. She mostly just sits for a bit — before she quietly asks him to turn around so that she can get dressed. She doesn’t want to be naked around him anymore. She doesn’t think she likes him very much anymore. Last night suddenly seems so far away. Her happiness over being with him also suddenly seems so far away.

There’s honestly not much she can say to him. It’s kind of still so very wild — the idea that he cheated on his girlfriend — with her. And after knowing most of everything that she went through with Jared — well, Missandei, at this point, cannot even wrap her mind around how Grey could have had such a lapse. That’s what she’s calling it for the time being. A lapse in judgement. Not a malicious fuck-you-Missandei-go-die kind of thing that the darkest part of her brain is qualifying it as.

He keeps apologizing — he really does look really upset and torn up about it.

How did this even happen?

He tells her about his surgery. He gives her broad notes about his life leading up to the surgery. He uses Jaime’s term for it — adult-onset puberty. He explains to her her why it was so hard for them to have sex before. He sounds more than a bit self-critical, when he tells her he wasn’t a man. Maybe he still isn’t a man. He tells her everything. He tells her about how he has been fucking losing his mind because of the flood of testosterone in his system. He tells her sometimes he doesn’t feel in control of his own fucking body. She resists getting angry at that. She resists telling him that that’s a crock of shit and no one can excuse their actions with such bullshit.

He never once tells her that about how much he cares about her — the words actually full-on slip from his mind because to him, it’s such a given. Of course he would fucking bleed for her. Of course she is the fucking thing that makes him hopeful about life. His feelings for her are such an innate and intrinsic part of him.

To her though — it just sounds like he has a lot of excuses and reasons and justifications for his bullshit. She doesn’t feel sorry for him. And she is fucking over it.

Before she gets up to leave his room, he says, “I’m so sorry,” again.

She says, “I know you’re sorry.”

And before she closes the door behind her, she says, “Look, I don’t want to like, kick you when you’re down. But you should know — I didn’t sleep with you because you’re a man now or whatever. I slept with you because I really, really liked you. And before —” She pauses, letting it sink it for the both of them. “Before, it was the same thing. I wanted to be with you because I really, really liked you.”

 

 


She doesn’t go straight back to her bedroom. She doesn’t even go to Drogo’s room — which she kind of wants to. Not for more sex. God. Fuck that. She mostly just wants to cry her pain into Drogo’s face and scream-ask him why men fucking do this.

Instead, she weighs her odds and she mentally flips a coin. Brienne or Dany? Brienne or Dany? The problem with these situations is that the men always largely outnumber the women. She knocks on Dany’s door.

It takes a few knocks, but Missandei finally does hear some shuffling around before the lock unlatches. Dany has bedhead and looks disgruntled — until she notes Missandei’s general state — her demeanor. Dany says, “What’s wrong?”

Missy kind of laughs. Because this is stupid and comical and this is her life. She says — “So I just had sex.”

Dany quirks a brow. “Good job?”

“We didn’t use protection.”

Understanding floods her face. “Ah.” Dany opens the door wider and steps out of the way, so that Missandei can enter.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Missandei squints at the blister pack, trying to look at the fine writing — not that it would tell her anything about her specific situation — but maybe she just needs something to do. She’s sitting on Dany’s bed, hunched over as Dany flicks through her phone with a mundane casualness that is unnerving to Missandei. But the thing is, Dany didn’t just get betrayal-fucked. Dany’s life is normal as she tries to find an article that details how many birth control pills Missandei should take — to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Missandei was not on any oral contraceptive and she didn’t have any condoms on her because — well — she was pretty big on the whole dating herself and loving herself thing. That kind of blew up in her face. Now she knows. To pack hormones and condoms on the next trip, in anticipation of her stupid personal failures.

She feels really sad, actually. She really liked him. She’s actually never going to have sex with anyone ever again.

The answer is apparently four. Four pills. So Missandei decides to take six, just to make sure. Dany wonders out loud if that’s safe. Missandei doesn’t care if it’s safe for her body or not. She just wants to be sure. Dany’s foil pack crinkles underneath her fingertips as she passes the pack back over to its owner and takes the glass of water that Dany is holding out to her.

“So, you guys had a fight,” Dany says neutrally.

Missandei kind of smiles, even though she doesn’t find it very funny. “Maybe.”

“What stupid thing did he say now?”

“Hmm?”

“Drogo,” Dany prompts. “What stupid thing did he say now?”

Missandei coughs. She sees that she’s been misleading a lot of people. She says, “Drogo is not the guy.”

 

 


She feels bad about waking Dany up to hit her up for her birth control pills. Now her boss’s cycle is gonna be out of whack. Unless Dany can go to the pharmacy and make a case for like, a whore-employee emergency pack. Maybe Missandei should offer Dany some money. That’s stupid. Dany is already a gazillion times richer than she is.

Missandei tries to gracefully bow out — as if one can really be graceful about exiting her boss’s room after knocking on it at the crack of dawn to ask for some emergency MacGuyvered contraception because one is a fucking stupid slut — but Dany is oddly curious and awake now. She keeps Missandei in her room and makes Missandei sit down on a chair as she starts playing with Missandei’s hair.

Missandei thinks that it’s a little freaking weird. But she doesn’t want to get fired, so she is sitting and getting her hair braided by a white woman.

“I kinda thought he was gay.”

“I think a lot of people do. I think I might’ve, at one point.” Missandei thinks back to her high school boyfriend Harry, and generally wonders if she has a type beyond pretty boy — maybe her type is actually: sexually ambiguous.

“I kinda thought he had a thing going on with Jaime.”

“Oh, wow. That didn’t occur to me.”

“Well, neither of them really date — or give a second look to women. And they’ve been really . . . close lately.”

“Ah, well. That makes sense.”

Dany picks some lint off of her shoulder. “So, you are sure he is probably not gay?”

“How can anyone be sure of such a thing? Maybe he is. Maybe he’s gay. Maybe Jaime is his lover. And he also has a girlfriend. Or an ex-girlfriend. And a mistress. Me. I’m the mistress. Man, I don’t even know how he finds the time to balance it all.”

“How was the sex?”

“Oh my God.” Missandei just about unhinges her jaw as she orients her face up to look at Dany. “So good. Oh my God. So fucking good.”

Dany grins. “Well, that’s a shame.”

 

 


Missandei and Dany arrive downstairs for their production meeting and breakfast — crackers and coffee — before he does. The energy in the room shifts with their presence, and Missandei cannot tell if it’s because Tyrion and Daario blabbed about what they saw last night or if it’s just because Dany is here. Dany’s presence usually changes the dynamic of the room.

Missandei figures out what the situation is fairly quickly — when she takes the empty seat next to Drogo and feels Drogo large hand brushing against her shoulders and her back, before he pats her there and gives her a big shit-eating grin. “So, a little birdie told me —”

“Shut up,” Missy interrupts. “Shut up, because I had a really awful night, and I don’t want to hear what you have to say.”

“Oh, what?” Drogo’s brows kind of furrow in concern, as he looks over her face — and then over her body. For once, it’s not sexual. She realizes belatedly that he is looking for any marks or bruises — any signs that he should go beat the shit out of Grey. She knows this because of what Drogo has told her about his father. And she kind of melts a little bit at that. She kind pats his hand softly before she grabs onto his thick forefinger and squeezes it, reassuring him that she is okay.

At the other end of the table, she hears Jaime clearing his throat. “So, crew A is outta here by nine. Crew B is a bit behind schedule — they were fewer pads at the rental house than reported, so they’re kind of scrambling to find stuff to fend off the ice.” Jaime is pointedly being very professional and task-driven. It makes her feel awkward. “Missandei, do you want to switch with Brienne and go with B? I mean, it might help, with the language thing and all.”

“Everyone here speaks the Common Tongue,” Tormund says, cutting in.

They see Jaime generally holding in how annoyed and pissed off he is. He has taken an immediate hating to Tormund. He sharply inhales. “Thanks for that, man,” he says tensely. “But I’m asking Missandei — do you want to go with the B crew?”

“No, it’s fine,” she says. “No changes.”

Jaime nods. “Okay then.”

 

 


The entire day really goes off without a hitch. Well — there are always the typical hitches. Their equipment van gets stuck in the snow and a bunch of them have to get out and try to shovel the van out of the hole that it had sunken into. Tormund keeps making cracks about how they are too heavy, which is a bit odd considering the free folk are generally bigger in size and more robust in body mass. There was also another slight hitch when Sandor carelessly and gruffly referred to the local crew as wildlings and a bunch of them got hotheaded and threatened to beat Sandor’s ass — that is always a mistake, threatening to beat Sandor’s ass.

After that, they were all friends and all sloshing around shared drinks in makeshift or borrowed cups.

On Grey’s part — he showed up a little later than expected, but he showed up and he immediately got to work without much weirdness. Drogo kind of shot her a bit of a tortured look — he was torn in his loyalties — before he reluctantly swiveled around and ran up to Grey to talk about how the PMW-F3 is faring in the freezing cold. They mutually fussed over the cameras for a bit — and then settled into their normal routine.

On her part — she generally talks to him about details Tyrion wants consistent — as Grey seriously nods and concentrates — and they both do a pretty good job of acting like he didn’t stick his penis inside her the night before, like she didn’t scream out his name over all the feelings he was giving her.

 

 


The nice thing about her breakup with Jared is that after she learned that he stuck his cock into a statuesque blond a lot, he gratefully disappeared from her life like a puff of smoke. She was still on location filming, and he spent a week and a half erasing himself from her life, complete with blocking her on Facebook. She doesn’t even go on Facebook, but she supposes that he was doing her favor and was preventing her from seeing all of the new and happy photos of him and his new lady. Obara tells her that men like that eventually come crawling back to their exes — or they die alone and miserable. Missandei might be the exception, because none of her exes have come crawling back. Harry is happily married with adorable biracial kids, last she checked. And Jared’s mom, the woman she thought would be her mother-in-law at one point in her life, recently sent Missandei a holiday card stating that she still misses Missandei. There was no notice of Jared’s untimely death.

Missandei’s subconscious starts to distance and disentangle her emotions from Grey. To herself, she starts to call what they did a one-night stand — consensual, but a mistake. To herself, she starts to call him a rebound, just a shiny thing that superficially caught her attention because she was still dealing with the end of a long-term relationship. Her mind protects her heart by convincing her that she is not devastated over this, that this is a minor incident, and that Grey was just some random weird guy that she took a liking to simply because he was not Jared. It’s time to be an adult now.

She developed this defense mechanism when she was young, after a car accident killed her parents and her brothers, after she got shipped across the ocean to live with her aunt and uncle for three years. They had no children of their own, but they were very nice. A drawn-out, ugly custody battle ensued though, three years later, once Marselen became of age. He said he wanted to keep what was left of the family together. They asked her what she wanted. She couldn’t say what she wanted, because she didn’t want to disappoint anyone. He dropped out of school to take care of her. He had a hard time being a guardian for a while. She has these memories of cleaning up his beer bottles and waking him up for work — and all the times he got fired from work. And all the times he left her alone with his adult male friends for hours on end so that he can do whatever he thought that he needed to do. Luckily, none of his friends were too horrible. Besides the occasional comment that freaked her out, none of them were predatory. They only started hitting on her after she hit puberty and her boobs came in. Most of them were nice. Some even felt sorry for her and brought her stuff like cookies.

She has developed a habit of downplaying her circumstances and her feelings. Doing so helps her focus, and it dams up the emotions.

 

 


The carcass of a black seal gets slapped down right on the slab of ice on the ground. The frigid wind whips Missandei’s hair across her face, even though she has done her best to tie it back. Grey and Drogo swiftly rotate around Jaime and Dany, as both kneel down to the ground in their furs, watching free folk women from this small village break down the carcass with short, stubby knifes. Tormund explains to them the concept of food-sharing here in the far, far north where food is scarce. What one family procures or catches is split among the rest of the community. It’s actually offensive to treat food as belonging to an individual person or an individual family. Brienne’s frozen fingers furiously take notes as she sniffs back her runny, red nose — she will fact-check the information later and then write out voice-overs for Dany and Jaime to pivot off of.

Tormund also explains to them that eating raw meat builds them up stronger and heartier. He crosses his arms over his chest and smiles, his gaze traveling over all the free folk in their immediate vicinity. Tormund jokes about the delicate sensibilities of southerners yielding delicate features and delicate strength. It’s just a little joke — but Jaime is generally taking everything personally these days. Jaime also has an unbeatable talent for being able to eat just about anything. So he takes the blood soaked seal eyeball that one of the women hands to him — laughing at him in reflex probably because they think he is handsome — and he holds it up to Grey’s camera lens for a few seconds before he plops the eyeball into his mouth, a trail of viscous seal blood smearing down his chin.

“It’s gelatinous and iron-y. Very fresh,” Jaime says, rolling the eyeball around in his mouth as he starts to break it down with his teeth and tongue. “Fun fact. Eyeballs have this hard ball in the center of them, like a ball bearing.” He takes a moment to swallow and then spits out the ball — like a near-white tiny marble — into the palm of his hand. He shows Grey’s lens. “Maybe don’t eat this,” Jaime says. “It’s hard and chalky.”

Jaime wipes at his mouth with the back of his hand. He and Dany are a mess of bright smeared red on their hands and across their mouths. Tiny glasses of blood gets passed around to all of the crew members. It’s sustenance, and it’s also about bonding. There are a limited amount of glasses though, so they go in waves. She watches Grey’s profile as he mutely tips his back and sucks the blood down his throat.

 

 


If there is one new truism about his sex life that he has observed — it’s that every time he sees Missandei naked, their friendship goes down the fucking crapper. If he had never seen her naked, they’d still be pals.

He realizes now that his issue with Missandei was probably not his shitty penis and the fact that it was broken. That was a nice scapegoat while he had it. His issue with her was also not her apparent lack of attraction to him as he was just hopelessly and stupidly so hung up on her. He keeps thinking about her naked body and her naked face writhing underneath him and whispering his name — it makes him so fucking sad and so fucking mad at himself. He keeps thinking about Sansa's pale and milky expression, colored by candlelight, as she musters up the balls to be vulnerable and to tell him about the abuse she suffered in her last relationship. He remembers how all he could do was be this quiet voice of empathy. He couldn’t even make himself share any personal thing about himself with her. Because even with Sansa, it didn’t feel safe. Because there is something wrong with him.

His issue is probably himself and the fact that he is a real asshole who puts himself in front of other people at the altar of manhood. He is like every fucking sick bastard that he went to school with, who fucking bullied him and groped him and called him names and made him feel like shit. He has made Missandei and Sansa feel like shit. And it was so stunningly easy to. And he has been so fucking hapless with all of his fucking excuses. He just can’t believe it has come to this. He can’t believe he blew it so bad with her.

He is his typical self — he puts too much responsibility on himself and he is overly self-critical. He doesn’t give other people’s ability to cope enough credit sometimes. He doesn’t realize that while Sansa lost sleep over him and stayed up half the night with her mind screaming what the fuck, she got up the next day for work and was able to have a really nice, really normal day. Her brother Jon then came over to visit with the new baby and she got to inhale that beautiful new baby smell and think about how the universe is simultaneously vast and microscopic, and how her bad days don’t really amount to anything.

 

 


The rest of the filming kind of just crawls by for her at a snail’s pace. They go to the hot springs. They have Dany and Jaime ride horses in the tundra. They go to a small outfit that preserves fish by carefully letting it rot in the ground. They spend half days tiredly sitting on buses and all-terrain vehicles, only to leave the cars in awe of how pristine and beautiful the scenery is. They start up their days with casual meetings. They end their nights going over the day’s footage. A source of slight stress for her was that day when everything fell through and she had to scramble to find new locations to film in.

Jaime picks a fight with Tormund their last night. It was this slow burn trickle that Missandei saw coming — but one that she hoped would fizzle out once Jaime realizes that he is a professional and an adult, not some petulant child. But he doesn’t. He ends up getting really, really plastered. Sometimes when Jaime gets really, really hammered, he gets emotional. To Missandei — the anger comes out of nowhere and has no source. Jaime just suddenly causes a commotion on the other side of the room and starts screaming at Tormund to stop disrespecting him and to just punch him in the face because that’s really what Tormund wants to do. Tormund — who’s been drinking but is still on the good side of drunk — only infuriates Jaime when he swats Jaime’s accusations away and generally laughs.

They all thought it was just Jaime being his typical drunk self — and they were all kind of amused, maybe some a little annoyed — as they half-listened to Jaime’s angry bitching.

But then it shifts in a microscopic moment. Jaime lunges at Tormund. Jaime’s voice goes hoarse from his loud screaming. And he gets one hit in before Sandor is over there in a flash, yanking Jaime back by the shirt. Sandor’s arms hug Jaime from behind, as Jaime generally thrashes and shouts, “Let go of me! Fucking let go of me, right now!”

Tormund is pissed. He touches his bleeding lip. He says, “You fucking sucker punched me. You fucking just sucker punched me, you pathetic fucker. You fucking asshole. That is the only way you’d get a fucking lick in, you fucking weak crippled asshole. You fucking coward.”

Grey and Tyrion pull Jaime out of the room after that — muttering something about putting him to bed. The rest of them are just rendered dumb and stupid for long minutes. Tormund is just beyond angry that he got hit by a spoiled TV asshole. For the rest of the night, he incredulously tells them the story over and over again. He was literally doing fucking nothing besides minding his own business. And that fucking insane alcoholic just went off on him. He muses out loud that Jaime may have some mental problems. And he needs to get fucking help.

Many of them, including Missandei, are thinking about the past — they are thinking about what they remember of Jaime losing his hand. The whole world knows why he lost his hand because it was covered extensively on the news and it’s on Jaime’s Wikipedia page. About twelve years ago, Jaime got loaded and then got on his motorcycle. And then he drove that motorcycle and crashed it into a movie theatre in the city center. A kid got hit by a shard of broken glass and lost his eye. Jaime lost his hand. Jaime’s family had to pay out a huge settlement sum to the child’s family. The crew usually doesn't think much about that incident — after all, many of them were still kids when this incident happened. That creates some distance.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Jaime reeks of alcohol, and Jaime keeps fighting him as he drags Jaime down the hallway to his room. Tyrion wanders a little bit ahead of them, silent but tense. Tyrion opens the door to Jaime’s room, and Grey sweatily pulls Jaime’s body with his arms hooked under Jaime’s armpits. They collapse on the bed together.

“He disrespected me!” Jaime shouts into Grey face. “You’re going to just take his fucking side and allow that fucking bitch to disrespect me like that? What the fuck, man? You are supposed to be my friend! What? Are you fucking his friend now? Are you fucking in love with that motherfucker now? Are you both just fucking deep-dicking each other all the fucking time now that you can get it up?”

It is an ongoing theme of his life. Him fucking other men because he is not an actual, fully realized, palatable, and straightforward man. It’s bullshit on many levels. Jaime sounds like an asshole that Grey went to school with. And Grey is just keeping his mouth shut. He doesn’t even know what to say in response to Jaime’s batshit and hostile brain and mouth right now. He doesn’t even want to fucking know how Jaime will respond if he is honest with Jaime and tells Jaime that Jaime is a real fucking asshole right now, and everything that is happening to him is his own fucking fault. So Grey keeps silent.

Tyrion is the one who finally cuts into Jaime’s pitiful whining. “You sound exactly like Dad, right now,” he says.

“Shut the fuck up!” Jaime shouts viciously, his arms reaching out blinding to swipe at Tyrion. Grey has to hold Jaime down with his hand on Jaime’s chest and his body weight pressing down.

“Grow the fuck up, Jaime. We all have fucking problems. We all have shit to deal with. Most of us don’t cry and scream and run our cars into fucking buildings because we don’t get everything that we fucking want. Most of us have the fucking ability to deal with the setbacks of life without pulling a bunch of innocent bystanders into our fucking vortex and ruining their fucking lives, too. But I understand that it’s fucking hard for you. Because you’re special. Life must be so fucking hard for you because you’re special.”

 

 


They both get beyond tired of Jaime real fast — but because they both have a stupid loyalty to this asshole, they keep sticking around beyond the expiration date. Jaime eventually just falls asleep, snoring loudly with his hands and legs spread out on the bed. Grey finally lifts his hands and his body off of Jaime. Tyrion, who is sitting on a chair, just sighs and rubs his face tiredly. Tyrion tells Grey to go ahead and go to bed. He tells Grey that Jaime is his brother and they’ve maybe done this dance a time or two or twenty already. So he’s very much used to this kind of bullshit, coming from Jaime.

And then Tyrion kind of mirthlessly laughs. He quietly says, “Our parents really did a number on us.” And then he pauses, breathing in the cool air for a few inhales and exhales. Then he says, “Are you really deep-dicking Tormund?”

Grey chokes. He coughs into his fist. And then he smiles in the dark. He says, “Yeah, man. We like, meet up after everyone’s asleep and we hold hands for a while. Before the deep-dicking happens.”

“He’s so crazy,” Tyrion whispers, obviously referring to Jaime. “He’s so fucking psycho sometimes.”

 

 


Jaime is not the sort of person who suffers from alcohol-induced memory loss. He wakes up the next day with rancid cotton mouth — he wakes up because his bladder is at capacity and he’s going to piss the bed if he doesn’t go empty it. He does a bit of a doubletake, when he sees Grey, lying belly-down on the bed, above the covers next to him. The guy is sleeping peacefully. And Jaime just fucking feels like the biggest piece of shit. He flips the blanket over Grey’s body as he vacates the bed — it doesn’t cover Grey’s socked feet. He shuffles to the en suite bathroom and doesn’t bother closing the door before he unzips his pants, aims, and starts relieving himself.

All of the noise makes Grey, who is a light sleeper, stir. Jaime doesn’t wash his hands before he shuffles back into the main room and collapses back on the bed. The world is fucking spinning. He feels like all he’s been eating lately is blubber and seal meat. He has a throbbing headache and a fever. He throws his stump — still in his prostheses because obviously he didn’t have the fucking brain capacity to take it off before bed — over his forehead.

“I’m really sorry,” Jaime says, his voice croaky and hoarse from all his screaming the night before. “For last night. For saying what I said to you.”

Grey softly sighs. “It’s okay.”

“It’s really not.”

“Well, I’m over it.”

“Don’t be over it. Punish me a little bit.”

Grey says nothing in response to that.

“I know you’re not gay.”

“That’s really not what bothers me about what you said!” Grey suddenly snaps.

That renders Jaime a little speechless. His hungover brain fights to pick out the meaning in Grey’s cryptic words. After a slight and awkward pause, Jaime asks, “What time is it?”

“I don’t know. Probably five.”

“Shit.”

 

 


Grey blinks against the cold blue light of the morning, the muscles in his back and arms sore — he had apparently gotten a workout in, holding Jaime’s thrashing body down — as he tiredly moves around cameras and gear with Sandor and Daario. Drogo is off somewhere doing whatever — he doesn’t care — and Daario is blessedly quiet for once.

Jaime earnestly apologizes to Tormund. It’s an action that renders Tormund almost speechless and entirely awkward. He doesn’t know how to accept Jaime’s apology, but he does recognize that shit happens sometimes with alcohol. He’s been in his fair share of tailspins. So he shrugs off the apology and pats Jaime on the back.

Jaime also apologizes to Brienne. He looks miserable and he feels miserable, as he grasps onto the back of a chair for some balance, as he kind of makes himself look at her face, as he tells her that he’s a real fucking asshole. And he’s sorry for that. She also doesn’t know how to respond to his apologies. She doesn’t want to let him off the hook for his behavior, so she doesn’t want to tell him that it’s okay and that she forgives him. She mostly just says, “Okay,” a lot. And it kind of depresses him. But he honestly did not reasonably expect much more.

The journey back to the cargo plane is long — it takes hours. Most of them try to sleep through the trip, but the discomfort at being crammed shoulder to shoulder with one another is enough to keep most of them — everyone except for Drogo — awake.

Grey sees her leaning her head on Drogo’s shoulder. He imagines she’s resting her eyes and trying to sleep — or she’s pretending to sleep. His chest just aches over it. He feels really upset over the state of things. He generally wishes he can take a lot things back. He really just misses being able to talk to her. He misses how she smiles whenever they make eye contact in the course of the work day. He misses how she gets excited over things that he does not find exciting. He has decided that he doesn’t really need to have sex with her. He just wants to be able to talk with her like how they used to again.

 

 


Jaime learns that Grey and Sansa broke up when they get back to King’s Landing. It is not at all a surprise to Jaime. Jaime had actually been meaning to chat with Grey about the general disaster that is his love life — before Jaime went on a crazy bender and just alienated everyone that they work with and made them lose a little bit of respect for him and stuff.

Jaime tells Grey to give it time. Jaime, having a high amount of intelligence and a really good intuition when it comes to people, tends to assume that he is right all the time. He tends to think that his advice, which he loves to dole out, is always gold.

Because Grey is so quiet and generally so reluctant to express the emotions he is having, people generally assume that he is having no emotions, that he has no investment and no feelings about certain things. Missandei certainly is operating under this misapprehension. And this is a key bit of information Jaime is missing. Jaime just assumes that Grey is sad and bothered by the whole Missandei situation because Grey feels awkward that they work together — and Grey feels discouraged that his first bout of actual hard-dick-sex kind of took a bad turn. Jaime also has a terminal issue when it comes to love — he cannot recognize any sort of love that isn’t volatile, toxic, and unhealthy. Jaime doesn’t get that Grey’s feelings run deeper.

So Jaime downplays it all and he tells Grey that there are other fish in the sea — and that Grey should just get back on the horse and try again with another girl. One of these days, it’ll work out. It’ll stick. Jaime thinks that he’s being very wise and very encouraging and that he is generally pretty right about this. His advice actually makes Grey a little sick because at the present moment, Grey just wants her back — and since he can’t have her back, he just wants to be alone.

Jaime has never been good at following his own advice. His advice is also just unbelievably hypocritical. But Jaime is currently unaware of his own hypocrisy.

Fortunately, Grey is not really listening to Jaime. Part of this has to do with that night in the lodge. He is still recoiling a little bit, over witnessing a really ugly side of Jaime. He has been struggling a little bit, in his friendship with Jaime. He has been aware, now more than ever, that Jaime has no friends even though Jaime is normal and handsome and rich. Grey has been fixating on the strangeness of that.

Grey is also really bent on wallowing — he wants to really dwell in his losses and also in what could have been if he wasn’t such a fucking idiot. His heart keeps seizing up at the base of his throat, when he thinks about her sleepy, dopey smile, lying in his bed — when he thinks about how her slender fingers absently crawled over to grasp onto his hand, and how she vaguely talked about tomorrow. She just said that tomorrow, they had to wake up early and that she really didn’t want to be late to the morning meeting. She had whispered to him that she needed to sneak back to her room in the morning to change her clothes.

 

 


Before she introduces Drogo to her friends, she tells him that he better not fucking try to fucking sleep with any of them — or else she will be so mad at him. He just laughs and his voice cracks a little bit, when he asks her what kind of person she really thinks he is, if she really thinks so lowly of him.

Yara is also at dinner. She notes Drogo’s presence with mild surprise when she shows up, but she generally takes it in stride and reaches in between her legs to pull in one of the red stools. Her wool gloves are still covering her hands as she leans in and gravely tells them that she’s fucking sick of winter.

They kind of make awkward small talk until their dinner comes out. Drogo is a little quiet because he doesn’t hang out with exclusively women ever. It’s a little weird for him, in the sense that he kind of has no idea what to talk about with them. Ygritte and Obara are too busy shooting Missandei these pointed looks to really be very good at carrying on conversations. They are convinced that Missy is introducing them to her new man — even though Missy has tried to make it explicitly clear that she and Drogo are just friends. She is currently a sex-free zone. She is currently not open for business.

She has not told anyone — besides Drogo — about what happened with Grey. She feels dumb and used. She mostly doesn’t want to listen to their predictable insults. She doesn’t want to hear them call him a motherfucking cheater or a morally bereft asshole, and she doesn’t want to feel stung by those words being associated with him. She doesn’t want to have to give out the entire backstory about just how much she liked him, how infatuated with him she was, and how amazing she believed him to be — because that’s embarrassing and the whole thing generally just makes her feel upset. At least with Drogo, she doesn’t have to verbally explain a big chunk of it. He already knows Grey.

Over her bowl of hot noodle soup, Yara says, “I’ve been seeing someone for three months now. I think it’s getting serious.”

“Dude!” Ygritte says in awe, before squealing. “That’s awesome!”

“Yeah,” Yara says, kind of sheepishly. “I guess it is.”

“Well, what’s she like?”

 

 


“Oh my gawd it’s so cool,” Tyrion says, grabbing Grey’s wrist and pulling it down so he can look at the new SinaCam. “It’s so itty-bitty and cute. Kinda like me.”

Grey chuckles at that. “It’s crazy light.” He draws a wide parabola in the air with his finger. “Anywhere.”

“You know, every time I hold something amazing and miraculous and small in my hands, there’s always this part of me that wants to smash it onto the ground,” Drogo says, grabbing the camera from Grey. “You feel that?”

“No, dude,” Tyrion says. “This cost an assload, so you better not go smashing it.”

“Ah,” Missandei says quietly, bending her knees a little bit to get a peek at the new equipment, her phone grasped tightly in her hand. “We don’t have insurance for that. For random smashing because you can’t handle how amazing it is. So please don’t do that.”

Grey immediately backs away, giving her a full view of the table. He generally gives her a strained smile, which she returns with an awkward one of her own. She takes a few careful steps forward in her heels.

Drogo shoves the camera in her face and it just about hits her in the nose. And then she hears him laughing in giddiness as he looks at the monitor screen. She can see the close-up of her face, very unflattering at this angle. And then Drogo pivots around her, doing a 360 around her body with the camera pointed right at it, as he grins like a goofy idiot at the monitor.

As a joke, he makes a move to dip the small camera down her cleavage, down into the V of her button-up blouse, and Missandei grunts roughly as her hand shoots out to carefully, carefully smack him in the shoulder. He’s laughing and he’s thick and solid, so she mostly just ricochets off him and teeters backwards.

She’s not really close to falling down — but she feels his warm hand on her back as he gently pushes and holds her, keeping her upright. She says, “Thanks,” to Grey, as his hand quickly leaves her body. And to Drogo, she says, “Will you stop?”

He reasonably responds with, “No one saw anything. It was too dark anyway.”

 

 


Probably out of sheer politeness, Drogo asks Tyrion and Grey if they want to join him and Missandei for lunch. They are heading to a duck noodle bowl place about five blocks away. She does her best to look friendly and casual and bright, with an aching grin plastered on her face, as Tyrion lightly says that they can eat — kind of answering for both himself and Grey. Tyrion then tries to negotiate with Drogo and Missandei, trying to get them to eat at a different noodle shop six blocks away. But Drogo is adamant and threatens to uninvite Tyrion if he doesn’t fall in line.

At the noodle place, Tyrion comes out of the toilet talking about bidets and how he misses them and how he’s thinking of installing one in his house — but then, he is trying to sell that fucking horror show of shitty memories, so he should probably delay the bidet until he gets a new place. But then — why should his fucking ex-wife continue to suck all of the joy and happiness from his life? If he wants a bidet with a heated seat and maybe some sort of massage function, and if he can afford it, then fuck that. He should just get a bidet!

“Yeah, man,” Drogo says. “Get a bidet. Shit, you know that might even be a selling point of your house.”

“No way,” Tyrion says. “Westerners don’t value the efficient cleanliness of getting warm bubbly water sprayed at their ass holes. They just don’t get it.”

“Man, you should totally get a bidet. You have like, rich white people money. The bidet you can get would be so dope, man. I bet it’d have a remote.”

“A remote, Drogo? Think bigger.”

Drogo and Tyrion then decide to both go visit the men’s restroom so that they can both examine the features of the restaurant bidet. They invite Grey, but Grey is pretty fucking over this — he’s pretty fucking over this bidet discussion, which he’s had to listen to, off and on for weeks now, as Tyrion binge-chews Nicorette gum and generally copes with the official end of his marriage without going to Jaime-levels of psycho. That’s what they have started calling it.

When they are alone, he feels nervous. He kind of wishes the food would just arrive so that he can have something to do and somewhere to hide his face.

“I, uh, was watching a cut of the Harrenhal episode this morning,” she says. “It was really cool, how you guys dealt with the steam.”

“Thanks,” he says. And that is all he says for a while. Because he is a fucking dipshit. He clears his throat awkwardly.

“Man, what is taking so long?” she says, kind of straightening in her seat, looking around them at all the people who are chowing down their bowls.

“You’re pretty hungry?” He kind of inwardly winces. Because it’s a stupid question.

“Yeah,” she says lightly, easing back into her casual slouch, with her chin resting in the heel of her hand, elbow propped against the table. “I’m hungry.”

“Oh. I’m hungry, too.”

“Oh, what?” she says, her voice low and deadpan. “That is a crazy coincidence. I can’t believe we’re both hungry at the same time.”

He kind of feels stung by it — by her unimpressed tone. But then he catches a glance at her face — he sees her eyes. He realizes that she’s joking a little bit. She’s teasing him a little bit. He feels heat crawling over his face. God, he’s still pretty fucked up on her.

He gives her a weak smile. He says, “Stranger things have happened.”

“Oh my God, I love that show.”

“Huh?”

“Have you not seen it?”

“No.”

“Oh my God, crawl out from that rock you have been living under and get yourself right.”

 

 


She now understands why it’s a really bad idea to fuck your coworkers. It’s disruptive. Even at her strongest and her toughest, she is still awkward and tense around him. Sometimes she will have a rough day or a rough time coping and she will go a little bit out of her way to avoid having to talk to him. She has created all of these silly mechanisms to slyly get away with it. She will talk to Drogo when Grey is within earshot, for instance. She will plant something in Pod’s ear and suggest that Pod go tell Grey.

When she’s doing well and is pretty steady, she can generally keep it all business and professional and work-related. She has shut inquiries about his personal life down to nothing. She no longer asks him what he does during his days off. She no longer saves him food or grabs him coffee. She no longer lets herself get overly concerned when she hears him cough too much or when she sees him look especially tired. She keeps waiting for the moment when she is no longer attracted to him — when she can look at him without suffering a full-body flush, when she can look at him with apathy.

He’s still changing, still morphing — now she knows why — his body is filling out and it’s tightening up and part of her watches it happen with this antagonistic bitterness. She’s watching him become more and more sexually appealing to other women. She already thought he was really cute when he still had a brain tumor growing in his skull.

Because she tends to be an overly sensitive and introspective person, sometimes she thinks about what he must have gone through, and she feels awful for him. She thinks of him as a little kid who was alone — she already knows how his parents died — and she just wants to cry over how shitty that must’ve been for him. Sometimes she can kind of get past her hurt, and she can kind of create this logic and this reason, for what happened between them. And sometimes it feels like it’s enough for her to forgive him. She tells herself that people make mistakes all the time. She’s made mistakes.

So it takes her a little bit of time to forgive — about three and a half weeks, to be precise. There was a period in those three and a half weeks when she nervously was on the lookout for her period and just wanted to slam the heel of her foot into his face over it — but then she started bleeding in her underwear and the feeling of murder passed. It takes her a bit of time, but she lets it go. She really forgives him.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“Oh my God!” Brienne startles the whole office when she slaps her files onto the nearest desk and screeches in the most feminine cry they’ve ever heard from her. “What are you doing here! You’re early!”

A handsome man with thick dark hair wearing a fashionable thick wool jacket immediately grins, splaying his arms outward. “I spent six hours on a plane to come take you to lunch.” He laughs when he sees her eyes comically widen. “I wanted to surprise you,” he explains. “Come here!”

Her strides are long and efficient as she crosses the short distance between them. Brienne throws her strong arms around her friend and squeezes him in a way that looks disconcertingly tight. She has a number of inches on him, so she arches her back and lifts him up a bit. “Oh wow, it’s so good to see you! You didn’t tell me! I would’ve cleared out my afternoon.”

“Don’t pick me up!” he says urgently. “Don’t! You know I don’t like being picked up!”

 

 


Renly is a young, hotshot director who has won an excessive number of awards and acclaim for this particular music video he directed for pop sensation du jour, Pia. Renly comes from the world of commercials and dance hits that feature cars, fashion, models, and choreographed dancing. For some reason, he and Brienne seem close, if a bit mismatched initially — just like the show and Renly seem a bit mismatched initially.

Brienne and Renly went to college together. They met in their junior year, when they noted that they had the same major and a large number of classes together. Renly asked her if she’d help him with a short film he was making for his senior project. She was startled and looked at him like he was nuts for talking to her, but she stuttered out a cautious yes. He then unconsciously went about dismantling all of these damaging and negative thoughts Brienne had about boys, based on her adolescence — she developed a bit of a crush for this reason. He knew about it because of course he knew about it.

And then ensuing years laid out how these things usually lay out — she repressed her feelings, positive that he’d never return them because he was handsome and was busy achieving more and more success in his career. She was too tall and not pretty and was busy quietly chugging along in her own career.

Grey is willing to cautiously give Renly’s vision the benefit of a doubt. Drogo is still a little sore from the whole Olenna thing, so he keeps saying, “Whatever. It’s all gravy, man,” because he doesn’t want to be yelled at anymore, by women or otherwise. He just leans dangerously back in his chair the one time a week he has to specifically show up at the office to attend a big production meeting and casually stays relatively unengaged over all of the changes brought forth.

Renly has a bunch of ideas — some of them are legit interesting — most of them seem outside the scope of their show and is not what their show is about. For one, Jaime and Dany are not actors. They’re not supposed to be characters. They don’t really do fantastical sequences. That chews up time that is actually better spent showcasing food, talking to people, and getting guts deep in a locale and culture.

Renly seems surprisingly open-minded. He tempers his enthusiasm for the show by telling them all that he’s there to learn from them, because they are the experts, after all.

Jaime naturally has a problem with Renly, probably just because Renly is different and Jaime doesn’t do well with change. Jaime rolls his eyes every time Renly says something nice to the rest of them or flatters them. Yara punchily reminds Jaime that he never really says shit about how he appreciates them. Jaime snipes that his job isn’t to make them feel pretty. They get paid for their work, so that’s how appreciation is shown.

“Hello, ladies and gents,” Margaery says, rolling her chair over to Missandei to softly whisper into her ear. She’s staring at Renly. “Meet my future husband.”

 

 


When she talks to him, it doesn’t look like she’s being tortured, and that, in and of itself, is a minor miracle. They talk through the challenges and procedures of getting some of the equipment through customs. She’s had to document and justify everything to the city government. He’s been through Volantis a number of times, but not for work, and not en route to Mantarys. She asks his opinion on it anyway. Their fixer on the ground in Mantarys has told Missandei that the stories that Westerners hear of Mantarys are greatly exaggerated and there’s nothing to worry about.

However, Mantarys has a fraught history and complicated politics. It also has a bit of a notorious reputation — noted for being hostile and violent to foreigners. Dany and the production company have been angling to film there for a long time.

Every time Missandei tells someone that she’s headed off to Mantarys next, someone says something about drugs, guns, and getting beheaded. It often sounds like some wry, ironic joke from otherwise well-educated people. So it’s always a little shocking to her when she realizes her friends and even some of her colleagues in the industry are not joking about this. They do view it as an inhospitable place with dangerous inhabitants.

“It’s all a little vaguely racist-sounding. None of these people have actually been to that part of the world, but they have all these strong opinions on it based on — God, I don’t even know what — Western news highlights? That’s been bothering me. I’ve heard people say different things — but also similar things — about Naath all the time,” she says, confiding in him as she unzips her bag on her desk and starts shoving her computer, wallet, and journal into it. “Or maybe I’m just being self-righteous and bullheaded by not being realistic about the dangers in front of us. Maybe someone is going to get their head taken off because I have a bleeding heart and insist of being —” She pauses, wrinkling her nose up and lifting up her hands to do air quotes. “‘Politically correct.’”

“Well, we’ll know when we get there,” he says mildly.

She chuckles. “You are the best at pep talks.” She zips up her overstuffed satchel and she pulls the strap over her shoulder.

“You’re leaving already?” It’s two p.m.

“Calling it an early day,” she explains. And then her face breaks out in a wide smile. “I have a hot date I need to get ready for.”

His own small smile becomes strained at that — and she notices. She notices how his face tenses up, and it makes her heart start beating faster. There’s a conflict inside of her, whether or not to clarify herself to him. He’s been sweet lately. She knows he’s been working overtime to make things up to her because he feels bad about what happened. Honestly, the flippant comment just flew out of her mouth before she could think much about it. It’s an ongoing joke of hers that’s many years old. To her friends, she often refers to her ‘hot dates.’

“My nieces,” she explains softly. “They’re coming over and staying with me for the weekend.”

 

 


“Oh my gosh, hello, my baby boop boop!” Missandei says, stooping down to encircle her arms around a little eight-year-old encased in a puffy purple jacket and some sort of shiny plastic pink backpack. She stresses out her heeled boots as she lifts her niece up into her arms and starts pressing smooches all over her soft baby face. “Oh man, you’ve gotten big!” Missandei feels her brother’s hand on her shoulder and she leans over and stretches her neck so that he can give her a kiss on the cheek. Missandei also sees a slouching and nervous fourteen-year-old in thick-rimmed glasses hanging back, in the doorway. Missandei says, “Hey, Camille!” reaching out to pull her other niece into a one-armed hug. “Are you excited for our sleepover?”

“Hi, auntie,” Camille says softly, bowing a little bit, wringing the handle of her backpack in her hands. She nods. “Yes.”

Missandei beams at her — even as she just about cannot contain her irritation with her brother. She ignores him for the time being and she hikes little Sarah up higher on her hip and she leads them all into her spare bedroom-slash-office. She spent the morning before work in a mad scrambling, washing the sheets. She spent the hours after taking off of work early running to the store to buy an inflatable mattress so that one of the girls doesn’t have to sleep on the couch. Missandei plops Sarah on the bed, cups both of the girls’ cheeks in her hands, and says, “Do you like it?”

“It’s kind of small.”

“Sarah!” Camille gasps. “That’s rude.”

Missandei reaches over to pull Camille’s curly hair out of the collar of her jacket. “It is a little tight in here with my desk,” Missy says. “Isn’t it?”

 

 


She leaves the girls to get settled in the room, with these promises that they’re going to go out somewhere cool for dinner in a bit — as she walks back into the living room with Marselen right on her heels. There, she spins around and just looks at him — with her eyes unblinking and her shoulders just ready to shrug.

He says, “Thanks so much, Missy. You are saving my ass.”

And that sets her off. She feels tension and heat behind her eyes, in her skull. And she whispers, “You have them for like, one weekend a month — if that. What do you have to do that is so important that you are not spending time with them?”

His face lightly screws up — in this great approximation of guilt — it’s this fake hangdog expression. When she was a kid, she used to think he was genuine when he fed her his excuses, but now she knows better. “Man, this opportunity came up —”

She raises her hand, interrupting him. “Say no more. I got it.”

He clears his throat at that. And then to disperse the awkwardness, Marselen hollers to his girls to come and say goodbye to him. Sarah comes barrelling into the room. Sarah giggles as he picks her up and wiggle-shakes her in the air. Camille — being older and more introverted — hangs back a little bit and gives him a weak hug before she drops her arms and awkwardly says bye to her dad. Missandei has these memories of Camille when she was younger, when she was a baby and Missandei used to babysit — when she was a toddler and would get into all sorts of messes — when she was a precocious and curious little girl with an obsession for space travel and gymnastics.

Marselen tells them to be good to their aunt and to listen to her. He tells them that he will be back Sunday night to pick them up — and also for them to text him all the cool stuff they will end up doing with their aunt.

 

 


Their mothers gave the girls these Western names, without any input from Marselen whatsoever. Missandei is not even sure if Mars was present when Camille was born — her first memory of Camille being when Mars was almost an hour late picking her up from school when she was thirteen years old and she was so mad at him for it — but it kind of flew by the wayside when he showed up in his beater car and excitedly told her that she was going to have a new baby to play with. She had anxiously asked him what baby — because she was kind of nervous he had stolen one.

Missandei has a special, kind of one-sided connection to Camille. Most of their bonding happened when Camille was very young and unaware of the place she had in her aunt’s life. Missandei used to hole up up in the apartment on weekends with the baby, while Mars and Camille’s mom worked, sometimes pretending that Camille was her baby, and it was just her and Camille and her single-mom status against the world. In hindsight, it was a bizarre kind of fantasy that was startling too close to real life — but it made Missandei happy.

Visitation dwindled as time went on, a combination of Mars’ inability to completely be an adult and also due to Camille’s growing conflicting feelings about her dad. Missandei saw her less and less. And then by the time Sarah came along — another accidental baby with another woman — Mars's attentions were too divided. Camille must have felt supplanted.

“Camille has a boyfriend!” Sarah shouts at the top of her lungs, before making kissy faces at her older sister.

Camille lightly socks Sarah in the shoulder. “Shut up! He’s not my boyfriend!” Camille and Sarah blessedly have a fairly close relationship because they see each other multiple times a week. Their mothers live close to one another and weirdly bonded over being dicked over by the same man-child. Sarah regularly needs a babysitter, and in lieu of an allowance, Camille uses the scratch money to occasionally buy small things for herself. Missandei actually has to resist sending the girls home with buckets of cash, every time she sees them.

“Don’t embarrass your sister like that,” Missandei says, lightly nudging Sarah’s butt with her foot. “Or else you will pay for it once you get your own non-boyfriend.”

 

 


For Saturday dinner, Missandei decides to stay in and cook for the girls — to their utter disappointment. They don’t get to go out to dinner that often because of money issues and because their moms are always working — and they also don’t get to see their rich aunt that often. They have associated restaurants with their aunt.

On Missandei’s end, she doesn’t have a big family life anymore — she is just isolated by herself, either putting in long hours at the office or long days away on shoots. When she is at home, she generally heats up food she bought from the grocery store and eats it by herself in front of her computer. She never cooks meals anymore, like how she used to when she and Mars lived together.

She’s just geeking out over trying to teach the girls all about home-cooking, all about Naathi food traditions. She explains the ingredients and uses pidgin terms, a combination of Low Valyrian and the native tongue — though neither of the girls can speak Low Valyrian or want to learn to speak it.

They are really not into it. Camille is putting up with the lesson. Sarah is aggressively complaining about how the food smells stinky and how she just wishes they could order in pizza. She keeps throwing out the idea into the air, hoping Missandei will catch on. Maybe they should order in pizza if the food on the stove is bad.

The girls pick at the food — at the stewed greens over rice.

Missandei generally kicks herself for her misguided enthusiasm and tells herself that she is the adult here — therefore, her feelings are really not allowed to be hurt. After ten minutes or so of them hating the food, Missandei stands up and starts clearing away plates, shoving them into the fridge to be dealt with later. She picks up her phone and after a fortifying breath, she asks the girls what toppings they’d like on their pizzas.

 

 


Late on Sunday night, Missandei is so stressed out and at her wits end that she doesn’t sound at all awkward and stilted when she calls him up to frantically tell him that the generator she originally put in an order for fell through and she’s scrambling to find a last-minute replacement — but it’s possible that he will have to live without for a day or so until they can get on the ground and she can start calling some of the local companies. As it is, she has to book herself on a different flight than the rest of them because there’s no fucking way she will get to the airport in the morning. So there will be a delay there, too. She’s asked Brienne to help her out, but Brienne may or may not be as successful, due to language barrier issues, though it’s probable that there will be local rental houses who speak the Common Tongue, but there’s cultural stuff. And Brienne also doesn’t know the specs he wants. Missandei tells him that she’s so fucking sorry that she dropped the ball like this — so fucking sorry. She’s embarrassed.

When her call came through, he’s grabbing a quick bite with Tyrion in a sushi conveyor belt place, sitting near a bunch of loud and drunk college kids. He pretty much jolts when he sees her name on his phone screen. He barely manages to mutter an apology to Tyrion before he accepts the call.

“Is everything okay?” he asks, plugging his finger in his ear so he can hear her better. “You sound . . . kinda like you’re freaking out. The generator thing is honestly not a big deal. I’ll call around some places, too. Don’t worry about it.”

“I’m sorry that I dropped the ball! I never drop the ball! I was planning on doing some work this weekend before the flight tomorrow, but my freaking deadbeat dad brother gave me his kids to watch while he’s off doing fuck knows what — and he was supposed to pick them up tonight, but he just didn’t show up! So I called him and was like, ‘Hey, bitch, where the fuck are ya?’ and he was like, ‘Oh, who dis?’ and I was like, ‘Dis is the bitch that you are fucking over for the millionth time!’ and he was like, ‘Oh, can you keep them for another day?’ and I’m like, ‘No, fucker! I told you that I have to fucking be on a plane tomorrow so I can go do my job so that I have enough money to keep bailing you out of all your fucking bullshit.’ He promised he’d be back in time! The girls have school tomorrow, and I talked to their moms, and their moms are like — ‘What the fuck? Marselen was supposed to drop them off at school and shit. We have work in the morning. We don’t be having all this time to pick up the slack of fucking deadbeat dad. And by the way, why are you with my kid? Where is your brother?’ And I’m like, ahhh, shit. So I have to take my nieces to school tomorrow morning. I’m going to miss our flight. I have to rebook. I hope I can rebook same day. I’m so sorry.”

He knows that she is flipping out. He knows that she is in a panic-stress meltdown right now. He knows that he should just tepidly tell her that it’s all good and that the work component of her life is really not something she should worry about. Hell, he knows that he should just do her a solid and rebook her flight for her or find someone who can do that.

But he mostly just basks in the sound of her voice. He mostly just wants to touch her, magically through the phone. He mostly just wants to kind of hold onto her tightly and make her just give him another fucking shot. And he doesn’t mean another shot at getting into her vagina, though that would be great. He’s just not shooting for the stars right now. He means another fucking shot at being her friend.

As usual, he sucks at communicating any of this stuff. He just says, “I’m sorry you’re having a shitty day.”

She sighs — it’s an exhale of relief. She says, “Thanks. I love my nieces, by the way. I don’t know if that came across in my psychotic ranting.”

“It did,” he says softly, grinning.

“Okay, I gotta go. I let them play with the stove and make fire and stuff while I talked on the phone with you. Because I am the best! Bye!”

“Bye.”

 

 


After he hangs up, he finds Tyrion is staring at him with a scrutinizing expression. He kind of lamely holds up his phone. He says, “Missandei had some work stuff to discuss.”

Tyrion points to his ear. “I heard. She was loud.”

Grey clears his throat and then reaches out to swipe a random plate of grilled octopus off the conveyor belt. Both of his elbows are on the countertop. He flips off the lid and places it in the stack in front of them. And then he picks off a random tentacle and swirls it in a bit of soy sauce. He ignores Tyrion’s gaze for an additional few more seconds before he says, “What? What do you want to say?”

Tyrion snorts. “I have nothing to say. I have no commentary on your life. You seem to have a handle on it.”

“Okay.”

Tyrion then loudly sighs. And then he pushes out. “Don’t shit where you eat, man.”

“What?”

Tyrion shakes his head. “Don’t shit where you eat,” he repeats. “I get that she’s beautiful. I get that you like her. I get that you’re excited you’re a man now. I get that humans often get attached to the first nice thing that comes along. I get that the sex is probably amazing, based on how you guys scarred my eyes. But there are countless other women out there who are more beautiful than she is, that you can probably have better sex with — that you don’t fucking work with.”

Grey says nothing.

“Look, I’m sorry, man. It’s actually none of my business. It’s just . . . we’re friends. I don’t have many of those. I don’t want you to, you know, go through horrible shit. Because it feels horrible, and it takes over your life. I don’t want that to happen to you.” He sighs. “Life is already hard. It’s already hard to live with someone and to love someone. Don’t stack the deck against yourself by dating a coworker. These things never end well.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


As he waits for the other passengers to put their crap away and take their seats, before he has to put his phone in airplane mode, he kind of nervously decides to take a chance. He touches his thumb down on his screen and opens his messaging app. He writes out the shortest, most casual mean-nothing note. He just asks her how everything is going. It’s so mundane that he’s tempted to write something else so that it conveys more than just a passing interest. He can’t think of anything else to say, so he hits send anyway.

Then he lightly smacks his head back against his seat because he’s such a dillweed. He generally waits anxiously for a response, knowing that it’s probably not going to be an immediate response — if he even gets a response from her at all. He has to shut off his phone soon, anyway.

His phone vibrates and chimes thirty seconds later, as the plane slowly starts to back up. It startles him a bit. He opens up his message and he sees her name. She’s telling him that the girls are happily back at school. Her brother has not started groveling for her forgiveness yet. She’s currently just shoving a bunch of clothes into her suitcase in a hurry. She tells him the link to airline tickets he sent her was great. She’s about six hours behind him. She hopes she doesn’t forget her passport.

Before he turns off his phone, he quickly writes out that he’s about to turn off his phone so he can’t talk anymore — and he also tacks on that he can’t wait to see her later. He writes it out even though Tyrion’s words are constantly echoing in his head. He rationalized it, and he tells himself that he really just wants to be her friend again. He just about has a heart attack as he goes past the point of no return and hits send.

 

 


When they do actually see each other again, it’s dark and Missandei arrives at the hotel in Volantis maybe an hour after he expects her to. She had gotten a little bit lost getting there from the airport because the cab driver had misheard what she told him. Missandei sometimes takes her impressive language skills for granted. While the rest of them would hand over a piece of paper with an address on it, Missandei tiredly ducks into the car and mutters numbers and words in her very specific accent — yawning and fighting a losing battle with jetlag. When they arrive at the wrong place — an industrial park with office buildings behind gates, she actually thinks for a freak moment that the cab driver has brought her there to fucking assault and then murder her.

The cab driver, a man whose name she can’t remember, is more nervous that this foreign woman is going to refuse to pay him the entire fare because she made a mistake.

She was so hellbent on getting to the hotel right after landing that she hasn’t had a chance to change out her sim card. He isn’t able to contact her by phone the hour that she is lost. No one is able to contact her by phone.

Dany and Brienne are the only other people who are excessively worried about Missandei’s whereabouts besides him. Drogo is asleep in his hotel room, frustratingly blase and sure that she probably got held up in traffic or something.

When she shows up at the hotel, a few of them are waiting up for her in the lobby. There are ten mini couches in the lobby, and Sandor is sprawled out across three. When they spot her walking up the steps to the glass door entrance, a hotel employee quickly scrambles over to help her with her suitcase — she predictably fights him over it and says that she’s got it — but he wins the valiant fight before she sheepishly thanks him — and when she gets within earshot, Dany loudly sighs and says, “Oh my God, so you are not dead! Thank you! I am going to bed now.” Most of them are beyond tired, having been sitting on planes and in airport terminals for the bulk of an entire day.

Hugs get exchanged. They all basically know that he and Missandei slept together, thanks to either Tyrion or Daario or both — and they know that he has been amped up and out of his paranoid mind waiting for her. So they do this excruciating thing where they yawn and pat him on the back and say, “Have a good night, guys.”

Missandei notices. She flicks her tired eyes to the elevator doors. She still has to check in. And she kind of laughs through her nose. “Night.”

 

 


He loses a lot of his confidence and cool — which sucks because he barely had any confidence or cool to begin with — as Missandei largely acts very casual and very calm and like she didn’t get or read his text message. She tells him that she is bummed she missed dinner — not that she is that hungry — they tend to overfeed people on the airplane — but she was just looking forward to stuffing her face with something new and interesting and maybe challenging after a couple days of eating pizza and only pizza. She tells him that her nieces are exceptionally picky eaters, and it was kind of maddening, how narrow they got when she suggested that they try like, a Caesar salad.

“Do you want to go get some food?” he blurts.

She blinks. “It’s almost midnight.”

“People are still awake.”

 

 


She agrees to going out for food if he promises her that they will be back within two hours. They have an seven a.m. breakfast meeting before they have to board the train to Mantarys.

His body has nearly acclimated fully to the testosterone. Physically, he is doing a lot better. He’s still emotionally and psychologically getting used to it in the sense that he sometimes perversely struggles in the absence of pain — because he got used to his pain and his deficiencies. Sometimes being healthy feels almost sickly, only because it is so different from what he has known.

The raging hard-ons have also tempered. Don’t get him wrong — they still exist in the unbelievable sense that he can summon up his dick at will — just by the power of his mind. But he no longer lives in perpetual fear that Missandei is going to accidentally stumble on his boner and hate him for it. Because she already stumbled on it. She already hates him for it. That bandaid got ripped off.

He scrapes back the plastic stool and balances his bag against his shin after he sits down. Missandei takes the seat opposite him, at the tiny table that doesn’t reach past their knees. He leans back a bit to peer at the vat of bubbling stock and animal parts. In Low Valyrian, he asks for two bowls and an order of the crunchies, just one order, not two. He says that because people are always trying to trick him into ordering multiple of things. He doesn’t know what the crackly deep-fried stuff is, so he’s calling it the crunchies. He hears Missandei surprised snort-laugh and looks over. She kind of smiles at him like he’s hopeless. He looks at her questioningly — because he’s wondering if he had made a wrong turn at some point or if he said something in a stupid way. He’s not as fluid in Low Valyrian as she is.

And then in the Common Tongue, she says, “It was really cute that you called it the crunchies.”

 

 


When he delivers her back to her hotel door within the two-hour time frame — both of them smelling of spices, onion, and oil — he’s telling himself to not fuck this up. He’s telling himself to just say goodnight — and then just get the fuck out of there before he does something bad — like try to kiss her again. At this point in the night, if she were someone else and and if he was trying to convince himself that he could be normal, he would typically ask her if he could see her again, if he could call her later. And then of course, he would spend the night berating himself over what he has done because it’s not as if he can actually do a fucking thing when dates and phone calls progress beyond a certain point. Things are markedly different with Missandei. He’s already going to see her tomorrow. He keeps repeating to himself, over and over — that he wants to get back their friendship. He keeps shutting out everything else from his mind. He keeps shutting out sex. He is finally more capable of that now.

Missandei tends to be very bad at holding grudges. No matter how many times her brother disappoints her, he’s still the only family she has left and she still will rearrange her entire schedule in order to help him out. This trait has its positive points and negative points. The negative side is that she tends to let people take some extra liberties with her — she tends to let people take a little bit of advantage.

She vaguely wonders if that’s kind of what’s happening now, if she’s just about to give him another opportunity to crush her again. But she’s been kind of giddy over his text message all day — she keeps rereading it and rereading it — and she’s been really, really excited to see his stupid face, too. It has not disappointed.

“Thanks for dinner,” she says. He paid because she hasn’t gotten a chance to exchange more currency yet. She blew all the cash she had on cab fare.

“Anytime,” he says.

 

 


“Why call it Demon Road?” Jaime mutters, blinking against the morning light, shuffling closer to the train platform — really just this dusty area with a tarp laid down over the bumpy, uneven ground. “It’s like they hate tourism.”

Jaime’s question is answered soon enough. When the train pulls up, Sandor sharply inhales and then puts out an awed sort of, “Wow.”

The train cars are ancient — the paint faded and chipped, patchy at parts where they tried to paint over but mismatched the color. Doors rattle like a woodpecker pecking as the train comes to a stop, left free to flap open and close because the locks are broken. Everything they touch feels flimsy, from the step leading up to the car to the crinkling floor to the seats made of wooden slats and loose, frayed canvas — more fit for patio furniture.

While a lot of what once was the Valyrian Freehold has recovered remarkably since the Doom — such as the Free Cities, their rehabilitation fostered by their proximity to the west coast and by Westeros’ trade necessity — the cities of the southern coast have suffered a different fate. Mantarys, in particular. The reasons are numerous and complicated — years of fighting off Dothraki raids that tried to capitalize on the lingering riches of destroyed Valyria, years of political infighting with new emerging governments, years of fending off other opportunistic empires that sought to colonize them, years of being collateral damage in other world events, years of conservative religious revolution, years of militaristic rule and occupation, a declaration of independence, then a civil war, and then years of democratic reform. Most recently, botched general elections — rife with controversy and violent protest — but still — they happened.

The challenge in capturing the vastness of places on camera and fitting them into forty-minute stories with beginnings, middles, and ends is that the audience tends to want simple sound bytes. They want to be moralized to — even as they resentfully say they don’t. They want easy reasons to explain away different histories. When Missandei tells strangers at home what she does for a living — everyone can pontificate on which locations have value and which do not — mostly based on whether they want to vacation there. Everyone also has these reasons why their culture and their way of life prospered, while others did not. Usually the reason is plainly simple — at least to Missandei it is. It’s due to innate superiority.

No one ever articulates the truth so baldly though — except for Jaime sometimes, in his voiceovers. Sometimes they all work so hard to be faithful and to be fair. Most of the time, people just post up clips of Dany and Jaime eating something weird and “gross,” or something amazing-looking and delicious. The food component of the show is really what draws people in — as is the gimmick of having ridiculously beautiful people eating the food.

Renly breathes out, “Shit,” when he gets on board. Renly has been expending a lot of effort trying to fit in with them, trying not to constantly remind them of his auspicious and somewhat frivolous professional background. So he clears his throat, shoves down his fear, and just takes the first non-lethal-looking seat that he can find.

“Imma fucking mount a camera to the side of this motherfuckerrr,” Drogo says in almost a sing-song, brain already gleefully churning with ideas on how to shoot on this train of nightmares.

 

 


Missandei nearly careens right into Grey and his camera, when the train picks up speed and merrily skips nearly right off the fucking track. Her whole body lifts in the air for one heart-stopping moment — before the sound of metal screeches loudly again, and gravity slams her feet back onto the ground. She’s using her hands and arms, fingers digging into the seats, to stop herself from crashing her face into Grey’s shoulder. She’s going to ruin his shot that way.

“How are you not just flying?” she yells, over the loud cacaphony.

“I’m just magic!” he shouts back. “Or I have good balance.”

Renly is train-sick, but he keeps valiantly trying to soldier on as he sits clutching his seat for dear life. His head is smacking against his seat, as he braces himself against it and peers into Grey’s monitor.

They can feel Drogo’s thumping steps underneath their feet — that’s how flimsy and thin the floor is. They can feel Drogo walking from the other car back to their car. He is breathless when he gets back — also grinning and happy as everyone else is curled up in their seats and terrified. This is Drogo in his element. Drogo is not as quiet or as introspective in his work as Grey is. They balance each other out because Drogo likes risk and he likes challenges and he likes it when things look fucking cool, whereas Grey is always taking his time getting to the silent matter of things.

 

 


When they arrive in Mantarys, their fixer Jorah greets them. Missandei gratefully hops out of the train, glad that the ground is not constantly shifting underneath her feet anymore. It’s unbearably hot, but she smiles brightly at Jorah as he waves to her, before running over to talk about permits, the local crew they hired, and also an issue with this portable generator that they will need due to the constant brownouts.

Jaime gives voice to an observation that most of them have already made — everyone is looking at them curiously — because they honestly look very peculiar and foreign — and people keep smiling at them as they pass by with interest. Jaime mutters, “The faces of blood-thirsty killers. That’s interesting.”

When they near a government building, and when Grey swings his camera in that direction, Jorah holds out his hand and he says, “Please stop shooting. Not here.”

Grey shuts off his camera.

They are in the city center when they meet their government minder — certain places require this — a person who follows them around as they shoot and provides cultural context and information, as well as ensures that they are not doing anything salty or portraying the government in an overly negative light. Minders can be very lax and chill, or they can be a little rigid. Where they fall on the spectrum is actually fairly random. The places they have assumed would be the most locked down have ended up being some of the most relaxed.

Their minder is a tall man with dark features and warm dark hair that falls to his shoulders. “Hello, I’m Qotho,” he says in stilted, overly careful Common Tongue. “Welcome to Mantarys. We are excited to show you the history and culture of our great city. I have beverages for you. Come.”

Jaime kind of bites back a smile as he watches their minder totally leave them in the dust — as Qotho blindly assumes that they will follow him into the street.

Drogo lightly jogs up to Qotho, with his camera hooked under his arm. In Dothraki, he asks Qotho if he is Dothraki. Qotho must’ve assumed Drogo was something else — because he does a comical doubletake when the words effortlessly spill out of Drogo’s mouth. Missandei can hear the shock in Qotho’s voice, when he exclaims in delighted surprise that Drogo is Dothraki!

There are actually a number of Dothraki speakers, of varying proficiencies. Dany can actually carry on fairly casual conversations. Jorah can speak it okay, but with a thick accent. Drogo can speak it in his very specific Drogo way. Missandei can speak it fluently, but primly, like someone who learned the language as an adult. And of course, Qotho speaks it like a native speaker. They stop over at a cafe on the way to their hotel and carry on the conversation in Dothraki, kind of unintentionally leaving out the rest of the crew in their enthusiasm. It leaves Jaime to make small talk with Renly, which they manage to muddle through without Jaime trying to punch out anyone.

 

 


A sudden and heavy downpour upends their plans to shoot in an outdoor market. Grey and Drogo immediately start running for their cameras' lives, sprinting and slipping a little across the street to get underneath an awning as Pod squeaks right behind them, arm around reaching behind to grasp at the zipper of his backpack for rain ponchos. Missandei ruefully finds herself just abandoned on the other side of the street as the boys cradle and baby the equipment.

Three minutes later, she gets a call that Jaime and Dany’s car is stuck in a flooded street full of pedestrians, motorbikes, and big rigs.

They wait out the rain at an outdoor cafe, pungent with the smell of cigarette smoke mixed with the small of rich, dark, roasted coffee beans. She’s still fighting with jet lag a little bit, so she decides to drink the dark motor oil-like coffee, lip-curlingly sweet — as Drogo drinks a smoothie, as Pod gets a local tamarind soda, as Grey decides to be boring and just gets a ginger tea.

As Grey fiddles around with his camera, recording the deafening and thick rainfall around them — the rest of them muse about the cafe culture here — how it is different from home, how it is superior to home — how the pacing is slower and more comprehensive. She reaches up to touch her hair, which she knows, is frizzing out, and tries to make a makeshift hair band out of one of the twist-ties she stole off of one of Drogo’s cords.

When the twist tie breaks in half under her fingers, she feels him lightly nudging her shin with his foot. When she looks over at him, Grey’s holding out a thick beige rubber band that he had dug out from somewhere. She smiles at him slowly — shyly — and she tries to pluck the band from his fingers. He pulls it back — out of her reach. She’s stunned, but after a beat, she realizes it’s a joke, and he’s just being adorable. And then she makes another grab for it, leaning forward and stretching herself to get to it.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


They’re about to all shuffle into a van that will take them to the outskirts of the city. She sees Jaime slap Grey on the butt before she hears Jaime’s loud incredulous grunt and a tactless, “Oh my God, you smell like BO, man!” Jaime’s laughing. She actually feels a bit affronted on Grey’s behalf and, in her secret fantasies, would probably run over there to defend his body and tell Jaime that it doesn’t smell that bad. It’s funny that her fantasies about him can be so mundane and dorky.

He’s pulled out a stick of deodorant from somewhere — it’s also funny that he has it handy — and is swiping his underarms with it, underneath his shirt, when she walks up to them. He talks before she has a chance to start first. He wryly says, “I shower like, once a day if not multiple times a day.” He juts his chin out toward Jaime. “Mostly on his recommendation.” He kind of grimaces as he pulls the deodorant out from under his shirt. Then he kind of sheepishly grins. “Another one of those weird side effects.”

“I like how you call what’s going on with you a side effect,” Jaime says, careful to keep this words vague because they are around a bunch of their colleagues. Jaime puts his good hand on Grey’s shoulder. “Kiddo, you are the illegitimate teenage son I never wanted.”

“You’re not really old enough to be his dad,” Missandei says, mostly just trying to add to the conversation, mostly kind of reeling that she has apparently been incorporated into the fold of some secret society that discusses Grey’s changing body sort of out in the open like this.

“It’s just a turn of phrase,” Jaime says dismissively, his eyes suddenly far off as he spots Brienne and Renly walking to one of the vans from the lobby of the hotel.

“It’s really not, though,” Missandei says, calling after him a bit as he leaves them to probably go stir up some trouble.

When they are alone, the stick of deodorant is gone, and Grey’s fiddling around with his phone in a moment of inattentiveness. He catches her gazes and lowers the phone before deciding just to pocket it. Her eyes are dry and a little sore from waking up too early and perhaps too fast. She stifles a yawn as he says, “Hey,” to her.

“Hi,” she returns. “Good morning.”

 

 


The drive to the northwest end of the city takes over an hour because of traffic. Mantarys is a city with growth that currently exceeds its infrastructure, some of which is hundreds of years old. Two-lane, unpaved dirt roads that weave in and out of a maze-like clay buildings, serving as bottlenecks as the van driver honks impatient at women selling wares, school children, and sometimes livestock cross in front of cars, stalling traffic. Jorah tells them that cars are very expensive to buy in Mantarys, the price of them artificially driven up in order to discourage would-be buyers and stop the already-gridlocked traffic from getting worse.

But — as they can see from the ubiquitousness — there has been an influx of money coming into the city. Many families can afford cars and do buy one.

Missandei doesn’t own a car at home, and she is also a terrible driver, so she has a tendency to let out a high pitched squeak and clutch onto things whenever the driver of their van does questionable things, like drive on the pedestrian pathways to get around traffic. There are children on those pathways. Jorah and Qotho simply laugh her off and state that it’s just how they drive here.

During the drive, Missandei tries to nap — but the sights and sounds keep jarring her into full awakeness. In the seats in front of her, she can hear Drogo and Dany talking quietly. Drogo mostly wants to know how, when, and why Dany learned Dothraki. The reason, according to Dany, is dumb. She did it for some boy — a boy that she dated when she was very young. She thought they were going to get married, and she had her whole life planned out and laid out in front of her. Being able to speak Dothraki with his parents and also teach their hypothetical kids the language were among her plans.

“Your accent is great,” Drogo says.

“Thanks. I learned it from tapes. I think I learned something like . . . retro Dothraki from forty years ago because I was not very strategic or scrutinizing in whatever I borrowed from the library. There are a lot of anachronisms in my speech.”

Drogo chuckles. “Yeah, it’s hilarious. You sound like an old lady sometimes. You sound older than my mom even. Good golly.”

“Gee willickers,” Dany says, her voice purposely pinched and nasal. “Heavens to Betsy, Edna! The professor is in the parlor, and he would like a cup of tea!”

Drogo chokes. “What.”

“What?” she echoes, her voice darkening back to its usual husky tone. “I thought we were doing a bit.”

“No, we were,” he admits. “But that was crazy. That was so weird and hilarious. You win.”

Their general conversation is interesting to Missandei and it goes at its own pace until Drogo relaxes too much and, with an ease that he’d have with his closest pals, he gently teases Dany about her apparent jungle fever. That results in a decisive shut down of the conversation from Dany’s side and then awkward, bewildered silence from Drogo before he has the gall to try and joke with her again. Dany isn’t having any of it. Missandei silently curls her body in her seat to spin around and make eye contact with Brienne — she catches Grey’s face instead. He’s got his knee propped up against the seat as his elbow rests on it. His face is blank at first, as he generally waits her out. She can’t help but smile automatically — which, in turn, makes him smile back. And the next words that come out are from Jorah, announcing that they have arrived.

 

 


Jaime has a bit of a reputation for being badly behaved — a reputation that he earned in his rebellious youth, which played out in the public eye. He often mutters that he was glad he was young before the advent of fucking Twitter and Facebook because he can’t even imagine dealing with the play-by-play of his stupid misdeeds. As it was, he just had to deal with tabloid magazines, which, at the time, already felt really fucking intrusive, even if he told himself he didn’t care.

When they film in Westeros, where he is more well-known, men will go up to him in the street and joke around with Jaime while women are either generally overly bashful around him or are very boldly friendly. Jaime works hard to be gracious — which often leads to these commentaries, colored with disappointment, from people about how he is so different from who they thought he was. He is so nice and boring.

Jaime generally disengages with people when any of them drunkenly walk up to him and ask him to punch them in the face. Because they want to tell their mates that they got punched in the face by Jaime Lannister and his fake, ironic, golden hand. Jaime more or less hates his reputation as a crippled and reformed former bad boy. An issue when it comes to celebrity or notoriety is that the audience expects famous people to stay static. They don’t expect for people to change, even as they clamor and demand that people change. When Jaime gets particularly triggered by this, he gets drunk and maudlin and just complains about it while sitting on Tyrion’s couch for most of the night.

Here in Essos though, and particularly here in Mantarys, where Western media is actively shunned — no one knows who Jaime is. So when they stare — they are really only staring at the blond hair and at his attractive, fascinating face. And when they smile — which is an observation their crew keeps making to one another a lot, that the smiles come so easily and so genuinely — it’s open and it’s curious. For this reason — and also because of the complex culture and the food — Jaime is liking Mantarys quite a bit. A growing sense of self-righteousness is also bubbling up inside of him. On camera, he keeps marveling to Dany how much Western media has got it all wrong.

 

 


Qotho translates for them and tells them that the miller has been in his line of work for generations — for as long as they can trace the family line back. However, processing grains is hard, back-breaking work that pivots around the crop yields, which — in recent years because of the constant flooding — have been meager. The miller says he doesn’t know if he would want his sons to carry on this work — but he also does, at the same time. On the side, Qotho explains to them that they think the flooding has increased in the last few decades due to climate change — and perhaps it’s a lingering effect of the eruption.

In the West, the Doom is perhaps what this area of the world is most known for — a series of catastrophic events, both natural and man-made, condensed in a short period of time that took down the Valyrian empire, one of which was a volcanic eruption that threw ash into the sky, killed hundreds, and decimated acres and acres of land, turning what was once fertile soil into wasteland. Qotho tells them that the valley used to be dotted with hundreds of mills. Now there are only a dozen left. They are getting their bread from outside now — another byproduct of industrialization — so the tradition is getting lost.

The miller takes a knife and cuts slices into a cooled loaf of bread. He nudges a bowl of honey to the center of the table to them. After Dany and Jaime have eaten and were filmed doing so, the rest of them clamor around the table grab a piece.

Missandei feels a hand briefly touch her elbow. Qotho is looking down at her apologetically — and then he carefully and gently tells her — in Dothraki — that men eat first. Which just stuns her — mostly because she wasn’t expecting that at all. Brienne is the only other female besides Dany around — so Missandei shoots her eyes to Brienne and sees that Brienne is not exactly encountering the same obstacle. Maybe because Brienne is intimidatingly tall and blond and so obviously Western. Or maybe this doesn’t mean what she thinks it means.

“Drogo?” Grey says suddenly, calling out for Drogo’s attention. “Can you come here for a second?”

 

 


To her and everyone else, he’s oblique and quiet, so it’s hard to ascertain his intentions most of the time. Grey calls Drogo over and they quickly discuss the hand cranked grain mill before Drogo takes his camera, calls out to Qotho to come translate, and goes about filming the mill in action one more time.

Left alone, Grey generally avoids looking at her face directly. He stands adjacent to her as he fidgets a little, winding up a power cord into a loop. He’s actually a person that tends to have strong stances — a sense of what is wrong and what is right, developed and cultivated due to a childhood of constant injustice. Or perhaps it is just innate to him. He’s been criticized before — by Tyrion and some others — that he ironically lacks the ability to see gray areas. Right now, he doesn’t know if she should be mad at him, because he acted so typically male and interjected himself into a situation that was not his business based on the assumption that she needed him to save her — or if she’s simply grateful for the deflection — or maybe she does not even give a shit.

He actually does not have the balls to look at her expression to figure out where she’s at in all of this. He’s been so fucking nervous and paranoid around her because of recent events, and also because he’s just so stupid and awkward and he doesn’t even know how to act around people, let alone someone like her. He just quickly cleans up before packing some stuff away, pushing the gear at Sandor’s feet at the open back door of the equipment van.

 

 


The language barrier is only one fairly minor component in the suite of challenges that they face in Mantarys. A far bigger challenge, she has realized, is the cultural barrier. Missandei never feels more Western than she does immersed in a non-Western culture. Funnily, at home, she feels distinctly un-Western and sometimes alienated because she is comparatively quiet and introspective and perhaps sometimes reticent to share her opinions over concerns that what she says may not be that important.

Here, she is positively loud and brash and opinionated. She’s had to cut straight to the chase multiple times with the local film crew guys because they all tend to rely heavily on context and subtext in conversations. She’s not from this place, so she lacks the ability to magically ESP what they are thinking — and Dany and some of the others are always breathing down her neck about why such-and-such is late and why such-and-such got moved around the schedule. They get annoyed when stuff catches them off guard. The idea of punctuality is also different here — looser. And the more stress they rain down on Missandei, the less self-conscious Missandei is about appearing bossy. They had to delay filming yesterday because — no fucking lie — a few of the guys took a two-hour lunch break even after she asked them to come back within the hour. When Dany accusingly asked what was going on — and then kind of chewed Missandei out for her general haplessness — Missandei in turn took her frustration out on the three assholes that took a liberal break and kind of fired them on the spot, figuring that would fucking placate Dany into giving her ass a bit of a fucking break.

Jorah and Qotho had to talk Missandei down from that ledge. And she was ready to punch them out if they dared hinted that she was being hysterical. They were good though. They just made a case for a two-strikes policy, rather than a one-strike policy. Since then, everyone has been very nice — very professional.

 

 

Toward the end of filming, she gets drunk with the entire crew over their last crew dinner because she is trying to prove something — she is trying to prove her masculinity and earn street cred by getting hammered and staying awake long enough through it. She is trying to drink at least two guys under the table through sheer willpower alone.

She actually rarely drinks in excess. She can count on one hand, the number of times in her life she’s actually been drunk-drunk. Obviously the most notable bout was when she got naked and tried to have sex with Grey. She has since become less embarrassed over that.

“Women . . . are strong,” Qotho says passionately — his eyes bloodshot and droopy. The drunker he gets, the worse his Common Tongue becomes. “Women . . . they are the bone — man can’t survive without woman.” His gaze is on her — and this feels like some sort of justification or some sort of belated explanation.

“Sure,” she says, gripping the edge of the table tightly in her hands, to ground herself. “I have been very impressed and surprised by how much power women have in Mantarys —”

“Women are strong,” Qotho repeats. “Make no mistake.” And then he lifts up his shot glass — says cheers in Dothraki — clinks with all of them — and then he tosses it back.

She swallows her shot amid laughter — and she winces because it still burns going down.

“Hey, you know you don’t have to go every round, right?”

He is so freaking cute. Even as he’s super freaking annoying. This is what she secretly and gleefully tells herself as she stares back at his mildly concerned expression. He is very sober and has been very tense and fairly quiet at dinner because — well, that is just his MO, she supposes.

She smiles at him. Her face is already hot from the alcohol, from the unseasonably hot weather, and from the long sleeves and pants she’s wearing in order to stay conservative. She feels like she’s always sweating. And he is sweaty, too. She supposes that’s why he’s been keeping a stick of deodorant in the front pocket of his bag. The weather here is hard on all of their bodies.

At this moment, she pretty much finds it easy not to think about errors in judgement — his . . . hers. She leans in toward him, and she starts to flirt — drunkenly, awkwardly, and in a way he finds completely mystifying and confusing.

 

 


When Missandei trips and hits the ground hard on her knees coming out of the toilets, Drogo laughs and announces that it’s time for her to call it a night. Drogo tells Grey to take her back to the hotel — and she automatically has some sort of dumb retort to volley back at him — something about how she thinks that Qotho is actually her favorite Dothraki — until she sees Grey standing expectantly with a little bit of resignation and a lot of panicked, nervous energy radiating off of him — and she’s into it. She finds it fetching. She also knows that Jorah is old, relative to them, and Jorah has completely passed out. Eradon had to call his wife to come pick him up, and she was so pissed when she showed up with a baby in her arms and car keys in her fist. Missandei decides that it would be unbecoming to raise a stink about this, so she gamely decides to listen to Drogo and let Grey take her back to the hotel.

She pulls herself into the front seat of the taxi — deciding it’s best to help with the dizzy spells and also because she needs to communicate to the driver where they are going. The words are thick and dull on her tongue, and he actually doesn’t understand her. Grey repeats what she said — but in Common Tongue.

Their hotel is twelve stories and compact. She stumbles into the elevator and leans her shoulder blades against the mirrors. She looks at her own reflection through the metal door. Then she looks at his face. And he patiently asks her, “Do you remember which room is yours? Can you get to it?” They are on different floors.

She says, “Aren’t you going to put me to bed?”

Which makes him look at her sharply, before he generally ignores the come on and seriously tells her, “You are drunk.”

She shrugs. She can’t really argue with that. But she grabs his hand anyway, when the elevator chimes, when they get to the tenth floor. She wordlessly pulls him out of the claustrophobic box and pulls him toward her room. She does remember which one it is.

And when she gets him nice and trapped in her hotel room, she collapses on her bed, still unmade from the morning — as she stares at the ceiling, as her sandaled feet dangle just inches off the floor. She asks him, “Why did you do it?” And before he can ask her to clarify what she means, she says, “Why did you sleep with me when you had a girlfriend? You must’ve known that I would not be okay with that. I refuse to believe that you did it in a purposely malicious way. Maybe it was really an accident. But was I just some girl who was obviously willing to give you sex? Is that why?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

He’s going so out of his mind that he can barely pay attention to what she’s saying to him. He’s mostly wrapped up in how this is all a fucking trap and he’s being tested again and the test is set up for his imminent failure because he is just shit at this sort of thing. He mostly just sweats out his panic as he fights to figure out how to get his body to calm down enough to make rational decisions and say rational things. His heart is palpitating hard in his chest and right through his face. He really does not want to ruin this again. And so he says, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” He’s looking at her prostrate body, lying face-up on the bed, like she is dead-awake or really drunk-sober, and he thinks that this such a strange way to have a conversation with someone, but he hesitates to ask for changes.

As if reading his mind, she quietly says, “I have to lie down, or I’ll vomit.” And then even more quietly, she says, “Please don’t make me say it again.”

Which just generally makes his innards throb and makes him feel rotten.

Missandei really does decide that she can’t repeat that mortifying question again — the one in which she asked him if she was just something easily expendable and useable in the moment, a sure thing — because there’s a distinct possibility that she hit the nail right on the head. And then it would be something she can’t unknow. She will look at him differently. They probably can’t be friends anymore. She will go through a long period of self-hatred and depression probably — knowing that this person and these incidents have all contributed to her general track record of being just a disaster when it comes to men and relationships. It had all started off so innocently.

So she takes a different tack, one that is softer and more vague in its intent. She asks him, “Do you like me?”

To which he easily responds with, “Yes. Of course I like you.”

The answer is somehow dissatisfying to her. She doesn’t even know what she is looking for though. She might be too drunk for this shit — though she’s also sure that sober Missandei would not have the nutsack to be so pathetically vulnerable like this.

So she starts crying. She kind of starts crying because she doesn’t know what else to do, and she just feels bad inside. It starts quietly, and as tears start flowing down the sides of her face, she starts to realize, in horror, what is happening. And then the awareness only results in the strengthening of her feelings — she really is just sad. She really does just want him to maybe more than like her. She’s such a girl in the sense that she got so attached to some guy just because she had sex with him.

“Me liking you is that devastating, huh?”

His tone is light — and it makes her laugh in surprise. The intake of wet air stirs something in her gut — makes it flip heavily. Her mouth floods with saliva, and her esophagus is already starting to spasm. Missandei rolls over onto her side and carefully pushes herself into sitting position — before she decides it’s a mistake, and she starts sprinting for the toilet.

Grey, to his credit, recognizes what is going on fairly quickly and helps push her along toward the bathroom, toward the toilet, just barely making it before she heaves and empties out the sour and chunky contents of her stomach into the water. The repetitive splashing and her gagging makes him bring his closed fist to his mouth, as he works down his own gag reflex, as he automatically touches the nape of her neck with his other hand, rubbing it comfortingly as she continues puking into the bowl.

 

 


After she can puke no more, after a series of loud, audible, embarrassing dry heaves that almost throw her swollen face right into the dirty toilet bowl — she takes the glass of water from his hand and rinses her mouth with it before spitting back into the toilet. She sees the mess she created in the bowl. It’s pink and brown. She gags again. She is terrible at drinking, just like she is terrible at so much other stuff.

Her hands and fingers go up to her face, brushing the tears away as she hears the toilet flush and feels the glass of water being taken out of her hand. She’s putting off looking at him. She feels like she wants him to leave so she can tend to herself and deal with her humiliation alone. But at the same time, she wants him to stay because the time that she actually has alone with him is rare and thus, really special to her. This conflict inside of her sucks.

And he’s watching this and a part of him is actually wondering if Missandei is cracking, if she’s about to lose it and just unleash a torrent of bitter recriminations against him, which he probably deserves.

She actually says, fuck it, to herself. She lowers her hands from her eyes before she reaches out in the small space and lays her palms on his shoulders. Her vision blurs because she can’t stop tearing up — so he blurs along with the rest of the bathroom — and she remembers what it felt like to push into his hotel room just courageous on alcohol and full of conviction — how her hands shook and how her heart pounded. Here, her hands also shake, and her heart is also threatening to cut off her air supply. The last time was a mistake. The last two times, actually, were mistakes. She tells herself this as she steps forward and pulls his body in for a hug — a tight one.

And then she generally starts sobbing, which makes his arms automatically come around her, squeezing her back. And she stutters as she tells him that she doesn’t think he smells bad at all.

 

 


“Why are you sad?” he asks after she calms down, leaning both of their weights heavily against the sink behind him. His hand hovers up her spine before he lightly grabs onto the back of her neck. He feels like it’s safest if he keeps his hands up high. He feels like that last thing he needs to do is ruin this by getting a boner while she’s crying all over him.

“I don’t know,” she says softly, into his neck. He can feel her eyelashes flutter, and it feels surreal. “I’ve just been feeling overwhelmed. Maybe sometimes when you feel overwhelmed, what you need is a good cry. Does that make sense at all?”

To him — it actually does. He actually has memories of being young and making the bitter observation that he was overly sensitive, especially compared to the other boys in his class — now he knows why. He remembers feeling like it was an impossible task to dam up the feelings — and knowing that he had to learn if he was going to survive and get through his days without being just constantly brutalized by some of his classmates.

He has done an incredible job of teaching himself how to stop up the feelings though, because now, he kind of has a bit of an inability to expand on the truth. He says, “Yeah, I know how that feels.” Then after a short pause, he says, “Do you feel better? Now that you’ve purged everything?”

She lightly chuckles at that — the vibration of her laugh against his throat and her body against his body just fucking kills him, and not for sex-related reasons this time around. It’s just nice. It’s just something nice. Then he hears and feels her say, “I’m so gross. And I’m so drunk, still.”

“You’re not that gross,” he says — he’s trying to be funny because she is actually the complete opposite of gross. He hopes she gets that it’s a joke. “Do you want to go to sleep?”

“Are you going to leave?”

“Well, sleeping requires quiet. You can’t talk and sleep at the same time.”

“Then don’t go yet. I don’t want to sleep.”

 

 


She’s reluctant to end the most amazing hug ever, but her bladder is actually fucking ruining her life. She sheepishly pulls away from him and admits to him that she really needs to pee. He’s awkwardly stunned as her words register, as his eyes widen and he immediately starts shuffling backwards, out of the bathroom to give her privacy.

She is pretty sure that the door is thin, and he can hear her peeing. But it doesn’t matter. She almost groans out loud as her whole body tingles pleasantly in relief. She runs her middle finger into her eyelashes and smears the skin of her eyelid. She comes away with a smudge of eyeliner on the pad of her finger. She remembers the decision to put on eyeliner — fully expecting it to melt off in this heat. She remembers the silly thing that girls will do sometimes, to feel prettier around some guy who probably doesn’t care what the fuck she draws on her face.

She flushes the toilet, pulls up her pants, and also rinses her mouth out with water from the tap — one more time — before she splashes her hands underneath the faucet and carelessly runs them over the seat of her pants to dry them.

He’s waiting in the room, when she comes out of the bathroom. He’s standing in the middle of it, looking a little bit anxious.

She keeps her distance. And she thinks it’s important to say this when they are not touching. She thinks it’s more meaningful and impactful and truthful this way. This way, they cannot lie to themselves and attribute it to hormones or alcohol or a combination of both. She says, “I like you. So much. I like you a lot. You’re all that I can think about sometimes. Sometimes I wish that things didn’t happen with us the way that they did. I wish I didn’t have a fiance when we met. I wish that I had just randomly met you on the street at home, and there wasn’t all of this baggage. I think if I had met you on the street, I would’ve asked you out.”

She remembers Harry and how they ended up going out because he asked her to go to a dance and she said yes and they ended up making out in his mom’s car. After that, she was his girlfriend. She also remembers Jared and how he asked her to coffee so that they can go over lecture notes. Coffee dates turned into movie dates, which turned into actual date-dates. She has always eased into relationships kind of randomly and casually. This is probably the very first time in her life she’s actually been very explicit and intentional with a guy. It is terrible, and she feels like she’s about to get drop-kicked in the gut. She’s also remembering these conversations she’s had with Ygritte, who is prone to romanticizing. She remembers Ygritte wrinkling up her nose when Missandei said that she and Jared are practical. For their anniversary, she would love it if he would just take out the trash and pull the bin to the curb like he always does.

Grey is just fucking reeling. His brain constantly fails him — for reasons he doesn’t understand because he knows he’s not actually a stupid person. But he fights hard to catch up to her. He’s stuck back at just comprehending what the fuck she just said to him. He alternates between just going apeshit over it and also convincing himself that he must have misheard and she didn’t just fucking say what he thinks she just said. It’s fucking crazy that she apparently thinks about him all the time because he fucking thinks about her all the fucking time. They fucking have this in common.

So when he finally realizes that too much time has passed and it is just weird and uncomfortably awkward — and she looks ready to just jump out of her skin — he blurts, “We work together though.” And then he sees her start to deflate. And then he quickly grinds out, “Oh my God, I fucking hate myself. Fuck.” And then he quickly amends it with, “I like you, too. You know I do. Obviously I like you a lot.” He resists gesturing to his fucking dick. Because he will only go so far in embarrassing himself.

“Like, you like me like me?”

“Okay?” he says helplessly. “Sure. Whatever that means. I think I like you in all the ways one can like a person?”

She clenches her jaw, and she’s blinking back tears again — this time not because she’s sad. This time because this shit is fucking bananas. She finds that each word is torturous to say because each word is just so fucking out there and so fucking crazy and open. She is realizing that they both have this deficiency in communication. They both are pretty bad at talking about their feelings in this way. She’s actually been trying to think of the most perfect way to say this next bit — the most careful and efficient and blandest way to say it. But she throws caution to the wind because at this point, it’s too late to give many fucks. And she says, “I mean like sexually. Do you like me sexually?”

“Oh my God, are you stupid?” he bursts out carelessly, half-thinking that she is just saying this shit to mess with him. “I feel like that’s fucking obvious.”

“No!” She’s raising her voice now. “It’s actually not!”

“I fucking had sex with you!”

“Yeah! I know! I was there! You didn’t say my name once, dude!”

“What!”

She throws her hand out at him. “Uh, yeah! You didn’t really give me one indication that I was fucking special! And let’s be real — the sex was all about you.”

“What!”

“Oh stop saying what! You know what.”

“Are we seriously arguing about this!” he asks incredulously.

He gets tired of standing up. He doesn’t feel comfortable sitting on her bed. So he actually walks over to a wall and then sits down on the floor, leaning against it. She watches his actions with her dark, narrowed, and unimpressed eyes — from her vantage point on the bed. “So now what?” she says.

“I dunno,” he throws back sarcastically. “I should probably work on being better at making you feel special.”

Her jaw drops. He doesn’t care. He’s kind of overloaded on an excess of new information — mostly the stuff she said about sex and how he’s apparently bad at it. And for a split second, it seems like it could go either way — but Missandei sidesteps rage, and she just settles on a shocked laugh. She brings her hand to her mouth to stifle it — her eyes wide in surprise — and then she drops her hand and she smiles at him — widely and girlishly. She’s crushing so hard on him, and now she doesn’t have to hide that aspect of her personality anymore.

He notes her smile with suspicion. Because he’s not used to this from her or from people, really. He says, “What?” again, doubtfully. And then he realizes what he just said and he momentarily closes his eyes in frustration. He clears his throat.

“Do you want to get dinner together?” she suddenly asks. “After we get home?”

“I dunno. Are we going to carry on with all of this yelling shit? Because I really love it.”

“Stop it,” she admonishes. “I’m asking you something serious here.”

And then the defensiveness — which is probably propped up on his favorite hormone — testosterone — leaves him. He kind of sighs and relaxes into the wall behind him. He kind of fights with himself, as he tries to give her a small smile. He says, “We really do work together. It can get complicated.”

“It’s already complicated,” she says.

“Good point.”

“I’m not going to beg you to go out with me,” she mutters, turning her face away, feeling shy over how small and little she feels. “So if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. It’s cool.” She’s also been kind of keeping track. Thus far, she has done nearly all of the heavy-lifting, when comes to the two of them.

For him — it’s just the classic inner battle that he is always negotiating. Does he do what he fucking wants to, what might actually make him happy? Or does he stick with shit that seems smart and right and proper and inoffensive and safe? Does he fucking want to risk ruining someone’s fucking life? Or does he let her go off into the world to meet someone who is stable and healthy and not fucking mental? Does he want to show up to work and just feel horrible and heartbroken when it all blows up in his face and then have to fucking go get a new job because this job, his favorite job, has become completely terrible? Or does he keep the great job and the decent, if distant relationship he currently has with her. He would probably take her any way he can have her — even if it’s far more scaled back than he would like. He would get to have her for longer. He doesn’t know if he wants to fucking let this combust out hotly and quickly — would that be fucking worth it? He’s already tempted fate like, two times. He got burned both times. It’s just stupid. It would be stupid to try his luck and to go for this.

He has a lot of issues standing in the way of actually entertaining the notion that this may actually work out positively and well for the both of them. The very idea is just unrealistic and delusional to him — at this point.

He sighs. And then he shakes his head as he looks into her eyes and at her fucking beautifulass face, which always makes his body hurt in ways that are addicting. He says, “Fuck! I am so fucking stupid. Where would you want to eat? What would you want to eat?”

Her shoulders just sag into bonelessness at that. She smiles at him gratefully. She softly says, “Oh my God, yay.” And then she says, “Anything. Whatever you want. We have time to decide.” And then her mouth quirks into a bit of a smirk, and she says, “I feel like I have to double check on this — but you’re not dating anyone right now, are you? I feel like I have to make sure.”

He does not find it very funny. He just feels terrible. He has made a terrible decision. He says, “No. I’m not dating anyone right now.”

 

 


They just have their long travel day ahead of them. It starts off with them shoving their gear and their bodies into a few vans that take them to the train station, where they say goodbye to Jorah and Qotho — she hugs both, and Qotho is very stilted and caught off guard by it. She promises that she will be in contact in a couple of days time, once she gets back to the office.

They then board another train car that looks decades beyond the point of decommissioning. Missandei is hungover and nauseous, a fact that is apparent every time the train bounces and sends her scrambling to cover her mouth. The outside fumes are also exacerbating her headache and nausea, so she spends the long trip on Demon Road huddled underneath her blue hoodie, curled up in a seat corner.

Grey’s actually about to sit with her — he has these plans to look like a real dumb asshole as he awkwardly asks her if there’s anything he can do for her or get her — but Drogo beats him to the punch. Drogo slides in next to her and grabs her shoulders so that he can lift her head off of the window — her head keeps getting slammed into the glass with every jarring twist of the train. Drogo curls his arm over her head, around her shoulders, and anchors his elbow and forearm against the window so that she can use it as a pillow.

It is around this moment that Daario decides to add his commentary to the fray. From where they are loitering, a few seats down from Missandei and Drogo, Daario throws his foot on the empty area of the bench next to Grey and, in front of Jaime, Sandor, and Pod, Daario says, “What’s up with Drogo and Missy?” Daario is addressing Grey directly, as if he’d be in the know. “Do they have some sort of thing going on?”

Sandor smirks. “I think that thing is called friendship. Probably a foreign concept to you.”

“Burn,” Jaime mutters, snickering. “Sandor says Daario has no friends,” he adds, needlessly translating for Pod — who gravely nods anyway, even though he understood what Sandor was saying.

“Doesn’t it bother you?” Daario says, again, directly addressing him.

Grey cuts eye contact. “Why would it bother me?”

“Because you like her. Because you’ve already dipped your pen in the company ink.”

“You’re a fucking idiot.”

“Hey now! Someone’s touchy.” Daario is smiling.

“Your mom’s fucking touchy,” Jaime shoves in. And then to Pod, he says, “I just said that Daario’s mom is a whore.”

“Yeah, I understand,” Pod says softly, being extra careful and shy because he really, really, really hates it when all of his bosses and supervisors start squabbling like this.

Jaime lightly chuckles.

Daario sighs casually, casting his eyes momentarily out of the window. He changes the subject. “Grey, seriously, what is your new workout regimen? What is your new diet?”

“Yeah,” Sandor chimes in. “What is the big secret?”

“You look really great, man.”

“Guys,” Jaime says. “Will you just get off his balls for one second?”

“And why is Jaime so fucking in love with you all of a sudden?” Daario adds dully. To Jaime, Daario says, “Seriously. I was paying your boy a compliment. That allowed?”

“No, I get really jealous,” Jaime says sarcastically.

Daario orients his laugh out the open window. “I feel like I’m always missing something. Always just a touch out of the loop.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Jaime loudly grunts as he yanks his overpriced designer suitcase off of the baggage carousel. It hits the ground with a thump, at his feet — which, strangely enough, makes him cough loudly. He squats down and, with effort, picks up the massive piece of luggage in his arms and then chucks it at the cart that Grey is manning. It lands accurately, but inelegantly, making the cart swerve, dragging Grey along with it.

“Come on,” Jaime says, walking off without saying goodbye to the rest of the crew — also leaving Grey behind. “Let me give you a ride back to your one-room box.” Jaime is irritated because the customs line was especially confusing, and he had to go through it twice because he didn’t fill out a declarations form.

Grey looks back at Missandei — who is still waiting for her bag to drop out. He catches her eyes. He starts to say something — he wants to say something to her — but she’s too far away, and they’re in public.

“Grey!” Jaime shouts as he rides up the escalator. “Hurry up! Jesus Christ!”

“Run along, little puppy!” Daario calls out mockingly, clear across the other side of the carousel. “Your sugar daddy is calling for you.” He’s cranky, too. They are all especially irritable after the day of claustrophobic travel.

Grey takes one menacing step toward Daario — to do what, he doesn’t even know. It’s not like he can kick Daario’s ass in the middle of fucking baggage claim. Daario laughs at him when Daario sees him backtracking, when Daario sees him yanking the cart and retreating. “Bye, man!” Daario calls out, still chuckling. “Have a restful weekend, ya bitch!” It sounds earnest.

Missandei is zipping up the outer pocket of her suitcase when he turns back to her. As if sensing his eyes on her, she raises her face.

“GREY!” Jaime shouts again.

“Oh my God, I hear you!”

 

 


It takes a few texts back and forth — texts that make the both of them go insane with overthinking and overanalyzation — but they finally nail down a night to grab dinner. Missandei forces herself to wait twenty-four hours after they get back home before texting him because she doesn’t want to seem fucking psychotically in love with him, and she also doesn’t want him to think that she has no friends or no life that she has all the time in the world to text him right when they get off the plane.

On his end, his brokeass brain keeps fucking with him — it keeps trying to convince him that he has deluded himself and that this is all a dream or he has just misread her intentions and the situation completely. He is always on the cusp of convincing himself that she just wants to be friends, and this is just a dinner between friends, and he’s being an idiot for reading more into it. And then he’d snap back to some sort of panicked reality when he suddenly recalls how she had asked him if he liked her fucking “sexually.” And that sort of memory just makes him want to punch a wall because he doesn’t know what the fuck is this. So he reads her texts with a frazzled and leagues-deep kind of concentration, trying to figure out the actual meaning in it all, all the while knowing that he is fucking remedial.

He’s not used to getting what he wants — ever — so he’s having a hard time dealing with this. She’s mostly too wrapped up in all of the ways she will mess this up because it all seems so unreal in all of the possibilities. She’s going to mess this up when he realizes who she really is — that is, not as funny, not as attractive, not as smart, not as interesting as she comes across. She often keeps the details about herself to a minimum around acquaintances so that there’s a mystique. The truth is she is kind of mundane.

The both of them constantly flip back and forth worrying about their friendship. Sometimes, he’s absolutely sure it’s about to go down the fucking crapper again. Sometimes, she’s absolutely sure she’s going to lose him again.

 

 


“Hello, everyone!” Missandei says cheerfully as her body behaves in the complete opposite — she’s slouching in on herself as her shoulders curl forward to hug a writing pad to her chest. She had overslept because of jet lag. She had to scramble to get ready for work. She had to fight with her laundry basket before it won. She had to yank out a shirt from her closet that didn’t need to be ironed, but one that is also pretty tight and low cut. She threw a blazer on over it thinking it’d be fine — but it actually serves as a fucking blank canvas that puts her tits on display. She’s been self-conscious all day. It didn’t help that the first thing Drogo said to her when he saw her was, “Hey, I really like your shirt.”

She’s had meetings with people all day. She cannot be the lunatic that holds her pad up to her chest the whole time. She thought about going into the swag closet and just stealing a shirt from there, but her shirt is actually not bad enough to warrant theft. It’s actually a work shirt that she bought because she liked the way it looked in the dressing room. And then she found that she could not possibly actually wear it to work. She’s just kind of weird about her body sometimes. Beyond Drogo, no one else has commented, and she has caught no one else staring at her cleavage. She tends to sit up stick-straight in meetings though. Because it gets worse when she leans over.

“You look pretty today,” Renly says, smiling up at her as she shuffles into the vacant seat next to him.

She feels embarrassed that all eyes are on her. So she generally avoids looking at anyone, including Grey, and she says, “Thank you.”

 

 


“I’m envious,” Gilly says over lunch. “Brienne has a hot, gay best friend.”

“Yeah,” Yara mutters, reaching into the center of the table to spear a cherry tomato with her fork. “Me.” She pops the tomato in her mouth and stores it in her cheek for the time being.

“Of course you,” Gilly quickly amends. “But I meant a male best friend. Someone you can go shopping with and grab drinks with —”

“Also Yara,” Missandei interjects, grinning at the woman in question.

“Right, but I mean Renly’s a different kind of best friend.”

“Because he has a wang?”

“No! You’re misinterpreting what I’m saying.”

“Nah, babe,” Yara says, finishing up her bite, leaning back in her chair with her glass of red. “I get what you’re saying. You’re saying I’m dykey, and he’s a great accessory for straight women.” She grins.

“Oh my God! That is not what I’m saying!”

“Relax, I don’t care. Say whatever you want. He probably is great to shop with. He dresses himself very nicely. He clearly does not go shopping with Brienne, though.”

“I’m not saying those other things, though! It bothers me that you think I would say that!”

“Babe,” Yara says, returning her wine glass to the table. “Chill. Whatever.” She switches her attention to Missandei — and Missandei can tell, from Yara’s eyes and also a little bit her demeanor — that she’s actually a little bit tense. Not much, but just a touch. Missandei can’t tell if it’s from the actual content of the conversation or from Gilly’s defensiveness.

To Missandei, Yara says, “Speaking of, I was with you when you bought this shirt.” She reaches over to adjust Missandei’s collar.

“Oh God.” Missandei rolls her eyes. “I feel so self-conscious.”

“I feel like you’re wearing the wrong bra — this full-cup nude shit.” Yara lightly reaches in and snaps Missandei’s strap — at her collarbone. “But it looks good. It’s good to give the ladies some air.”

 

 


“I like Grey 2.0,” Tyrion says to Jaime, but within earshot of Grey. “Grey 2.0 is a workhorse.” The movers actually unpacked all of Tyrion’s stuff and even organized them completely with a printed chart that they left on his counter, but Tyrion’s OCD tendencies have flared a little bit, so he wants some of his furniture rearranged because he doesn’t like where the movers put them. The movers actually put the furniture where Tyrion directed them to, but he has since changed his mind.

“Grey 1.0 was also a workhorse, though.”

“But that guy took too many breaks to breathe and to have migraines.”

Sometimes, Grey feels like he’s some amusing mascot for two ultra rich white guys who get really jittery and anxiety-riddled when they are not working.

Tyrion clears his throat. He’s perched on a stool — an hour past the point in learning that he is actually quite useless at helping Jaime and Grey move furniture, so it’s best that he stay out of their way. “Hey, sorry, man. But can you nudge the three-seater down that way like, a couple inches. It’s not quite centered with the windows.”

“Sure,” Grey mutters, walking over to the three-seater. He’s trying not to get too annoyed with all of the anal retentiveness. He’s trying to remember that Tyrion is just going through some real heavy shit at the moment and this is his way of distracting himself. Grey lifts up an end of the couch and slips furniture sliders back underneath the feet so that he doesn’t scuff the floors. He repeats the action on the other side. And then with his knees, he carefully nudges the couch down a few inches. “Good?”

“Just a little more. Just an itty bitty little smidge more. There! That’s perfect.”

Tyrion orders an overpriced dinner in for them — to thank them for the help obliquely because he actually has trouble explicitly expressing gratitude out loud. Conversation is quiet — a little stilted because if they’re not ribbing each other and cracking stupid jokes, they are actually not saying much to each other. They talk a little bit about work, but it’s a well-used topic that sometimes gets stale. They are carefully avoiding talking about family and Shae, save for a brief moment that Jaime lightly refers to their nephew and how awkward that kid looks going through puberty. He kind of smiles and nudges Grey over that.

“Ah, you have a nephew,” Grey says. “I forget that you guys have a sister sometimes.”

“Two nephews,” Tyrion corrects. “And a niece. And you probably forget we have a sister because we don’t talk about her. Because like everything else — it is complicated.” Tyrion reaches over and clinks the neck of his beer bottle with Grey’s before he takes another drink.

Jaime clears his throat. “Your new place has a pretty killer view. You should throw a housewarming party here.”

“Yeah, because I want more shit I don’t need. And I want to spend the night making small talk with people I don’t like that much.”

“Then just invite the people you do like.”

“All the people I like are in this room already.”

Jaime chuckles, as he paws abstractly at Tyrion’s body. “Aw. That was very sweet.”

Tyrion half-heartedly fights off his brother’s pokes. “Shut up.”

 

 


The prospect of dinner with her without some sort of work excuse or work agenda makes him really nervous. So as much as he hates it, he feels it’s necessary to masturbate before actually leaving the apartment. He doesn’t want a situation to arise when he’s with her. He knows that his coping mechanisms when it comes to erections are underdeveloped because he’s a freak of nature. And he knows that when he clears out the backlog, then the urgent need to shove his dick into stuff recedes. He is living his life around this straightforward baseness now. Sometimes it almost makes him miss the days when his mental paranoia was based around his shitty soft body and his shitty inability to get hard and the prospect of a life just completely isolated from society.

The image of her naked body and of them fucking is pretty much what comprises his current spank bank these days. So he generally fucking hates himself because he is disgusting — as he gets off based on sensory memory alone. This is so at odds with his teenage fantasies of being with a girl. He was a fucking dweeb, so he used to be fourteen and spend his nights in bed thinking about how great it’d be to find someone he could hold hands with and talk to and kiss and watch movies with.

On the north side of the city, Missandei is working overtime to groom herself strategically without letting on that she is trying so hard. She puts on more make-up than she usually does — she even puts on a few individual fake lashes — but she ensures that she stops well short of “night out on the town with the ladies.” She doesn’t want to be that made-up, because then he’d know that she fucking wants to bang him right away, and that would be embarrassing.

After trying on probably a million — a million — outfit combinations, from dresses to leggings, she finally settles on a sweater, jeans, and a long overcoat. She takes her earrings off and on about another million times, before she decides to keep them off. And then she sniffs every perfume bottle and sample that she has in her drawers before freaking out over what time it is and then just shutting her eyes and grabbing one at random.

She’s all wired and amped up — so she needs to pee before she leaves the house. When she wipes, she comes away with a trace of blood smeared on the toilet paper. And she realizes that the universe is sending her a message. It’s telling her to tread carefully and to not be such a fucking slut-whore on the first date.

 

 


She gets to the restaurant before he does. And it’s okay for the first five minutes — but after that, she starts to frantically wonder if she’s at the fucking wrong restaurant. She avidly rechecks their text exchange for the millionth time. And then when she affirms to herself that she’s at the right place, she starts to wonder if he suffered some sort of accident on the way over, and he’s just dead now — and the thought stresses her out. And then, she starts to wonder if he just fucking forgot because this doesn’t fucking mean anything to him because it was already like pulling teeth to get him to agree to fucking have dinner with her sorry ass. And maybe she is being fucking stood up. She is going to kill him.

When he quietly walks up to her and says, “Hi,” she jumps in fright and presses her hand to her chest.

She says, “Oh my God! You scared me!”

Grey really doesn’t think he snuck up on her at all — he walked straight up to her in her direct line of sight — but he apologizes anyway. “I’m sorry I scared you.” He exhales, the puff of air vapor visible in the unseasonable cold spell they are having. “Sorry I’m late. I had a brain fart and got off at the wrong stop, so I had to get back on the train and backtrack it over here. Sorry.” In truth, he’s making it sound way more casual than it actually was. He was actually ready to go apeshit on the train system because the announcement was garbled and his stupid brain blitzed out, and in a split second, the stop looked completely foreign to him as people shoved their way into the car. Then the doors closed and he missed his stop.

She smiles at him as she shrugs her shoulders, with her fists shoved rigidly in her coat pocket. She says, “No biggie. Shall we go in?”

 

 


They actually settled on a restaurant that the both of them are very lukewarm-bordering-on-hate about. But neither really know this about the other. They pick a rather non-descript, non-ethnic place that serves just a little bit of everything — a place that anyone can eat at. He pushed for this place because it’s in a quiet neighborhood and it’s where they can have an actual conversation together without competing with the raucous shouts and the raucous laughter of people having fun. She went for this place because she also liked that it was far away from the usual — she liked that there was little chance the two of them would run into people they know. Because it would seriously be the fucking worst if they, God forbid, ran into Drogo and his loud commentary while this thing between her and Grey is so new and so undecided and so fragile.

They both pushed for this middling restaurant because it’s also decidedly unromantic. It’s not pricey or fancy. It’s brightly lit and there’s no candlelight. They don’t have to dress up to eat here — she doesn’t mind dressing up, but she also doesn’t want to spook him by making him think that she wants to marry him and have a dozen of his children. It’s pretty low pressure.

“You look nice,” she says — well, more like whispers — over the top of her menu. She supposes that she really means that he looks different. But then, they all look a bit different out of the context of work. Even Yara, someone Missy regularly hangs out with outside of work, sometimes still looks different to Missandei when they meet up for drinks.

He looks caught off guard by the very date-like compliment. But he recovers and he says, “Thanks,” before going back to his menu. And because he feels so uncomfortable by the compliment, he changes the subject and says, “What are you thinking of getting?”

“Oh,” she says softly. “Maybe just a salad and soup. Maybe with chicken.”

“Oh,” he says. “Cool.” He says it as his face grows hot. Because he suddenly realizes that he should’ve said that she looked nice, too. And now the opportunity has passed. Because he’s an idiot. She actually looks fucking beautiful. But whatever. That’s nothing new.

“And you?”

“I don’t know,” he says. “Maybe pasta or something.” He actually really wants to get a slab of meat because his body is still constantly hungry and the protein helps stave off hunger, but he’s also really hyper-aware of the price discrepancy, between her salad and a steak. And that bugs him for some reason. So he figures he can get his calories in with shitty pasta in a shitty fatty cream-based sauce and just have a weird bowel movement later, after he buries himself in his bed and blankets from the fucking excruciating awkwardness of this fucking date.

 

 


They seriously run out of things to talk about half an hour into dinner — mostly because they are being shy with each other — so the rest of dinner centers around small talk. His favorite.

When the check comes, and they start kind of awkwardly fighting over it without actually fighting over it — Missandei is convinced that she is fucking stuck in the most awful date one can have with someone so great and lovely. They end up splitting the bill in half and just paying for their portions, after discussing it in front of the server twice.

Then they feel awkward about sitting too long at the table after they’ve already paid — they ate fast because they didn’t have much to talk about — so they get up and leave the restaurant. They find that they planned this date out with the best of intentions, but also kind of badly. The neighborhood is too quiet — they’d have to get on a train to actually get somewhere for a drink. Or they could just part ways and go home. And she probably isn’t going to get a good night kiss because she can just tell — she can just tell — that this guy does not do PDA. They decided to meet at the restaurant because neither of them have cars. And she didn’t want him to meet her at her house because it was too much like, “Oh, why don’t you come in and fuck me on my couch?” and she didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on them. This is awful. This date is awful. And she was too embarrassed to tell anyone that she was going on this date, because of her sheer level of investment in it. So she can’t even really call up one of her girl friends later to just confess all the gritty details without giving a massive backstory.

“It’s —” He checks the clock on his phone. “Wow. It’s eight-forty.”

“Time moves by slowly when you’re having fun,” she says weakly. And upon his look — she winces. She says, “I’m joking. I didn’t mean that how it came across.”

He shrugs. “Do you want to to call it a night?”

“No, no!” she says quickly. “It’s still early.”

“What do you want to do?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


They decide to walk around the surrounding neighborhood and kind of creep on houses, looking into windows every now and then as they make shitty jokes about being shot in the face by some big macho dude defending his territory. It’s kind of interesting to see what normal people do on a weeknight. She supposes that she and Grey are at their best when they are alone and isolated from other people. She supposes that being around other human beings wigs them out because they feel on display. They are both kind of wallflower people, kind of behind-the-scenes people. She realizes that hiding in the dark is not a sustainable way to carry on, but for now, she’ll take it. He’s better dressed for the cold weather than she is, so she generally has to fight to concentrate to what he is saying, as she simultaneously works to hide how she’s kind of freezing to death. She really doesn’t want to spoil this solid groove they’ve finally settled into.

It’s good to have something to do and something to focus on as they talk, even if the activity is as simple as walking. It’s easier to talk when they don’t have to look at each other. She remembers that their long conversations on airplanes and buses involved them staring ahead at the seats in front of them most of the time.

They are talking about his surgery and his recovery, because she had shyly mentioned that she’s noticed some physical changes in him lately. She had to stop herself short from blurting out that he’s really hot now, and everyone keeps talking about it, even the straight dudes. And it’s like she’s sitting on this big fatty secret that no one else besides Tyrion and Jaime know. She feels like she’s part of an exclusive members-only club.

He generally does not view his transformation as an increase in physical attractiveness — though he’s not an idiot and he knows that’s what happened. He generally views the changes in his body as him finally fading into obscurity and normalness. It’s something he’s always wanted, actually. But he may be too far gone psychologically. That’s what he worries about — that he might not ever be normal, psychologically.

He kind of smiles self-consciously and pulls at his shirt. He tells her that his clothes don’t fit him the same anymore. That kind of eases her nerves a bit, so she starts asking more questions — all the while still treading lightly and carefully. He avoids talking about how his hormones have been going bezerk and what that entails. He doesn’t want to talk about any of the sex stuff with her because she features very prominently in . . . his sex stuff. And he imagines that her knowing that would really freak her the fuck out.

“So how do you think this is going?” she asks, trying to keep her voice light and her teeth from chattering. “Do you think I’ll get a second date?”

He kind of balks. “Do you want a second date?”

“Well, yeah.” She also wants a third date and a fourth date and a fifth date. But she still needs for him to be ignorant of how generally fucking psychotically obsessed with him she is.

For the life of him, he cannot figure out why she even likes him. He cannot figure out why she’s putting up with all of his oddities. From his perspective, he keeps fucking up and saying all the wrong things — as he simultaneously does all the wrong things. He still keeps comparing himself to guys like Drogo, and he hates that he keeps doing this because he knows it’s a lose-lose endeavor, but he can’t help himself. He keeps comparing his painfully stilted and awkward personality with the easy-going confidence of Drogo or even Daario. He has seen them with women. He has seen how women respond to them. He has seen Drogo with her. Fucking brain surgery has not fixed all of Grey's issues — and he doesn’t know why he thought it would. It’s not a fucking silver bullet for all of his fucking weirdass shit. He doesn’t know why Missandei is here with him instead of off somewhere with Drogo. He can only imagine that it’s Drogo’s fucking reputation as a man-slut that is stopping her from going for broke. But she is so fucking great that he can’t imagine anyone not wanting to just put a lot of focus on her. He can’t imagine having a split focus when it comes to her, and that is why he really fucked up with Sansa. And he really should just be a good guy and just tell her what he kind of already knows. She keeps being misguidedly charitable. And she has also told him herself. The sex was not good for her. They are not compatible in this way. And he’d rather just lose her a little bit now rather than completely lose her later.

These things — and variations of these things — have been stuck in his mind all week, leading up to tonight.

So he takes a fortifying breath and he says, “Don’t you think we’re just better off as friends? I mean, we can be friends and still see each other outside of work. That’s an option.”

She full-on stops walking. “Are you saying that’s what you want?” she says flatly.

“I’m asking you what you want.”

She frowns. “I already told you what I want. I want a second date. With you.”

“Because this one is going so spectacularly.” He is being sarcastic. Which, she knows, is a defense mechanism. Knowing does not make it any more palatable though.

“Are you trying to talk me out of wanting another date?” she says as her whole body spasms. “Because it’s kind of working. I don’t want to go out with someone who keeps acting like . . . like the way you are acting with me. I wish you’d stop trying to make me feel stupid or bad for liking you.”

“You’re dumb for liking me.”

“And stop calling me dumb all the time!” she says. “I don’t like that, either! It’s rude.” It’s hard to hide her shivering now. They are stopped under a streetlight. They are facing each other. Her arms are protectively crossed over chest, and she’s trembling in front of him. It makes her feel so pathetic that she just decides to quit because this is stupid and she was stupid for her hopefulness. That’s probably why she’s so sensitive whenever he calls her dumb. Because he is speaking the truth.

His face falls when he notices the shivering. “Missandei, you’re freezing.”

“It’s fine,” she says resolutely.

“No, it’s not. Let’s get you inside somewhere.”

“Don’t you — don’t —” She shakes her head as she breaks eye contact and tears up. She was about to say something excruciatingly sad and vulnerable, but she course-corrects and instead, she says, “It’s okay if you’ve changed your mind. You know. About this. Just — just tell me if you’ve changed your mind.”

He cannot figure out the right thing to say in response to that. So he says, “Maybe I have.”

“I’m gonna go home now,” she quietly announces.

 

 


It takes him a bit to catch up with her, because she’s hustling pretty hard to get to the train station and out of the blistering cold. He goes after her because overriding all of his paranoid fears about not being good enough or normal enough is how bad he feels that he has been unintentionally leading her around in the cold like an oblivious moron. And then he insulted her — not for the first time apparently. And then he made her cry. He is just . . . killing it. “Missandei,” he pushes out, reaching out to touch her shoulder. “Missandei, I’m sorry! I fucked up.”

“You keep apologizing for fucking up, but you never explain why.”

“I don’t know why!” And that is a lie. He does know why. But he really struggles with this kind of truth. At this point in life, he can only give up enough to buy some time.

“That’s not good enough.”

“What if this fails?”

She stops at that. She takes a step back from him, dropping his hand from her shoulder as she regains her bearings. Then she says, “What are you talking about?”

“What if we fail?” he says. And then he shuts his eyes and grimaces. “At being together.” He opens his eyes again.

She expels out a shocked breath. And she stares at him. And he generally just watches her stare at him as she starts crying again — and he just doesn’t get it.

“I d-don’t know!” she says, through her chattering teeth. She also shuts her eyes and momentarily kicks herself over that. “Maybe we’ll laugh over it later, and we’ll chuck it up as a funny experiment we did. Or maybe it’ll feel so awful that we’ll stop being friends, and we won’t see each other anymore.” She sniffs audibly over the wind, and she reaches up to her face to swipe away the wetness on her cheeks with her bare hand.

She looks miserable. He sighs because he is terrible when it comes to personal risk. He can’t even do the cliched thing where he takes off his jacket to give to her, because he’s paralyzed by the possibility that she’ll reject the offering and then he’ll have to deal with that. Like Jaime, he has close to zero friends because he shuts people out. Missandei is probably the greatest friend he’s ever had. To willfully lose her is to lose all of the meager progress he has made in life. He has to be stupid to risk that. He keeps stripping down what he feels — and he keeps attributing all of the emotions he has for her to hormones.

His extreme reluctance to give up anything of himself is something Missandei is also gradually realizing about him, and it’s starting to wear down her infatuation with him. She has started telling herself that as much as she likes him, she’s not going to give up everything of herself to compensate.

“It’s really cold,” he says. “We can talk about this later. You should go home and warm up.”

“Sure. Whatever.”

 

 


When Grey checks his phone, he sees a missed call from Jaime, and he also sees a cryptic message asking what he’s up to. He’s tempted to respond back to tell Jaime he’s having a real shitty night and Missandei hates him now — but that would be too transparent. Instead, he weighs his options. He can either just pretend he didn’t read the message until morning, or he can deal with Jaime right now as a means of distraction. He holds his phone in his hand as the train jostles his body, and he types out a quick message, knowing that he has some time before the text will go through since he’s underground.

Twenty minutes later, he gets off at the wrong stop on purpose and heads above ground to manicured streets, potted plants, rope lights wrapped around tree trunks, high-end clothing boutiques, and a high-rise condo building that he has actually never been in before. They have only ever met up at Tyrion’s. Jaime had to text him the address.

There’s a doorman and a front desk person. And they let him in with smiles — which is weird and eerie, but he figures that Jaime probably notified them he was coming up. The doorman cheerily scans his keycard over a reader in the elevator and hits the twenty-second floor for Grey. And then he says, “Have a good night!”

The doors close before Grey can respond back.

 

 


The tour of Jaime’s place is short. Jaime just gestures to the massive space and says that this is his place as he pulls out a pair of heavy whiskey glasses and starts pouring amber from an unlabeled bottle.

“Um, I’m alright,” Grey says. “Thanks though.”

“Nope. Fuck you. You’re drinking,” Jaime mutters, focused on the pour. And then he lightly shoves a full glass with his prosthetic hand, sending it sliding across the smooth white countertop toward Grey, who generally catches the glass in a panic, worried that the expensive thing is going to fall off the counter and smash on the floor.

The condo is mostly dark, save for the light coming from some pendants. It makes the place look moody and also expansive. Jaime leads them to his living room area, which is not enclosed by walls. Grey awkwardly sits himself down on the leather sofa, trying not to affect any of Jaime’s stuff. They kind of stare at the lights of the city — at the twinkling skyline — for a few long, near-silent minutes.

“How was your night?” Jaime asks.

“Fine.”

“Cool. What did you do?”

“Just ate dinner and stuff.”

“Cool.”

“How’s your night been?”

“Awesome, man,” Jaime says, sipping from his glass. Even from his profile, Grey can tell Jaime is smiling — but kind of angrily. “Fucking awesome.” Jaime laughs. “It’s totally normal to hit up a pal and force him to come up to your weirdass apartment and have a drink as you stare at other people encased in concrete far away.”

Grey sighs. He really doesn’t want to drink, so he just kind of twirls the glass of liquor in his hand. He says, “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Let me work my way up to it,” Jaime says. “Distract me with a story. You’re good at that. Telling stories, you chatterbox.” Jaime throws him another sardonic smile.

Grey takes a sip from his glass, right about then. It’s cold, and it’s smoky, and he rolls it around in his mouth, letting his tongue and tastebuds go a little numb before he swallows. He says, “I had dinner with Missandei tonight, actually.”

“Oh?” Jaime sounds purposely disinterested. “Did I interrupt that? You didn’t have to cut your night short because of me.”

“Oh. It was already done by the time I read your message.” Grey takes another sip — this one bigger. He sucks in air as he swallows. “I kind of fucked it up.”

“Yeah? I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as all that. What happened?”

“I basically told her that it’s stupid for us to date. Because we work together, and we’re friends.”

Jaime suddenly laughs at that — loudly and aimlessly and in disbelief. He cradles his glass next to his stomach, and he gasps out, “Oh my God. You have got to be fucking me!”

“What?” Grey says defensively, already feeling stupid and tender from Jaime’s response.

“Fuck, man. Parallel lives. Sort of.”

“What?”

Jaime shushes him. “Tell me more about your thing. How did she respond?”

“She was upset, I think.” Grey shakes his head. “No, actually. I know she was upset. Because she was crying.”

“Well, that’s a tough position to be in, for the both of you,” Jaime says, leaning back in his seat. “But it’s important to be honest with her. And if you aren’t feeling it — then better she know now rather than, you know, later . . . after she’s gotten more attached to you. It’s a lot harder later — to disengage.” Jaime softly laughs at that, before tossing back the rest of his drink. He then checks the ice before reaching out to grab the uncapped whiskey bottle from the coffee table. He carefully refills his glass. “Trust me. I’d know. You really did her a favor, man. She might be pissed now, but it’s better in the long run.”

“What if —” Grey swallows — first just his saliva — and then he raises up his own glass and takes another swig. He runs his teeth over his bottom lip, pulling more of the taste into his mouth. “What if I’m feeling it?”

Jaime stiffens in his seat — alert. “You mean . . .” He just trails off.

“Yeah,” Grey says, nodding. “What if I’m just . . . really fucking crazy about her? What if I just . . . think she’s like, just one of the most amazing and compelling people I’ve ever met?” He lets out a long grunt and then he slides his almost-empty glass onto a side table, careful to slip a coaster under it. He’s just generally feeling like an asswipe and his hands are on his face, covering his eyes when he feels his body suddenly jolt violently to the side. He drops his hands and shoots a stare over at Jaime — who just shoved him.

“You fucking dildo!” Jaime says in awe. “I thought you weren’t that into her! I’ve been making an ass of myself deflecting attention away from you because I thought you weren’t into her!”

“Oh, I’m pretty into her.”

“Dude! That’s awesome!”

Grey looks at Jaime skeptically. “It is?”

“Yeah! Because she likes you, too. This shit is easy when the girl likes you back. Then you don’t feel like you’re sexually assaulting her with your presence all the time.” Jaime chuckles. “Also something I’m pretty familiar with. Give me your glass. Come on. Hand it over.”

Jaime takes Grey’s glass — with the melting ice — and because he’s too lazy to get up and dump the glass into the sink, he just drinks the watery whiskey from the bottom of it. And then he refills Grey’s glass generously before laughing again and handing it back over.

“Man,” Jaime says. “You really cheered me up. I didn’t think you could do it, honestly. Because, you know, cheering people up is not your forte, but man. You really did it! Okay! Enough with your easy shit! Obviously you’re gonna call her later and apologize for being a dildo and generally beg her for a second chance. Dude, you should bring Missy to Tyrion’s housewarming! Because you know, we need the bodies. He won’t let anyone in the door who knew him and Shae as a him-and-Shae unit. Except for me, of course. Dude, you’re hilarious. Dude, so I think I’m ready to talk about my shit now. Okay, um. Shit. So you might be wondering, ‘Hey, Jaime, why am I here? Where is your BFF aka your brother who has to be your friend?’ Well, I have an answer for you. He is fucking beyond pissed at me. Because I went to dinner at our dad’s house tonight, and Tyrion felt that was an egregious betrayal on my part. And obviously Shae was there. It was fucking weird and completely fucked up, and we just all sat around playing family like we aren’t just completely messed up. But I went because Cersei called me and asked me to. Because our dad is dying. He certainly didn’t tell me about it, but he’s all like, fucking chemo’d out and stuff. And you’re probably thinking, ‘Whoa, Jaime, that is a lot of stuff to deal with.’ And I’m telling you — yeah, it is. But on top of that — on top of that — Cersei told me that she and Robert are finally divorcing and that she misses me and wants me back in her life. And I wanted to ask her if she’s fucking insane as shit because she’s the fucking reason I crashed a bike into a fucking building and lost my hand — that is, if one person can make you so fucking crazy that you do crazy fucking shit like that. So that’s how my night went. Everyone hates me except for you. But hey, the night is still young. And I feel terrible.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

He used to have a really good friend, Keith, who was actually also Black and energetic and really into entomology. They became friends because they were the only Black nerds in the same grade. The other Black guy in their class, Ronald, was actually really handsome and just popular across the board, with all people. A bunch of girls had crushes on him and everyone wanted to partner up with him on projects because he was funny, though not particularly studious. After school for about a school year, Grey and Keith would hang out in the fields at their school, capturing and releasing bugs, writing out details in their logbooks.

And then middle school happened. He was twelve years old, and Keith was away at his grandma’s for the summer. Keith shot up a foot over the summer. And for about four weeks after school started, Grey pretty much chased that guy around school, trying to find time to start up their bug project again. He didn’t know it at the time — he couldn’t see it — but Keith was avoiding the shit out of him. It was in week four that Keith couldn’t take it anymore and just flat-out told Grey that they weren’t friends anymore. No reason was given. Grey was too stunned and too scared to ask for a reason. Keith started hanging out with Ronald after that. And Grey more or less spent years after the fact cobbling up reasons in his head why Keith didn’t want to be his friend anymore. The reasons generally were:

His appearance was off-putting. He was awkwardly small and stubbornly childlike. He was too effeminate, and thus gay. And Keith was afraid that Grey was going to go gay all over him.

Or reason C:

Unknown. He will never know the reasons why people end up shunning him.

In the ensuing years, he became more careful with friendship. Some of his friends were guys that actually laughed at him when he got terrorized in the locker room. Also over the years, he started trying to crack the code of manhood — generally unaware that it’s not a code that other people have to put so much effort toward unraveling. But he was distinctly different in ways that he couldn’t even begin to fathom. He parsed it out into three broad categories: sports, girls, overall manliness. Sports was obvious. And he basically killed himself over becoming an athlete, with mixed results. His body was never that convincing to his coaches, even if his skills were generally on par with his peers.

Girls were an obvious area, too. He was an athlete, which helped a lot with girls. He also wasn’t a horny little asshole, so the girls liked that he was attentive and good at listening. And he also lied — a lot. He’d lie about what he did with the girls and told amusing sex stories so that the guys would generally stay off his ass.

In terms of overall manliness, well, now he sees it disparagingly — it's basically being an asshole. It’s basically being hyper-conscious of every possible trait that might telegraph gayness. Because hypermasculinity is pretty fucking homophobic. It also involves a lot of disengagement and a lot of emotional suppression. He can only allow himself to get excited about a very finite list of things. There are certain things that look ugly outside of aloofness.

He actually thought Jaime was going to make fun of him for liking Missandei so much. And Grey was actually at the point where he was like — whatever, fuck it. He doesn’t care anymore. If Jaime is going to be an asshole about it — it’s not like it will be a surprise to Grey. Because he already knows that Jaime can be a real fucking asshole sometimes.

“Were you popular in high school?” Grey asks, face staring up at Jaime’s cavernous ceiling, lying down on Jaime’s stiff leather couch.

“Fuck yeah I was,” Jaime mutters from the love seat, his legs hanging off the edge. “You?”

“Oh God, fuck no. Everyone hated me because I was different.”

“Well, that’s kind of racist.”

“Oh, no. Not because of that.” Grey pauses. And then he laughs. “Well, usually not because of that. It was because of the whole never going through puberty thing.”

“I don’t even understand why that was an issue. No one knew you weren’t going through puberty, not even you.”

“Do you remember in gym — how it felt the first day you had to strip off your clothes to change into workout gear?”

“Not really.”

“That’s because you were popular. You probably went through puberty on time. And you were probably athletic and fit and good-looking like you are now. And there was probably a scrawny weird-looking kid in your class or on your team that you kind of made fun of because everyone made fun of him —”

“No way,” Jaime mumbles. “I was nice to everyone I ever came in contact with.” He pauses for effect. “No, I’m fucking with you. Obviously I was terrible because I was a rich asshole teenager with an abusive father. So, you’re telling me — that we wouldn’t have been friends if we had met while in high school?”

“I mean, there’s an age difference. So you were already a full-grown adult with facial hair while I was not going through puberty.”

Jaime chuckles. “Oh God, can you imagine? Me driving up to your high school. Honking my horn. Going, ‘Hey little buddy, get in my car. I’ll take you for some ice cream after school as long as you sit on my lap as you eat it.’”

Grey has thrown his arm over his face, and he’s stifling his laugh into his elbow at Jaime’s terrible joke.

“Can I be honest with you?”

“Oh God, maybe. What?”

Jaime exhales. “I think one of the things that made me like you at first, is honestly that you remind me of my brother. You guys have a way of seeing the world. It’s apparent in your work. There’s just something more than what I am able to see. And you guys also have this, um, this I don’t know, this emotional toughness. Which, I imagine, came from dealing with how people treated you.”

“Maybe,” Grey says quietly, mulling it over, thinking to himself that there is a lot of truth to what Jaime just said, but probably a slight inaccuracy. “I do like your brother a lot.”

“He’s so mad at me.”

“He always forgives you, though.”

Jaime twists his body in place, squirming so he can look at Grey. “What happened to your parents?”

“What?”

“You never talk about them.”

“Well, they’re dead.”

Jaime pauses. “Why?”

“They died.”

“How?”

He sighs. “Jaime, are we going to do this all night?”

“Well, maybe if you said more than one sentence at a time we wouldn’t have to.” Jaime’s staring at him. “If you don’t want to talk about this, you have to tell me you don’t want to talk about it.”

“I’m not completely sure what happened because I was pretty young. But they were immigrants. They were poor. They were young. They were involved in drugs. But they took pretty good care of me, considering. And one day, they just didn’t come home. And then the police came and found me and told me that were dead.”

Jaime exhales. “Christ. You are terrible at telling stories.”

“Man, you are terrible at telling stories!”

“No, I’ve changed my mind. We are actually great at telling stories.” Jaime gestures up at the air. “Just — straight to the horrifying point!”

 

 


She took a melatonin capsule when she got home from her shitastic date with an emotionally autistic jerk, so she is pretty conked out when he calls her — she doesn’t hear her phone vibrating. He calls her two times in succession before he decides that calling a third time would be alarmingly obsessive — so instead, he drunkenly leaves her a text message as he’s exiting out of Jaime’s place. He feels exhausted and drained as he rides the vacant, brightly lit train home. He’s tired because of the late hour, all of the alcohol that Jaime force-fed him, and also from the extreme over-sharing that he just engaged in with another man.

Truth be told, it’s not just that Jaime told him to go for it. Jaime’s permission when it comes to this sort of thing is actually pretty low on his list of must-haves.

It’s more that Jaime’s apparent life difficulties — much of which is frankly fucking terrible and real as shit — just made Grey feel small. He is small in the general scheme of everything. His current problems are actually that his body is healthy and he doesn’t trust it, his mind is healthy and he doesn’t trust it, and a fucking wonderful person actually wants to spend more time with him and he doesn’t trust it. That was how Jaime spelled it out to Grey — and for a moment, Grey actually felt anger over the oversimplification. That is, until he decided that Jaime was kind of right.

When Missandei wakes up in the morning, she checks her phone and she sees the missed calls and the text message, which says:

So when do you want to have our second date?

Which pretty much makes her want to fucking throttle him through the fucking phone. But she has no time to kick his ass with her words. She’s still trying to right her circadian rhythm. As these things usually go, she will be back to normal hours right before she has to board another plane and cross at least six time zones. She jumps into her jeans and a clean blouse, puts on her boots, swipes some make-up haphazardly onto her face, grabs her bags, and then heads out to catch her train.

 

 


“Man, if we’re gonna do a Naath episode, obviously Missandei is gonna appear on camera,” Jaime says, grinning widely at her as he rocks back and forth in his desk chair. “When we did the Casterly Rock ep, Tyrion was on camera.”

“No, you psycho,” Missandei says, for what she thinks is the billionth time. “I told you. I don’t want to be on camera.”

“I get that you’re worried you don’t have the magnetic screen presence that Tyrion does — but really, get over it.”

“Ha-ha, get over it or you’re fired,” Dany says, making about a dozen pairs of eyes snap right to her. She looks back at them while narrowing her eyes. “I’m kidding. You can’t fire someone for that. I don’t want to get sued.” She primly sets her hot coffee cup back down on the coaster. “Just do it though, Missandei. We can bring Yara on that shoot to help you out, if you’re worried about juggling.”

“Missandei,” Daario says. “This is a no brainer. Pretty girl. Eating food. Crying beautiful diamond tears as she visits her homeland. The sun sets behind her.” He turns to Drogo and Grey. “Oh my God, I’m doing your guys’ job for you.”

“Oh my God,” Drogo mocks. “Shut up, sound monkey.” Then he snickers. “That’s good though. Imma file that away.” He raises his hands in the air, framing Missandei’s thunderous face from his vantage point. “Pretty girl. Crying. Sunset. Got it.”

“You know what would put this even more over the top?” Jaime asks, leaning in with his elbows on the conference table.

“Already there, Jaime. Elephants.”

Jaime bursts out laughing. “What?”

“We put fucking Missandei on an elephant!” Drogo says. “People love beautiful girls bouncing around on top of fucking elephants! Put that shit together. Slap that on a fucking promo, because we are done! All that’s fucking left is raking in the awards come next winter.”

“There are no elephants currently on Naath,” Brienne interjects, sounding very serious. “It’s an island and terrestrial vertebrates the size of elephants require a lot of resources. Though there are fossilized remains of these smaller species of pygmy elephants on Naath. Maybe Missandei can visit a museum and look at fossils.”

“Brienne,” Jaime says. “You are really harshing what we’ve got going on here, with your facts.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” she says. “You guys are being awful. Can we end this meeting already? Nothing is getting done.”

 

 


The connection is bad, so she’s practically shouting in Ashai'i into the phone, trying to interview potential fixers on the ground. Her Ashai'i is also not the best, so she kind of sounds bluntly rude as she screams out hello over and over into the headpiece. But honestly, she doesn’t think there is a nicer way to scream into a phone.

The connection goes dead. She hangs up on her end and just hastily writes out an email to the applicant, telling him to schedule another time to talk — even as she simultaneously writes him off in her mind because he really shouldn’t have tried to conduct a meeting in a coffee shop.

“Oh my God!” she says, jumping in her seat when she looks up and sees Grey leaning against her cubicle wall. “You came out of nowhere!”

He pauses. And then he says, “I’ve been standing here for two minutes.”

“I didn’t see you.”

He generally ignores that and instead, he says, “Did you get shipping confirmation for the new Pelican case?”

“Yep,” she says, slamming her fingers rapidly into her computer keyboard to check in on his inquiry. “Slated to be here . . . tomorrow.”

He lowers his voice. “Are you busy tonight?”

“What? No. But I just told you, the case isn’t gonna be here until tomorrow so you’ll just have to be patient.”

“That’s not why I asked.”

She looks back up at him — at his utterly blank face. And then he holds up his phone. “Answer the text.”

And then it clicks in her brain. Which makes her loudly say, “Oh my God. Are you seriously bugging me about this right now?” which garners the momentary attention of Margaery nearby, who pops her head up out of her cubicle to take a quick look at who Missandei is talking to. After seeing Grey, Margaery is seemingly satisfied and then slinks back down into her seat.

He shrugs, the very picture of casualness, which actually belies how he actually feels inside. He feels like his heart is going to explode out of his chest from anxiety, actually. But Missandei is none the wiser, and she just thinks that he’s being annoyingly cocky and male. He says, “Well, I’m heading out now.” He actually has a small side job he booked through a professional acquaintance that he has to reluctantly run off to.

“Must be nice to work these half days when we’re at home,” she says.

“That is why they pay me the big bucks,” he says lightly, patting the top of her cube. “The tens of thousands of them.”

That makes her smile, because when he is not making her world crumble in on itself with all of the subtle rejection, he still manages to manipulate her into thinking that he’s fucking adorable. “I know how much they pay you,” she says. “And you are more than fine.”

That sounds like a come on. And she’s sober. And they are at work. And her face just flushes so hot at that. She frantically just hopes that he didn’t hear what she had just heard. She bulldozes over her own awkwardness by ending the conversation as fast as she can. She says, “Okay, bye now!” before she turns back to her computer and just shuts him and his stupid mood swings out of her mind.

 

 


They actually get to the restaurant at the same time. This time, Missandei picked one that is close to her house because she will not travel for more than ten minutes to meet this punk. And this time, Missandei only changes out of her work clothes before meeting him, because she still is sore over trying so hard to look pretty the other night and having the night generally blow up in her face. This time, she is gonna stop being so dumb over some guy. She snuck in a self-help relationship article on her lunch break. It told her that life is not a romantic comedy. It gave a list of twenty ways in which life is not a romantic comedy. About fifteen of the reasons were relevant to her life. That was enough for her to take stock of the situation. She has decided to see this through to the end. And then she will move on and maybe start online dating for the few weeks that she is home at a time and just . . . probably be alone forever because there’s a shockingly high divorce rate when it comes to their jobs. Unsurprisingly.

When she sees him — and he has not changed his clothes or altered his appearance in any way — she still does a full-body flush at the sight of him. She can actually feel all common sense actually leaving her body. Her heart just throbs when she sees him because there’s still a part of her that just wants it so badly. This is going to be another disaster.

“Hi,” he says.

“Hello.”

 

 


The restaurant is a bit overheated, so he watches as Missandei starts peeling off layer after layer. She has on sweaters, cardigans — multiple cardigans — gloves, her hat, a scarf, a light jacket, a fleece, and an outer shell. She sheepishly mutters that she came armored, as she drapes her stuff over the back of her chair, as some of it falls off, as she bends over sideways to pick it up and just about bumps her head coming back up, which sends her scarf back down to the floor at the very moment their server circles around again. The server asks her if she’d like to hang up her coat on their coat rack, and she’s embarrassed enough that she says no because she’s bent on pretending everything with her is normal and fine.

When it’s all squared away and they’ve put their orders in, Grey clears his throat — he tries to shove the lump down — and then he clears it a second time. This feels meaningful. And then he says, “How are you?”

Which makes her jaw drop. “Oh, so that’s how you wanna play this? Like everything is all normal, and this is a do-over.”

He kind of gives her a sheepish half-smile. “Well, how do you want to play this?”

She has some self-righteousness in her. So she straightens in her seat, unfolds her napkin, and she stiffly says, “I just want to know what’s actually happening, what you’re actually thinking, what you want, and why you want it.” The last bit also sounds like a come on, but she ignores it. Her fingers curl into her palm as she rests her idle hand on the table.

 

 


He starts talking, and he finds that it helps if he doesn’t have to look at her and see her reaction. So he knows it’s a bit awkward, but he starts kind of looking off the side as he generally just starts rambling — hopelessly and confusingly, without any structure. But he’s afraid that if he tries to organize his thoughts too much, then he will start editing stuff down, as is his tendency. He will edit down a lot, and then it’s back to square one, probably. So he rambles on about the rest of last night, about how he stopped off at Jaime’s. He refrains from spilling Jaime’s secrets, but he does tell Missandei that Jaime’s in a rough spot at the moment and it seemed like he just needed someone to be around as he kind of processed his stuff — and it’s a bizarre sort of friendship that they’ve fallen into, kind of propped on the auspicious beginnings of brain surgery and being forced to play nursemaid to someone so pathetic and sad just to be vaguely kind of amused. Except now Grey realizes that it wasn’t so much pity or amusement that Jaime probably sought out. Grey realizes now that everyone just has shit that they have to deal with, and that human beings just don’t like being alone sometimes. And that was probably something that Jaime knew about him before Grey knew it about himself.

He tells her these fragmented bits and pieces of his childhood — settling on nothing for very long — a lot of it is incomprehensible to her, but she does gather that these are things that really weigh on him. She does understand that he’s been let down a lot. He tells her he keeps messing up, because that’s just kind of what he does. And he has very, very few people in his life that are important. But she is very important. And he can just project ahead and anticipate when he’s going to mess up again with her. Except by that future point, she will have run out of goodwill and patience and that will be that. And so that’s got him a fair bit freaked out. No one can really promise anything. The risk seems fairly great.

Then, the server comes back to their table to drop off drinks and ask how they are doing — which basically makes Missandei want to jump out of her skin and scream at him for the interruption, because shit was like, just getting really good.

The mood shifts after that. Self-consciousness overcomes Grey, so he clams up again. The stuff that came out of his mouth is a blur to his mind, so he generally assumes the worst. He assumes that he has said too much, not realizing that he actually still hasn’t said enough. He sits there uncomfortably, thinking that this stuff is easier in the dark. When he talked to Jaime, the lights were off at Jaime’s house. And the problem when he applies this to Missandei is that he is always fucking thinking about her naked, with the lights off. So he shuts his eyes, releases a frustrated groan, and generally refrains from slamming his head on the table.

 

 


She tests him and asks him if there will be a third date. He has gained some wisdom in the hours between the night before and now, so he tells her yes, there will be a third date.

“Let’s lay down some ground rules,” she says after they finish their salad. She’s talking to him with this task-oriented intensity, like they are in a production meeting. It’s more comfortable to her this way. “To ensure that this thing between us doesn’t go south.” And even as she says it, she knows that she is hopelessly deluding herself and him. The very spontaneous nature of life is reflected in her job — it’s reflected in what she actually does during most of her awake hours — swinging with the punches, throwing the agenda out the window, making on-the-spot changes and adjustments. But she also wants this so badly, so she’s trying very hard to make it work. She says, “I can’t imagine not wanting to be your friend, even if this doesn’t work out. We can stay friends as long as nothing horrible happens — as long as no one behaves horribly. So we can promise each other right now — to be honest with each other always and to not do stuff that we know would really mess up the other person.” She’s referring to cheating. But she’s having a bit of a hard time naming it explicitly.

He picks up on it anyway though. He frowns and he generally feels like shit about himself. And all he can do is nod and say, “Yeah. I agree with that.”

“And when we’re at work — we’re at work. We’re just coworkers who have jobs to do. And when we’re at home, we’re this. The lines should never get blurred.”

They are both aware that they work off-site significantly more than they are at home — but at this point, due to lack of experience on his part and due to memory loss on her part — she has momentarily forgotten her issues with Jared — they are overly optimistic about their capacity to compartmentalize.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

It’s been a very long time since she has actually dated someone — nearly a decade. She has been relationshipping it on autopilot for the better part of her adult life. She has forgotten how tense and uncertain dating feels. She can’t read his mind, so she generally never knows what he’s thinking.

She finds herself counting down the days until they have to board a plane and force themselves to put a pause on whatever is happening between them — and the very idea just frustrates her to no end. She finds herself trying to force milestones, even as she knows her actions are too artificial and contrived. She’s trying to cram in as many dates as she can before they leave, so that they will have something substantial to come back to. When she’s not policing herself, her very girly mind starts to drift to when they will have their first real kiss — in this dating sphere, not in the casual hotel sex sphere.

Speaking of that, she also wants to know when they are going to fuck again. It’s been long enough that she regrets she didn’t video them having sex so that she can verify that the sex was as fucking good as her mind keeps conjuring up. Maybe she’s crazy — she might be crazy because people are always telling her she is crazy — and maybe she’s making up all these memories of good sex to cope. Maybe they are just destined to exchange awkward smiles over dinner for-fucking-ever. He’s been really respectful of her space. It’s everything she ever really wants from other men — but it’s not exactly what she wants from him. However, she also finds the idea of articulating her slutty needs to him to be the most mortifying thing. She’s kind of constantly paranoid she’s making a bad impression on him — because he’s so quiet, and she nervously babbles to fill in the silence sometimes.

She really likes how — after her gargantuan efforts at making this relationship happen — they are essentially really, really good, platonic friends now. They get together, and they grab a bite to eat or some coffee — and they talk for a long time. Sometimes they watch something together — side by side in silence. She still doesn’t know where he lives, though she knows the general neighborhood in which he lives because she asked him about it. She still has not gathered up the nerve to ask him over to her place, because she thinks that that just screams sex. And what if she takes off her clothes, and he tells her to put them back on again? This is the fear that her mind keeps circling back around.

She still obsessively worries that they are making a horrible mistake — she remembers the first time in a hotel and the sound of his voice when he finally told her that it's just not happening. Maybe they are just not actually sexually compatible. Maybe the first time was normal — he’s just not attracted to her enough — and maybe it was the second time that was the fluke. Brain tumor be damned.

And then she looks at him. She sees him doing something mundane and ordinary, like he gets up to go grab napkins. And her body just twinges and aches. Because on her part — she feels the attraction, and she thinks that maybe she can make good sex happen based on her attraction to him alone, through sheer force of will. She knows it is going to suck real hard for her if this doesn’t work out.

 

 


“This is fancy,” Missandei whispers, craning her neck to look up at the sleek, sterile, elegant building, taking in all of the lights.

“Yeah, it’s pretty much like stepping into the Twilight Zone, every time I go over to hang out with them.”

She lifts up the bottle of wine that they bought in a hurry at the grocery store. “Um, I feel like this is not a good enough offering now.”

He grins. “It’s all good. They really don’t care. They know we’re poor.”

She follows him into the lobby, gripping the bottle of wine extra tightly because she doesn’t want to create a stained mess on all of the beautiful and pristine decor that looks pretty uncomfortable to sit on. “We’re actually not poor,” she says, catching up to him, her heels clicking on the shiny floors. “We actually make a nice living. You’ve been hanging out with Lannisters too much. Your mind has become warped.”

After the doorman swipes his keycard and hits the right floor button — after the elevator door shuts behind her — Grey smiles at her. He smiles wordlessly, and he maintains it. And it makes her feel frozen and soft and shy inside — and it makes her gut flip-flop — as she simultaneously imagines just smearing her fucking face and body all over that smile and just scream-asking him why they are not fucking already. But now is not the right time for that discussion. It’s never the right time for that discussion because they’ve only been official for two weeks so far anyway. She’s scared to freak him out with her intensity. She’s heard of instances in which people wait for months in relationships before fucking each other. She currently cannot think of any specific examples from people she knows, right now. She keeps going down the list of her girl friends, trying to remember when they reported fucking their significant others. Missandei keeps trying to bleed out some statistics from anecdotal information, just to make a little more sense of her life.

“Oh, hey!” Tyrion says when he opens the door for them. “You here to sign my cast again?” He shows her his cast-less arm.

It takes her a beat to realize that he’s making fun of her. She is often the butt of all of their jokes. She had made a comment to Grey, that perhaps it’s too soon to “meet” the friends. After all, isn’t that a three-month milestone? He had looked at her like he didn’t understand, like he thought the timeline was arbitrary. He also dryly observed that she already knows “the friends.”

She thrusts the bottle of cheap wine at Tyrion, and she says, “We brought you wine.”

“Sweet.”

 

 


He leaves Missandei with Tyrion, who is pouring her a glass of wine, to go into the kitchen to check in on Jaime, who hits him with a glower. Grey realizes that the face is because of something else — not because of him. He crosses his arms and leans back against the counter as Jaime grunts and lifts up a heavy enamel cast iron pot from the oven — dangerously balancing it in potholders between his hand and his prosthesis. Grey knows better than to offer up help. Jaime heaves the pot onto the stove top.

“You didn’t order in. I’m impressed.”

“Well,” Jaime says breathlessly. “I really just needed something to do.”

“Things are still going that good, huh?”

“Oh, things are going great.” Jaime rolls his eyes. “He likes to pretend I largely don’t exist, while simultaneously acknowledging me in group situations. He’s a crafty little bugger, that one.”

“And yet, here you are, playing co-host.”

“Evites were already sent out.”

Grey claps his hand on Jaime’s shoulder, and he leans in as he surveys the room. He sees Brienne and Renly hanging out awkwardly by the couches. “I like how this housewarming is composed of only a select number of people we work with.”

“Well, it’s a very exclusive party,” Tyrion says, interrupting them. “Feel special.” He’s holding an overfilled glass of wine, and Missandei is wide-eyed and hovering closely behind him with her own glass of wine. She is taking in the apartment — the nice fixtures and also the expansive view. She is also very nervous and unsure around Jaime and Tyrion in a casual setting like this. She feels she was brought over to perform — and then be vetted. He has made the terrible mistake of casually telling her that Jaime and Tyrion were initially really against him dating her. He said it like it was some funny joke to him and that she should laugh along. She doesn’t find it funny at all because she can only imagine that they are deadset against her because they think she is not good enough for Grey. She’s not pretty or accomplished enough. Or maybe she’s just really annoying, and they hate her personality. She has been just sweating out of her pits. This is why she picked out a black cardigan to wear over her dress.

“This is done.” Jaime says, gesturing to the pot.

 

 


“This is really good, Jaime,” she says, after she carefully dabs her mouth on the linen napkin she picked up from her lap.

“Thanks.”

He has braised some lamb shanks. She’s carefully eating it with some root vegetables. She’s been maybe guzzling a fair bit of wine to get past the awkwardness of this dinner. Tyrion keeps looking amused and refilling her glass. She’s paranoid that she has a mouth stained with red wine now, because she’s a boozer. So she’s trying to keep the talking and the attention on her to a minimum. She can’t be offensive if she is quiet. She feels like everyone — all four other people at the table — are just scrutinizing the shit out of her and Grey. She feels like she somehow has to win Jaime and Tyrion over because they are Grey’s friends. But the thing is . . . she already knows that Jaime and Tyrion are really judgmental and particular. There’s no mystery there. She has witnessed Tyrion throw pens and clipboards when someone talks while he’s trying to think. Jaime has actually snapped at her, many times, when she asks him too many clarifying questions in the course of translating for him — which, she still thinks is ridiculous and he’s a bit of an asshole. Tyrion and Jaime are generally good at making people feel incompetent at their jobs. It took her the better part of a year to teach herself not to take it personally, to convince herself that she’s actually pretty good at her job. She doesn’t know how to win the friend-versions of them over.

“Yeah, this is really yummy,” Brienne mutters carefully, dragging her fork around on her plate. “It’s kind of crazy that you know how to cook.”

“Well, I eat all the time.”

Brienne nods at her plate. “Riiight,” she says slowly.

“Your apartment is very nice, Tyrion,” Missy says, resting her fork down on the perimeter of her plate. She smooths her fingers lightly over the edge of the hardwood dining table. It feels supple. It has a buttery finish. It probably costs her weight in gold. She’s been so paranoid about accidentally getting food on it. Eating feels like a marathon. “Um, this is table is really pretty. And big.”

“Thanks. My ex-wife picked this out.”

“Oh,” Missandei says lightly. She remembers Grey telling her to never fucking talk or ask questions about Tyrion’s ex-wife. Her heart starts beating faster. “Okay.”

Renly’s interjecting laugh actually sounds really authentic and easy. He’s kind of acknowledging the extreme stilted awkwardness of the evening. He reaches out and lightly nudges Brienne with his hand. And then he directs his comment to Jaime and he says, “So do you also bake? I think I saw something pretty sweet in the oven? I may have snuck a peek.”

“He bakes. He cooks. He sometimes cleans. He looks pretty, and he can simultaneously talk in front of a camera as he looks pretty,” Tyrion murmurs into his wine glass, staring straight ahead. “My brother does everything.”

“Ha!” Jaime says, sounding fake as hell. “My brother is so funny. He’s so witty. He just makes people laugh all day.”

She’s avoiding eye contact with everyone now — until she feels his hand lightly brush across the back of her neck. When she turns to look at him, his face is already much closer than she is expecting, which makes her skin break out into goosebumps from the surprise. He looks ridiculously relaxed — probably because this is, weirdly enough, his home turf. He’s grinning as he leans in. For a moment, she has this freakout because she cannot believe he’s actually going to kiss her for the sorta-first time in front of these people — but then she realizes that she’s nuts and he’s not going to kiss her. But his warm breath skims over her cheek as he hovers. She feels struck dumb and pinned down by it. And he quietly whispers, “Aren’t you glad I brought you here?” He pulls away slightly and she can see him smiling kind of gleefully. “Isn’t it a lot of fun?”

She’s about to respond, but Tyrion interrupts by pulling the wine stem out of her grasp so he can refill her glass again. “Do you like the wine?” he asks.

“Uh, y-yeah,” she says, straightening in her seat. “I do.”

“Great.”

 

 


The rest of the night doesn’t get a whole lot better, but it also doesn’t get that much worse. She engages in really strained small talk with both Jaime and Tyrion — separately — asking each of them really dorky questions about their hobbies outside of work. It turns out that they have very few hobbies because their entire lives consist of work. She goes down this rabbit hole where she tells them what books she’s chipping away at. She can actually see the boredom overtake them, and she just kind of fizzles out in her explanation and trails off.

When she gets a moment, she kind of fades into the cushy comforting familiarity of Brienne, and she quietly asks Brienne how in the world she and Renly got roped into this dinner party. Brienne just shrugs and points to Renly, who gamely smiles and says that Jaime invited him. Because Jaime is really nice and knows that Renly’s been living out of a hotel for the last couple of weeks and is going a bit stir crazy. Brienne just shrugs at that and kind of washes her hands of the whole matter. She not as confident in Jaime’s niceness.

After Missandei and Grey put on their coats and crowd the doorway with Jaime, Brienne, and Renly, all of them preparing to leave because most of them have an early flight to catch in the morning, Missandei is stunned when Tyrion casually touches her hand and tells her not to be a stranger.

 

 


“I like your friends. I mean, I know that I know them already. But I mean — I like the friend-versions of Jaime and Tyrion.” They are both standing at the train platform. They are both heading in the same direction for a few stops before they have to get off and transfer to different lines.

“Do you really?” He looks so amused.

She nods. “Yeah. I really mean that.”

“Good.”

“Do you wanna grab another drink somewhere?” she asks him.

He frowns. “Sorry, I would, but I still have to pack up all my shit still.” He inhales. “Otherwise I really would, though,” he says on the exhale.

She tries not to read rejection in his words. She tries not to feel too disappointed. She just kind of raises her gloved hands, letting the strap of the plastic bag she is holding slip to the crook of her elbow. She’s cupping her hands in front of her face and then blowing warm air into her palms. It’s just something to do. Then she lowers her arms back to her sides. “It’s cool,” she says. “It’s kind of late anyway.”

He reaches out and lightly grabs ahold of her forearm, over her jacket sleeve, holding her back as the train arrives and whooshes by them, ruffling her hair. This is one of those secret-cute things she has discovered about him — his assumption that she might accidentally throw herself into a moving train and die in front of his face.

Once on the train and in a seat, she carefully balances the leftovers encased in a plastic bag that Jaime had packed for her, on her stockings-clad knees. The tupperware feels warm.

She sees Grey rake his hands down his legs, over his knees. And then he says, “Have you packed yet?”

“Yeah,” she says. “But it’s easy for me. I just pack my personal stuff and my clothes. I know you have to pack equipment and stuff.” He and Drogo religiously carry on their cameras and lenses onto planes, not just because they worry about the handling of their baggage by other people, but because one time in Pentos, all of their baggage was lost for an entire three days. They had landed scheduled to shoot mere hours after the fact. It was because Drogo and Grey carried on their cameras that she didn’t go insane with stress. A fair bit of the other stuff — the lights, tripods, screens, secondary equipment — is stuff they can rent or buy again, if they really have to.

“Do you . . . want to come over and watch me pack?”

She stops breathing for a moment. “You mean go over to your apartment?”

“I mean, I know it’s not very exciting. It’s actually kind of lame. But I mean, we could have a drink there. Um, I only have water and juice, by the way.”

She has to work to not smile too hard at him. She kind of hugs the tupperware a little closer to her body and she says, “What kind of juice do you have?”

“Um, apple.”

“Okay. Sold.”

 

 


He walks fast down the hallway, leaving her to trail behind him as he frantically tries to remember what state his apartment is in and if there’s anything incriminating or especially dirty or personal that he has lying around. He really didn’t think that he’d have a guest over when he left his place for dinner. He really didn’t think he’d feel so bummed that they’ll be back on the road tomorrow. That’s usually his favorite part of work. He really didn’t think he’d impulsively invite her over because he just didn’t feel quite ready to part ways.

He kicks his running shoes out of the way when he finds them in the middle of entryway, and he starts compiling his stack of mail into one pile on his kitchen counter. And then when she asks if she can use his bathroom, he heads in there first and draws the shower curtain shut.

She grinning at him and looks very amused when he intercepts her in the doorway. She says, “Relax! I don’t care! You are actually fairly neat and tidy.”

He pours her a glass of apple juice as she pees. And when he shoves the glass into her hand as she exits the bathroom, she looks surprised, as if she had forgotten that she’s here for apple juice.

His case, the camcorder, a pile of cords, lenses, and just a whole bunch of other shit that he’s trying to edit down a little bit are scattered all over his bed. He was actually working on this before he had to run off to meet her for dinner. And he is also realizing that his place is tiny and there is actually nowhere to sit.

He starts to clear the books off of a short wooden stool that he uses to actually hold his ongoing reading pile — but Missandei nudges her butt onto a clear corner of his bed and says, “Don’t worry about it! I’ve found a spot.”

She’s kind of nursing the apple juice — he’s tempted to tell her she doesn’t have to drink if she doesn’t want to — but then he figures it’s best to just finish packing as fast as he can. He’s always doing this backwards. He always carries on his equipment and he always checks in his clothes, so he has prepacked his clothes already, and his luggage is already in Sandor’s care.

It’s when he’s rummaging around his entire studio, turning over magazines, books, boxes, stray items of clothing, looking for his third external battery pack and a converter for the cord that she says, “I like your place. It’s cool. It looks artsy.”

“Artsy?” he mutters, actually getting on the floor to tug out one of his bins from under the bed. It gives her the opportunity to check out his ass without worry of getting caught doing so. “It’s actually a mess right now,” he mutters. “I’m going a little bit insane because I can’t find anything.”

He hears her light laugh. “I can tell,” she says. “But I mean, it looks like someone creative lives here. I don’t mean that it’s nicely decorated.”

 

 


It takes him the better part of an hour to pack. It turns out he’s pretty bad at multitasking. He can barely carry on a conversation with her as he organizes his stuff. It leaves Missandei a lot of quiet time to herself — to look around at his space and also to watch him shuffle within it, checking over his stuff with this practiced efficiency. He keeps picking up lenses and holding them up to his face. Sometimes he takes out his phone and sends off a quick text to Drogo — he has to explain to her that he’s talking to Drogo so that she doesn’t think he’s ignoring her to randomly text somebody. Sometimes he goes over to his computer to check the list. Sometimes he rapidly types out an amendment to the equipment list, which actually syncs up to the version she views on her phone. She remembers how she used to wake up early on travel day and go over everything on her phone as she stops off to get a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. She remembers noting his updates and making the stray observation that he must’ve packed at the last minute. And she thinks it’s so crazy and cool, that she’s watching this all happen from the other side now.

When Grey finishes, he double checks the latches on his case and then smoothly pulls it off his bed. He props it up against the wall, next to the bathroom doorway, and then he turns back to her. He sees her sitting cross-legged on his bed with an empty glass in her hands and the skirt of her dress pulled down over her lap. She’s smiling at him. She still has all of her clothes on. He’s had really disgustingly pornographic fantasies that start this way. He tells himself: oh shit.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“So,” Missandei says, still on the bed, still fiddling around with the empty glass like it’s a toy, unaware that she is coming across to him as this disturbingly confusing mixture of innocent girlishness and manipulative sexual aggressiveness. To him, it feels like it’s another trap and another test he must pass.

To her, she plays around with the empty glass because she’s nervous and she needs something to occupy her hands. She knows she’s about to bring things down to a more serious place, and she needs the time to summon enough bravery. What she knows is that they are getting on a plane tomorrow. What she feels is that she has to deliver some sort of rousing end-of-the-line-for-now speech. So that he doesn’t forget her. She is operating under the paranoid fear that it’s easy to forget someone he sees everyday. But she’s also aware that he must be constantly pulling in information about her, continuing this stream of observations that will eventually tip him toward either the familiar and platonic warmth of just friendship — or toward something scarier and darker and possibly greater. So she says to him, “I’ve been having a lot of fun with you these past two weeks. It’s actually been a whole lot easier than I thought it would be.”

He crosses his arms and leans back against the edge of his kitchen counter, the stool-height barrier that separates his cooking area from the rest of the apartment. He’s back lit and shadowed. She can see the outline of his manly shape. It strikes her — how different he looks now compared to how he looked when they first met. She wonders to herself if she is just so superficial, and if her superficiality is at least part of why she is sitting on his bed, in his apartment.

“You expected me to be more difficult?” he asks. He’s kind of smiling, kind of nervously shifting his weight around.

“I thought I’d feel more conflicted about this,” she says. “About whether or not it’s the right thing to date and risk the friendship. But actually, I feel pretty good. There’s an ease to this. I like spending time with you.”

He smiles at that. “Yeah. It’s been nice for me, too. Spending time with you, I mean.”

She rolls the glass tumbler on the mattress, between her hands. “And tomorrow, we put a pause on all of it.”

“Yeah. Gotta work. Gotta bring home that bacon.”

“Yeah. How do you and Jaime and Tyrion do it? How do you guys, um, separate the personal parts of your lives from the professional?”

He shrugs. “It’s not that much different. We still hang out. We still joke around. We still chat. We just don’t talk about personal stuff. We just focus mostly on work.”

“You make it sound so simple.”

“Well, I’m not dating them, Missandei,” he says flatly.

She grins. “Oh, that’s good. I might get jealous.”

He shrugs again, this time breaking eye contact. He’s looking vaguely off to the side. This is one of those things they are still acclimating to — these coy and flirtatious statements that boldly acknowledge the shift in their relationship, that acknowledge their transition from friends to something more. These statements come more frequently from her than they do him, but they do come from him sometimes.

“Are you . . . nervous, around me? Right now?” Upon his focused look, she explains, “You’re just clear across the room right now. I mean —”

“Yeah,” he says reluctantly. “I’m a little nervous.”

“Why?”

“You’re in my bed.”

“Oh.” She feels her face growing hot. “And that’s a problem?”

He shrugs. He’s avoiding looking at her again. “It’s not a problem, per se. It’s a distraction.”

The statement just hangs there thickly in between them for a bit. Between the two of them, he’s been working really hard to be more forthright and truthful in the moment, and she’s been working hard to not make assumptions and fill in the blanks herself. He has finally decided that the risk is fairly minimal, for her to know that he feels attracted to her in a certain way. He has decided that he doesn’t have to give up every gross detail, but it’s fine that she knows that he remembers what they did, the last time they were on a bed together. In fact, he suspects that she can remember the same events. He still has to walk his fucking brain through this sort of thing, though, step by step.

“Well,” she says lightly. “I have to say, I am relieved to hear that.”

His smile is strained. “Yeah?”

She fidgets on his bed, kind of trying to spin the glass tumbler like a spinning top. It doesn’t even make it one revolution. “I want to be distracting, to you,” she confesses. “You haven’t even kissed me yet.” The tail end of her statement sounds more bashful and sheepish than it does sultry and sexy.

“I, uh, have actually kissed you a lot,” he corrects, unfolding his arms so that he can smear his hand roughly over the back of his neck. He can’t believe they are still talking about this. “And I don’t see why it’s up to me to kiss you again. I mean, why don’t you ask yourself why you haven’t kissed me yet?”

“Oh my God, are you being adorable about this?” she says, more whispering it to herself than she is asking him directly.

Which is why he doesn’t respond to it. Instead, he says, “Missandei, I thought we were taking things slowly.”

“I feel like we’ve been taking things kind of glacially,” she says. “Like, I feel like we’re moving slower than an iceberg.”

“An iceberg took down the Titanic though.”

She lets go of the glass on the bed, and she raises her hands to her head so that she can scrunch up her hair in her fists. She shifts and transfers her feet underneath her body so that she can bounce up and down on her knees a little bit. “Oh my God, you need to stop with this cute shit if you don’t want me to kiss you.”

He laughs uncomfortably again. He thinks she’s cute, actually. “Missandei. I’m sorry, but I’m kind of reeling here. I didn’t realize you had an issue with the pacing of things. This is actually pretty much how I operate. In the past, um, a girl would express interest. I would be like, ‘Oh, what the fuck, are you serious?’ about it. And then we would embark on a very slow-moving courtship, where I just did my very best to not let her see me naked. Because, well, nothing good happens there. And then it would just fizzle out because she got sick of my avoidant ass, or we’d actually try to have sex. And it would not be very good — in the crazy off-chance it was actually semi-successful. And then she’d kick my ass to the curb.” He pauses. “Now I remember why I never say this stuff out loud. It’s because it makes me sound like a real catch.”

She kind of pops out this laugh of disbelief. And then she shoves back all of the questions she has — she has so many questions — and instead she focuses on the most important thing at the moment. She says, “Grey, I’ve seen you naked already. And a lot of good stuff happened there.”

He looks at her skeptically. “Really?”

She looks at him with her mouth ajar. “What! Are you serious! What kind of sex standards do you have, dude?”

“A very low bar,” he says immediately. “But I’m talking about you. You said the sex wasn’t good.”

“What! I would never say such a thing! First of all, that is just the meanest shit you can say to somebody! Second of all — I don’t remember saying this?” Even as she instinctively flat out denies it, her brain is working overtime sifting through the rolodex of her recent memories, trying to remember all the things she said out loud to him in her moments of anger versus all the things she just thought to herself in her moments of anger. Underpinning her oh shit oh shit oh shit panic at being caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar, she’s also dealing with this bizarre sense of deja vu. Things have reoriented themselves. She was seated in a car and sobbing hard enough to fog the windows when Harry came out to her and kind of basically told her she was not good at sex and she turned him gay. Missandei is convinced that — because she went through that experience — she would never ever ever tell someone else they were bad at sex.

“It was in the hotel in Mantarys our last night there, after you puked.”

“Really?” She releases this torturous grunt as she continues searching through her memory bank. “Was I so drunk that I forgot I was mean?”

He sighs. “Um, you complained that I didn’t say your name during sex. And that I made the sex all about me.”

It clicks. “Oh my gosh!” she says in awe. “I did say those things!”

He twirls his hand in the air. “Yeah.”

She covers her mouth with both of her hands in horror. “Oh my God, I’m sorry!” she says, her voice muffled. “That was petty. I shouldn’t have said those things to you.”

“It’s all good,” he says. “You were just frustrated. And you were honest in your moment of frustration.”

“No, I was being an asshole. There are proper ways to articulate these things to people.”

He really hates that they are talking about this. He hates it so much. It makes him feel really fucking dumb and inept and pathetic. The fact that she is trying so hard to backtrack and spare his feelings actually makes it feel worse. He says, “It’s fine, Missandei. I don’t care. I don’t have whole excessive male pride thing where I flip out if I’m not good at sex. I mean, I do have that male pride thing now, but I also don’t.”

Her expression looks tortured. “The sex was actually very lovely,” she says, just a touch too intentional with her words, rendering them completely ineffective, she knows. “I really enjoyed it.” She clears her throat. “All three times.”

God, he wants for her to shut up so badly. He feels like a complete charity case now. “Missandei, seriously. It’s not a big deal. We don’t have to keep talking about this. I am kind of tired of talking about this, actually.”

She covers her face with her hands. “Oh my God, I just wanted to get a kiss before we leave. I didn’t mean to start up this crap. Maybe I should just go home and drown myself in my toilet bowl.”

“Sure, okay. If you really need to. Do you want me to walk you to the train stop?” He pauses. “Wait, I’m kidding. I’m definitely going to walk you to the train station because there’s a guy there who sneaks into the train station at night to sleep, and he likes to yells at people and tell them he’s going to steal their faces.”

She kind of is pretty awake because this conversation has her adrenaline pumping. She kind of doesn’t want to go home, but she also doesn’t want to force her presence on him anymore. She’s watching him step into his shoes and shrug into his coat. This is definitely the end of the line. She has failed in her objectives. Though, he’s probably not going to forget her for a while now. Because she is a jerk. Missandei glumly crawls off his bed and deposits the empty glass into his sink. And then she pulls her jacket off of his stool and puts it on, buttoning up all buttons before she steps into her boots. They squeak against his laminate floors as she shuffles to the front door, past him as he leans over to turn off his lights and swipe up his keys from the counter.

And then in the darkness of his apartment, he grabs her face. He lightly smooths his fingers over her jaw so that he can find where her mouth is. And then he steps forward, he raises her chin a little bit, he pushes beyond his hesitation, and he presses his lips to hers.

It’s mostly sweet, and it’s tentative. And then it starts to feel good — really, really good. She more or less just melts into it. She exhales out tension as she kisses him back, tentatively also, as her hand goes up to touch his neck and she stops breathing for a moment because sometimes it’s just so weird to get exactly what she wants. The kiss is just mouth-to-mouth, no tongue. It lasts for only a few seconds, but her entire face is tingling and her eyes are hot and wet when he pulls back. She realizes he is holding her face in both of his palms.

He says, “There’s your kiss. Are you happy?” His voice is low and quiet.

She presses her hand to the center of his chest, trying to find his heartbeat through his shirt. He feels warm, abnormally warm for the season. She finds his pulse ticking away insistently underneath her fingers. It fortifies her enough to lean forward, on her tiptoes, so that she can press her open mouth to the fleshy part of his cheek. She swipes her tongue over skin, just on instinct. And he kind of freezes. Now, his heart is just pounding underneath her hand. And then her kiss drags and drifts down to the corner of his mouth.

He grabs her jaw again, this time tighter and harder. He twists her face so that it’s facing him dead on. And then she silently tells him, with her eyes through the dark, that he is so fucked. And then the tension breaks, because he yanks her face up to his. He kisses her in a way that is so intentional and so confident that it feels familiar and strange. He grabs her and holds onto her tightly — her hands are running all over the place trying to find the best way to touch him. They are running underneath his shirt, and there, she finds bare skin. She’s enveloped in his arms as he slips her some tongue, and it elicits this moan and it ignites this spark of inspiration in her. She wants to ram him back onto the bed, strip him, and then fuck him on it — and then she remembers — she remembers very clearly now — that the sex they had was actually pretty fucking amazing. Because now she remembers the mess he left on her body and the way he made her generally want to die. All of that got a bit overshadowed by just how fucking mad she was at him after the fact.

She actually does start pushing. And that is when he pulls away and holds her at arm’s length. He shakes his head blearily and then he takes a few steps back. He puts a solid five feet of space between them. He’s touching his bottom lip with his hand — she had bitten him — and he says, “Okay, let’s take a minute. And regroup here.”

She holds her hands up, like he's a cop and he just caught her red-handed. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” she says. “That was too aggressive! I didn’t mean to push! Or bite you!”

“It’s fine,” he says distractedly. “Okay, um, do you have all of your stuff? Oh shit. You forgot your leftovers.” He turns away from her to duck into his kitchen and rustle with the bag of plastic that Jaime had given her.

“I don’t think I’m going to eat it. There’s no time.”

“Well, take it anyway. You might get hungry.”

He’s holding out the bag to her using just the very tips of his fingers to minimize any potential contact. She sees it, and she blurts, “Dude, should we have sex again? Like, right now?”

He starts laughing like a lunatic — just hopelessly, looking around the apartment in bewilderment. He says, “I thought you just wanted a kiss.”

“Shit, dude.” She inhales down her anxiety. “Come on. Like, you know. I mean. We’re dating. That’s the point, right? We’re gonna have sex again eventually, right? I mean, what are we doing here?”

He groans.

She lets out a high-pitched whine also.

“It’s bad timing,” he finally says. “We start work tomorrow.”

“Seriously?”

“Well, yeah, Missandei. Our flight is at nine.”

“No, I know we work tomorrow. But come on. I’m like, trying to give it away right now.”

He stares back at her.

 

 


They are standing on the train platform. As promised, there was a homeless man who scared the shit out of her even though she knew he was there. He generally shouted a lot of obscenities at her and made her scared it was going to get racist and she’d be forced to try and fucking confront his ass on that — before she steers herself right into Grey’s body for protection. Now, they are standing around waiting for her train as she swings Jaime’s plastic bag of leftovers around in her hand. She feels shellshocked, and she is simultaneously trying to push everything into the very back of her mind. She tells herself there is a clock ticking down right now, and she needs for this to end on a good note. She needs for them to be on good terms.

She looks over at Grey. She’s going to keep pretending that propositioning him meant nothing — that it amounts to nothing — it is a day in the life. She’s also going to pretend that she doesn’t recognize a pattern here, one in which she keeps throwing herself at him, at the mercy of his acceptance or his denial. She tells herself that with time, it will stop feeling so bad. She refrains from asking herself if it’s going to be worth it in the end — that seems like such a frivolous and female question. She kind of wishes she was more like Drogo in this respect, so talented and capable of disengaging on a dime. This is probably the first and last time she will ever admit that she wants to be more like Drogo.

“I like how the dynamic between us has escalated a lot in the last couple of hours,” she says in a deadpan. “Before, it was all, ‘I wonder if I should hold his hand. Maybe he won’t let me hold his hand, and then I’ll be sad.’ I like how it’s now like, ‘Hey, please give me sex.’ And you’re like, ‘No.’”

“Yeah,” he says casually, twisting his body around as he grimaces. She can hear his back crack audibly. “I’m pretty proud of myself. For saying no. Not gonna lie.”

“I’m pretty proud of myself, too,” she says. “I mean, I asked for sex. Explicitly. And even though you said no, look at me. I got up, brushed myself off, and I live to fight another day.”

“Yeah, someone should give you a medal.”

She’s trying not to cry, actually. She takes a fortifying breath — trying to keep it as quiet as she can — before she looks over at him. “I’m going to go home, take off all my clothes, get into bed, and then I’m going to think about you as I spend some quality time with myself.”

“Shut up.”

“You can use that image while you’re jerking off to me later.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly how it will go down. Yup.”

“I can call you when I get home, if you want help?”

“No, thanks,” he says. “I’m good. It’s not gonna take long. I don’t need help. I’ve gotten really good at it. But thanks for being a pal and an inspiration.”

She grunts as the train arrives. “Shit. Fuck this train.”

He grabs her arm right as she’s about to board it. They are both aware of the dwindling time — with hindsight, they are both realizing that the time element has really fucked with their minds tonight. He actually feels terrible because he’s trying so hard to keep her, but he keeps feeling like he is constantly on the cusp of losing her. Before the doors close, he shoves it all out there. He says, “Missandei, I want to do this right. I want us to take our time. I don’t want to fuck this up with you by rushing into things.” He sighs. “Missandei, do you hear how I’m using your name a lot? It’s like you’re special to me or something.”

Then she says, “Last one,” as she leans over and sucks out another wet kiss from him. It’s fast and their mouths move over one another inelegantly for a hot stroke before it’s over and she has to yank herself away, before she has to shove her body into the train, before the doors close on her. She watches him through the window. She glumly waves bye as the train starts to move.

 

 


When she sees him again — bright and early at the horrible fucking airport pushing through the pre-check line miserably with his gear sliding around in front of him — she almost wants to test the waters by saying something about last night that will make him jolt into alertness and confirm to her that their connection didn't just disappear overnight. But she generally refrains. She also tries not to feel all butthurt that he’s not treating her like she’s the center of his world. He does not acknowledge her very much at all as he carries on a conversation with Tyrion. And this is actually normal — but it also feels off. She’s having a hard time remembering just how high their level of engagement typically was at the airport.

“’Sup, girl?” Drogo says, sidling up behind her in line, lightly bumping the back of her sneakers with his case. “Your fine ass looks perky this fine morning.”

“Drogo, not in the mood.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


They’ve missed flights before, so now it’s a general rule that they show up at the airport at least two and a half hours before international flights, no matter what. This leaves them a fair bit of down time before boarding, so she generally pulls down the hood of her sweatshirt to sort of protect herself from getting randomly hit in the face by a kid’s toy — another thing that has happened to her before while waiting for a flight — and she tries to take a nap to pass the time.

She feels the chair next to her creak. She can feel another person settling in. She opens her eyes and peeks out from under the lip of her hood.

“Oh, hey!” she says, immediately alert and straightening up in her seat as Dany relaxes into hers.

Missandei assumes that Dany’s there to talk about something work-related or to chew her out over something minor and stupid just because Dany has had a bad morning — and this is something Dany notices in Missandei, so she smiles enigmatically and says, “Relax. I’m just here to get a little peace and quiet.”

 

 


So far, Grey’s favorite part about this morning was the way Jaime looked at him when Grey reluctantly swiveled his body away from Jaime and rolled his case over to the sound of Tyrion’s voice. Tyrion called him over first. Grey is now a child of divorce.

Tyrion called him over under the guise of talking about the upcoming shoot. They do chat about that for about ten minutes, before they start reminiscing lightly about past shoots — but these are topics that they honestly talk about all the time. They have killed hours of downtime on location, as they wait out inclement weather or as they travel long distances on the road talking about this stuff. The casual side of his friendship with Tyrion is built on this one commonality they have, which usually takes them pretty far. But right now the conversation is strained because Tyrion is tense and doesn’t have his full attention on it, since he’s really just avoiding his brother. Grey is also pretty tired because he didn’t get that much sleep. He spent most of the night wide awake, lying in bed in the dark with his heart pounding in his chest as he thought about her. He only drifted off about two hours before he was slated to get up and head to the airport.

“Fuck, I am so bored already,” Tyrion mutters, finally just coming to a full-stop with his ramblings.

Grey rolls his eyes and his mouth twitches into a small smile. “Good thing we have a twenty-hour day of travel ahead of us.”

 

 


Drogo asks Grey if he can watch Drogo’s case for a bit during their layover — and of course Grey says okay to that because he’s not a monster. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s saying okay for Drogo to run over to Missandei, who is obliviously plugged into her earbuds and listening to music. He knows she’s been listening to music because he has been obsessively watching for the moments she forgets where she is and who she’s with — he’s been drinking up the way her head bops to a soundless rhythm and the way her lips silently mouth out lyrics. He’s been trying to figure out what she’s listening to. Because he’s fucking gutless, and he doesn’t have the balls to go over and just ask her.

He watches as Drogo sneaks up on her. She’s trying to pick out a drink from a vending machine. He watches and he feels just awful as he sees Drogo crowd her space and encircle his arms around her stomach from behind, tickling her. It elicits this loud, feminine shriek that pierces through their area of the airport terminal. And then he watches as the earbuds drop from her ears from the force of her pivot. She spins around to face Drogo — she recognizes him — then she starts to hit his arm repeatedly with her fist. Grey can’t hear what she’s saying, but he imagines that she’s telling Drogo not to scare her like that — or she’s telling Drogo that she is fucking in love with him because Drogo is so easy-going and so charismatic and so fun.

He watches as Drogo picks up an earbud and puts it in his ear. Grey watches as Drogo’s face shows recognition — they apparently have the same taste in music, too — and Drogo smiles at her. And then Grey generally can’t look at this shit anymore. Grey rips his eyes away from the display — and he refocuses on the pattern of the carpet.

“Is this why you don’t shit where you eat?” he mutters. Because he knows Tyrion has been watching him.

Tyrion exhales out a short laugh — more like a release of tension. He says, “Actually, not what I was thinking.”

“What we you thinking?”

“I was thinking that I know exactly how you are feeling.” He clears his throat. “And also that I’m kind of fucking starving. You wanna take a walk? Grab a bite?” Tyrion is already out of his seat and assigning Pod to look after their stuff.

Grey pushes his body out of his chair. He touches his pocket to make sure his phone is still in there.

“Jaime,” Tyrion says, startling his brother, who is slouched in a seat and covering his face with his hand. Grey can’t tell if Jaime was actually sleeping or not. “We’re getting a bite,” Tyrion says. “Want to come with?”

Jaime is scrambling, palming his pockets for his phone and wallet. “Uh, yeah. Totally,” he says, shooting Tyrion a meaningful look — accidentally — which Tyrion generally ignores. “Pod — watch my shit, okay?”

 

 


When they walk into a bar and Tyrion orders a vodka martini, Grey makes a tepid comment about how he thought they were eating. Tyrion slaps down a paper menu in front of his face and tells him to pick out food, if it means so much to him. Jaime is quiet and careful — taking his cues from Tyrion — so he also orders a vodka martini even though Grey is pretty sure he remembers Jaime decrying vodka as pointless, fancy rubbing alcohol at one point.

“Three?” Tyrion says, sitting in between them. “Shall we make it three?”

Grey nods. “Okay. Three.”

He also orders a burger with bacon when the server comes back. She’s blond and she’s young and she’s beautiful — that’s something he has to observe. But he doesn’t go much farther than the observation. Instead, he reluctantly tells Jaime and Tyrion that he has lost weight — he’s now almost ten pounds lighter than what it says on his driver’s license. Granted, he kind of fudged there to make himself seem . . . denser . . . so he’s realistically only five pounds lighter than the pre-surgery version of him. He’s so fucking hungry all the time. He’s not getting in enough calories, obviously.

“You’re becoming a man, kiddo,” Jaime says, grinning at him from the other side of Tyrion. “You fucking savor that shit. Because there will come a point in time when that amazing metabolism plummets. And then you’ll be like me. You eat fucking salads for two of your meals, and you avoid carbs like they are fucking poison. That is, if you want to stay pretty. You can also let yourself go.”

“Ah,” Tyrion says, pulling his martini glass closer. “The curse of being beautiful. Can’t say I know what that’s like.”

“But you do know the curse of being brilliant and always having to one-up yourself,” Jaime says lightly. “Whereas I am burdened by other people’s low expectations. People are impressed when I string grammatical sentences together.”

“Jaime,” Tyrion says softly. “Stop. We’re good.”

Jaime sighs.

“I know you’re sorry. It’s fine. It is what it is.”

 

 


Drogo drops his feet and straightens in his seat — his eyes far away as he registers the three figures ambling back to their gate. He grins. Missandei and Dany swivel their heads around to track his line of sight, and Dany says, “They’ve been drinking.” Turning back to Drogo and Missandei, she shrugs and goes back to her book.

They walk past Missandei’s feet — on their way to where Pod is sitting with all of their luggage. Tyrion is about eye-level with her when he’s within her line of sight. She catches his flushed face and his eyes and his tricky smile — which is a quick flash, enveloped in a glance.

She watches as Jaime deposits Grey in an empty seat next to Pod. Jaime slaps a hat on Grey’s head — a baseball cap with the bill pulled down — the action looks strangely paternal — and he’s laughing to himself as he gently pushes Grey’s head so that it rests against Pod’s shoulder. Then Jaime is exchanging words with Pod and gesturing to Grey, who is unconscious now. Pod looks up at Jaime with this grave seriousness, nodding intently. And then Jaime laughs and walks back around, back in her direction again. He’s heading to the restroom.

But she stops him by asking, “Did you slip him something? What’s wrong with him?”

Jaime looks amused at that. “You think I fucking drugged him?” he asks, crossing his arms over his chest and just staring down at her with this indecipherable smile on his face. “What would be the point in that?”

She feels embarrassed because he knows. He knows everything. He knows that she wants to make the dopey lovesick eyes at his friend. And she purses her lips tightly together as she thinks of how to respond.

“Date rape?” Drogo guesses. “Just throwing it out there. If you see something, say something.”

It makes Jaime shut his eyes as he laughs in surprise. He is momentarily stunned as he works his way through his chuckles. And then he says, “That’s how you fight terrorism,” he says, his mouth twitching as he glances at Drogo.

Drogo is also laughing — he’s smothering his laugh in his palm as he stares up at Jaime. And then he mutters, “It applies to date rape, too. I talk to my sisters about date rape all the time.”

As Jaime holds in his pee and quizzically wonders to himself when the hell Drogo became hilarious — as Drogo stares at Jaime and tells himself that Jaime is kinda alright sometimes — as Dany continues reading her book like she is listening to none of this shit — Missandei realizes that her concerns are unimportant and that they have completely forgotten she’s even sitting there.

 

 

When Missandei calls ahead to try and check into the hotel on the island city of New Ghis, as they start cramming their luggage into rental vans — she gets confirmation that eight rooms are ready for them. That makes Missandei blink twice, before she says that she actually needs eleven rooms. She neglects to say that she actually clearly remembers booking eleven rooms, and she has confirmation of this in her emails. The front desk person plainly tells her that there is no vacancy — they are booked solid for the next week.

Some of the crew pays half attention to her as she starts calling around to other places to see if there is enough vacancy. She soon learns she’s shit out of luck because they are traveling during peak tourist season — the wet season is over in New Ghis and it is cold in much of Westeros.

Dany naturally gives her shit over this — Missandei thinks it’s pretty warranted shit this time around. The nature of Dany’s shit is that Missandei sometimes isn’t very firm and confident in her interactions with people. If she knows something to be right — they speak up louder about it. The downside of Dany’s shit is that she is doling it out in front of all of their colleagues — which Missandei supposes serves a certain purpose. Maybe fucking public shaming will inspire her to be less shitty at her job.

“Look, we can sleep together,” Grey says, sighing as he hands over his camera case to Sandor. It takes Missandei a beat to realize he’s standing next to Drogo and he’s referring to Drogo.

Drogo crosses his arms and smirks at Grey. “At least buy me dinner first, man.”

“We can bunk down together, too,” Jaime says, gesturing to himself and his brother.

“Pod can sleep in the lobby,” Daario says, grinning.

“Sure?” Pod says hesitantly.

“No, you goober!” Daario says. “I’m fucking around. You can hang with me.”

“Brienne and I can also pair up,” Missandei mumbles.

“Nah,” Daario says. “You ladies don’t need to. Let us be chivalrous.”

 

 


Drogo and Grey — but mostly Grey — figure out that it’s going to probably be difficult to be tethered to each other for the better part of a week. Drogo grew up with a lot of siblings, a lot of cousins, in a big tight-knit community, and he is naturally extroverted and chatty. Grey is pretty much the very opposite of that. He’s still exhausted from the restless, alcohol-induced micro naps he had on the plane. Drogo’s mouth is running a mile a minute about work, dinner, and the ladies. He says the women here are beautiful. He also says they kind of all look a bit like Missandei — which makes Grey’s ears perk up nervously. Grey tepidly mutters that it makes sense. They are kind of in an area of the world where people have darker skin.

Grey discovers that Drogo doesn’t believe in privacy. As he showers real quick to shed off the stickiness of sweat and travel, Drogo actually jimmies the lock on the rickety door and enters the bathroom — which is one of those tubless affairs where the walls are all tiled, there’s a drain in the middle of the floor, and a shower head is hung up near the toilet. Grey’s, “Oh my God,” echos against the walls and through the wet mist as he jumps in surprise and covers his body with his hands for one quick second before — through years of conditioning and experience — he lifts his hands off his body because he knows that being obvious about his shame is like handing over the keys to the castle of his fucking body consciousness. Drogo quickly laughs at Grey’s prudishness before he explains his presence there. The toilet lid gets flipped up, and he starts peeing. It is apparently urgent.

They have the rest of the day and night to fuck around before they have to get to work tomorrow. Drogo grunts out a low growl as the last trickle of pee drops into the toilet bowl. Grey can actually smell it — probably because it’s concentrated and Drogo is dehydrated. This is insanely intimate to him — and he’s getting these really shitty flashbacks to childhood. He’s frozen and he can’t carry on with his shower because he’s so self-conscious and fucking naked.

“We need a system,” Drogo says, flushing the toilet. “Just in case I bring someone back here — or you bring someone back here . . . though really, you should just go up to Missy’s room if you guys are gonna fuck —”

“Say what now?”

Drogo suddenly appears right next to him, grinning. “We need a system.”

“What the hell —”

“Man, relax.” Drogo prods his wet shoulder. “I won’t have anyone sleep over the whole night,” Drogo says, carrying on his end of the conversation. “So you don’t have to worry about being stranded the whole night.” Then he turns around and grins at Grey. “Just some of the night.” Then Drogo exits out the bathroom and doesn't even fucking shut the door all the way.

 

 


He already needs alone time before dinner, so he grabs his DSLR, clicks on a prime lens, and then flips the strap over his neck and shoulder before he sneaks out of the room while Drogo is showering. Usually, he would try to take a nap so he wouldn’t be so garbage the next day when work starts, but now he’s going to take a walk around town instead.

He finds her in the lobby of the hotel — and she is talking to the front desk woman in Low Valyrian. He almost wishes he doesn’t understand the language, because he thinks it’s awkward that he is listening in on Missandei trying to finagle some additional perks or discounts for how they’ve been inconvenienced. He generally understands that she’s basically acting out what Dany wants her to do, but he also thinks that this shit is pretty minor and a discount on some very low cost rooms amounts to nothing, in terms of the entire production budget. People make their living by renting out these low cost rooms.

When Missandei catches him hovering, a heated flush breaks out over her face and she loses her train of thought. She ends the conversation with the front desk woman quickly — both settling on the promise that the woman will try to secure then the other three rooms as soon as guests vacate. It is paltry, but it sort of makes Missandei feel a tiny bit better — but not really.

She thinks about how it usually goes when people start dating each other. They get the luxury of putting on their best faces and presenting their best personalities. In contrast, she and Grey have this unease of knowing too much about each other already — of being too familiar, but not yet comfortable. She doesn’t know when she will feel comfortable around him. It’s definitely not right now. Definitely fucking not.

“I’m going to take a walk,” he says. “Wanna come with?”

 

 


They sort of talk about the Old Ghis ruins and kind of how New Ghis is earnestly trying to mold itself into the image of a defunct empire, but how that is a pretty sure-fail endeavor, in so many ways — before they just kind of get tired of talking about that. They travel a lot for work. They are constantly having these conversations — not just with each other — but with everyone on the crew. It’s become automatic and ingrained and even robotic sometimes. Sometimes, it’s all they have in common.

He snaps some pictures, but he’s honestly very tired and his head is just not in it. He can’t muster up the enthusiasm for it at the moment. Even though he loves the core of what he does, it’s still a job and there’s still a strong element of work to it. He figures he will do better tomorrow. Sansa was actually always expressing how impressed she was, that he was so artistic and apparently successful at it. He thought it was a bit weird that she was saying those things to him, because she hadn’t actually ever seen his work — though she insisted that she’s seen the show. What he means is that she probably could not differentiate his work from anyone else’s — because she was untrained. Which is fine. Most people are. But it’s just weird to make assumptions about his abilities when there’s no way for her to actually verify that they are true. A misconception a lot of people have about his job is that it is always creatively fulfilling and it is always about self-expression. It’s actually sometimes not very creatively fulfilling and it’s generally never about self-expression. That’s the point. He kind of lacks a distinctiveness in his point of view sometimes, he thinks.

He accidentally snaps a picture of Missandei because she walks into his shot. The sound of the shutter startles her and she freezes. Then she blurts out, “I’m not photogenic.”

He bites back a laugh, and he says, “You are nuts.” He looks down at his screen. The picture is blurry and it sucks because she ruined his shot. But not being photogenic is not really her problem.

“Can I see?” she says, holding her hand out expectantly to him.

“I’ve already deleted it.” He’s constantly editing because he likes to keep things neat and tidy. Drogo sometimes just leaves a fucking mess of data for them to sift through sometimes.

She grins and rolls her eyes, though she keeps her hand held out. “I wanna see anyway.”

He hands over the camera. And then he watches as she clicks through some of his most recent pictures. She says nothing. She pays him no empty compliments. She sometimes spends all day looking at his shit. That’s part of her job. And then she raises the camera to her face and looks through the viewfinder, as she clicks some more buttons and makes some adjustments. She’s also comfortable with cameras.

He’s distinctly uncomfortable looking into a lens. It’s almost kind of like looking down the barrel of a shotgun. But he stays still for her anyway. The shutter clicks and then she pulls the camera down so she can look at the screen and check her picture. And then she looks up, and she smiles at him in a way that makes him feel good and bad at the same time. “I wanna keep this,” she says. “Don’t delete it before sending it to me, okay?”

“How does Drogo know about us?”

The smile falls off her face. It becomes instantly awkward. And then she carefully says, “He’s my friend. Just like Jaime and Tyrion are your friends.”

“It’s not the same thing.”

On her part, she can tell that he’s upset because it’s obvious now. She generally has the sense that Drogo can be a bit of sore subject for him. She also tends to downplay it in her head because she thinks he’s stupid because it’s so fucking obvious she is just so fucking crazy about him, and not Drogo. It is like, so fucking obvious to her. So she says, “It’s not the same thing because Drogo is a guy, right? This wouldn’t be a problem if Drogo were a woman.”

He shakes his head at that — because he doesn’t like what she’s insinuating — he’s not currently at a point where he can objectively evaluate why he feels the way he does. He thinks back to their promise to each other not too long ago — a conversation about honesty and about not doing anything to fuck the other one up. He also thinks about his own comeuppance. Maybe he deserves this. He just feels upset all of a sudden, and he can’t make much sense of it. “He hangs all over you,” Grey pushes out, hating the bitter taste of the words. “And it’s one thing, if he does it because he has no idea what the situation is between you and me, you know? Claim ignorance and all that. But he actually does. He knows, and you know, and now I know. And he still is all over you. And so what now? This a relationship between three people?”

“He’s my friend,” she repeats, her voice far away. “That’s just how he is. He’s a friendly person.”

“You guys are really friendly with each other," he says bitterly. "People are always making comments about it. You don’t think it’s inappropriate?”

She looks shocked that he said that. And then she exhales out a scoff. This is a side of Grey that she has never really seen before — this is a trait that she typically dislikes in men — the possessiveness and the self-righteous sense of ownership over women. She actually thought that he was incapable of being this person. Faced with the reality that she has been wrong, she is starting to feel angry with him, too. She shakes her head and she looks up at the sky — as she blinks back at the sun. Then she says, “Yeah, no. I don’t think it’s inappropriate. I think he’s been a fucking good friend to me, a person that I have been able to talk to when you’ve fucking driven me nuts. And you know what? He has fucking advocated for you, and he told me that you’re a good guy when I was couldn’t even see straight because I was so mad at you. So no, dude. I’m not going to tell him to cool it on his friendship with me because it fucking makes you uncomfortable. I’m fucking sorry you feel like he’s stepping in on your territory. Why don’t you go fight him over it instead of bitching to me about it behind the scenes?”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

While Missandei is still pissed off and angry, she talks to Drogo right before dinner. Drogo can barely pay attention to her fully because he’s been running around all over town just going nuts on the sights, tastes, sounds, and city. He’s sick of cold winter in King’s Landing. He prefers warm weather, and he tried to get some surfing in before it got dark. He has to get down to real brass tacks tomorrow. And honestly, the sound of Missandei’s self-righteous rant is stuff he’s heard a million times before — if not from her, then from his sisters. If not from his sisters, then from other women in his life.

Drogo leans back in his wicker chair — he might be a touch too heavy or rambunctious for it. It stretches underneath his weight as he tilts his head and sways his body to the music playing overhead. And he says, “To be honest with you, he kind of has a point. I wasn’t even thinking, man. It didn’t occur to me that I was being disrespectful.”

“What! No, he doesn’t have a point!”

“Missy, I just know how I’d feel, if I were in his shoes.” Drogo pauses, thinking at the same time his face registers approval at the choice in tunes overhead. He appears distinctly uninvested in this conversation. Then he laughs. “Man, I’d be raging if some dude was always creeping on my girl.”

“I’m not his girl.”

“You kinda are, man.”

Missandei flares red and she leans forward and points her finger down into the glass covering the frail wooden table underneath. She suddenly remembers a conversation she had with Drogo at one point — about a fiance and how Drogo kept a healthy distance from her out of respect for a man he hadn’t even ever fucking met. She finds that it’s too easy for her to believe the best in people, and she has become too comfortable in her friendship with this guy. She wants to bite out something fucking mean and terrible to him about how it’s so fucking obvious that he doesn’t even see her as a person sometimes. She wants to say something that will make him realize that he’s being an asshole, so that he will feel as bad as she feels.

Instead she starts tearing up. And she pathetically says, “Are we not friends anymore? Are we not friends when I’m dating someone? Is that how this works?”

His expression drops. “Babe,” he says. His chair scrapes against the brick floor as he stands up. She gets enveloped in his strong arms, and her face gets smashed into his shoulder. “We’re friends forever, obviously,” he says, his voice a rumble that vibrates against her. He’s always so demonstrative. He’s actually very sweet. And she’s actually not sexually aroused by this at all. Grey is really fucking stupid. She holds onto Drogo tightly.

 

 


Missandei’s anger dissipates by morning. Grey generally laid awake all night, listening to Drogo’s loud snores, feeling like shit. He and Missandei have both replayed their fight in their minds, over and over again. She keeps having these memories of being thirteen years old and rocking awkward puberty — self-consciously rocking boobs for the very first time. They inspired a few moments where she was cornered somewhere in her apartment with Mars, by one of of Mars friends. Mars was off somewhere not protecting her. She was young and confused — as she was told that she could pass if she gave out kisses on the cheek. There was this forced air of chaste innocence in all of it. She felt like the butt of some joke anyway — because she was met with laughter whenever she shyly and nervously and fearfully gave out fucking kisses and pushed past guys.

She supposes she has some baggage, like anyone does. She supposes that her baggage really made her kind of overreact. She shouldn’t have gotten so angry with him. She shouldn’t have worked so hard to make him feel bad. She’s been trying really hard to separate her baggage from what he was actually saying. She keeps trying to put herself into his head and trying to figure out what he was actually feeling. But there is still something about her that deeply resents being looked at as property. She remembers these words from friends she used to have when she was younger, about how sometimes it is thrilling when a guy shows that he cares through his possessiveness. That’s something Missandei understands. But she also hates it.

Grey shows up to the morning meeting after getting close to no sleep. This is after a day of getting next to no sleep. He is fucking garbage — in so many ways. His mind is foggy, and his body feels sluggish — it’s actually kind of like deja vu. It kind of reminds him of how weak his body was, pre-surgery. He keeps telling himself that pre-surgery — before the influx of testosterone flooded his system — it wouldn’t have even occurred to him to say the things he said to her. Pre-surgery, he didn’t have to contend with this level of anger and this kind of aggressive sense of ownership. But also pre-surgery, he didn’t have her. Maybe nothing has really changed. He keeps telling himself that he has got to stop fucking blaming everything on testosterone. He has got to start taking full responsibility for his own shortcomings.

Dany is in a bad mood. And when it comes to Dany, Grey is completely untouchable. Dany will generally give him yards and yard of leniency because he’s her favorite. He’s exhausted and distracted because he keeps thinking about his fight with Missandei, and even though he is fucking up left and right, Dany makes no comments. Missandei, on the other hand, really cannot do very much that is right. She gets inundated with questions, and she’s also sleep-deprived and easily rattled, so every hesitation or pause from her is met with skepticism and naysaying. Missandei is far away from calling Dany out on the different treatment, but if she were to call Dany out on it — on the different standards Dany apparently has for men versus women — Dany would say that it’s because she’s training Missandei to work so much harder to gain the same amount of respect. Right or wrong — this is the methodology and that is the point in it all. Dany believes that women get no leniency.

The tone is set for the rest of the day, which Missandei and Grey both slog through miserably.

 

 


They have to run a cord up a building because the outlet on the ground is busted. Missandei has been getting her ass constantly reamed by the boss, so they — Drogo, Daario, and Grey — collectively decide to do her a solid and just bypass permissions and the inconvenience of waiting for the print shop to get back from lunch so they can ask if they can traipse through their office to plug into the side of the building on the second floor.

They almost send Pod up the side of the building, but Drogo backtracks at the last second, citing that Pod might be too incompetently unathletic. In truth, Pod looks very young and like a kid. Drogo doesn’t want the guy to fall off the side of the building because he looks delicate. Pod tepidly insists that he can do it, but Drogo’s negging is making him paranoid that he truly is not strong enough to climb up a pipe.

The pipe also looks like it might crumble underneath Drogo and Daario’s weight. So that’s why they send up the sleep-deprived zombie. Though to be fair, Drogo sleeps like a rock and is fairly unaware of just how much he disrupted Grey’s sleep with his snoring.

Grey doesn’t care. He doesn’t have much to live for currently. So he puts the thick, wrapped, dirty cord in between his teeth to free up his hands, and he climbs up the pipe with some help in the beginning from Drogo and Daario, pushing him up by the ass with their hands. Once he is out of reach, they just stare up at him, laughing and smiling — coaxing encouragement up to him.

This is when Missandei catches them, rounding a corner with Brienne.

“What the hell are you doing with him!”

That surprises him. After after he plugs in, his foot slips — it loses grip against the wall — and he starts sliding down the wall. And there’s a part of his brain that knows he doesn’t want to fucking break this stupid pipe because then they will have to pay for it and then Missandei will be in real trouble, so he lets go of it, figuring that the fall is not going to be too horrible.

“We gotcha, bud!”

They do not have him. Drogo and Daario put forth a very valiant effort at catching him, but he slams into the ground with his feet first and collides into the wall with his shoulder anyway, because he ricocheted off Drogo, who hits the dirt from the force of Grey’s fall.

 

 


They have to take him to a doctor, even though he says that he’s really fine. But for purposes having to do with liability, they have to haul his dumb ass to a doctor. The doctor tells Missandei that his shoulder is fine. Just tweaked and maybe a little sprained. Just ice it.

Luckily, it’s his left shoulder, and he can carry on working just fine. Sort of. He’s quiet for the rest of the day because he’s really a bit fucked up on pain medicine — taken on a relatively empty stomach — on very little sleep. Drogo, having worked closely with Grey for a number of years, completely notices Grey’s deficiencies and his inability to focus or even hold a shot for very long before he wobbles — starts to make these adjustments to compensate.

They eat dinner as a crew in a restaurant before they have to film Dany and Jaime eating. They all really love these corn cakes that are a local specialty. Grey keeps shoving these corn cakes into his mouth until it’s beyond capacity. Everyone keeps fussing over him and telling him what he needs. He needs to sit. He needs to eat. He needs to get a good night’s rest tonight. He sits in between Drogo and Daario and miserably chews up the corn cakes as he holds a pack of ice to his shoulder. He’s just having a bit of a shitty day, and he thinks that he’s probably about to be broken up with. He’s just biding time until she does it — whether she will do it while they are on the job or if she will insist on dragging this out until they are home again. He’s glad they haven’t slept together again. He held himself back from sex for this very reason, in anticipation of his inevitable fuck-up. He’s not a complete piece of shit, then. They can preserve the friendship, then.

Missandei actually isn’t even the least bit mad at him anymore. She actually has been missing him a lot — not him as someone she’s dating, but him as her buddy. She misses being able to crack wry jokes with him whenever something goes sideways. She misses being able to exchange looks with him whenever Dany, Tyrion, or Jaime says something especially crazy. She actually has been feeling horrible that they fought. She really just wants to make up with him already. She keeps trying to catch his eyes so she can give him a peace-making, encouraging smile — but he is being very internal and avoiding her.

 

 


Drogo tells her that Grey is sleeping when she lightly knocks on their door, but Drogo lets her into the room anyway. The TV is on — a kids channel, which is just an ADD onslaught of noise and colors. She sees that Drogo isn’t actually watching TV. His laptop is open on the bed and he puts his reading glasses back on before he goes back to typing on his computer.

Grey is a bundle on his bed, just a ball curled up into the fetal position. She can only see the top of his head.

She’s uneasy about waking him up when he’s sleeping so soundly, but Drogo makes the decision for her, by sliding off the bed and ripping the covers off of Grey’s body. That shocks Grey into alertness, and he curls up tighter before he blinkingly recognizes them.

Drogo laughs.

And she swats him with the back of her hand. “You’re an ass.”

“Do you guys want privacy?” Drogo asks — without any fucking preamble or lead-in. Grey is still waking up, and she’s very, very embarrassed and feels put on the spot. She can’t fucking answer this for the both of them. What if she says yes and he’s like, ‘Fuck, get this bitch out of my face’?

She says, “Yes, please.”

“Imma get a drink,” Drogo says, swiping up his phone and his keys from the desk. “Call or text if you need something.”

 

 


She shyly tells him that she brought him some ointment, holding out the jar, rambling and explaining to him that it will make him heal faster. It’s actually completely anecdotal, and this is completely an old wive’s tale. But she doesn’t care. This is her tradition. This is the same brand of stuff that her mom used to slather all over her whenever she had aches and bruises as a little kid. He is slow — he doesn’t take the jar from her hand right away, so she mutely just slides it onto the little side table separating his pullout bed from Drogo’s full-sized bed.

She nervously grabs her elbow with her left hand as her right arm hangs down at her side. She teeters on her feet, encased in these cheap flats that she’s planning on leaving behind after filming. He’s sitting up. There are creases on his face from the pillow, and he’s still blinking a little bit against the bright light of the room. He mostly avoids eye contact, and she feels horrible. She wants to know when they will be past this awkward stage. She wants to know when it will feel easier, and when she can just touch him whenever she wants without having all of these fears about rejection. She says, “How are you feeling?” even though what she truly wants to say is an apology. She’s sorry for being a fucking mean bitch.

“I feel completely fine,” he says. “People are completely overreacting about the shoulder.” And then he catches her glancing at the ointment she put on the table — and he generally winces inwardly and resists just kicking his stupid fucking ass and his stupid fucking mouth six ways from Sunday. He groans in exasperation, and he says, “Sorry. I really mean thanks for the stuff. I blow at expressing gratitude.” He shrugs — and then he winces again. Because his shoulder actually kind of hurts. “I blow at expression in general. I’m sorry, Missandei. What I said was complete bullshit. I was being real insecure. You’re right. Drogo’s a nice guy.” Drogo has been replenishing his ice pack constantly all fucking day, which has made Grey feel just terrible and guilty. “You can break up with me now.”

It is a terrible joke — badly timed and also too raw and derived from sensitivity. It makes her feel sad. So she starts crying — because it is really easy for her to cry. She hates it. Because it always telegraphs how strongly she feels all the time.

She hears him sigh.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I just get angry, and then I just say such mean things to you when I get angry. It’s not right.”

“It’s fine.”

“No, it’s not.”

He kind of smiles at her. “You weren’t that mean. I’ve heard worse.”

“You want to break up?”

His face twitches, and he frowns. He says, “No.”

“Then don’t fucking bring it up!” And then she sniffs back her runny nose and she exhales out hot air. “Sorry. There I go again.” Then her hands come up to wipe and clean up her face. And her voice sounds small and hesitant when she says, “I know that we’re not supposed to — we’re not — that we should be good — but can I just —” She raises her hands to his face, stopping short of actually touching him.

He reaches for her. He says, “Come here.”

 

 


It’s a trip to be lying down with him in bed and to do it in a pretty wholesome way, on top of the covers, which is cold because the air conditioner is running. He’s truly exhausted, but he’s fighting to stay awake, and it’s adorable. She keeps pushing her luck and she's nudging herself closer and closer to him, until he just grabs onto her by the hips and pulls her into his warmth. She risks again, and she presses a kiss to his cheek. She likes the way his skin smells. She curls her arm around him, and she whispers to him. She asks him if he knows how much she likes him and just how attracted to him she is. He must know because she keeps trying to fucking have sex with him. She tried to have sex with him even before he got hot. That has got to count for something.

He laughs breathily and tells her that he’s starting to get the idea. He tells her it’s pretty weird that she wants to have sex with him, and it’s pretty great, too. He confesses to her. He tells her it actually still really trips him up — all of it — being with her. She tells him that he has got to stop assuming the worst. She only likes him more and more — the more time she spends with him. She tells him she can’t wait to be back at home so that they can do this all the time — just be with each other. She can’t wait to hang out, and do stupid things that couples do — like assemble cheap furniture together. She can’t wait to go shopping and buy him clothes that he really doesn’t want to wear because he’s such a boy. That makes him laugh. Everything that is coming out of her mouth is just so freaking sappy, but her heart is just pounding hard in her chest, and she just can’t believe she has this. She can’t believe she feels this way already.

He’s drifting back to sleep when she sits up and starts pulling off his shirt. He has the wherewithal to jokingly mumble that he’s really in no state to have sex with her. After all, she’s the very reason that he has been losing so much sleep lately.

“You’ve been thinking about me?” she says softly, running her hand up and down the entire length of his bare back, before she dips her fingers into the ointment she brought and smears it into his shoulder.

“Always.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The rest of the trip goes by fairly smoothly. Grey goes back to his super anal-retentive self after he gets some adequate sleep. Missandei still can’t do jackshit right, but she is getting used to her new lot in life as a terminal failure. It’s nice to film on such a small island because they don’t have to spend long hours crammed in a car getting from place to place. Everything is very condensed together, and a lot of their downtime is instead spent lying around on the beach and guzzling water from coconuts. Brienne forgot her fancy industrial strength sunblock at home and so she burns painfully after the first day and spends the rest of the trip sweating in her clothes and running from shadow to shadow as Jaime makes fun of her for it. Grey, Tyrion, and Pod escape from the clutches of their shitty roommates a week into filming because some rooms open up. Drogo actually seems a little mournful about it, the morning that Grey took his shit and relocated a few doors down.

They almost lose a camera to the ocean one day because it gets ripped out of Pod’s hands when he flies off a jetski and slams into water. After a worrisome moment in which Drogo screams at Pod over lost footage and for falling into the water, and after Grey sees something of his younger self in Pod and tells Drogo to lay off, after he reminds Drogo that Drogo was going far too fast and they were all screaming at him to slow the fuck down — Daario spots the floating yellow cord a ways off. Drogo is all grins when he victoriously pulls the camera out of the water.

They spend a few days on the mainland in Old Ghis. Part of the shoot happens in a hotel that has been converted from a manor house. It’s supposed to be haunted. They all stay up late with their fixer, Cal, telling them ghost stories. Cal really believes in the supernatural. Drogo and Grey — who don’t — spend a lot of the night bored out of their minds.

There are elephants in a sanctuary near Old Ghis. So many jokes are made at Missandei’s expense. So many. The jokes are annoying because most of them don’t even make sense and aren’t even funny. But the more she protests based on logic, the more gleeful the guys are in torturing her.

She takes a lot of cold showers. He takes a lot of cold showers — but she doesn’t know that. To her, he is sometimes too level-headed. The days are long, and he keeps grinning at her and slapping her on the shoulder like a dude whenever she says something that amuses him. Sometimes she convinces herself that this guy has pretty much resigned himself to have sex begrudgingly with her, if only to finally shut her up.

They talk about all sorts of non-personal things, from running electricity to the middle of nowhere to what the true definition of trespassing is to the astounding fact that he thinks elephants are really just meh. They are merely just aiight. She keeps staring at him when he’s not looking because she thinks he’s fun to look at. He looks arresting. Her jaw sometimes aches because she clenches it so tightly whenever he does something adorable. She thinks it’s adorable when he drops something on the ground, swears to himself, and then awkwardly stoops with the rig still attached to his body to pick up the cord. Once, he accidentally knocked himself into a tub of yogurt as he was filming in a restaurant and spilled half of it over the counter and down a sink. The cook flipped out and yelled at him so badly, and Grey was in such comical disbelief that what happened just happened. She thought that shit was so fucking cute, and she wanted to just bite off a chunk of his ass over it because he is so cute. She alternates between thinking about how she’s going to fuck him up real good when they get back home, and also thinking about how she might not be very good at sex. The prospect of being back home and having to pick up where they left off is both exciting and terrifying.

For their last dinner together, Missandei orders mountains and mountains of corn cakes because she’s so pleased and so happy that everything is in the can and they are about to go the fuck home so that she can finally get laid. She and Grey are getting more and more familiar with each other, so every accidental brush of his hand against her arm is no longer something that makes her jump in surprise. She sits at the table, laughing, with her skin feeling a little tender from the sun, as Drogo drunkenly does a really terrible impression of her. He has to get out of his seat, and he has to jut out his hip and pretend to walk on high heels even though she never wears heels on the job — and he has to stuff napkins down his shirt so that he has boobs. And then he starts pretending to talk into his phone as he generally screams in a falsetto and asks where the fucking car is and why it is so late. And then Missandei’s eyes widen when he pulls Dany to her feet and into the impromptu skit. He apparently stays in character. He holds Dany’s hand, and then he kneels in front of her and starts generally saying, “Yes, yes, whatever you say, Dany. Yes, Dany.”

Missandei’s jaw drops as the table explodes in laughter, including Dany.

“Oh my God!” Jaime gasps. “It’s like watching a fucking documentary!”

“No no no!” Tyrion says, his voice tight and strained. “It’s like watching a re-enactment in one of those true crime news stories.”

“Oh my God! Yes!”

Missandei is horrified, and she also can’t stop laughing. She doesn’t want to be the uptight woman who raises a fuss over accuracy in portrayal — she has learned from the whole elephant thing — so she just sucks down another shot of eighty proof grain alcohol and lets it burn its way down her throat as she fights to not let the laughter choke her.

She should’ve shut it down. Because Drogo’s eyes catch sight of Grey sitting almost sideways in his chair, his hand covering his mouth as he tries not to laugh out loud along with everyone else. Drogo drops Dany’s hand and leads her back to her seat before he grins and starts to advance on Grey in a predatory way.

“Oh no,” Missandei says. “Drogo! Stop!” she snaps, reaching out for him, lightly catching the tail of his shirt before it slips through her fingers.

She watches at Drogo stares Grey down with this specific sort of intensity. Grey is staring back up at him, brows furrowed and expression mostly unreadable. She watches as Drogo reaches his hand out slowly, to cup Grey’s cheek before he starts softly caressing it. Drogo says, “Hey, sailor. Is that a sea slug in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Kiss me, you fool!”

“Oh God no,” Grey says, finally spurred into action. He sinks down into his seat to avoid Drogo’s puckered lips, until he just slides completely off of his chair and his butt hits the ground.

“Drogo!” Jaime screams, almost launching out of his seat, his face glistening with sweat and flushed from alcohol. “Jesus Christ, how are you not in movies? You’re a fucking thespian!” Jaime laughs. “It’s like, am I looking at Drogo or Missandei right now? It’s impossible to tell!”

After Drogo pulls out the napkins from his shirt, deflating his lopsided boobs, when he returns back to his sit next to her — he catches sight of her face and her expression and he bursts out laughing. He says, “Babe. Everyone here already knows that you guys boned. Come on. Don’t look at me like that.”

 

 


They are packing up — tagging and relabeling everything before storing the equipment. Drogo is drunk and in a goofy mood. He keeps hollering at every woman who walks by their open door — they are mostly all tourists and they are mostly coupled off and middle-aged. Either that or they are the teenage daughters of those women, frighteningly young and probably not legal. He’s been startling people more than anything. And he doesn’t really stop until a big lady his grandma’s age, with Grey’s complexion, shows up and threatens to kick his ass out of the hotel. She is apparently staff. There have apparently been complaints. Drogo crosses his arms and looks her up and down with a wide grin on his face. She harshly tells him to sit the fuck down, which is something Drogo actually likes in women — the verbal strength. He gamely tells her to come back round to him after her shift is over, and her fists clench before she points a finger at him, calls him a little boy, and tells him to think of his mother when he says these things to people. She scares the shit out of Pod, who cannot look in her general direction.

Grey gets randomly hit with an accusation. The woman turns on him and demands to know why they are being rowdy. And then in Low Valyrian, because she knows he speaks it — she yells at him to keep his friend under control.

“What just happened?” Daario says after she leaves. “Did she just cast a spell on you? Are you cursed now?”

“Okay, racist,” Drogo says, snorting.

“How is that racist!”

“Shut up,” Drogo says dismissively. “Where’s the cap to this?” he says, holding up a Cabrio. “Fuck, Pod. Did you put it somewhere?”

Pod distinctly remembers that Drogo actually lost it, a few days ago. Because Drogo was touching his pockets and complaining about how they fucking forgot to bring extras and lecturing aimlessly about how the equipment is expensive. But Pod is a little bit too scared to point this out to Drogo.

“Um,” Pod says hesitantly.

“Just pop a filter on it for now,” Grey says, reaching out to grab the lens from Drogo.

Apparently placated, Drogo stretches widely, his tanned bare arms almost spanning the entire width of the tiny room. He burps before cracking his neck. He looks out the open door. And then he grins. Then he says, “Hey, baby. Bring that ass round here. I got something to say to you.”

Missy pokes her head into the room, her face screwed up in disgust. Brienne is with her, patiently irritated with Drogo, but hanging back. “Shut up, dude! God!” Missandei shoves out that last bit in a frustrated womanly whine. And then her head disappears, apparently back to carrying on whatever she was talking about with Brienne.

Drogo laughs, shaking his head. She responded exactly how he expected her to respond. “She must be a handful sometimes,” he says affectionately — to the room in generally, but specifically to Grey.

“Yeah,” Grey says lightly — carefully. He decides that Drogo didn’t actually literally mean a hand full. “She can, uh, get pretty loud sometimes.”

“Oh my God, yeah!” Drogo laughs. “She always thinks that she’s so demure and quiet — but the second she feels pushed —”

“Yeah, she kind of goes on rampages.”

Drogo laughs. “Yeah, like a fucking ape.”

 

 


They all cram themselves into Tyrion’s room to review the last day’s footage. Grey, Drogo, Daario, and Pod are last to arrive, with Drogo chatting loudly to no one in particular, talking about how CrossFit is the business and he can’t wait to get back to his gym in King’s Landing because he’s been feeling like a real lardass lately. Tyrion doesn’t even wait for them to sit down before he impatiently queues up the footage on the monitors — always the last things that they pack up.

Pod takes a seat on the floor, Drogo sprawls out carelessly a small sliver of space on the bed, touching Sandor shoulder to shoulder. Daario and Grey remain standing — partially blocking Missandei’s view of it — until she reaches out and taps Grey’s waist with her pen. He looks surprised as he pivots around — before he touches Daario on the shoulder and then moves completely out of her way.

It’s business as usual. They talk a little bit about missed opportunities. They reminisce a little about the context surrounding certain shots. They laugh a little bit about how Grey fell off the side of a building. Tyrion keeps leaning over to type himself notes on his laptop. Jaime and Dany keep writing out bits and pieces of voice overs out loud, as Brienne takes some of it down. Tyrion keeps correcting them and telling them that the stuff they are narrating might not even make the final cut — Jaime murmurs that some of it is just for fun. There’s a certain predictability and a rhythm to all of this, even as each episode filmed is a completely unique and different experience. But these are the moments that kind of remind her of how much she loves this job.

That all plummets down to hell when, in the course of everyone trying to leave and call it a wrap, Dany calls out her name and Grey’s name and asks them to meet her at her room for a quick moment. Missandei shoves her eyes down to the floor and avoids looking at another fucking human being. She can see Grey kind of tensing up in her peripheral vision. She can see his hand twitching, stopping itself from clenching. The ask is awkward for everyone. Even Drogo and Jaime wisely shuffle out of the room without a word.

 

 


Dany crosses her arms over her chest and she cuts right to the chase. She looks at both Grey and Missandei — one of whom is hanging her head like she’s guilty, the other one has his arms crossed and is staring back defiantly — and Dany says, “Are you guys engaging in a personal relationship outside of work?”

“Is that a problem?” Grey asks.

Dany wants to tell him to relax a little bit. She is not the bad guy here. She doesn’t want to talk about this with them anymore than they want to talk about this with her. Instead, she says, “How long has it been?”

“A little under a month,” Missandei says carefully, because this feels distinctly different from the time she knocked on Dany’s door and confessed to being a big ol’ whore. This time, it feels serious. “It’s new. That’s why we haven’t said anything about it to you —”

“Okay,” Dany says. “Now I know. Thank you.”

“That’s it?” Missandei says.

“That’s it,” Dany confirms, nodding her head.

“Do we . . . have any policies on this sort of thing?” Missandei asks hesitantly.

“Use common sense?” Dany shrugs. “We’re a small company. We don’t have a written policy. But I trust that you guys will not let this interfere with your work.”

“Absolutely not,” Missandei says.

“Okay, then.” Dany shrugs again. “Have a good night, Missandei. Grey, can you hang back for a second? I have something to talk to you about.”

 

 


Missandei leaves Dany’s room by herself feeling like she was kind of chastised, which is weird because she really wasn’t chastised at all — at least not in words. She kind of hovers by the door after closing it, and she kind of wonders what is going on in there that is so top secret she can’t be a party to it. She’s not really a snoop though, so she gives up swiftly and starts heading to her hotel room, kind of hoping that someone will pop out and intercept her while she’s on the way, to distract her from this ill feeling she has in her stomach. No one does though. She makes it all the way to her room.

 

 


Dany actually talks to him about work. She tells him that Daario put in his notice and is leaving at the end of the month. Dany tells Grey that they don’t necessarily have to backfill the position straightforwardly. They can redefine the scope of the job. They can even create an entirely new position. It is largely dependent on what they think will work best. She tells him that she wants for him to think it over and figure out what that position might look like, before they start trying to hire for it. Dany also tells him that she wants him and Drogo in office a little bit more frequently when they get back to King’s Landing, in light of the development. She wants the both of them — but mostly him — to get as much information from Daario as they can before Daario leaves. Daario has worked with them for years now — he’s carrying off a lot of tribal knowledge.

“Is he leaving on good terms?” Grey asks mildly. He’s really asking if he’s going to have trouble procuring information from Daario. He’s asking because he remembers how he had caught Daario leaving Daenerys’ hotel room once, a while ago.

Dany nods. “Yes. Good terms.”

“Okay.”

She smiles at him plainly. “Okay, then. Thank you.”

When he makes a move to leave, Dany stops him by softly calling out his name again. He’s rigid and tense as he pauses in her doorway. She says, “For the record, I’m happy for you guys.”

 

 


She’s reading in bed with only the side table lamp on when she hears the light knock on her door. She is pretty sure there is only one person who would be bugging her at this time of night — so she’s smiling widely when she opens the door. Sure enough, he is there. She says, “Hey!” brightly. And then she notices that he looks intentional as he palms her face, as he pushes his way into her room and shuts the door with his foot. The action startles her, and it makes her go, “Oh, whoa, hi,” right before he leans over and presses a quick kiss right on her mouth. By the time she purses her lips to kiss him back, he has already broken the contact. It still makes her smile up at him like a dope, nevertheless. It’s the first time they’ve kissed since the train station.

“It’s travel day,” he says, showing her his phone. It is after midnight. “We go home today.”

“We go home today,” she echoes softly.

He grins at her fondly. “By the way, in case you are missing it, this is a gesture,” he says, ducking down a little bit before picking her up. Her legs automatically go around his waist as he walks her back to the bed. “Later, you should remember that I made a gesture. This time, I was the one who showed up at your door. This time, I was the one who asked to be let in.”

She holds onto him and she looks at him and this easy-going attitude quizzically. “What in the world did you and Dany talk about?”

“Eh, work stuff,” he says, as he climbs on the bed with her in his arms. “You’ll find out later.”

As he settles on the bed, she holds her body against his in a languid hug — comforting at first, but then it starts getting exciting as his hands smoothly run up and then down her back. She pulls herself closer and she exhales out into the shell of his ear — she tightens her legs around his body — now this is taking a turn, which, she supposes, has got to be his intention. He lets out soft exhale of his own as she shifts around, as she purposely rubs up against him. She wraps an arm around his shoulders and she whispers, “Do we only fuck in hotel rooms?” It’s something she’s been thinking about a lot — off and on. The circular nature of what they do, of who they are. It’s not that they always goes back to old haunts. It’s not that they are doomed to repeat past mistakes — God, she hopes not. It’s that she keeps chasing a memory.

“Who says we’re gonna fuck?” His voice is low and grave — and her eyes are already closed and her hand is touching around his face. She groans right before she kisses him — this time the kiss is slow and deep. She pushes her face as close to him as she can. From this angle, with her straddling his lap, she has the height advantage. She can control the kiss. His mouth is warm, verging on hot, and she can taste the smallest trace of salt as her tongue confidently strokes his. She thinks that he is a great kisser — not only because he is so stingy sometimes that he makes her want it badly, but also because of how he can multitask with his hands as he kisses her, how he can keep it slow when she tries to speed it up, how he sometimes kisses her like all it can be is a prelude to sex.

He finds himself pressing her down as he pushes up against her — she hiccups in the midst of kissing him, as she realizes that he is actually hard. And he actually didn’t come here for this. He came up to just chat and to steal a kiss actually. Just one. But then she keeps talking about fucking, and it has devolved into this.

She gasps when they have to break apart for air. “You better fuck me,” she says, sucking in a breath. Her lips feel swollen.

He groans as she grinds down on him with such a sense of purpose.

She says, “Yeah?”

He allows himself the littlest bit of reciprocation. He bucks up against her — she bounces a little bit — it feels fucking great and it’s not at all what he needs — he throws his head back and looks at the ceiling. He groans as she — emboldened by his response — starts just smearing herself on him. “Oh my God, okay,” he finally chokes out as her lips latch onto his throat. “Sure. Why the fuck not?”

Missandei almost incredulously blurts out something like, are you fucking serious? But she has enough awareness to not say anything that will ruin this for her. Instead, she starts silently attacking his shirt. It comes off fast. And then her shirt is off. She’s not wearing a bra, and he alternates between staring at her face and down at her pert breasts. He’s in disbelief. He has only seen them like this a grand total of three times. This is the third time.

She’s totally afraid he’s going to change his mind, so she’s trying to move this along quickly. She has this belief that once his dick is inside of her, then it’s going to be impossible for him to escape her clutches. She takes his hand and pulls it around the back, pressing it to the waistband of her pants. He takes the hint and grabs the material in his fist, trying to pull it and her underwear off. He gets blocked by the fact that she’s straddling him. She laughs as he grunts in frustration. “You’re in my bed,” she says. “You’re getting me all fucking riled up. You're going to have to pay for this.”

“Missandei.” He pauses. “You just made yourself sound like a real prostitute.”

She laughs as he hugs her tightly. She holds onto him and she buries her laugh into his neck and she feels him chuckling, too. She presses her mouth to his soft skin, and she says, “You’re so fricking funny sometimes. God, I love you.”

And then they both freeze.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

She shows up early to hotel’s breakfast buffet so that she can stuff her face and get a nice cup of strong coffee in — and also to tamp down the vestiges of the sex dream she had about him. It was not at all like one of those titillating and pornographic sex dreams. That would’ve been great. It was actually a sex nightmare, if she were to be honest with herself. She was naked and cowering in a corner — and he was naked, too. They had very odd sex where he just rutted at her and she felt nothing, even as she struggled so hard to feel him. There was not really penetration. And then he loomed over her and told her that he will never love her because he is incapable of loving her and she is undeserving of love. And then she woke up and was like, what the fuck. She was sweating in her hotel bed. And she tried to blow it off by telling herself that she is fucking horny and she is also very, very, very uneasy about the state of their thing — she can’t yet call it a relationship because once she does, it’s going to get ripped from her hands. She is her own worst cockblock.

Drogo always refuses to eat hotel breakfast for real, but him swiping up a piece her toast exists in a gray area that he is okay with. He slathers jam on it and bites off half with his teeth as she quietly tells him about the latest episode in the ongoing saga of her and Grey. Drogo is more or less tired of being Missandei’s gossip girl. He’s always tempted to tell her to go talk to someone with ovaries, or someone with a higher tolerance for all of the micro-analyzation bullshit. He has already given her his take on it. His take doesn’t really change. He keeps telling her to just shut up and fuck the guy already.

“I kinda told him I love him last night. After less than one month of dating. Go me,” she says weakly.

He pauses mid-bite. And then through the food, he sensitively says, “I thought you were just trying to mash genitals together. I didn’t realize you’re all in love and shit.”

“Okay, I feel the need to correct you. The two things are not mutually exclusive. You can mash genitals and also be in love, you freaking whore. And I’m not actually in love. I kind of just blurted it in the moment. Like how you say to your friends. Like, ‘Hay girl! Thanks for this chapstick! I love you, bitch!’”

Drogo huffs out a laugh, picking up his cup of coffee — hotel coffee, he will drink. “I’ve never said that to any of my friends, but okay. Just tell him you didn’t mean it, then.”

“Oh, right. Because that doesn’t sound psycho at all. And guess what? I already did tell him that. And it did sound totally psychotic.”

Drogo waves his hand in the air. “Just ignore it. It’ll go away eventually. He’ll forget.”

“How would you feel if someone you’ve only been dating for a month told you she loved you?”

He widens his eyes in horror — to get his point across. “Oh my God, I would fucking run for the fucking hills. I’d fucking lose her phone number, and I’d change my name so she couldn’t find me.”

“Oh my God.”

“But he’s not me,” Drogo says through a mouthful of toast. “Maybe he didn’t hear you?”

Missandei cringes. She digs her fingers into her hair and puts her elbows on the table. “Oh, he heard me. He heard me loud and clear.” Grey had dropped her like a hot potato. He had looked horrified as he watched her flail on the bed. He said it was an accident. Their pelvises were still touching. So she could clearly tell that his boner like, died on the spot. And message that sent her was very, very, very clear. She’s a man magnet.

 

 


Everyone pretty much knows why Dany asked to talk to Grey and Missy the other night. Some of them, like Sandor, cannot even give less of a shit. Actually, most of them cannot even give less of a shit because thus far, Grey and Missandei’s not-so-secret relationship has not affected their jobs or their lives in any which way whatsoever. Pod has a little bit of investment — only because it kind of stings a little bit that Missandei is off the market. Not that he ever thought he’d have an actual shot with her, but because there was just something comforting to him about her apparent availability. Jaime and Tyrion probably have the greatest interest in that relationship of everyone — because they worry about how it would affect Grey if the relationship goes south. But even they are fairly blase about it.

It’s largely business as usual, as they pack up the last of their things, check out of the hotel, and start popping some hotel corn cakes wrapped in napkins into their pockets for the long travel day ahead.

She can only imagine that her untimely ‘I love you’ blurt really threw a wrench in the cogs of what he was trying to accomplish last night. She supposes that last night was about throwing caution to the wind and just having fun and being spontaneous and casual. And she really fucked that up by professing her undying love for him. She was shellshocked when she heard it come out of her own damn mouth. And then she said that she didn’t mean it — which made her wince because it sounded so harsh. But she meant that she has not even articulated this so completely, not even to herself. And what is love? What is love, really? She thought she was in love a couple of times before, but how she feels about Grey is so wholly different from how she felt in the past. She’s not sure she can even define what love is anymore.

On his end, he is bewildered and if it weren’t for how fucking awkward and weird she was after the fact — he could have tricked himself into thinking that his mind completely made up what she said to him. He had a hard time following her nervous babble after the fact. His heart was trying to ram its way out of his chest. And what she never understands is that it isn’t her apparent intensity that scares him. He actually has a hard time even being placated or feeling secure by the apparent intensity of her feelings because his fear of abandonment is that strong. He is mostly thinking that she has got to be fucking out of her mind for saying that to him — he doesn’t believe that she actually feels it — and he worries that he has severely misled and tricked her at some point, into thinking that he’s someone he’s not. Because there is just no fucking way. He still doesn’t understand what the hell this woman sees in him half the time. And when they first started, when he envisioned this relationship playing out to the end — he did not envision this.

 

 


He looks startled when she brushes up against him in the security line. And she sighs and audibly says, “Oh great, we’re back to this shit.” Which is vague enough that their coworkers within earshot might think that she’s talking about the slow-moving security line.

She’s being passive aggressive because she feels vulnerable and stupid, and she wants some armor. Her passive aggressiveness is disorienting to him though, especially since they left things fairly calm and relaxed the other night, when he left her room. He doesn’t realize that there was a delay in processing. Missandei was operating on survival-mode autopilot when she told him none of it was a big deal, and she ushered him out of her room after he asked if she wanted to talk more about things. She had breezily told him no, and he took her at her word. He doesn’t realize she spent half the night kicking herself over the blurt and that the blurt is all that she can think about today.

Travel day is terrible, because it is always terrible. They spend long hours sequestered in small seats, watching terrible movies that they would otherwise never watch, eating lackluster meals that they would otherwise never eat outside of an airplane. They stroll aimlessly around airport gift shops during their layover, and they never end up buying anything. And then they hop on a bigger plane to cross the ocean and get back to the windy bluster of home.

Before she drags her suitcase onto the rail and heads toward her house, she catches him pensively watching her. She doesn’t hug him goodbye in front of people. And she feels really embarrassed and idiotic as she says, “Bye, talk to you later,” all dismissively.

The long train ride home takes forever, and it is exhausting. Her house is freezing when she enters it. She puts off unpacking for hours as she scrubs her body in her tub, underneath some heat and some decent water pressure. And she thinks to herself that she used to live here with another man — not even that long ago. It’s been less than a year since he moved out. If she is being honest with herself, she was truly single for one hot second. She was single for the one hot second before she shoved her way into Grey’s hotel room. Before that — she was single for another hot second — after a boy broke up with her because she wasn’t who he needed or wanted. Before that, she lived in a small cruddy apartment with just one other man — her brother. She’s read that it takes half of the length of a relationship to mourn it and to get over it. She has another four years to slog through then, to get over Jared. She has just two weeks to get through, to get over Grey. She might be one of those women who needs to be with a man in order to feel valued. He might be a rebound because she’s weak and she can’t bear to be alone. They work together. She might be fucking up her life and his life because she cannot bear to be alone.

She texts him after she gets out of the shower. They make dinner plans for a few days from now.

 

 


On their Monday meeting, Daario announces to the team that he is leaving. The announcement generally garners surprise because no one knew he was even looking for another job. He tells them that there is a great opportunity in Dorne that he cannot pass up. He tells them that he’s never stayed in a job for as long as he has stayed in this job. He tells him he was content, but then something new presented itself. Life is kind of strange like that. He says he’s looking forward to something new and something different. He will be around for another two weeks — to offload onto Drogo and Grey and just clean up loose ends. And of course, he will leave his contact info in case they need to talk to him about anything or if they have any questions after he’s gone.

After they start dispersing after the meeting is over, Missandei reaches out and puts her hand on Daario’s forearm, to get his attention. She says, “Daario, I don’t get it. I didn’t realize you were even looking for another job. I didn’t realize you weren’t happy. I wish you had talked to me before you committed to leaving.”

He kind of laughs. “This is the part where I say it’s not you, it’s me.”

She’s confused. She doesn’t know what to say.

He pauses, staring down at her for a beat. Then he says, “Missy, can I be honest with you?”

“Yes, of course.”

He says, “I love this job. It’s the best job of my entire life. I also really love working with all of you guys. I’m actually really torn up about leaving. But for my own well-being, I have to go.” He pauses, swinging his eyes up to look at Dany’s closed office door. Then he says, “It’s hard to love someone who doesn’t love you back in the way that you want them to. It’s hard to continue seeing that person, day in and day out.” Then he laughs self-consciously. Then he says, “It’s hard when that person is also basically your boss. I’m a fucking ticking time bomb of a lawsuit. I’m gonna go nuts if I have to watch her be with someone else. It’s been stressing her out a lot. I decided to be a good guy and just leave. So we can both move on with our lives.”

 

 


Their mother wasn’t around long enough to teach Missandei how to be a woman — that’s what Mars used to say, to explain away some of her oddities — her slouching self-consciousness at times. Their mother wasn’t around to show Missandei how to carry herself, how to dress herself, how to put makeup on her face, how to command respect from men. Missandei has no memories of sitting at her mother’s feet in front of a vanity.

She thinks about this — and she hates that she thinks about this because she typically likes to insist that Mars is wrong — but she thinks about this and about loss as she struggles in putting makeup on her face. She thinks that she looks like a fucking sad clown. And then she pulls out a dark dress that was on sale — that might not actually be her exact size — and she pulls it on over her head, stretching the material over her body. She gets told that she is pretty a lot. It’s something that makes her happy — and something that makes her feel like a real superficial twit, when she feels happy over it. She keeps trying to tell herself that there has got to be more than just this — than this feeling of being so uncomfortable in her own skin that she has to constantly seek validation externally.

 

 


She pulls out the chair and deposits her small purse on the side of the table. He’s already seated because he got there early.

“You look . . . different,” he says softly, taking in the lipstick, the dress, the heels, the hair that’s pulled up and off her face. “You look nice,” he says, firmer.

“Thanks,” she says quietly, opening up the menu in front of her.

It really is the same as it was before — that is, stilted and awkward. She asks him what he’s been up to since they’ve gotten back, because they haven’t seen each other at all outside of work. He tells her his weekend was spent cleaning and unpacking. He tells her there’s so much dust and dirt that has permeated the equipment, so he’s been dismantling everything and all of that. He also had dinner with Tyrion the other night. Tyrion kind of wanted a distraction from some things, so they grabbed a beer and went to a bar and then silently sat side by side as they watched half of a horse race.

After his really bad, really boring summation of what he’s been up to, she just bites the bullet and she says, “We should talk. About what happened.”

He braces himself. Because all great conversations start with those words. He says, “Yeah?”

“I’ve been thinking a lot. About us.”

“Me too,” he says quietly.

Her smile is strained. She doesn’t know who should go first. She’s tempted to go first, but she also worries that if she goes first, she will never get to hear what he has to say. She has this plan, actually. She has this general plan to just scale back a little bit — or a lot. They are probably moving way too fast. She is a fucking moron. Over and over, they keep promising one another that they need to preserve the friendship, that they need to be careful, that they don’t want to lose each other — and then she keeps pushing him into moving faster than he seems to want to. Because she is so pathetic and sad and bad at thinking with her head. They probably should cool it — to preserve the friendship. They should probably be more casual. She has dated all of three people in her life, including him. She should probably date more and see what else is out there. He should probably date around and see if he might be able to do better than an overly emotional and hysterical bitch with mood swings.

She lets him go first. And what he talks about is actually a surprise to her. She expects for him to talk about the relationship, but he actually talks about fear.

He says, “It’s hard to lose your parents at a young age.”

She nods at that. She sighs, and she says, “I know.”

“I feel like stuff that happens to you when you’re young — you end up fighting with that stuff for the rest of your life. And it seems unfair, to constantly fight your whole life over stuff that occurred in the first seven or so years, but that’s just how it goes.” He inhales. “Before I had the surgery — shit was pretty bleak. I didn’t even see the point in living sometimes — not because, you know, I couldn’t really have sex.” He smiles kind of tightly at that. “But because of the loneliness. I didn’t really live anywhere for longer than a year until middle school. No one really knew me. No one wanted to know me. I felt like I didn’t know anyone. I felt like I was never going to know anyone. I was just so . . . different. And then I met you. And it didn’t seem to matter to you, that I was really fucking weird and odd looking. You were really nice to me. And you were like, this really bright spot in my life. I’m, uh, so glad to have met you — even with all the stuff that led up to me meeting you. I don’t know what I’d do, if we weren’t in each other’s lives anymore — if this thing between us, whatever it is, messes things up. You’re like, the greatest friend I’ve ever had. I never want to lose that.”

She reaches up to wipe her eyes. Her makeup is toast. She mutters, “You are always making me cry.” And she gets the sense that they are basically on the same page with things. Which is good. It is also the fucking pits, and she fucking hates it and she feels sick. It feels like they are on the verge of breaking up, which is probably the right thing to do. But she fucking hates it.

“Did it freak you out, when I —” She lowers her voice. “When I said the L-word.”

“Honestly? I was really surprised. I, um, I didn’t realize we were there.”

“Yeah, because it’s been all of one second since we’ve been dating, right? I know. God, I know.” She’s picking at the corner of her napkin with her finger. “I completely get where you’re coming from. I think I would be very freaked out, too, if I were in your position and someone had said that to me after less than a month of dating. Because it’s like, how well do you really know someone after a month that you can be confident that you love them, right? I know we’ve been friends for a while, but it’s different when you’re dating. There’s still so much we don’t know about each other. We didn’t even see each other outside of work until a month ago. I mean, you don’t even know where I live. It’s actually kind of fucking crazy, come to think of it, that I fucking said that to you. I feel like I just fucking lost my mind right at that moment. I think I was just completely caught up in that moment and how you make me feel that I wasn’t even thinking about what I was saying to you. I was just, you know, just existing out loud, and I was just saying whatever stupid thing popped into my brain and — you know what?” She says it in awe — just suddenly very aware. It suddenly all clicks together. She stares back at him. He is tense and wary. She is in shock.

She says, “Oh my God, I don’t want to preserve our friendship. I want to throw the thing down the fucking crapper, if it means there’s a chance for more. I’m actually not going to take any of it back, and I’m not going to talk myself out of this. Because I love you. I’m in love with you.” She blinks. “Okay, you can break up with me now.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

This is probably the very first time that it really resonates inside of him — that it starts materializing and becoming something tangible — the idea that this thing he has going on with Missandei might just end up working out — indefinitely.

The rest of dinner is fine — it’s quiet, and it’s sweet. After he forces himself to laugh at her awkward joke about breaking up with her — which is crazy because he is always waiting for her to break up with him. He tells her, “Wow.” And he also tells her he does not even know what to say. He feels stunned. It’s the truth.

She kind of feels invincible from her admission, so she tells him he doesn’t have to say anything. She’s just glad that he knows where she’s at. And then their food comes. And then she blatantly stares at him and watches him eat. He keeps thinking that there’s something on his face or he’s done something weird, and he keeps awkwardly cutting eye contact to look down at his food throughout dinner. And she feels okay about it. She tells herself that this time — truly this time — the outcome doesn’t really matter. Rejection will still hurt, but it doesn’t matter at this moment. At this moment, it’s okay for her to just be in love with him. There’s something really, really special about that.

After dinner, she asks him if he wants to come see where she lives — for the very first time. She kind of smiles to herself, at the little inside joke she has with herself now. She thinks that in the recent past — she would’ve freaked out over the prospect of asking him back to her place with intention, because she would’ve been so afraid of his possible rejection. But that is the nature of self-denial. It is fear-driven. It stops up calculated risks. She has a certain sense of clarity now. She has laid all of her cards out on the table. There is nothing left to hide. It is fucking liberating.

He puts her coat over her shoulders before he takes her hand and pulls her toward the nearest train station.

At her house, she flicks on her lights and she shows him her living room, her kitchen, the small alcove where she reads sometimes. He tries to linger in these places, making obvious observations like the kitchen looks cozy — code for small. She smiles at his nervousness, before she wordlessly leads him upstairs. She bypasses the guest room and she takes him into her bedroom. There, he haltingly apologizes to her — he tells her that he can’t yet say it back to her. He starts to fumble out some sort of explanation — about how the word comes with expectations and a certain mindset. He still has some things to work out within himself. He tries to tell her that he’s trying to do the right thing by her.

She tells him that she didn’t say it just so he’d say it back to her. She didn’t say it with the assumption of reciprocity. That is the nature of the beast. It’s an open-invitation. She steadily says, “I just love you. And I just want you to know.”

He looks through her doorway — like he might be planning an escape — and he squeezes her arms as he says, “Jesus fucking Christ.” And then he kisses her, as he holds her face carefully in his hands and tilts her head so they don’t hit teeth to teeth. The kiss is pliable and just soft muscle. He thinks to himself that he probably does fucking love her. Obviously he does. But she is being fucking insane and of the two of them, one of them needs to fucking keep a level head about this.

Instead, he says, “I’m really nervous.”

“About?”

“Everything,” he says. “But right now — mostly sex.”

She smiles at him. She says, “Don’t be nervous. You can’t fail.”

“What the fuck does that even mean, Missandei?” He tugs her face, and he kisses her again before she can answer. There are so many ways in which this can fail. He might not be able to get it up. He might not be able to keep it up. In the course of the sex, he might do something that gravely offends her and disrespects her. In the course of the sex, he might say something that gravely offends and disrespects her. In regard to the actual sex, it might be just fucking awkward and terrible, and she will never ever have a fucking orgasm in his presence, and she will realize that she actually doesn’t love him at all.

That — right there — is probably the main reason why he cannot yet say it back to her. He still has too many doubts and still prone to believing that love is conditional.

He spins her in his arms. He looks at the back of her neck. He thinks he has deferred this long enough. He thinks that this is just everything he’s been fucking wanting. He says, “Okay, how do you take this off? I don’t want to rip it. It looks expensive.”

It’s not expensive at all. She takes his hand. “Um, there’s a eyelet hook,” she says, gliding his fingers across the back of her neck. “If you unhook it, you will see the zipper.”

His fingers are shaking slightly against her skin as he pulls apart fabric and starts to take her zipper down — and she thinks it’s the most fucking adorable thing in the world — and then her breath hitches as his knuckles hit the dip at the bottom of her spine. The unzipping stops because there’s nowhere else to go. She feels the tips of his fingers touching down on her heated skin, pressing delicately into her body as he gently turns her around.

He kisses her right away, when her face is within reach. He kisses her as he presses his body against hers, as his hand travels up to her shoulder to slide off the dress. He kisses her because it’s a necessity. The dress drops to the ground when he pulls back slightly to look at her face. They’re both breathing heavily. His fingers float over her neck — he is always experimentally touching her like this — and then he presses his lips gently against her mouth. The kisses are soft and careful, slow and sweet.

“You’re so gentle,” she whispers to him, as her arms come up to lightly circle around his neck.

“I’m trying really hard not to lose my shit,” he whispers back.

 

 


Her bra is a lacy, form-fitting tiny thing, and he generally has to take a moment to swallow the lump in his throat before he unsnaps it and pulls it off her body. He is terrified, and his hands are numb. He generally avoids looking at her chest. Instead, he holds up the bra and he forces out some bravado. He says, “This is what you wear to break up with someone?”

She smears her bright smile into the side of his head as she clutches onto him. He can feel her laughing — and at the very least — he can still make her laugh.

He asks her if everything is okay, as he walks backwards, as he sits back on the edge of her bed, pulling her down with him, settling her in his lap. She tells him that everything is great. They are pressed chest to chest, forehead to forehead. The room is dimly lit — just the streetlights, the moonlight, and her alarm clock. He doesn’t think he can quite handle seeing her body already, so he settles for just blind touching — his hand rubbing up and down her spine, occasionally settling on her hips to shift her around and off of his erection, sometimes holding her face as he kisses her slowly and thoroughly. He tells himself he just has to trust that this is going to last and this isn’t just a means to an end.

On her part, she feels drugged and delirious. Her body continues to be very responsive to him — to all of him — to all the things that he is about. He’s being really sweet, and she basically wants more, in all the obvious and subtle connotations of that word. She grabs his hand and she places it over her breast because he’s clearly been avoiding that area of her body. His touches are featherlight, and they make her shiver. His pace is slow and methodical, and it makes her heart beat fast. Her skin tingles — her nipples tighten under his ministrations. Her breathing goes dark and heavy. She squirms. She asks him leading questions — she asks him if he likes her body.

“Missandei,” he say, almost a little ticked off as he almost sarcastically holds both of her breasts in his hands. “Are you kidding me? You’re so soft.”

She whispers, “Thank you,” as she rocks against him, as his hands continue gliding over and pressing into her sensitive skin, as the ache between her legs just grows. “I think you’re beautiful, too,” she says. “I like your body, too.”

“Uh, okay.”

She gasps and he grunts as she bears down, trying to line things up so she can get a little bit of relief. She’s not as considerate with his clothes as he was with hers. Her sensitive skin catches on the ridge of his jeans, over his zipper. She’s still in her panties — she can smell herself and she can feel herself. She uses her body weight to press him down into the bed. She says, “You are still dressed,” as she goes about rectifying that.

He palms her cheek. She turns her head, and she kisses the center of his palm.

 

 


He’s concentrating — a lot. He’s leading with his brain, and he’s trying his best to avoid past mistakes that he has made with her. He’s focusing really hard on making this last, on not getting rough with her, on fucking saying her stupid name a lot even when it sounds forced, on saying her name carelessly and thoughtlessly when her hand closes around him, making him harder as she slowly works him and pushes on his frayed nerves. He clamps his hand around her wrist. He says, “Ah, hold on.” He shakes his head. “Fuck.”

Underneath his body, in his arms, she’s just this warm and funny and sexy squirming mess that keeps touching him all over. He tries to be content with just kissing her for a while. When he pins her wandering arms down with his hands, she whimpers and then she pouts and then she arches her body into his and hooks her leg over his hip. He almost loses it and slams her back into the bed — he actually does that. She exhales and he smells her perfume. He rolls her over. He palms her curves. He likes the way her underwear stretches across her ass. He tell her this.

“Oh my God, just take it off.”

He does. He slides it off her long legs and then he shoves it somewhere on the bed as she flips over and yanks his head back down so she can fuse their mouths together.

“Talk to me,” he says, pulling away with a gasp. He’s been thinking about this. He’s been obsessively thinking about how to do things right. “Tell me what you like.” He hesitates. And then he says, “Tell me what you’re into.”

To her, it’s unbearably sweet. It kind of breaks her heart. Effort is something that is easy to request, and sometimes something really hard witness. She wants to let him off the hook and tell him that he is so perfect that he can never do anything wrong in bed. She wants to tell him that she will take whatever scraps that he gives her. In this moment, she almost wants to do herself a disservice to spare his feelings and preserve his ego because she’s so in love with him. She also wants to do it because it seems like an embarrassing thing, to have to meet him at his level. To also have to expend effort. To have to articulate what she wants. It’s fucking stupid and such a cliche, but maybe her problem is that people rarely ask her what she wants. She’s not used to receiving this question.

“Missandei?” he says quietly, his hands stilling on her body.

She kind of releases a self-conscious laugh. She sheepishly says, “I don’t think I even know how to answer that question. I feel like I want to say sex. I’m into having sex. With you.”

He quirks his head to the side, looking at her, evaluating her.

She feels put on the spot. She says, “I kinda regret accusing you of making sex all about yourself.”

“Don’t regret. I’m actually really glad you said it.”

 

 


She has forgotten, even though she jokes about it all the time. She likes to joke that sex can be really scary. Right now, she is remembering that sex with someone new can be really scary and nerve-wracking. She’s worried about a bunch of stupid things — mostly about the state of her body and whether he is okay with the state of her body — but she’s also worried about emotional stuff. Her hands shake as she tries to tear apart the condom packet. There is a significant part of her sex repertoire that was propped up on this put-upon bravery. It goes back to how they all put on their best faces when they start dating someone new. They put on their most sexually confident, their most sexually creative faces. Well — at least she did. He has actually been very upfront and honest about his anxieties about sex.

A part of her is trying to move this along so that they can just get it over with — so that she can say that they did it and they accomplished a goal together.

When he sees the condom extracted out its plastic packet, he pauses, his hand stuttering on her breast. He says, “Aren’t you on the pill?”

“Uh, no. I haven’t been on the pill in years.”

“So you weren’t on the pill the last time we . . . were together.”

“Oh,” she says softly. “I took care of it. The morning after.”

“Oh,” he says softly.

They are both aware that this is kind of killing the mood. She glances at his lap — he has softened a bit. And then he catches her looking at him — and she feels her face getting hot, which is really silly. Because she’s naked in bed with him. It seems like it’s a little too late to feel bashful about body parts.

“Missandei,” he says. “We don’t have to have sex right now.”

She holds the condom dumbly in the palm of her hand.

 

 


She presses a kiss to his chest, and she rolls her eyes at herself, as she snuggles deeper into his embrace. She’s lying on top of him. They are still undressed and under the covers. And they are just talking. She tells him she feels like a real dork.

He smiles tiredly down at her. He says, “Why?”

“Because I’ve been harassing you about sex and talking such a big game about it — and I’ve been thinking a big game about it — and now we’re just not having it.”

He says, “It’s cool, man. I, of all people, get it.”

He keeps running his calloused palms up and down her bare back as they talk, sometimes digging his fingers into her muscles and massaging her until she groans tightly and hangs her jaw open. He talks about how his dick in its current state is just this relatively new thing in his life that he’s now hyperconscious of — this thing that has just changed his life in such a fundamental way — and it’s really just so crazy to think about. He talks about how he sometimes thinks that he has lost a special part of himself, in the transition. Sometimes he is grateful that he’s just one of the guys now. Sometimes he feels flat and blank and terrible, being one of the guys.

She talks about how insecure she really feels sometimes — in her job, in her life, in her relationship with him. Their jobs are so stressful. She’s always worried about her competence. She probably worries too much about people liking her. She worries about paying her bills still, because she’s all on her own now. She worries that he won’t be attracted to who she really is, once the newness of being together fades away. She sometimes feels envious of people with big families — hers is fractured and whittled down now. She worries that there will always be a part of her that is missing, because she has lost her family. She also sometimes melodramatically worries that she will die alone.

He presses his hands deeper into her skin, as she rises up to get eye-level with him, as she touches her mouth to his. She gently and carefully licks his mouth open. She lets him roll her over so that she’s on her back, sinking into her sheets and her mattress. She opens her eyes as he pulls away for a second, and he gauges her reaction, as he touches his palm to the inside of her knee. His thumb tracks the ascent up her thigh. Her mouth goes a bit dry, and she can’t tear her eyes away from his.

She exhales out lightly — maybe it’s a gasp — as he carefully touches her.

Long minutes later, she dips back into the paper box and she pulls out a fresh condom. Her hands are clumsy again — but she feels steadier. They both help each other get it on him — she smiles at him because he is wonderful — and then he slowly pushes into her as she whimpers against his neck.

 

 


After that, they only have eight days. They are ensconced in the honeymoon period, which generally means that they have an obscene amount of sex and they also cannot see one single meaningful flaw in each other. She is bogged down by work, the fact that she has to get up, rip her naked body out of his arms, and drag her butt into an office and deal with a whole mess of logistical, legal, and contractual issues. He and Daario keep later hours, so Grey gets to sleep in all the time. She is distracted at work because she keeps thinking about when she’ll be able to see him again. She has shunned a good chunk of her real life and she knows it’s problematic. She tells herself that their situation is weird and unique and she should get a pass for this. Her mail has piled up, her garbage needs to be taken out, her dishes need to be washed, her laundry needs to be folded and put away, she has seen exactly zero of her friends since she’s been back — because superseding all of that is him. She’s become the very person she hates. She tells herself it’s temporary.

Grey is also neglecting his friends, which may or may not be a good thing. He keeps deferring these text messages from Jaime, putting off answering them until days have past and momentum has dwindled. Grey’s body pretty much wants sex all of the time. It’s only through this illusion of self-control and his desire to keep his job, that he is not letting himself have sex all the fucking time.

She just falls deeper and deeper into the hole. She now knows that she’s been in love with him for a while. Sex has made all of that worse. Sex has made her very attached to him. Sex has inspired this deeper devotion. It’s the best sex of her entire life. The clock keeps winding down. She keeps trying to outrun it. She can’t get enough of him. Presently, they don’t talk much about the psychology behind things. Actually, they haven’t been talking much, period.

The night of Daario’s farewell party, they spend three hours making small talk with their coworkers over some hipster beers made with ancient hops. Daario keeps allowing himself these tortured looks oriented at Dany. Daario keeps serving himself up as a cautionary tale of how bad it can get when coworkers bang. Missandei really just feels for the guy. She hugs him tightly at the end of the night, and she tells him that she wishes him the very best of luck.

And the night before they all have to get on another plane — Grey barely manages to pack up all his things. He has to bodily kick her out of his apartment and make her go buy them some dinner in a neighborhood that is at least a fifteen-minute train ride away so that he can get some alone time to finish up packing. When she gets back, his case is clipped up and on the ground. She’s holding a white plastic bag full of food containers. She plainly asks him if he wants to eat first or fuck first. His already sore body flushes hot at that. He resists making a stupid, cornball statement — as he sits her on his bed, spreads her legs, and makes her press up against him as he lightly snaps the elastic of her damp panties and starts tugging them off. She throws her head back and she says, “Fuck, I love you.”

 

 


She takes his cold cup of coffee after he’s pretty much done with it, and she sips from it — he doesn’t mainline this stuff like she does, so there’s always some extra leftover. He’s got his head resting uncomfortably on the back of the airport chair, and his eyes are closed. He’s trying to nap. Because they didn’t get much sleep the other night. Because they were cramming in a lot of last-minute fucking.

She runs her knuckles down his jawline, making him lightly twitch, though his eyes stay closed. She says, “I gotta say, it’s really disorienting to see you with all your clothes on. I barely recognized you. What’s your name again?”

“Missandei,” he says. “I’m so tired. How are you not dead right now?”

“Oh, God, I’m exhausted. I really can’t remember what your name is.”

“Weird. You were screaming it a lot last night.”

“Oh really, is your name God?”

“I don’t understand why your tone of voice is like that. It’s like you think you have the upperhand of this conversation somehow. Like you think you’ve zinged me somehow.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

To be fair, Yara did warn them. But scoring someone like Balon Greyjoy on their little show seemed like such a coup. Yara was obviously used as leverage, something she was fine with — but she also told them that her dad is notoriously difficult to work with. Dany and Jaime could not see past the name, as is normal for people with names like theirs.

Straight off the bat, there are a number of creative differences. Their show is ultimately a food and travel show — something that Balon apparently finds very frivolous, though they are all certain he knew their show is a food and travel show from the get. Balon also is not used to the production budget that they are working with — he’s not used to the comparatively small staff — he does not have an assistant for one. He quickly starts treating Missandei like his personal assistant — probably because of her proximity to him and probably because she is young and pretty and not wielding a camera constantly. For the moment, Missandei has decided that it’s probably not because of her skin color and the fact that he looks upon her like she is the help. She tells herself this so she doesn’t go nuts. She fetches him coffee and looks over his stuff — like, his physical stuff, not his work, because that’s all he trusts her with — and she puts up with him calling her sweetheart all day because she’s pretty sure he has forgotten her name. Her eyes constantly track over to Yara, who pointedly keeps looking back, as if saying, “I told you so.”

Balon also seems to think that Grey and Drogo are incompetent, so he constantly is griping about them and talking about the tier one DPs he’s worked with and how they are better than Drogo and Grey in every way. He can pick out the informality in their training and education and also in how they work — they don’t do much that is proper enough for him. They are always jamming out inelegant, improvised solutions to problems. Drogo is always wielding a power tool and mounting cameras to anything he can think to mount cameras on. Balon seems like he hates this tendency for reasons that have not been expressed. He is basically treating Grey and Drogo like how Drogo treats Pod. Balon makes it clear that he believes he’s really slumming it with them — he’s only doing this to support his only daughter in her little endeavor.

Yara’s smile is consistently serene — and her eyes are dead. She is apparently pretty familiar with her father — and she’s a professional. Their awkwardness together sometimes translates over on camera though.

Balon doesn’t like Jaime or Dany, either. According to Yara, Balon apparently finds Dany too arrogant, and he finds Jaime overly crass. But the key difference in how they are treated versus how everyone else is treated is that they are afforded a certain amount of respect, whether due to their family name, their reputation, the fact that they are the “talent,” a combination of all of the above, or something else entirely.

 

 


Drogo rubs his eyes and he mutters, “I hate this fucking place. I hate the food. I hate the weather. I hate how wet it is. I even hate the people. Greyjoy has made me hate people.” Drogo, being the eldest son in a big family and also looking the way he does, all handsome and rugged and tall and broad-shouldered — is used to being treated a certain way. He is hugely discouraged by all of Balon’s negative shit. He translates this through rage, though.

Grey, on the other hand, is steadily consistent. He’s very used to being shitted on. Absorbing other people’s shit is in his wheelhouse. He only works harder out of spite. He tends to get better the more someone is displeased with him. He has long learned that it makes no fucking sense to shoot himself in the face over principled stances. His general way of coping is just to bear it. He is frighteningly cold and unemotional. He knows that this situation with Balon is temporary, and this is not forever. If it were forever, he would probably respond in a different way. In this specific situation, though, he advocates just doing whatever the fuck the old man says — just doing it to the letter — and just moving the fuck on with it because they are never going to win if they start arguing.

Drogo’s perspective is distinctly different. He is so angry and so pissed that he is being so disrespected that he is ready to die on every molehill. The more Balon pushes him, the less Drogo will budge. It’s gotten to the point where he cannot even recognize Balon’s good ideas. Drogo just hates all ideas and all thoughts and all words that come out of Balon. He is self-righteous and prideful. And sometimes he even gets pissed at Grey for not backing him up. They have started bickering between themselves, with Drogo drawing out all of these stale, well-worn triggers that Grey has. Drogo sometimes mutters passive aggressively and says Grey must just really love taking it up the ass like a real little bitch. Grey has managed to stop himself from snapping back, but his damning silence only makes Drogo more irritated. His current — and very irrational — conception of Grey is that Grey is a fucking little sycophantic bitch. He’s a yes man — a yes boy. This is why he’s fucking Dany’s pet.

Missandei is horribly caught in the middle. It’s entirely Drogo who is putting her in the middle. He keeps trying to get her to chime in on his grievances against Grey. He keeps trying to needle out some response from her, when he tells her that her boy is being such a puss. He keeps dropping these accusing statements down, asking her why her boy’s such a bitch — sometimes within earshot of Grey. She doesn’t even know how to respond to that — mostly because she actually doesn’t think Grey is being a bitch. She actually thinks it’s really unfair that Drogo is using her personal business to try and make Grey feel shittier. She gets angrier and angrier with Drogo, as she also fights to keep her cool because they are working, and she keeps telling him to please leave her out of their beef.

Drogo is just so ticked off at everything that there is no reasoning with him. 

They dread production meetings together now. They hate anything having to do with this shoot. They hate talking to Balon. They hate talking to each other. Everything is silent and tense and terrible. And the episode is probably going to be terrible, too.

Over crew dinner, which blessedly is devoid of Balon because he just doesn’t want to fucking hang out with them — Yara holds up her mug of light beer — a local specialty — and she says, “Here’s to inviting poison into your house! May you long rest well and realize that I am always right!”

They all clink glasses to that.

 

 


She sneaks into his room in the middle of the night and slides into bed with him. The Iron Islands are cold, stormy, and windy — and it would be romantic in another context — but being bossed around all day by an old-school, religiously conservative tyrant is kind of a mood killer.

They don’t talk much about Drogo or Balon or the fact that the both of them are just being kicked around like dogs. Drogo is fucking just pissing him off almost beyond his fucking capacity to cope and, at the moment, he doesn’t even fucking understand how Missandei is even fucking friends with that douchebag. He keeps his mouth shut about this because he knows they will not have a good conversation if he brings it up. They both have this awareness that if they talk about it, they will likely fight about it — and they are already embroiled in conflict with other people — so they might as well backburner their own fight.

Instead, she nuzzles her face into his neck. She breathes in the soap he used on his body. And then she pulls him so that he rolls over on top of her. She spreads her legs so he’s nestled against her. She has to be out of his room before anyone else wakes up — not because the rest of the crew even gives a shit — but because she doesn’t want to slide down this slippery slope where the lines get too blurred. They are already blurring. She just . . . needs the stress relief right now.

When she pulls out the condom and starts tearing the packet, he says, “Wow, you really came over for a booty call.”

The pressures of filming has stripped out a lot of the things they typically derive pleasure and fun out of. She literally just wants to feel his hard dick going in and out of her — and he goes back to just fucking her on an instinctive, basic level. Her hips slide around, matching his punishing rhythm. She pulls off the rest of their clothes with her hands. She shoves her tongue into his mouth and pushes back a moan as he kneads her ass and yanks it up it so that they are grinding against each other harshly. She quietly encourages him, her arm grasped tightly around his shoulders as he fucks her. She tells him to do it harder and deeper. She tells him yes when he hits the right spot and she sees stars. She gets a little bit too loud as she groans and asks for more. And then she just closes her eyes and holds on as he slams her into the mattress.

Afterward, she lingers in his bed, as their heart rates slow down. He kind of apologizes for the roughness of the sex because he thinks that he should. She kind of laughs — and she confesses that she likes it. A lot. They still don’t want to talk about work at all — even though work is just about the only thing on both of their minds right now. She wants to tell him that she wants to defend him to Drogo — but she knows how Drogo will respond to that. That is, like a real fucking chauvinistic asshole. She also wants to tell Grey that she’s been thinking about how she would typically respond to this — if they were just colleagues and they weren’t engaged in a sexual relationship. She has to admit that if this was Drogo terrorizing Pod — she would say nothing about it. She has said nothing, when Drogo has been awful to Pod. It’s not her job to mediate these kinds of things. She has her own shit to worry about. She’s not their mother hen. They are all fucking adults here.

And Grey is a little bit angry with her, actually. He doesn't exactly know why he feels anger toward her.  He just does.  It’s something he realizes in trickles and spurts. He completely knows it not at all her fault. But he just can’t help the way he feels sometimes.

She pulls Grey’s arm around her body, and she asks him, “Tell me a story.”

He says, “I’m terrible at telling stories. They are always sad stories.”

 

 


“Stop!” Drogo snarls at Pod, who is hovering nervously. “Just let me do it!” It’s something as simple as setting up the cameras and taping down the cords so they don’t trip people up — but Drogo has ripped it all from Pod’s hands, and he has told Pod to just get the fuck out of his sight. “God, you’re fucking useless,” he snaps.

Pod actually looks like he might cry. Because he is way over this shit — this unfair, misplaced anger shit. He also knows that getting emotional over this is pretty much the very worst thing he can do in front of Drogo — he would just be dead because the tiniest bit of respect Drogo still has for him will just die down a dark fucking hole — so he generally just flushes hot in embarrassment and looks down at his feet.

“Pod!” Drogo shouts, stooping down, holding cords in his hands. “What is this shit! It’s like you don’t even listen when I say things to you!”

“Hey,” Grey says, his shadow falling over Drogo. “Can you try not to talk to him like that?”

Pod freezes in his tracks. Drogo stiffens — and he also looks at Grey in complete disbelief for one slow second before it cracks in his mind — before the anger starts flooding him.

Pod is still standing nervously to the side, too afraid to walk away. He’s casting these glances at Grey and Drogo. He’s scared enough of Drogo that he keeps trying to make eye contact with Grey, if only to convey to Grey that this is completely not something worth dying over.

“Why don’t you mind your own fucking business?” Drogo finally says to Grey. “Where do you get off talking to me like that?”

Which is something Grey thinks is really fucking rich. Drogo’s a fucking hypocrite. “How am I talking to you?” Grey says patiently, refraining from reminding Drogo that he technically is senior to Drogo, despite being hired on later. So that’s where he gets off talking to Drogo like that. They are drawing a bit of an audience now. “You’re not helping him when you yell at him,” Grey says.

“I’m not fucking here to help him or to hold his hand!” Drogo snaps. “I’m here to do my fucking job! He’s supposed to do his job! Why don’t you fucking keep your face shut like you’re already so good at and just do your fucking job, man?”

Drogo throws a bundle of cords on the ground, and then he stands up straight and puts his full attention on Grey. The way he stretches himself and postures himself is a deliberate intimidation tactic. And all the testosterone in the world isn’t going to make up for the genetics that they were born with. Drogo is always going to be taller, stronger, and bigger.

Grey glowers back at Drogo, but he stays calm. His calmness actually only rankles Drogo more.

They carry their own respective contexts forward into this argument. Drogo became man of the house after his parents’ divorce. That exhibited itself many obvious ways — his mother, being from a certain tradition, deferred to him on certain decisions when it suited her. She also shut him out and told him he was a child whenever it suited her. Then he had to go over to his dad’s shitty low-income, government-subsidized apartment and watch that guy eat himself into a diabetic coma — even as Drogo bitched at and pleaded with the man to stop. Drogo has issues with control — when he feels it spiraling out of his hands.

Grey was bounced around from house to house after his parents died. The way in which his parents died transferred this stigma onto him. He was a tainted, dirty, hopeless kid — and he exemplified it with his behavioral issues. He could not even stop his ass from getting beaten all the time — whether at school or at home. The best way that he has learned to deal with other people’s unkindness is just to withstand it. It’s not as if he didn’t try to fight back and rail at how fucking unfair it all was at some point. But fighting back makes it worse. He was never like Drogo, a person that people give a wide berth to because they fear him. Grey was always shorter, always smaller, always weaker, always victimized. Those traits, in a boy, really bother some people — both men and women.

“You terrorizing the camera assistant is getting in the way of me doing my job," Grey says.

“What are you gonna fucking do about it!” Drogo spits at Grey. “What are you gonna do about it, boy!”

Grey actually intensely hates being called boy.

“Drogo, stop!” It’s Missandei. “Stop it! Please!”

Drogo does not acknowledge her. Instead, he says to Grey, “I like how your woman has to fight all your battles for you. I like how you can’t fucking speak up to a white guy, but you will fucking run your fucking mouth to me all fucking day, you fucking little cowardly bitch.” Drogo takes a step forward.

“Yeah,” Grey says sarcastically. “That is totally the fucking reality here. I fucking run my mouth all fucking day. I’m fucking talkative. And everyone just shits on poor Drogo and his great ideas.”

Drogo immediately crowds Grey’s space, with teeth bared and his head knocking hard against Grey’s. “Bring it in,” he snarls, raising his arm to shove two fingers to Grey’s forehead, to snap it back.

Grey mouth is shut tight as he slaps Drogo’s fucking hand off his fucking face.

“Come at me, man,” Drogo grinds out. “Come on, bring it in, boy. What are you gonna do? What the fuck are you gonna do?” And then Drogo lunges forward to shove Grey backwards.

Grey can vaguely hear Missandei shouting at them — but eclipsing that is the blood rushing in his ears. Grey hates getting pushed. He hates being called boy. Right now, he fucking hates Drogo. He’s fucking pissed, too. So he runs forward and shoves Drogo back, which enrages Drogo even more. “You’re a fucking asshole,” Grey accuses. And it’s all he can say. Because he’s struggling to not say every shitty and terrible thing he can think of to say to Drogo.

Drogo jumps him, arm locking around his neck and then they both hit the ground together — the shock of it knocks the air from his lungs. He gasps in disbelief. And then he snaps. Because there is only so much a person can fucking put up with. Grey gets to his knees and then he buries his fist into Drogo’s shirt at the neck. The cords in Grey's neck pop, his face sweats, he expends effort, Drogo’s head and shoulders lift, this all happens in the span of less than a second — and then he slams Drogo back into the ground. Drogo looks stunned that Grey just did that — something flashes behind his eyes. And then Grey gets down low and tight and he hits his forehead against Drogo’s and he says, “You fucking —”

And that’s as far as he gets before Hodor and Sandor materialize out of thin air and yank them away from each other. He can feel it burn as the fabric of Drogo’s shirt gets wrenched out of his fist.

 

 


Missandei pushes past Jaime and Yara and runs up to him to pry his hand off his face. He’s shaking from adrenaline, and he’s sitting in a chair because everyone forced him to. There’s a cup of water in his other hand — another one of those things shoved on him in the aftermath. Drogo got pulled off somewhere by Sandor, ostensibly to cool off. Missandei cups his cheeks and she says, “Baby, oh my God. Baby, are you alright?” as she visually examines his face and his body frantically.

“I’m totally okay.”

And then she slaps him on the arm, making him jump in his seat. “You fucking idiot! You scared me half to death!” And then she flip flops again and spontaneously reaches out to hold his head in her arms, kissing the top of it, hugging his face to her chest in front of everyone. “Baby, you freaked me out so badly. I thought you were gonna get your ass beat. Oh God, and I was so scared you guys were gonna roll over onto the cameras.”

The story of what happened becomes legendary in a short amount of time. The story of what happened also morphs and changes in a short amount of time. He supposes that they can never outrun how they were born. They can never outrun perception. It becomes who they are. For the rest of the day, Missandei babies him a little too much. The local crew members, those who are Ironborn, laughingly shake their heads at him and they tell him he’s fucking crazy to take on a beast like Drogo, and they act like it’s begrudging respect that they are bestowing on him. Dany walks up to him, and she seriously asks him if he would like to report what happened to HR. She explains to him that he was a victim of harassment and assault.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Everyone treats the tiff between him and Drogo as something way more serious than it actually was. Dany is supremely ticked off at Drogo and talks to Grey about safe spaces and whether he feels uncomfortable working with Drogo now. He tells her he’s fine working with Drogo still. Missandei asks him if he is okay and if he wants to talk about it — about a fucking million times. He tells her doesn’t want to talk about it. Because he is fine, and there’s not much that he has to say on the subject. She obviously doesn’t believe him. She keeps trying to coax him into opening up. He’s trying really hard not to get let his annoyance with her show. All he can do is insist that he is fucking fine — but in a nice way. Balon uses the fight as yet another reason in his garbage can full of reasons why Grey and Drogo are unprofessional dipshits, which is just fantastic. Jaime is inexplicably energized by what went down — he keeps lightly slapping Grey’s cheek, laughing, and then shaking his head over it. He tries to jostle Grey into joking around. He tries to sort of even celebrate over — and it doesn’t make much sense to Grey. He does not feel celebratory. He feels deeply inconvenienced.

Everyone on their crew who saw the insanity of the fight go down with their own two eyes automatically sides with Grey — whether because he seemed like he was actually right or whether because Drogo just has a reputation for kind of being a little bit wrong all the time — Grey doesn’t know. Everyone who didn’t see the fight was told about it — and they also side with Grey. The Ironborn crew mostly finds the fight amusing. Missandei is a bit uptight about it, naturally because of her personal investment, so they explain to her that something like that invariably happens. It’s just what happens with a bunch of guys who work in close quarters all the time. She is basically being told that there are certain things that are always going to be outside of her realm of understanding.

The rest of the day is very awkward and tense. Drogo comes back after an hour to start working again. The first thing he does is finish taping down the cords. Everyone pretty much avoids talking directly to him, even Balon.

 

 


When Missandei woke up the day before, she was already in a shitty mood and she had already anticipated a shit day. Well, that pales in comparison to today. Today, when she wakes up, she immediately feels tense and overwhelmed and despondent. She already feels like today is pointless. She’s angry at everything — anger apparently isn’t solely a man’s domain. She’s pissed in an abstract way, and also in a very specific way. She’s pissed at fucking Balon Greyjoy because he is an elitist piece of shit asshole, and she has to demean herself and put up with him pointing at her and flicking his finger where he wants her to go. He gestures to the fucking door when he wants for her to close it. He doesn’t even use words to convey to her to close the fucking door.

She gets up, dresses herself, pulls on a jacket, and then she heads down to the lobby to talk to their drivers. Sandor and Hodor show up ten minutes later to start loading the vans. Everyone else shows up fifteen minutes after that, all cranky and serious-faced. Balon looks up to the sky and grumbles about the incoming storm. She mildly tells him that the weather report didn’t say anything about a storm. He nearly takes her head off over that — he pointedly asks her if she has spent decades of her life living in the Iron Islands, to which she stoically says no. She has not.

Drogo has not said more than three words since yesterday. He does not look contrite. He does not look like he feels any guilt. He actually looks aggressively unhappy. He is currently low on her list of pressing problems. Grey won’t even acknowledge her.

They all silently pile into the vans.

 

 


They spend the morning filming at an oyster farm, and then they spend the afternoon filming in a restaurant and bar that is renowned for fresh oysters. The proprietor, an old family friend of the Greyjoys, hands Jaime an oyster knife with the intention of embarrassing him — Lannisters have a certain reputation — and Jaime capably shucks half a dozen, with his left hand, before everyone decides that it’s no fun when Jaime is good at stuff.

Jaime gets good-naturedly mocked by Yara for being pretentious when he sucks down an oyster and talks about its briny pop, its vegetal middle, and its mineral finish. Jaime talks about how it’s sometimes important to be able to describe, in detail, what makes things special. Balon and Yara’s perspectives mirror one another — they like what they like. They just know it in their guts and their bones. It’s what people like them are all about — imbued with this instinct and this tradition. Ironically and with a touch of bitterness, Balon looks and Jaime and Daenerys and he says that he is not a sophisticated man. His father was fisherman. His father’s father was a fisherman. They ate from the sparse and difficult land and sea. The struggle to survive their environment is what has made them who they are.

Dany makes a case for how they are not all that different — but Balon doesn’t really buy it. He douses hot sauce on his oysters — which makes Jaime queasy because the oysters do not get better than they do here.

“I like the sweeter ones the best,” says Dany.

“Shocker. Dany likes the sweeter ones the best,” Jaime says. “People love to spout the cliche about oysters being an aphrodisiac, you know?” Looking off-camera, Jaime glances at Brienne, and he kind of chuckles. There’s an inside joke there. She automatically looks annoyed and flips him the bird, which makes him laugh again.

“You know why people think that, right?” Yara says, pausing for effect, making eye contact with Jaime — who is already laughing again because in the short time that they have transitioned from being distant coworkers to being friendly coworkers, Jaime has figured out that Yara thinks it’s funny to make up facts on the spot, and she does so with great frequency. “It’s because oysters look like the labia minora.”

“Yara.” Dany shakes her head. “We have to edit that out. I don’t think they’ll let us get away with saying labia.” Dany looks to Brienne for confirmation. Brienne makes a really funny, really indecipherable twisted face — and she shrugs exaggeratedly. This might be the first time this has come up for her.

“Oh, sorry,” Yara says in a deadpan. “I can see how those words were offensive to the delicate sensibilities of our viewers. I should flip the focus and male-gaze it up. I should’ve said dick bonnet or meat curtain.” She looks off-camera to Brienne. “All of those words are allowed on TV, right?”

Brienne turns red. And then she shrugs again.

“Yara,” Balon says — in this really interesting mixture of disapproval and fondness.

“Dad, I could eat like, fifty of these in one sitting.”

“So can I.”

“Dad. I don’t think we are talking about the same thing.”

 

 


“Jesus fucking Christ, and then he just completely went ‘roid-rage on Grey’s ass,” Jaime says over dinner, grinning into his mug of beer before he takes a sip. He’s talking to Theon, Yara’s brother who is visiting his family for a couple days. Theon had missed the fight go down by a few hours.

“Oh, for real?” Theon says. “Does he have a substance abuse issue?”

“Oh, I dunno,” Jaime says. “I was just kinda joking about that. It’d make more sense if you actually meet him and see what he’s all about. He’s like, a really big guy. Really ripped.”

“Oh, jeez. I know guys like that,” Theon says. “Completely know the type.”

“He’s at the gym all the time because he’s compensating for something,” Yara says. “He probably has a small dick. And he just can’t fucking handle how small his dick is. That is why he has to act like a fucking petulant little baby about shit all the time.”

“Eh, I’ve actually seen his dick,” Jaime says, rolling his eyes. “No comment.”

Yara chuckles, lifting her leg onto the seat of an empty chair. “Whatever, man.”

“He is honestly sometimes just fucking unbearable to be around,” Jaime continues. “So hotheaded. I’m actually surprised that he and I haven’t gotten into it yet. I’m actually shocked that, of all people, he picks a fight with Grey?” Jaime glances at the man of the hour, who is sitting quietly, moving fish around on his plate. “I mean, Grey is the most inoffensive person ever? He’s really good at his job. He’s quiet. And he’s humble. It fucking makes no sense to be a dick to Grey. Unless it’s a Missandei-related thing?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time two guys fought over a girl,” Theon adds lightly.

Neither Grey or Missandei say anything in response to that. Their silence is damning.

Which makes Jaime clear his throat before he changes the subject, before he raises his prostheses up. “In my prime, I put guys like Drogo on the floor.”

“Oh, yeah, Jaime?” Brienne says from beside Jaime — her voice even and steady and devoid of self-consciousness for once. Her eyes sweep down Jaime’s body, mentally subtracting some years, adding in a hand — Brienne brings her own unique perspective to this whole matter — she just doesn’t fucking understand men at all — and then she says, “Is that why you were pushing Sandor toward the fight and hysterically telling him to go over there and break it up before your buddy got hurt?” Her wide mouth curves into a smile. “Is that how you put guys like Drogo on the floor?”

Jaime chuckles — a touch of self-consciousness coloring his laugh. “Um, well, we do love to outsource menial tasks,” he says, referring to his family.

She grins. “You’re horrible.”

“Yeah, Jaime,” Yara says. “Drogo has an apparent steroid problem. What’s your excuse for being horrible?”

“Are you guys ganging up on me?” Jaime asks, orienting his statement at Yara and Brienne. “God, oppressed by the feminist agenda, once again.”

Yara points at him with a piece of bread in her hand. “See, that sounds like a joke. And you’re really clever. But there’s a part of me that thinks there’s a part of you that actually believes what you just said.”

Jaime smiles — and then shrugs — very strategically. He says, “Maybe I do.” And then he turns to Grey. He asks, “Am I that bad? Not as bad as Drogo though, right?”

With his arms crossed over his chest, Grey just shrugs.

And then Jaime leans forward at the table and continues the conversation with Yara, Theon, and Brienne.

Drogo is obviously not at dinner with them. Drogo disappeared off somewhere the moment filming was done for the day. The rest of them have been revisiting this topic over and over again, sometimes mystified by it, sometimes downplaying it, mostly up-playing it, mostly making light of it, mostly sharing their various half-baked theories on Drogo’s apparent mental state.

It’s a chilly night, so Grey has the hood of his zip-up pulled up over his head. He feels a tap on his shoulder. He looks over and he sees Sandor looking at him with this little bit of extra focus, with this extra bit of calculation. There’s a cigarette in between Sandor’s teeth, and the tip glows red and Grey hears the inhale, as Sandor holds out his pack to Grey — an offering. It’s a little odd. He’s never smoked before in his life. Sandor probably knows that he doesn’t smoke. Grey raises his hand and silently waves off the pack. He lifts his mouth in a humorless smile of sorts, to convey thanks.

“What are the side effects of anabolic steroids?” Jaime asks Yara. “Do you know?”

Yara raises up her forefinger, pointing it up to the sky. She says, “I know it does this to your weenie.” She curves her finger over, into a limp hook. “I feel like I wanna say that it also makes your testicles into hard little marbles. Trust me on this. I’m a doctor.” And then she spontaneously reaches out to lightly touch Jaime’s shoulder from across the table. “I like how you’re asking the resident lesbian these questions.”

Jaime laughs quietly.

“Maybe that’s why he’s so angry,” Theon says, also chuckling a little bit. “He’s not able to smash. I’d be fucking pissed all the time, too. If my dick didn’t work. I’d like, fucking kill myself.”

At that, Grey suddenly stands up from the table. The motion causes Jaime to shift in his seat, too — it makes Jaime stare at Grey attentively. Grey tells the group that he’s tired because it’s been a crazy couple of days. He’s probably going to head off to bed.

 

 


Missandei pushes herself out of her seat, and she follows him in the dark. He’s actually not heading back to the hotel at all. She wraps her arms around herself as she tracks him to the beach, to the craggy, jagged rocks, pitch black in the dark. She’s wearing soft flats, so she hesitates at the edge of the concrete. She doesn’t want to hurt herself following him, so she softly calls out his name, which makes him pause. He obviously didn’t realize she had followed him, and she can barely make out his figure as he carefully climbs back over the seawall and heads on over to her.

She blinks against the wet wind, as her hair fluffs up around her head. She tightens her arms around her body. She says, “Are you okay? I know that conversation they were having was kind of bullshit.”

“It was very bullshit,” he corrects. And then he says, “I’m fine.”

“You keep saying that,” she says softly.

“And when will you believe me?”

She purses her lips, and she swallows. She shifts her weight back and forth, from leg to leg as she shrugs in the dark — even though he probably can’t make it out well. To her, he’s been moody. She tells herself that it’s understandable to her that he’s moody. In his perspective though, he’s merely been a little tense and internal, but he has kept track and he has not snapped at anyone and he has not been rude to anyone. They are interpreting the same events very differently.

Missandei just doesn’t know how to make things better for him. She doesn’t know what to do to lighten his load. She can’t seem to say the right things to him. She can tell that his patience with her has worn a bit thin at points in the day. She is also convinced that he is repressing. But she knows not to push him to talk. She knows that she has to wait for him to open up in his own time. Even though she knows all of this, she cannot even stop herself from hinting at it every now and then sometimes. She is compulsive when it comes to helping because she grew up very worried about adult matters all the time. She was always the responsible one that made sure the bills got paid in time. She was always trying to take care of her big brother. But Grey has been on his own for most of his life. Missandei’s help feels very intrusive to him. At the moment, this is the root of their disconnect with each other.

“Why are you attracted to me?” he asks suddenly.

It blindsides her. “Um . . .”

“I mean you were attracted to me before I had my surgery,” he says matter-of-factly. “Physically, you were frankly way out of my league. So what was it about me that you liked?” It’s almost as if he is asking her what is wrong with her — what is wrong with her brain.

“Grey, I don’t understand —”

“Is it because you basically see me as a woman in a man’s body?”

She blinks at that. And she says, “Oh my God, no. That’s not it.”

“Then what is it?”

“Why are you bringing this up?”

“You’ve been smothering me all day,” he says. “You’ve been trying to force me to say things that I do not feel.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


By the end of their conversation, she doesn’t even want to look at Grey. She doesn’t feel the urge to cry at all. Her eyes are very dry. She doesn’t feel like yelling, either. She actually cannot even stir up one single emotion. She’s actually just very tired. She actually just feels a lot of apathy. So after a few more very dissatisfying set of words to one another, Grey heads back toward the beach to do God knows what — fucking stare into it the fucking darkness of it melodramatically? — and Missandei just crawls her way back to her hotel room to go to bed already.

In bed, she hugs a fluffy pillow to her chest and face. While she hasn’t articulated it to herself so concretely, she wants a cuddle. She kind of just wants to be held by someone after another horrendously long and terrible day. The crap thing about this job is that she’s always going to bed alone.

In bed, as her breathing evens out as she tries to make herself sleep, she thinks that Balon is a very easy and obvious target to get mad at. So is Drogo. So is Jaime. What is not so easy is her anger toward Grey. To her, what basically happened was that she was just way fucking nice to him all day — because he was having a crappy day and she could tell he was having a shit day. She had wanted to make it better. She got him food. She got him water. She took care of him. Because that’s what people fucking do when they love someone. And then he fucking shitted all over her efforts and made her feel bad about it — because maybe that’s what people do when they don’t love someone.

 

 


Grey has a pretty good idea where Drogo disappeared off to after filming ended. And beyond the restaurant bar at the hotel, there are only three other bars within walking distance. On foot, he finds Drogo in twenty minutes, at the second place. Drogo is sitting at the bar and watching sports highlights on the TV. There are a few other patrons there on this weeknight — sitting at bar tops and chatting, some playing darts in the corner. It’s not a lively place. It’s a quiet and comforting neighborhood place. That’s why he picked it. And Drogo looks stunned when he sees Grey unsnap his raincoat and slide in right next to him on an adjacent stool. Drogo says, “Whoa, what are you doing here?”

Grey simply says, “Looking for you.”

The bartender — a woman named Susanna about two decades older than they are, with coppery brown hair — greets Grey and asks him what he would like. He points to Drogo’s mug and tells her he’ll have the same as his friend. The word friend makes Drogo kind of twist in his seat. He has been drinking a lot. He has been trying to forget for a bit. Grey’s presence has made that all the more difficult.

They quietly sip their beers. Grey runs his hand over the shiny, shellaced dark wood of the bar counter. The bartender takes a casual interest — just like she had with Drogo when he first came in — and she asks Grey where he’s from, taking in his face and his skin color and his general look. He actually tells her he’s from King’s Landing, not thinking very hard about the question. So she says, “Oh, no, hon. I mean, what is your background? Where are your parents from?” She has learned a little bit from her previous conversation with Drogo hours ago, from how he corrected her stiffly after she asked him where he was really from.

“Oh,” Grey says distractedly, watching the weather report on the TV now. “They were from the Summer Isles.”

“Ah, you’re so handsome.” She makes a mental note to herself — mostly that men from that part of the world are handsome.

The compliment rolls of her tongue carelessly and easily — that’s her nature. Grey doesn’t expect it, so he morphs his face momentarily into a deep frown before he corrects himself and blanks out. He awkwardly says, “Thanks,” just as the lights and TV flicker overhead, as the wind howls a little bit outside. Their bartender remarks that a big one is coming — kind of making them a little uneasy because they are not familiar with these weather patterns. They ask her how bad it’s gonna get, because they are in town filming something and they have to worry about equipment. She vaguely tells them it’s not that bad. Which tells them nothing because she lives here, and she deals with inclement weather all the time. It makes them think that the storm is actually going to be terrible.

After she leaves to tend to another customer, Drogo cuts the silence with, “Hey, man. I just wanna say —”

“I know,” Grey says softly.

“It was really fucked up.”

“I know.”

Drogo frowns. His eyes are little bloodshot. He actually is not all that confident that Grey actually knows what he’s trying to say. So he presses on and he says, “I fucking lost my head. I lost my brain. I was being such a stereotype, you know? I was just being so fucking classic. And I made it so we were fucking fighting each other, instead of the real enemy.”

“Balon?” Grey mutters into the rim of his beer mug.

“No, not Balon.”

“Ah, yes, the abstract white man.”

Drogo shakes his head. He says, “This is why our people stay down. In-fighting. We tear each other down when we’re supposed to work together to hold each other up. It’s fucked up.”

“I know,” Grey says.

Drogo looks miserable. “I fucking hate that I fought with you.”

“I hated it, too,” Grey admits.

“Fuck man, I am so sorry about yesterday. I feel so terrible about it. I feel so terrible about the things I said to you. They’re not true. None of them. You’re actually the only other person here that — you know? I know you get it. I just got so mad because I get so fucking crazy sometimes. And I’m going to apologize to Pod for being such an asshole to him later, too.”

Whoa. Drogo never apologizes. “Whoa.”

“Sorry, man,” Drogo repeats, sighing.

Grey shuts his eyes. He inhales deeply — smelling the sweet barley notes from the beer in the air and also a touch of bleach from Susanna’s dish rags — before he exhales. Then he says, “You’re not crazy. You were actually right about a lot of things. I’ve been thinking a lot. Maybe I shouldn’t always be fucking just putting up with shit all the time. All day, all I’ve been told is that I’m so fucking nice and gentle and inoffensive. And what I’m hearing is that I’m fucking obedient. I’m just so fucking obedient. And they just love that about me.” There is just so much bitterness in his voice — and it even surprises him. He pauses. He’s trying to ignore the awed way in which Drogo is looking at him. It’s too much. Grey adds, “And they’ve been saying you’re a monster, of course.”

Drogo chuckles. “Of course.”

Grey shrugs. “I’m sorry, too. It’s probably not easy to work with me on some days, either.”

“Sometimes you are just a little too perfect,” Drogo says conversationally, pulling his mug back to his face. “It’s inhuman. Sometimes it makes me forget you are a human being.”

“I’m not perfect,” Grey mutters. “God.”

“I saw it in your eyes, you know. Right after you slammed me into the ground.”

“Saw what?”

“Rage. Pure, unfiltered rage. You looked like my dad for a second there. You looked like you wanted to kill.”

 

 


He has to pass by Missandei’s door on the way to his room. He pauses at it, weighed down by his damp rain coat. Drogo pauses too — but then when he realizes where they have stopped — he quickly makes assumptions. He assumes Grey is going to sleep with Missandei. He gives Grey a quiet smile and a wave, and then he continues onto his room.

Grey hangs by her door for another few seconds — before he decides to not knock on it. They’re just going to have sex — or fight — if he knocks on it. He walks all the way to his room, unloads his coat onto an armchair in the corner, arranging it so it can dry overnight. And then he starts taking off his shoes and clothes in the course of getting ready for bed.

 

 


Grey puts his buffet plate down on the table and grabs the empty seat next to Drogo at their morning breakfast meeting, using Drogo’s shoulder to help as he eases himself into the tight space. They are trying to cram in eight people at a table that is really only meant to hold six. Drogo is nonplussed, or trying to look it, as he sips from his milky coffee before nudging his chair over a little to give Grey more space. The gesture is not at all lost on Jaime and Missandei, who are the only other occupants at the table, who are both kind of confused over what they are seeing, who are sitting clear on the other side, in opposition.

“How did everyone sleep?” Drogo finally says, voice gentle and careful.

Grey decides to be first to answer. Because he actually thinks it’s bullshit that everyone gets to feel so superior as they make Drogo pay penance for shit that is far more complicated than they can fucking even understand. He says, “I slept great.” It’s a lie. He slept terribly.

 

 


It’s as they are pulling on rain gear over their bodies that Drogo addresses the elephant that has been following them everywhere all morning. He quietly says to Grey, “I feel like people think you’ve been Stockholm Syndromed — by me.”

Grey snorts and looks unimpressed as he wipes rain droplets off his face with his hand. “Well, you are magnetic, bro.”

Drogo reaches out and palms the back of Grey’s neck. “Man, I am such a fucking fan of your work.”

 

 


They have to capture a lot of b-roll today because — as Balon accurately predicted — there is a big storm coming. Missandei rearranged the production schedule so that most of rest of filming will take place indoors. They have to get in most of the exterior footage before the weather really turns. She pats Pod on the back as he unzips a lens bag, checks it, and then rezips it. She squeezes in past him, her hair tied up in a bun ball, her face dripping wet despite the hooded rain jacket. She grunts as she turns around in a squat, facing Grey, Drogo, Pod, and three other guys, Dagmer, Lorren, and Ralf from the local crew. Sandor is sitting shot gun. She tells the guys in the back that it’s about a twenty-minute drive and a forty-minute boat ride — completely unnecessary information for the Ironborn guys — but Grey and Drogo might not know this, depending on how closely they read her emails. The Ironborn guys kind of smile at her indulgently, and she wonders why she even fucking bothers sometimes. Yesterday, Balon had made a comment about how he wanted to join in — because he didn’t trust that Grey and Drogo won’t just dick around — but how serious he was about the threat, she was not sure. She asked him over breakfast if he was going to be joining — she was worried about space in the van — and he looked at her like she had spoken out of turn, and also like he didn’t have the faintest clue of what she was talking about. He snippily told her he’s too busy to go traipsing around in the dirt, capturing footage of fucking trees. Missandei generally refrained from choking the ever-loving life out of him.

It’s a tight squeeze in the van — she doesn’t have a seat so she basically squats on the floor for twenty minutes. She delicately refrains from commenting when Lorren jokingly offers up his lap to her. She faces the road so she doesn’t get carsick.

 

 


Grey stares intently at the monitor, scrutinizing Pod’s shot. Funnily enough, it’s of a section of tree. Old man Balon would fucking love this shit. Grey catches Pod’s flub — there’s a bird that flaps its wings and shakes its body, and Pod’s focus comes a hair too late. Pod knows. He says, “Crap.”

Grey says, “Okay, pull it back. Reset. Do it again.”

“Sorry,” Pod says.

“First rack is pretty much never perfect,” Grey says.

“Unless you’re me,” Drogo cuts in, grinning widely from where he stands about ten feet away, his foot braced unnervingly against a wet boulder on the ground as he leans dangerously over the edge of bluff with his arm circled around a tree trunk. Sometimes Missandei can’t even watch him. Because she’s afraid that she’s watching his last moments before he plummets to death.

Grey chuckles. Drogo’s joking. Drogo is a significantly sloppier shooter than Grey is. Drogo generally never sticks it on the first try with these sort of shots.

 

 


They stop off for a quick beer and bite, a little after lunch time. A bunch of orders get hollered out and she pulls out the company credit card to pay for it all. The Ironborn guys are joking around and making a little bit fun of Drogo, Grey, and Pod for how careful and how fancy and how how arty they are. It’s something that kind of makes Drogo laugh because those words are generally never, ever associated with his work. Dagmer then admits that it’s actually pretty fun to work on the show. The local crew actually usually works on marketing videos or they cover events.

The conversation melts into casualness as they bite into their crab sandwiches. This restaurant is Lorren’s recommendation, after some argument back and forth over whether they should go to this one, or the sister restaurant up the street, also called Crab Shanty.

“Oh my fucking God,” Drogo growls into his sandwich, his mouth full. “So fucking good.” It’s his first meal of the day — because he always skips hotel breakfast. He ordered three sandwiches to compensate.

“Told you!” Lorren says.

“Man, I didn’t dispute you on this.”

Missandei takes a distinctly more delicate bite from her sandwich. This joint was, at one point, considered one of the places to film in, but in the end it was nixed because Dany argued that a sandwich place is too been there, done that. Dany wasn’t wrong, but Missandei still releases a quiet moan anyway as the hot, crispy sandwich hits her tastebuds. So fucking good.

The sound of her bedroom voice catches the attention of Ralf. A bunch of unvoiced thoughts flit behind his eyes as he smiles at her — as he watches her shyly wipe her mouth with a napkin in embarrassment. To him — he hasn’t seen many beautiful women who look like her — so he asks, “Are you married?” He looks pointedly at her bare left hand. He’s not making assumptions though. Women take off their rings sometimes when they’re working.

Dagmer lightly shoves Ralf before grabbing onto his shoulders, leaning into him. “Why you ask?” he says, laughing. “You think you’ve actually got a shot?” They horse around a little bit, and Missy thinks that they have forgotten about her until Ralf catches her attention again, as she’s sucking up some of her soda through a straw. He asks, “So are you married?”

She straightens. She even glances at Grey, who’s casually slouched in his seat, who looks only mildly interested in this conversation. It feels like they are in a fight, except they haven’t actually fought. She says, “Um, I’m not married.”

“How is that even possible?” Ralf asks.

Which makes her kind of blush. She says, “You’re sweet.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“You’re also kinda intrusive.”

He raises his hands up. He says, “I’m not hitting on you. Promise. I’m just curious.”

She glances at Grey again. Because she wants to know how he wants to play this. And again, he looks entirely uninvested. Drogo and Pod are flicking their eyes back and forth between them, purposely very quiet. She tells Ralf, “Yeah. I have a boyfriend.”

 

 


She really likes how Grey seems to have forgiven Drogo for being the biggest fucking dick in the history of all dicks — but he can’t seem to let go of the fact that she was too fucking nice to him. She really likes how she has had to watch them be buddy-buddy all day with each other. She likes how Pod has amnesia now, and is just running around after Grey and Drogo like a puppy dog, because he’s just their biggest fan. What she really likes — what is always her very favorite thing — is being the only woman on these day-long excursions.

She also really doesn’t think that she’s attracted to him because she views him as basically a woman in a man’s body. Because that is fucking insane — though not insane in the sense that identifying as a woman in a man’s body is something that is insane — she means insane in the sense that he’s obviously a fucking stupid bitch and only men are fucking stupid bitches like this. Women are actually nice and they tend to actually be verbally competent. He’s often shit at both of those things. So she obviously sees him a fucking stupid bitch of a man. And it’s been hurting her feelings that he’s been ignoring her. It has sucked that he is ignoring her, as he is simultaneously smiling at and cracking jokes with Drogo. It is fucking bananas that fucking Drogo continues to be this bizarre object of jealousy in their fucking relationship.

Missandei shoves herself into a hot shower when she finally makes it back to her hotel room. On some days, a nice hot shower is all that she lives for. She groans as the steam relaxes her sore muscles, as the water beats down on her naked body. And then she thinks back to how wonderful and great it was between them, not too long ago. She thinks back to the intensity of how she felt, when she first told him that she loves him. She misses that version of him. Her hand runs down her chest, smearing down her breasts. She also misses his body. A lot.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

A storm is raging on outside. As a result, everyone has crowded indoors. The music is so loud — throbbing in the walls. So many of the Ironborn are hyped up because of cabin fever. It’s chilly outside, but the collective body heat indoors is sweltering. There’s a latent sexualized energy in the air here.

Grey pretty much ignores all of that as he works hard to do his job. It is supremely difficult and the ROI is very low — filming in places that are very dark and very loud — clubs, basically. It’s hard to capture and replicate the energy on film without having a lot more control of the environment. Scenes in movies are stylized, lit to death, and mixed after the fact. This is one of those moments when Grey finds himself kinda missing Daario. He’s pretty sure a lot of this shit is unuseable. He’s nervous that some of their shit is gonna get jacked because it’s so dark and there are so many people. Then he’ll have to report it to insurance or the rental house and have a little extra something to deal with.

Yara has been insisting to them, for months, that the Iron Islands has a pretty robust LGBTQ community and there ought to be a nod to it in the episode because it’s so at odds with the stereotypical impression outsiders have of Ironborns. No one actually disputed her on this fact or shot down her idea. They were actually all on board right away, but she kept arguing with them in her head and out loud — as a point of pride. She has also defensively said that the LGBTQ community actually does way more than just party — but filming nonprofit dinners or club meetings just isn’t exciting shit. And again, no one disputes her on this — but she still insists that they all believe her.

Missy has to wear an earpiece to talk to the others because it’s so loud, though one of the highlights of this night is probably the fact that Jaime is utterly miserable because he hates most twenty-somethings, and he hates dancing. He also especially hates this club because he is getting recognized. A lot. People keep laying their hands on him, to stop him so that they can gush at him or to just drunkenly slur gibberish at him.

“I like this song because it’s about asses in faces!” Yara shouts into the shared line. Grey is hovering close to her because he has to, and his expression reflects his razor thin patience as she spontaneously fucks with his work and pulls him close to her ever-moving body. Missandei can make out Yara running her hand up Grey’s chest before she pulls him in even more so she can talk into his ear. Over the line, they can all hear her flirtatiously say, “Has anyone told you that you sort of look androgynous? I like your mouth. That plastic surgery you got was amazing.” She pauses. And then she says, “I like this song because it’s about fucking.”

 

 


Dany’s skin is shiny and glowing from sweat. Yara looks a little ghoulish because her dark eye makeup has smeared. They are on the same side of the booth. With Drogo’s camera in her face, Yara sighs dreamily as she pulls a cup of watery cup of coffee closer to her mouth. She tells them that she used to go here every weekend. She used to always abuse her body on the same chicken fried steak skillet. She laughs at all of these unvoiced memories, as she absently lines up her silverware on her napkin. She asks her dad if he remembers how mad he used to get at her whenever he caught her sneaking out of the house — the times he was at home.

Balon leaks out a small, sad smile. He tells her that he does remember.

And then the power goes out.

 

 


Missandei’s phone is on its last legs because she’s been using it all night. She left her external battery in her pack, in the van. And it’s a chaotic mess trying to find paper money in the dark to pay for their late night second dinner as the diner wait staff urgently starts putting out lanterns and candles. A beam of flashlight hits her eyes for a blinding second before someone apologizes to her and pulls the light away. She sees purple dots in her vision.

Her night vision has not completely kicked in when Sandor ushers them toward the vans. Rain and wind is beating against her face when her foot hits a curb and she trips a little bit, before she catches herself. She feels a hand tightly wound around her bicep — she squints at the dark figure. And then she hears Grey say, “Careful,” as he pulls her away from the sidewalk.

The rest of the night is stressful. Grey and Drogo really hate that they have to pack up in the dim light, basically in the dark — and transport their cameras through a sheet of wind and water. Jaime and Dany are pissed that the shoot at the diner got cut short by the blackout.

The hotel is dark, too, when they get back to it. It’s an old hotel, and the front desk is staff is inundated with a few angry guests demanding to know when the lights are coming back on.

 

 


He’s in a white t-shirt and sweats — and that’s basically all that she can see of him, after he opens the door for her. She can see him wordlessly move out of the way to let her inside the room. She can hear him shutting the door softly behind her. Her hair is still wet and dripping a little bit, from the one minute of walking in the angry sheet of rain. She didn’t bother toweling it off before she detoured to his room. The storm is raging on outside, rumbling the walls of the chilly hotel. The heat has been off for a few hours, and the staff has been going from room to room, arms loaded with extra blankets. Missandei still has her coat on.

“We need to talk,” she says.

“About what?”

She’s about to roll her eyes at him, but stops herself out of habit — until she realizes that he can’t see her at all in the dark. So she goes for it and rolls her eyes at how fucking typical he is being. “You’ve been ignoring me all day.”

“I’ve been working all day.”

“You weren’t too busy for Drogo.”

There is a lengthy pause after that statement. She looks hard in the dark, but all she can see is a void of blackness where his face should be. Grey really does not think he’s been ignoring her all day. They talked plenty throughout the day. He talked to her about how they need more rain gear. And then she told him she will look into getting some before tomorrow, which seems like it’s not gonna happen now. And then he said thanks to her. That is one of their many entire fucking conversations together today.

Finally, he says, “I didn’t realize I was ignoring you. Can you give me an example of how I ignored you so I can try and do better in the future?”

“When some guy was hitting on me and I was looking to you for some help, you didn’t say anything.”

She can hear him scoff lightly. He says, “Because you’ve fucking chewed my ass off in the past, for being possessive.”

“That was different.” She tries to say something more — presumably about how it’s different — but she flounders. Her mind is blanking.

“I don’t see how it’s different,” he cuts in, sounding controlled and a fair bit blase. Then he says, “Make up your mind, Missandei. Do you want me to be jealous of other guys, or do you want me to let you handle your own fucking thing? You can’t have it both ways.”

She really does not like his tone of voice. And she’s actually still having a really hard time trying to figure out how to articulate why the Drogo situation is different from today. She walks herself through it, from beginning to end. He said he didn’t like how Drogo hung all over her. She told him that Drogo is her friend — so he had to deal. She can’t remember why she felt so defensive over Drogo anymore. She thinks about today, and how Ralf asked her if she was single and how Grey just sat there and silently watched and let her nervously make an ass of herself — or at least that’s what it felt like. She thinks about what the difference is. Drogo is her friend and Ralf is not. Ralf was very polite to her though. With the Drogo situation, she felt like Grey was attacking her and with the Ralf situation, she felt like he was abandoning her to deal with everything by herself.

And it starts to creep into her head — that maybe this asshole is fucking right and it’s not different at all and it’s actually inconsistent and she’s being unfair. She finally says, “It’s situational. It depends on what the situation is.”

The response is not satisfying to him at all. He says, “You mean it depends on what mood you are in. I’m really not a mindreader.”

“Okay,” she says dully, crossing her arms over her chest. “Fine.”

“I am trying to be the person you want me to be. I’m trying to play by your rules,” he shoves out, also getting testy now. “You’re the one who keeps changing it up, and then getting upset with me for not following along. You’re the one who said that we don’t fucking cross the line. We don’t mix work with personal. But you’re the one who called me your baby and fussed over me in front of everyone. You’re the one who keeps following me around asking if I’m fucking okay all the time. Do you do that with anyone else? And you’re the one who came into my room the other night with a fucking condom.”

Heat floods her face. She is stunned. She is in just disbelief. She automatically and defensively revisits the incident in her mind — trying to remember if, at the time, he actually seemed like he had a fucking problem with it when she rolled the condom onto him and laid back as he shoved himself into her. And she really doesn’t think he was taking a fucking principled stance when he was ramming her into the bed. She decides that he is being a fucking asshole about this. And, because Missandei is embarrassed by the unexpected shame that she feels over the accusations that he has hurled — it basically sounds like he’s annoyed that she is so disgustingly clingy — she really thought she was just being nice — and she deeply hates being seen as a clingy, slutty bitch — her response to him is petulant. She sarcastically says, “I’m sorry I had sex with you while we’re on the job. I’m sorry I burdened you with my body.”

Grey rolls his eyes in the dark.

From past fights that she has had — not just with exes, but also with her brother — Missandei has learned that sometimes it’s just better to cut losses. It seems like they are both too angry with each other and that this is going nowhere. So she says, “Dude, you know what? Not having this discussion with you right now. You are not even fucking ready to have it.”

Grey points at her in the dark — even though she can’t see it clearly, she can make out the action and feel the physicality of his irritation with her. “Okay, that!” he snaps. “You see, that right there! I don’t like that.”

“Having fucking discussions?” she says — her voice still unproductively sarcastic.

“You fucking making me feel like I’m messed up or broken because I don’t want to talk about everything to death.”

“You’re suppressing your feelings, and it’s not healthy.”

On his part — he really does kind of want to choke the life out of her at the moment. “I’m fucking not. I feel like this is the fucking billionth time I’ve fucking told you this. I am fucking fine. Drogo did not fucking scar me for life. Everything is fucking fine there.” He is trying hard to not be too loud, because he doesn’t want their coworkers fucking gossiping about this, but he actually just wants to scream all of these things at her face. “You don’t seem to get that I’m not like you. I don’t need to, nor do I want to, talk about everything to fucking death. I also do not need to be coddled like a fucking child —”

“How have I treated you like a child! Give me examples of this!” she demands.

And he starts rattling it all off. “You forced me to drink water even though I said I wasn’t thirsty. You told me to fucking go pee after I drank the fucking water I didn’t want to drink in the first place, and I told you I didn’t need to fucking take a piss — and you were like, well try anyway. You also kept force-feeding me food and shoving shit onto my plate in front of everyone. When I told you I wasn’t hungry, you were like, ‘Uh, fuck you, dude. You’re hungry.’ And you consistently do this shit in front of the people we work with. You’re treating me like a little bitch.”

Wow. She is struck dumb. She did not expect that. She had flinched after every single point. And after a bit of contemplative silence, she sighs. And then she stares back at the darkness of where he’s standing. And then she shrugs because she’s kind of really over this shit. She says, “I don’t know what to say.” She shrugs again. “I know I did all of those things. I remember doing those things. But your version of it all is so . . . twisted up to me. I don’t think your interpretation of events is completely accurate. I was just worried about you, and I care about you. Now I feel really stupid for caring so much. I feel like I shouldn’t have cared so much. I feel angry with you, too.”

He softens at that. His voice is gentler when he says, “I know you care.”

She sighs again. “There is just no way out of this fight, is there?”

“I think we probably just need to take some time to cool off.”

“Fine. I’ll just go now.”

“Okay. Have a good night, Missandei.”

“I’ll try to. And I’ll also try not to sneak into your room and burden you with my naked body anymore.”

It’s meant to be some sort of passive aggressive bitchy send-off before she bounces out of his room because she is terrible and petty, but his demeanor shifts. She can tell just from his pause and also from the shift in energy. The silence becomes strained.

“Missandei —” He pauses, hesitating. And then he says, “Definitely feel free to burden me with your naked body whenever.”

Her breathing hollows out — it slows down and it goes deeper as she grips the table behind her tightly. Her heart is sluggish and throbbing in her chest now. She parts her lips to get in more air. And just from the way nothing is happening and no one is moving, she feels her entire body getting warm underneath her coat. She feels the butterflies in her stomach. She squeezes her thighs together as she stands there, to press a little bit on the pleasurable pain there.

She can sort of see and hear him shuffling closer. She swings her gaze to the front of his sweats. She can’t see a fucking thing. So takes her hand — her raincoat is loud and awkward — and she plants her palm flat against him. Confirming her suspicion.

She kisses him.

 

 


They can’t extract her from her jacket fast enough. He’s swearing under his breath as his hands roughly crawl all over her body, blindly looking for the zipper and buttons, colliding inefficiently with her fingers in the dark. She’s whining and asking him why the fuck he’s searching around the back because the fucking closure is not there. It’s obviously in the front unless he really thinks she’s an idiot who wore her raincoat backwards. He mutters that he doesn’t think she’s an idiot — he’s the idiot. And then the sound of the zipper going down ratchets up her neediness. The cold air hits her flushed body before it’s covered by his warmth, before he crowds her space and tilts her face up for another kiss that is all spit and all tongue. She moans against his mouth, as she opens up wide and squeezes him tighter in her arms, pressing her breasts to his chest — it makes him think about fucking.

She’s on the same page. She’s panting and then whimpering as she hikes her jean-clad leg over his hip and tries to press herself against his erection. She loses balance, gasping out this short squeal as they collide backwards into the desk behind them, slamming it against the wall. His foggy mind is trying to remember which room is next to his — he thinks it’s a stranger — and then her hand goes down his pants and her mouth latches on his throat and it is over. His brain is done.

It’s when she’s squirming around on the bed, and he’s undoing her pants with one hand that she breaks the panting silence. She says, “I gotta get — I gotta — protection.”

He automatically says, “No.” And then he realizes what came out of his mouth. He corrects it to, “Fuck. Is it on you?”

“Yeah. I came over planning on fighting and then fucking. We are right on schedule.”

“Okay?”

“I’m kidding!” She starts to laugh, but then he nudges his face into her neck and bites her there. She yelps. “Babe!” She grasps onto his head and tries to pry him off her body. He resists and groans. And it kills her to do it, but she extracts herself from him and pushes herself off the bed. She pulls the zipper to her pants back up and buttons her jeans. She says, “Be right back. Don’t go anywhere, okay?”

In a daze, he says, “Where the fuck would I go?”

She makes him wait as she quickly runs back to her room to frantically dig around in her suitcase in the dark to pull out one of the condoms that he had slut-shamed her over. She actually runs back down the hallway, her bare feet thumping against the floor as she makes it back to his room in record time. After she closes the door, the world flips upside down as he lifts her up and tosses her back on the bed. She breathes these heaving breaths against his face as her hand shoves itself back into his sweats to continue on with what she was doing before she had to go fetch a condom. She grips him and thoroughly strokes up and down as her mouth hangs open next to his ear. He says, “Oh my God,” as he presses her deeper into the bed.

Right now — she’s actually honestly over their fight. She is wondering if they are the kind of people who can actually fuck all of their problems away. She hopes so. She absently thinks about this as he roughly strips her clothes off, as his hand pulls down her jeans and her underwear, as his mouth latches onto her breast and bites down on a nipple right after he shoves her shirt up. She grinds out a moan as she clutches onto him with her legs and arms, as she scratches her nails up his back as he starts kissing his way down her body, down her ribcage, down her stomach, down her pelvis — “Oh, shit.”

“Yeah, oh shit,” he mutters, climbing on the bed fully. “It’s about to go down.” He yanks her down a little bit, pushing her knees apart. She shivers as he carefully spreads her and starts tactilely getting the lay of the land because he can’t see that well.

“Grey,” she says, her voice sounding stupidly whiny, as she grabs onto him tighter, as he pulls himself out of her grasp, as he gets down on the bed and orients himself in between her legs. “Are you still mad at me?” This is kind of stupidly important to her. “I actually don’t want to do this if you’re still mad at me.” She means oral. She actually starts tearing up a little bit. She just wants the standard in-out-in-out if he’s going to be mad at her.

He kisses her inner thigh. She twitches when she feels his mouth touch down on her skin. He says, “I’m not mad at you. I love you.”

She scoffs lightly, her face scrunching up as if in pain. She sniffs back her tears. She says, “Oh my God, you did not just say that to me.”

“It bums you out? I get it. It’s really terrible when someone says that to you and you’re not expecting it.”

“Stop it with the jokes,” she says, trying to kick him off her vagina, trying to close her legs up as she sits up to pull him into her arms. “Come here. I have to kiss you now.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 


They wake up together, blinking against the bright morning light. Because after he had said he loves her, she had begged him to just let her stay the night. It didn’t take much to convince him to let her do that. He actually really wanted her to.

She ties her hair up with the band around her wrist because her hair is a sloppy mess because she had sex on it while it was still wet — and she also slept on it while it was still damp. The covers fall off her body as she gets up, as she runs her palms over her face, rubbing some life back into her skin.

"All of my clothes are in my room," she says. "I have to go back there to get dressed."

"Okay."

He’s still naked, though the sheet is pooled in his lap. He’s sitting up in bed. He runs his fingers against her neck, trailing down her shoulder and arm — making her shiver and making her nipples pucker. He reaches over and softly runs the back of his hand against the swells of her breasts, the bumps of his knuckles drawing goosebumps from her skin. He likes touching her. She likes touching him, too. They’re not going to do anything about this right now because they have a production meeting to get to, but she catches his forefinger — she grasps it mid-air and she holds on as she smiles at him softly.

They had sex missionary style last night. After his declaration, she was all hands and emotion, as she stopped him from going down her body again. She told him that she just wanted him so badly. She wants him too badly sometimes. The words were wanton and sultry — and he still knew that she was deflecting. He didn’t comment or press on it though. He just plucked the condom packet from her fingers.

"I was thinking I should make an appointment with my doctor and get on birth control when we get back home."

She can see the exact moment his eyes register the meaning of her words — and what they entail for him. She remembers her legs wrapped tightly around him, as she listened closely for all the noises that he made in the dark — all of his exhales and groans as he slowly fucked her. Her voice was guttural and low and intentional as she told him that he’s such a man. He’s her man.

He actually sighs as he pulls his hand out of her grasp. He digs the heel of his palm into his eye socket, rubbing some of the sleep out.  She hears him release a low and short hum before he says, "Oh, God."

"Do you have a problem with that?" she teases, leaning over to get a better look at his face.

"Uh, no."

Her hand sneaks under the sheet covering his lap.  He's warm and semi-hard and she gets a few touches in and feels him surging in her grasp before he twists in bed away from her and stands up, taking the sheet with him, covering his groin with it.  "You gotta go get dressed," he says to her, face still sleepy, but serious. "And I gotta take care of this." He looks down at his penis, lifting up the sheet a little. "I'll see you downstairs in a few."

"Grey, I can help you with that."

"Oh, shut it." And then he smiles. "Go get dressed! You're fucking naked! We're gonna be late!"

He's actually at the morning meeting before she is. Her mood is reflective and quiet as she watches him slice his knife through a couple of fried eggs and assembles a quick makeshift sandwich out of them with his toast, before he crams everything into his mouth, chews it quickly, and gets up to go talk to the local crew about the day’s agenda.

The lights haven’t come on, but they are no longer visually impaired. The morning looks bleak and wet — but bright. A lot of their equipment didn’t get charged overnight. This was poor planning on her part — but she just didn’t realize they were going to get hit with a storm. She has two phones in her pocket — her dying smart phone and a flip phone that she carries exactly for moments like these.

 

 


“Jesus Christ,” Drogo mutters, as he slips and slides around on the rocks — crusted over with sharp barnacles, but also made slick by seaweed. He’s trying not to fall flat on his ass as they quickly set up so they can shoot Dany, Jaime, Yara, and Balon getting on a boat in the distance. Grey’s balance is unreal, so he generally just silently bangs out a few efficient shots in succession before he clicks off his camera.

“Missandei!” Grey says, as he pulls plastic tighter over his camera, calling out to her. “Get away from there!” He’s telling her to get away from the edge because he’s pretty sure that an inordinately large wave would knock her right on her ass and then she’d be a bleeding, wet mess on the rocks.

She can barely hear him, the wind is so loud. She takes a few hesitant steps forward, toward him — which is not at all what he wants. He wants her to move sideways. He gestures that way, and then recognition dawns on her face. Her steps are wobbly and unsure. It makes his heart throb in his chest. And Grey is discovering this minor downside — in loving someone like how he loves her. He’s always so afraid she’s going to get hurt, and it’s sometimes distracting.

When they get on the fishing boat to meet the rest of the crew, Balon gives them shit for being slow and for being soft and wussy and bad at navigating through a little bit of rain. They resist looking up at the angry sky.

 

 


During a bit of downtime, as they stand around waiting for Drogo, Grey, and Pod to finish setting up in the restaurant, as Balon makes them redo things to death because he is constantly changing his mind but passing it off as them being sloppy, Yara plays with some decorative rope — as Brienne and Missandei watch. She’s showing them the various knots she knows how to tie. At one point, Brienne takes the rope out of Yara’s hand — does some crazy fast cool shit with it — and she asks Yara if Yara knows that one.

It makes Yara squeal in appreciation. She casually makes a sex joke — a bondage joke — and it makes Brienne blush as she simultaneously smiles in pride. She’s happy that she managed to impress Yara with her own knot-tying prowess.

Missandei distinctly feels like the odd woman out here. She doesn’t know any cool knots. She knows like, two basic ones. And she learned how to tie them because she taught herself how to sew like a woman when she was a young girl. Because she was mending clothes a lot. She’s not sure Brienne and Yara want to hear that backstory, so she just leans against the counter, pressing her back against it to get in a good stretch. It pops her chest out — and she’s momentarily watching Grey hand up some lights to Pod, who has climbed on a chair next to a wall.

Yara notices and grins. “You got laid last night. Nice!”

Missandei looks startled. Instead of disputing it, she says, “How do you know that?”

“Babe, you had hardcore sex face just now.” Yara laughs. “How is baby bear in the sack?”

“Oh my God,” Missandei says, lowering her voice. “It’s the only reason I put up with his personality sometimes.” It’s kind of a joke. But it’s one she knows Yara will appreciate. She might also be trying to impress Yara, too. Yara inspires it in people.

“I can see it,” Yara says, scanning her eyes over to Grey, too. He actually catches her looking at him and he stares back quizzically and expectantly, like he thinks she’s about to holler something at him. When she says nothing, he glances at Missandei — as if to ask her what the fuck is wrong with her friend — and then he scowls in annoyance after he gets nothing in response, as he cuts eye contact and goes back to focusing on directing Pod and the lighting. “Yep,” Yara says, laughing a little bit. “That guy is real good in bed. Such a charmer.”

Missandei almost cannot tell if Yara is being serious or if she’s being sarcastic. She almost can't tell if Yara is genuinely appreciative or mocking. 

Brienne is keeping her mouth shut. Sex talk makes her feel awkward. But she doesn’t want to seem lame and squeamish, so she willfully makes herself stay for this. She willfully tries not to dork out and randomly comment on how the drapery in this restaurant is so retro.

“You learning some new things from him, babe?” Yara continues conversationally. “It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for.” Yara generally assumes that Missandei’s experience with sex is a tad limited. And she is actually pretty right. Yara makes both Brienne and Missandei nervous sometimes because their impression of her is that her experience is just so expansive, not just in terms of sex — but yes in terms of sex — but also because of who her father is and all the places she has been to and all the people she has known and all the experiences she has already had. Yara can start sentences with, “When I got my Jeep stuck in the bowels of the Yin jungle . . .” Yara doesn’t brag, but she is matter-of-fact. She has a tendency to incisively break people down to their parts — down to their insecurities — and she doesn’t have a filter.

“I may have picked up a thing or two,” Missandei says, moderating her voice.

“I’m glad you are having great sex, Missy,” Yara says, smiling mysteriously. “Life’s too short to have mediocre sex.” Then she turns to Brienne, who looks tense and nervous. “Now, we just have to work on you.” Then Yara snaps out of the spell she was in — she suddenly stands up straighter. She says, “I’m gonna fucking waste some battery percents and give Ros a call. I haven’t talked to her in a couple days.”

“Yara!” Missandei shouts as Yara walks out the front door and into thunder and lightning for some privacy. “Be careful!”

“You forget that I’m from here!” Yara calls back, holding her phone up to her ear.

 

 


She and Grey don’t have sex again — and they don’t innocently sleep together again for the rest of filming. They don’t kiss. They don’t hug. It’s hard to constantly have him be in her face and not be able to touch him because that’s what she badly wants to do. But she’s trying not to smother him. She is trying to give him his space.

Everyone also generally forgets about the whole Grey and Drogo fight and they start to ease back into normalcy. Dany starts to acknowledge Drogo as a human being who is often in her vicinity again. She stops treating him like scum underneath her shoe. Grey and Drogo’s burgeoning friendship based on whatever the fuck, Missandei does not even know, continues to grow — so much that they are talking about getting together to hang out once they get back home to King’s Landing. Because spending up to fifteen-hour days together at work apparently isn’t enough anymore. Because threatening to break each other’s faces like a couple of fucking animals isn’t enough anymore.

During breaks in filming, Drogo often pulls out of conversations with Grey momentarily to try and include her in the plans they are making. Drogo often says to her, “What do you think, babe?”

And she’s like, sure, whatever. Fucking suck face with each other for all she cares. Actually, she says, “Sounds good! Sounds fun!” with her voice a smidge too cheery and enthusiastic.

She is bitter because the male bonding experience just sometimes seems like the fucking stupidest thing in the world.

The only bright spot in all of this for Missandei is the fact that Jaime also seems pretty perturbed by the new development. He also seems jealous. He is also a little pissed that he has gotten shut out of whatever bromance Grey has going on with Drogo. He doesn’t feel welcomed whenever he manages to stumble into whatever they’re talking about — mostly various media they like. He is not at all familiar with the obscure things they have listened to and have watched. He doesn’t know anything about rap music. It’s the first time he actually feels old around Grey. Jaime’s impression of events is that his terrible crime was that he was an awesome friend to Grey. He fucking took care of the guy after he had surgery and nursed him back to health. Beyond one minor moment where he was drunk and belligerent, he also has never picked a fight with Grey, and certainly not a physical fight. Jaime — having admitted to being a popular kid in high school — is dealing with a certain kind of exclusion for the very first time in his life. It’s not as if he hasn’t been shut out of places before — it’s just that this is the first time he doesn’t want to automatically respond with his own brand of rejection and disengagement. He has not forgotten that even before they started shooting on the Iron Islands, Grey was ignoring all of his text messages because Grey was so wrapped up in Missandei. Jaime actually hasn’t seen much of Grey on a personal level in a significant while.

It’s with this frustrated sense of ostracism that inspires Jaime to reach out to Brienne in friendship. After all, she herself is no stranger to ostracism. He clearly sees this in her.

 

 


“Man, I remember being a boy and flipping through the old man’s stack,” Drogo says, smiling in nostalgia at the memory. His knees are slightly swaying, knocking against the side of his camera case. He’s extremely slouched in the airport chair, so slouched that he’s almost lying down. “And there were these bits when the folks were actually happy. They actually were being good to one another. My old man would put on some George Clinton, Funkadelic — ‘cause that’s the slick shit all them motherfuckers came up with, you know? — and it’d just pound the house so hard. Me and my sissies would just be like, what-the-fuck-ever, man — just eh, be playing with our blocks or our knockoff legos and shit — as the folks locked themselves in the bedroom. Pops always be yelling at us, going, ‘Ain’t nobody better touch the stove! Ain’t nobody better open the door! Ain’t nobody better burn the fucking house down! Or I’ll fucking whup your ass, Drogo!’” Drogo laughs. “‘Cause you know, man, it was all on me to keep the rest of ‘em in line. Ain’t no way pops was gonna actually smack the hair off Sona’s puberty ‘stache. And obviously the folks were getting down in the bedroom. Just fucking in there. And pops put the music loud so we couldn’t hear them fucking, you know. It took me a shit-long time before I figured that shit out though. Ain’t nobody ever really want to think about their folks getting it on, I guess.”

“Man, I went through a phase,” Grey says. And then he pauses. “I mean, I retreated into music a lot because of whatever shit that was going on at home or at school. And I remember listening to Parliament and, for the first time ever — I was like, fucking I don’t know, thirteen years old or something — I remember hearing the sound of a woman just groaning and moaning hard — and I remember just being so fucking terrified and scared — because I thought she was making those sounds because she was in pain. Because someone was like, fucking hurting her or something.”

“Oh my God!” Drogo knocks his head back against the seat, and he loudly laughs — these full-throated, deep reverberating chuckles.

Grey swallows down his own laughter. He chokes out, “I was like — what the fuck is going on? Why the fuck would anyone put this scary ass shit on some hotass track, man? I don’t think the two things go together! What is happening to this poor woman? Are they torturing her? Why does no one fucking care about her?”

“Jesus fuck, that’s hilarious, man. But then you figured that shit out at some point, eh?” Drogo says, still laughing. “Tell me you figured what those sounds mean at some point.”

“Naw. Never did, man,” Grey says, straight-faced. “What do they mean?”

“Aw shit!” Drogo chuckles. “Poor Missandei.”

Missandei — who is sitting a ways off because she’s giving Grey space, and she’s also kind of sick of the both of them — hears her name come out of Drogo’s mouth. She momentarily lowers her Kindle to look over to Grey and Drogo, to try and see if she can figure out what they are saying about her. And then she decides she doesn’t really care because they are annoying. She starts digging around in her backpack for her earbuds, before she can go back to her book.

 

 


He can tell that Missandei is irritated with them. Drogo can tell that Missandei is irritated with them, too. And neither of them are really sure what they are supposed to do to rectify it — be less happy? Because it honestly seems like their happiness is the thing that is pissing her off. They have tried to pull her into their conversation — Grey has patted the empty seat next to him on vans and in the airport, and he has tried to lead her into the conversation. He would neutrally tell Drogo that Missandei also likes it when art makes no extra effort to explain Blackness. That made her glare at him real quick before she schooled her features into indifference and looked at him like she didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. And he knows that she does. Because they've talked about it. At length. But before he musters up the balls to point that out to her in front of Drogo, she walks off to go buy a two-thousand calorie muffin from a cafe.

He and Drogo have carefully avoided talking about her attitude, even just to joke around about it. It’s partly out of respect, but also mostly because they are pretty much always within earshot of her. They don’t want to accidentally hurt her feelings because she misinterprets something. They also don’t want her to flip out and verbally beat them down in front of everyone for whatever thing they are saying to piss her off.

 

 


When they part ways at the airport, Drogo gives Grey a sympathetic salute as Missandei silently walks off to head to the train station. Grey lingers so he can say bye to everyone else — to Dany, Yara, Jaime and the rest. And then he reluctantly spins around and jogs up with his heavy suitcase to catch up with her. Sandor already has his and Drogo's gear.

“Hey,” he says breathlessly, when he catches up to her. He drags his stuff onto the train car and maneuvers to the seat kitty corner to hers. He reaches over and slides his hand against her cheek, running his thumb over her cheekbone. He completely expects to get shot down because she's been so committed to her bad mood — but he smiles at her anyway. He softly says, “Hey, baby. We’re home.”

She doesn’t swat him away like he expects. She actually turns her face deeper in his hand. He can feel her soft lips pressing into his palm. She looks at him evenly and steadily. She says, “It’s good to be home.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

He really expects for her to yell at him when they get into her house, away from the prying eyes of strangers that they don’t know. What he doesn’t expect is for her to start silently stripping him in the middle of her kitchen, with all of their shit still packed up and strewn haphazardly all over the floor. His pants get undone, and he mutely stares down at her as she gets on her knees and stares down his dick. He is slow and in shock, as her hot breath flows over him, as she swallows before she opens her mouth and licks down the length of him. He spasms. He softly says, “What the fuck,” as he watches her take him into her mouth, her pink lips ripping just fucking all fucking coherency from his brain. It goes on like that for a while — he has no concept of time anymore. His hand claws into her countertop. He actually cries out when she reaches up to cup him, when he can feel the convergence of that and her tongue and her teeth and her mouth and her spit and the back of her throat and her lips.

His heart is slamming rapidly in his chest and just choking him up. He’s sweating off this steam because his body feels so hot. And he groans as she pauses and pulls her mouth off him. She’s still cupping him. She looks up at him like she’s angry with him. She says, “How much do you fucking want me right now?”

“Oh my fucking God, I need you.”

He jarringly yanks a drawer of potholders out when she takes him back in her mouth. He tries to apologize for that as he almost loses his footing. He stares down at her in disbelief. He fucking loves her. He thinks that love is so strange and confusing sometimes.

She wants to cry as she watches him watching her — because he is so beautiful to her sometimes. She’s thinking about the first time she tried to do this to him — as she simultaneously thinks about getting him in deep in her mouth and doing it slowly because he seems to really like that — and she thinks that the distance they have traveled is crazy. She remembers how nerve-wracking and humiliating the first time was. She remembers how she couldn’t do one goddamn thing right back then. She remembers how he looked down at her with panic and pity and fear. Now, she feels powerful. She is holding him in the palm of her hand and she can crush him and destroy him in an instant if she wanted to. Missandei thinks about how Yara was so sure that it’s on Grey to teach Missandei things. Missandei thinks about how she doesn’t really fucking know much about sex — but this isn’t rocket science.

When he gets too close — he comes just a tiny bit in her mouth. He really didn’t want to and he didn’t mean to — and the trajectory of the sex flips and completely changes in that moment. He breathes out some noise as he cups her cheek and gently extracts himself from her mouth. His entire fucking body protests, and it’s telling him he’s the fucking stupidest motherfucker ever. He picks her up and he tells her he’s actually going to finish inside of her body as he carries her to the couch and lays her down on it.

He’s tickling her stomach lightly with the tips of his fingers, just daring her to laugh loudly. She keeps trying to squirm out of his arms as she simultaneously buries her laugh in her hands. He grabs her forearm whenever he can to pry her hand off her face as he mercilessly continues tickling her. And she has to fight him and try to roll to smother her giggles into a cushion.

“Okay,” he says, his palm hot on the base of her spine. “Enough foreplay. It’s time to get down to business.”

He is, she has found, really fun in bed. That’s part of the reason it’s so hard for her not to fall deeper in love with him now that their relationship has turned sexual. He says funny things. He does funny things. Smiles come really easily. So do laughs. He has a bit of a bizarre nature that flips wildly from hard and rough to soft and sweet.

She’s telling him that there are still condoms in her suitcase, in the mesh pocket inside the flap. He ignores her as he urgently divests her of her pants and underwear — getting them stuck on her running shoes at her feet — growling out his frustration as he rips off her shoes and leaves on her shirt and bra. She keeps reminding him to get the fucking condom already — she starts to get up so that she can go retrieve it herself. But he presses her down. And he has lied to her. His hand is feeling around down there. She says, “Oh my God,” and freezes. All of the old sorts of self-conscious hang-ups start clanging their way into her brain. Her concept of pleasure still is underdefined and perhaps it revolves around him too much. She’s not waxed. She didn’t realize she was going to get oral today, so she’s not sure she has emotionally prepared for this. And she says, “Oh my God,” again because it is so personal and so intimate, as she generally tries not to squeezes her thighs together to barricade herself against him.

He gets on his stomach and he hooks her legs over his shoulders roughly — maybe a touch too rough — and he lowers his face, aiming for her clit.

She immediately stops him. Her body twists and her hand blocks him. She says, “No.”

And at this point, he knows that she is a little bit less experienced than he originally assumed she was. He knows that he has to ask her questions, if he wants answers. He says, “What? Why not?”

She goes rigid. She says, “I don’t want to right now.”

 

 


“Whatcha bring me back?”

Grey hands over a bottle of alcohol. “I bought you booze.”

Osha rolls the bottle of grain alcohol in her hand before she kind of chuckles. Because he always brings her back a drink. He is uncreative in this way — he doesn’t like to think too hard when it comes to gifting. After four or five sessions of getting a bottle of liquor, the whole routine just elevated itself into tradition. It’s now their thing.

Before the big staff meeting, Grey spends an hour with Tyrion, Pod, and Osha in the editing room — Grey always does it when he’s back home because he always learns something new about how to shoot better when he hangs out in the editing room with Osha. He makes Pod do it because Pod says he wants to learns. While women still generally get shut out of a lot of aspects of filming — editing has been a domain where the representation is a little more balanced. Grey has generally exclusively worked only with female editors — it kind of just happened like that in his career. When he first came on and watched Osha cut, he figured out fast that he was kinda wasting her time by lingering too long after messing up — or trying to salvage shots that just start out bad. It’s largely because of Osha that he has locked down his habits more tightly. She’s not at all a complainer — but she has mumbled once or twice that while Drogo is sometimes really awesome, sometimes his stuff is labor-intensive to sift through. It was shortly after that, that Grey started forcing himself and Drogo to log and document everything — putting down careful notes. Drogo naturally hates it. Hell, Grey also hates it. No one likes to stop doing their favorite thing to go off and do their least favorite thing. But that is the nature of work.

Drogo is still late — but for once, he shows up. Grey now wields more influence over Drogo. Drogo used to blow him off whenever he used to request that Drogo come in on his days off to sit in the editing room. The room feels tight and crowded for the first time — it is a little awkward and weird. Drogo pulls up a chair and then just carelessly starts breathing down Osha’s neck, muttering just a bunch of random questions oriented around what she’s doing — and she generally acts flustered because she doesn’t know Drogo that well — and he’s really, really hot.

 

 


Missandei spends the better part of the week cleaning up her house, squaring away some bills, and doing some maintenance stuff she’s been putting off. She half-heartedly weeds her garden in the chilly breeze, and she remembers how this had been a selling point for her, with this house. She was young and kind of hopped up on the idea of being a homeowner with a garden. She had all of these technicolored fantasies about growing tomatoes and flowers and cooking with said tomatoes and putting said flowers in vases.

Her garden is currently this dead plot of land overrun with weeds. She only weeds it so that it’s less of an embarrassing eyesore to her neighbors. The ones across the street, the couple with the two kids, have a really nice landscaped yard. Missandei just doesn’t have the time nor the energy to keep up with hers. She also apparently doesn’t like flowers enough to hire people to come by and make it pretty. She actually aggressively doesn’t give a shit about that kind of idealism anymore. She’s so tired. If she ever buys another place, she’s going to seek out low-maintenance concrete everything.

 

 


Grey quirks up a brow as he looks at the fancy table linens, as he unfolds the napkin and puts it in his lap. He looks around the restaurant — he’s underdressed for this, in his jeans, t-shirt, and cap. Everyone is wearing a sports coat. He has the feeling that they’d normally and nicely kick people who are dressed like him out — but since he showed up with some guy who has a black AmEx card, he’s getting the star treatment.

He drops the menu and just gives up. He tells Tyrion to pick out his food for him. And then he says, “What’s going on? Are you proposing or something?”

Tyrion kind of smiles at him. And the smile is nervous. What the fuck. “I’ve missed you,” Tyrion says. “Can’t I just miss you?”

“Oh, great. Now you sound like Jaime.”

Tyrion snickers. He loves mocking his brother. “All these feelings, man,” Tyrion says. “They just cannot be contained. Everyone needs to hear about my feelings.”

“Tyrion, seriously —”

“I’ve been seeing Sansa.”

Grey blinks. “Whoa.”

“It didn’t start out like that,” Tyrion says quickly. “She was just being nice, because she heard about the divorce and the shitshow that is my family — and we grabbed a bite a few times to talk, and it kind of snowballed from there. I really did not think, uh, that I had a fucking chance in hell with her. So I’m like, totally just as shocked as you are. And obviously, I know you guys had thing. And I’ve seen on reality TV, all of these discussions about how you put your bros before your hos. Well, that part of male friendships escapes me. Probably because my brother is my only other real male friend and I’m not at all interested in his hos. God. Anyway — what are you thinking? Are you pissed? I know you’re with Missandei now, but I can see how this could still bother you. Sansa and I have not attempted sex yet, by the way.”

“Jesus.”

“I felt like you should know before you get invited to yet another awkward dinner party.”

 

 


“It’s a surprise to see you,” Obara says, as Missandei pulls the strap of her purse off her shoulder and hangs it on the back of her chair. “A good surprise.”

Yara smirks. “Yeah, we thought for sure you’d be holed up somewhere just getting plowed for days.”

Missandei lightly frowns. “Eh, come on, Yar. That’s a bit much.”

“How is baby bear? You will tell him I said hello, won’t you?”

“Why do you call him baby bear?” Obara says quizzically. She still hasn’t met Grey yet.

Yara laughs this rapid machine gun type of laugh. She says, “Because he’s really cute and squishy and cuddly like a teddy bear.”

“Aw!” Ygritte says. “I want to meet him now!” She’s been in full mom-mode lately. Teddy bears are her jam.

Missandei throws Yara a look. She’s kind of not really in the mood.

“Oh,” Obara says plainly — obviously not that impressed, obviously not picking up on Yara’s joke. “Cool. He sounds nice.”

Yara bursts out laughing.

“What?”

 

 


Yara is convinced that Missandei’s aversion to oral is due to having received bad oral at some point. Because no one in the history of humankind actually hates good oral. Missandei is generally squeamish in general when it comes to sex talk, so she has kept it pretty vague when she’s talked to Yara in the past — and Yara is always the one bringing this stuff up first. At the present moment, Missandei has a lot of regrets. She regrets not asking Yara to expand on her theory before today, for instance, in private.

Missandei tells them that she was paralyzed the second time — though technically fourth time — she and Grey had sex and he asked her what she likes in bed. She was paralyzed because she honestly does not know what she likes in bed. People tend to think that Missandei is more experienced sexually than she actually is because she is pretty. They also tend to think she’s more sexually adventurous than she is, probably because she is pretty but maybe also because she’s a Black woman and that’s an area rife with stereotypes? She’s not sure. It’s one of those uncomfortable arenas in life. She doesn’t want to focus in on certain things too much.

It is hard to direct someone toward having better sex with her when she herself does not know what better sex looks like or feels like. A lot of the articles that she reads in Cosmo tells her to scream out her wants and desires loud and proud like a feminist. That’s all fine and great — but she worries that her ignorance will result in her blurting out to him things that ends up not being true to her at all. And then they will try it and it will not work and it’ll be embarrassing. Yara is right. Missandei has had bad oral experiences. It was pretty embarrassing for the both parties involved. At some point, whenever Jared started heading down south, she would make excuses or tell him she just wanted to have normal, regular sex.

Missandei lacks the vocabulary to say certain things — which she actually finds mortifyingly ironic because she can say so many other things in so many different languages. But she’s fiercely squeamish about dirty talk. Her brain goes into turtle mode whenever she even has to refer to some guy’s penis in the middle of sex. She likes to rely on vague terms. She likes to say stuff, “Put ‘it’ in me. Please.” And — as is her tendency to — she often wonders if she’s so bad at sex because she didn’t have a mother who gave her the sex talk at an appropriate age. Maybe she’d be a dynamo in the sack of her mom hadn’t died. It’s such a stupid thing to say out loud.

“Missy,” Obara says sympathetically, carefully working not to laugh at the whole mother bit. “I really doubt you’re bad at sex.”

“And really, your focus should be on whether you yourself are enjoying sex — not whether it’s good enough for him,” Ygritte says. “I feel like he’d tell you if something was off. Or he’d just stop calling you and would ghost you until you realize that you are the only one left in the relationship.”

“Oh my God.”

She smiles. “That’s happened to me before. Fucking asshole.”

“But baby bear’s not like that,” Yara says. “Baby bear’s a good guy.”

“Would you stop calling him that? Just for this conversation?”

Yara grins and shakes her head. “No.”

“Oh, okay,” Missandei says sullenly. “Carry on, then.”

“God, I love new relationships,” Obara gushes, hugging her own body with her arms. “It’s when you’re the most paranoid and most insecure. It’s all this stuff that comes before you fart or poop in front of each other. It’s all this wondering and worrying over whether you’re psychotic all the time.”

“Babe,” Yara says, leaning forward, rattling the wobbly table a little. She just had an epiphany. “This is all that stuff that Dany is always on your ass about. You’re a people pleaser. You always worry about everyone else. You are way too nice sometimes. You need to take charge sometimes during sex and be more like, ‘Baby bear, oh, you’re fifteen minutes late coming back from lunch? You’re fired, bitch.’” Yara giggles again. “Except swap out the fired bit with some sex stuff.” And then she explains, “Drogo told me you fired some dudes in Mantarys because they were late coming back from lunch, and it was hilarious. God, I’m never around when you get drunk on power. So fucking annoying.”

“You know what?” Missandei says slowly. “I thought — for sure — that talking to you guys about this stuff would be like, a million times better than talking to Drogo about it. Because he’s an idiot, and all he ever says is, ‘Fuck him. Just shut your face hole and fuck him.’ But you know what? I was being sexist.” Missandei pauses dramatically and shrugs her shoulders. “You guys are just as bad. So far, I’m coming away from this with gems such as —” Missandei starts counting her fingers, “— being happy that he’s not ghosting me, trying to fart or poop in front of him, and shouting that he’s fired during sex.”

Obara chokes because she’s in the middle of taking a sip of wine. She starts hacking out coughs as she continues laughing, as Yara reaches over and starts beating her back with a fist.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

They all pile into the conference room — amazingly, all at once — there’s a jam at the door and everyone is being super polite about it, stopping to congregate and gently suggest that everyone else go in first — before Drogo just grunts loudly in frustration, raises up his arms, and uncaringly shoves his way through, accidentally knocking Sam back a step. Grey wryly smiles and tells Sam that Drogo is sorry. Jaime, already in the room, watches it go down — he sees Grey’s amused smile pointed at Drogo’s back — and he thinks to himself that this bullshit is apparently still going on.

Later, in the thick of the meeting, he’s a little cranky when he says, “Okay, let’s revisit this widescreen letterbox anamorphic format shit again.”

Dany groans. “Do you want to fight?”

Jaime casts her a grin. “Bring it on, sweetie.”

“You’re so irritating,” Dany says. “I wish I can fire you.”

“You’re contractually obligated to keep me.”

 

 


It’s hard to capture the frenetic panic and exhilaration of filming in a different country and bring it home. At home, everything is very routine and pretty ordinary. And it’s their homebase so there is sometimes a lack of excitement when they are there, due to familiarity.

Their office building is located adjacent to downtown, in a hipster area with a lot of tech startups. The lunch crowd is also predictable and — to Jaime — contemptible. The kids either completely ignore him because they are unimpressed, which he prefers, or they furtively snap his picture on their phones to post on social media, which he also doesn’t mind too much. It’s when they boldly interrupt him in the middle of eating to ask him if he’d take a selfie with them. Sometimes they want him to raise his prostheses, and they have the gall to ask. Sometimes Jaime declines the picture but says that they can talk and they can ask him questions about whatever, such as the places he’s been, what it’s like to make a TV show — and the kids generally aren’t into it. They only want pictures so they can post them online. Presumably they tag him and maybe talk shit about him when he’s rude to them, but Margaery and Gilly handle that end of things. Jaime doesn’t touch his own accounts. He hates social media.

Jaime’s in a shitty mood. They all awkwardly say nothing to each other as they sip from their beers and wait for their food to come. Tyrion has heard bits and pieces about what went down in the Iron Islands — and he completely does not give a shit. Everyone is just so fucking dramatic. Missandei is kinda having bedroom issues with her bae, so that’s been on her mind. Grey is wary and reluctant to accidentally say something that is the wrong thing around her because he’s still smarting a little bit from getting pushed off her body during sex. And Drogo — as always — is beyond chill and uncaring. He is swaying his head to the music playing overhead. It’s T-Pain. Drogo smiles lazily and he reaches over to poke Grey in the shoulder. He says, “Your mother deserves to listen to rap, too.”

“His mom is dead, though,” Missandei says in a deadpan, actually causing Jaime and Tyrion to look at her sharply in surprise.

Drogo kind of does a poor job of smothering a chuckle. “It was an inside joke.”

“No shit,” she says.

He looks very amused. “You got something you wanna say to me, babe?”

“Nope.”

Drogo reaches over and he smiles as he gently touches her chin with his thumb. He says, “There, there. There’s plenty of my love to go around. Don’t be jelly.”

She looks like she wants to punch him in the face.

He laughs.

“I don’t care what you guys say,” Grey mutters. Missandei watches as he absently licks some froth off the mouth of his beer bottle before he sucks down another sip. Her body warms up, and he is none the wiser. “T-Pain is really good live,” he says. “Like, have you listened to his acoustic set?”

“Excuse me?” a feminine voice says hesitantly. They all look over and see a young-looking, racially ambiguous woman in thick framed black glasses, fuchsia lipstick, and a leather miniskirt. She’s a little bent at the knees and her hands are up in a peacemaking gesture. “Sorry for interrupting you guys, but I was wondering —”

“Sorry, hon,” Jaime says. “We’ve just gotten our food. If you can wait for like, twenty minutes then maybe I’ll have some time then?”

She looks totally confused. Her head tilts the side, and she kind of stares at him for a long second before she purses her bright lips. And then she looks directly at Grey. She says, “Sorry! This isn’t going to take very long, but I was just wondering — are you Kenji’s friend?”

“Um.” Grey clears his throat. “I know Kenji. Um, I wouldn’t say we’re friends exactly.” Kenji is a guy who started hosting these underground dance parties that move from venue to venue. They have since blown up. He hires Grey to take photos sometimes.

“You’re a photographer,” she says, pointing at him in her nervousness. “Right?”

“Sure,” he says. And then he smiles self-consciously. “Yes. I mean yes.”

“Oh my gosh, I thought that was you! I remember your face.”

“What do you need, babe?” Drogo cuts in, picking up his big sandwich with both hands and sinking his teeth into it. “We really are trying to eat,” he says through a stuffed mouth.

She looks startled. “Oh, sorry!” she says, raising her hands up again. “I’ll let you guys eat.” Then she looks at Grey. “I’m sitting over there,” she says, pointing to a table. “Can I talk to you real quick later?”

“Sure,” he says.

After she leaves — before Missandei can turn in her seat and start interrogating Grey, Tyrion reaches out and shoves Jaime as he starts cracking up.

 

 


Later, at her house, his clothes are off and he’s biting down on his lower lip as his hand spans across her bare ass. It’s so smooth and soft, and he’s playing with it. He steers the conversation away from the girl in the mini skirt — not on purpose, he’s honestly just not thinking very much about that whole matter — and instead he asks Missandei what her deal with Drogo is. He tells her that he thought that she’d be happy — that he and Drogo are friendly.

“You’re a little too friendly with each other,” she says. “It’s pretty disgusting.”

“What is it about it that bothers you? Do you just miss being the center of attention?” He smiles at her knowingly.

He’s baiting her. So she says, “I know I’m ridiculous.” And then she says, “I want to be the center of your attention.”

“Baby, you generally always are.”

“I know. I’m so clingy and jealous. And he’s a man. I might’ve gotten used to being your only work friend. Now you have so many. Which is a good thing. That’s why I’m ridiculous. And a hypocrite.” And then she slaps a condom on him and tries to mount him after that.

He tells her to hold on — because of course he does. He’s trying to slow down sex so he can have more time to get a more accurate reading on where she is in it all. It makes annoyance flare in her. She just has a need — she just wants his body — and she wants to scratch the itch. She looks at him angrily because he just focuses on all of the fucking wrong things all the time. She climbs on top of him and kisses him sloppily and wet and with a lot of tongue. She kisses him dirty because she wants him to know what is about to happen to him — but really, she is the one that ends up crying out this muffled scream as she sinks down on him, as her body smears down his, and she resists punching him in the face for being so fucking beautiful. She says, “Oh my God, oh my God.” She says, “Oh my God, you feel so fucking good.” She kisses him again on the upstroke, his gasp just pulling more shivers from her body. She says, “I love you so much,” against his mouth.

The sex is intense — and it’s also fast. She knows for a fact how long the both of them have gone since they last fucked. It’s been days. She doesn’t care how fast it is because he’s so perfect, and she just needs the closeness. She keeps running her hands all over his body, digging her fingers into muscle. She bites down on his cheek and she quietly tells him that his body drives her insane sometimes. He’s so hot now, and it’s this terrible and wonderful double-edged thing. She keeps trying to force him to look her in the face as he fucks her — or as she fucks him — it’s hard to tell who’s in charge. They are rhythmless and inelegant and they keep mashing into each other and getting in each other’s way — and she cries anyway, as she holds onto him tightly and asks for more.

He exhales out a growl and he tells her the end is imminent. He’s close. He says, “Shit,” as his eyes shut, as he tries to hold it back.

She says, “Keep going.” And then she bites down hard on his shoulder as he groans — as he clenches up and digs his fingers into her hips.

 

 


She actually doesn’t expect to see him because they had talked and they had decided that they were spending the night apart — it’s her friend’s nameday party and all of that. She told him that she wasn’t sure she is up for having him meet her friends tonight because there will be a lot of people there and it can be a bit much. She left it up to him — and he told her that he isn’t sure either, if he’s in the mood to meet her friends. He’s heard a lot about them. He feels overwhelmed just from the stories.

Unbeknownst to her, Grey ends up calling up Drogo to see what the guy is up to. Drogo doesn’t think very hard about it and he tells Grey that he’s heading off to a party. Free food. Free booze. Wanna join up? Grey’s answer is actually something like, not really. Because his issue with being introverted and not wanting to meet new people also applies to Drogo’s friends. But he says okay when Drogo bullies him and insists that it’s all good people.

Missandei had forgotten that she had introduced Drogo to Obara at one point. She stares at them in shock when they walk into Ygritte’s living room — Jon’s mom has the kids — it’s just a really disorienting and trippy melding of worlds. Missandei’s just kind of frozen on the couch, as Obara unsteadily gets to her feet to greet Drogo and his mysterious handsome friend.

 

 


Grey asks Drogo why he didn’t mention that he’s friends with Missandei’s friends. Honestly, Drogo didn’t mention it because he didn’t think to. He’s friends with so many people that it’s inconvenient for him to constantly draw straight lines between people and make correlations. He’s the kind of guy that will reintroduce people to one another over and over again because he doesn’t bother keeping track of who has met whom.

Grey is kind of annoyed. This is symptomatic of Drogo’s ongoing issues at work. Grey says, “Details, man. Details.”

Drogo can recognize Grey’s anal uptightness easily. He’s constantly the victim of it when they are working. He isn’t as tolerant of it in friendship because it serves less of a purpose in friendship. So he says, “Yo, here’s an idea — why don’t you shit that fucking stick outta your fucking ass?”

Ygritte is a helicopter host, so she is running circles around them, asking them if they prefer beer, wine, or a cocktail, asking them if they are hungry, asking them if they would like to try her steak bites, asking them if they would like some carbs because she has a baguette that she can pop in the oven. She tells them that she has a really awesome compound butter that she can break out. She tells Drogo that she remembers that he is a foodie — the comment elicits this wince from him because he does not like that word associated with himself. Ygritte doesn’t notice. Instead, she tells them that she’s been experimenting a lot with baked goods, but she can’t eat it all because she doesn’t want to get fat. Her husband will only eat so much, so she’s so excited that they have showed up to eat her food. She asks them, again, what kind of alcohol they would like. She tells him that she hasn’t hosted a party in forever so she is really excited that they are here.

“Uh,” Drogo says blearily, going back to her question about the alcohol. “Whatever is easiest.”

His response actually looks like it disturbs her. She says, “No, don’t worry about troubling us. What do you want?”

He really wants a fucking beer. But he can tell that is going to bug her, if he chooses beer. He glances down at her makeshift bar on the kitchen counter. There are citrus fruits scattered all over the place. He says, “Uh, so what kind of cocktail do you have going on here?”

“Oh, man, I’ve got three kinds!”

“Oh, awesommme,” Drogo says in a singsong, glancing over to smile at Grey. “One of each? Yeah?”

“Sure.”

“Oh my God, I love you guys!”

 

 


Missandei is only half-paying attention as Obara flirtatiously presses her hand to her cleavage and tells her date — some guy she’s been boning named Steve — about how she and Missandei met and became friends. It’s honestly the most typical and boringest story. They met when they were younger through friends of friends. The end. Steve is totally gaga over the relative newness of getting laid on a regular basis though — Obara is also slightly out of his league, looks-wise — so he listens in rapt attention and keeps pressing on the mundane details. It’s still early and random people from Obara’s life keep filtering into the house, blocking Missandei’s view of Drogo and Grey.

 

 


“Oh, dude! Baby bear and beef steak! Aw shit! It’s a party now.”

Grey and Drogo both turn around at that — almost in disbelief that they are actually responding to this shit. Naturally, they are not surprised to see Yara. Drogo says, “Yeah, still don’t love those nicknames.”

Yara has her arm slung around the waist of a really pretty redhead. Drogo checks the both of them out blatantly as Yara lazily says, “Guys, this is my girlfriend Ros. Ros, this is Drogo and Grey. I work with them. They make the show look awesome.”

“Oh, cool!” Ros says. “It must be so great, to always get to travel like that.”

“It’s pretty great,” Drogo says. “Exhausting sometimes, but yeah, definitely not gonna complain about it.”

“We’re gonna go to Pentos for a couple of weeks in three months. Do you guys have recommendations for food or sites or whatever?”

“Eh, yo. Do you have a pen to take some of this shit down?”

 

 


Even though Jon and Ygritte’s house is pretty big, the elegant cocktail party gets a little crazy. It’s clear that certain things were not discussed when Ygritte offered to hold the gathering at her house and told Obara to invite whomever — certain expectations weren’t nailed down. Obara invited all of her sisters, who in turned invited a bunch of their friends. The great thing about Ygritte is that she rolls with the punches and just starts shoving tables and chairs against walls to make more space — it’s more Jon who is getting a little stressed out over how big the party has gotten.

Drogo ends up running into a bunch of other people from other groups that he drifts in and out of — he raises up his cocktail glass and screams out greetings to people who, in turn, shout back at him. Drogo has been introducing Grey to about a million different people, and he forgets their name right after he’s told them. The entire thing is overwhelming and surreal to Grey. This is not at all the world that he typically resides in. He tries to find Missandei in the midst of it all, but the drunker Drogo gets, the sloppier he gets and the more forgetful he is. He can only live in the moment, as he pulls Grey from place to place based on very abstract logic. Grey feels pretty exhausted and awkward and uncool. This is actually exactly the reason why he wanted to put off meeting Missandei’s friends.

Missy is actually not fairing all that better. Grey’s presence is actually a distraction for her. She fades into her old habits — her old rhythms. She can’t relax because she’s constantly worried that he’s just fucking hating every moment of being here. She also worries about every time he intersects with one of her friends and them being terrible to him or overly intrusive. She tries to remind herself to not fucking baby him because he’s a grown-up and obviously he’s been to parties before. She tries to remind herself that she spent hours stuck in Tyrion’s house once, at the dinner party from hell, and that’s part of being in a relationship — moments of discomfort. She wonders if they are ever going to be people who can have fun in public together. Maybe they have set up their relationship in a way where they can only have fun with each other behind closed doors.

Missandei starts drinking to kind of quell down the noise in her head.

 

 


He’s on his own when Drogo abandons him to go talk to a petite woman in a red dress. Grey takes a moment on the stairs to just catch his breath, as a glass of wine dangles from his fingertips. A woman with braided blond hair tries to talk to him for a few minutes because she thinks he’s cute — she talks about canapes and what exactly they are, how they are different from hors d’oeuvres — before she gives up and is discouraged by his lack of response. It’s because he doesn’t give a shit about what makes a canape a canape. He does not care to be hit on so indirectly. He actually does not care to be hit on at all. It’s all so superficial. None of these beautiful women were hanging around when he looked like ass. And then he kind of wants to bury a laugh in his hands, because he also honestly does not think that Missandei is with him just for his personality.

Missandei cautiously watches all of this go down as she leans against a wall. She watches the blond leave awkwardly. Jared has really done a number on Missandei. She used to not even care if that guy flirted with other women in front of her face. In this relationship, she feels differently. She tells herself that she trusts Grey. Then the dark voice in the back of her mind reminds her that they actually haven’t explicitly talked about exclusivity. It also reminds her that he had once casually slept with her, while he was casually dating someone else. She wonders if these conversations aren’t just moot points now — now that she loves him and he loves her.

She walks up to him when he is alone — her hips are about at his eye-level, so it’s easy for him to run his gaze over her bare legs — he’s never seen her in a skirt before — before traveling up to see her face. She says, “Why, hello there. Have we met before? I think you’re really cute.”

He gives her an unimpressed look. He almost resists playing along, but then he says, “Thanks?”

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

He pauses. “Yes?”

“Is she pretty?”

He finally cracks a smile. He says, “Not really. Not as pretty as you are.”

Missandei narrows her eyes — because she was just insulted and complimented in one fell swoop. He is amazing. “What about me do you find pretty?” she says coyly.

“I really like your tits.” He says it because he can see her black bra through her white shirt.

He also says it just as Ygritte’s husband walks by, holding a bunch of empty martini glasses in his hands. Jon momentarily hiccups in his stride because he heard Grey — but then he quickly continues moving, pretending that he heard nothing. Grey and Missandei freeze.

Missandei bursts out laughing when he is out of earshot. “He is so confused now,” she says. And then directly to Grey, she says, “What brings you here, baby? I thought you weren’t in the mood to be around strange people?”

He laughs softly. “Well, you know me. Notorious for crashing parties.”

She gently nudges him a little bit and has him scoot over. She sits down, careful to smooth her skirt over her butt so that it covers it. She noticed him scrutinizing her outfit, and it made her a little nervous. She didn’t expect him to see her tonight. She feels like an imposter in her skirt and sheer blouse. It’s probably a little too sexy. They haven’t talked much about where he stands on that kind of stuff — not in a calm way at least. They have screamed things at each other a little bit. She typically dresses a certain way around him — much more conservatively because of work. She just got into that groove with him and it carried over after they started dating. He’s seen her naked — a lot — and it’s crazy that she feels so awkward in a skirt. It’s like, who’s she’s trying so hard for? Especially if she thought he wasn’t going to be at the party — who was she trying so hard for? That question makes her feel uncomfortable.

He’s not dressed any differently than how he usually dresses. She supposes that this is one of those easy things about being a guy. She thinks that he tends to look great, no matter what he’s wearing.

She leans into him, holding his arm in hers, pressing her head against his shoulder momentarily. She picks his glass of wine out of his hand and she takes a sip from it. “This is weird, right?” she finally says. She means them at a party together, without the burden of filming it on their backs.

“It’s always a little weird when I don’t have to worry about getting up early for a production meeting.”

“Maybe it’ll get less weird as time goes on?” she says, tilting her face toward his. She’s angling for a kiss. It’s so obvious.

“Let’s hope so,” he mumbles, stroking her cheek as he leans over and presses his lips to hers real quick. He’s uncomfortable doing it — with all of the people around them.

 

 


“Baby bear, can I holler at you for a minute?”

Grey rolls his eyes, and he says, “Only if you keep calling me baby bear forever.”

Yara grins. “You love it. You just can’t admit that you love it because of your male ego.”

That’s not really it at all. He says, “What’s up, man?”

Grey actually assumes that she is going to bring up work stuff — because why else would she need to talk to him? — so he is very surprised when she starts drunkenly talking about oral sex — and without one ounce of shame. His eyes start looking for Missandei in agitation — she has gone to the bathroom. He is annoyed because he is caught off-guard by this and he really hates being caught off-guard. He is wondering just how much Yara knows about his shit. His shit is not Missandei’s to broadcast.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Missandei is none the wiser regarding Grey’s mood when the cake Ygritte had lovingly made gets lit and the lights go down. They all sing to Obara, and she looks so happy and smiley as she makes a wish — or at least she pretends to — before she blows out the candles and gets kissed on the mouth in front of everyone by Steve. Missy ends up shrugging into her jacket not too long after, making the rounds to hug everyone goodbye with Grey hovering close behind her. Drogo has completely absconded. He is probably finishing out his night with the girl in the red dress.

Missandei gets a funny look from Obara. And it’s Ygritte that clutches Missandei’s forearms tightly and stares at her with this intensity. Ygritte says, “Are you sure you want to leave? With him?”

Missandei’s been drinking a little — so her mind is slow. It has not picked up on certain nuances. It has also forgotten that she completely neglected to introduce Grey as the guy to her friends. She doesn’t realize that her friends have assumed that Grey is just one of Drogo’s random friends. All Missandei hears is Ygritte’s tone of voice and it makes Missandei feel defensive on his behalf — like what is wrong with him? He is so wonderful and good to her. Her friends are so judgmental sometimes. So Missy is a little annoyed as she says, “Yeah. Him.”

“Are you sure? Because you’ve been drinking, and so I don’t think you should,” Ygritte says carefully, flicking her eyes over to Grey real quick. He is clearly listening in on this conversation. He can’t help it. He is jammed up against Missandei’s back because the room is packed. He’s trying to pretend that he’s not listening. He generally doesn’t get why this woman, who was super nice to him when he first came in, now kind of hates him. He doesn’t get it — but he’s also not that phased by it. Because it’s kind of the story of his life.

“What?” Missandei says. “What does it matter that I’ve been drinking? You usually like when I drink!”

Ygritte tries to maintain some semblance of privacy. She lowers her voice. To Missandei, she says, “I mean, think about what you’re doing.”

Missandei looks at her incredulously. “Um, okay? I will? You’re being — ugh, nevermind. I’ll just talk to you later, okay? Thanks for the hosting. This was really fun.” Missandei makes a move to hug Ygritte, which Ygritte almost dodges because she actually wants to talk to Missandei some more. She’s kind of tempted to drag Missandei over to some private corner of the room and just smack some sense into her. All Ygritte knows are the shy and bashful smiles that come through on Missandei’s face whenever she updates them on her new guy.

Ygritte sighs and brings her hands up to press into Missandei’s back, when Missandei forces the hug. Ygritte glumly stares up at Drogo’s friend, who looks stunned that they’ve actually made eye contact. He shoots his gaze off somewhere else — and Ygritte thinks that that’s right. He better be scared. Unless it ends up being true love and Drogo's friend is a better fit for her than the other teddy bear antisocial guy, then Ygritte supposed that she can get on board with it over time. She generally just wants Missandei to be happy, honestly. 

When Missandei goes to hug the nameday girl, Obara is tense and seems upset, and Missandei seems surprised and a little hurt by it. But neither comment on the dynamic. Obara does not like infidelity or hypocrisy.

Ygritte and Obara don’t learn who Grey is until they discuss the whole matter with Yara after the rest of the party clears out. Yara initially panics when she hears that Missandei went home with a guy who isn’t Grey. Ygritte and Obara struggle to remember his name — because they were actually never told. After the panic subsides, Yara’s sense of logic kicks in and she decides that not only is it really highly unlikely Missandei would cheat on Grey because Missandei is completely in love with the guy, it’s utterly impossible that Missandei would cheat on Grey while he’s actually in the room with her. That is like, such crazy bold gangsta shit, and that is just not Missandei’s style at all.

It’s when Obara clarifies that the dude that Missandei went home with is Drogo’s friend, that it clicks in Yara’s head. Ros actually quizzically asks if that isn’t “baby bear” — she uses air quotes — and Yara laughs in relief as her tense body relaxes and sinks into the sofa.

 

 


Missandei pretty much assumes that she’s going to get sex at the end of the night. He’s trying to get her to pause so he can talk to her, and she’s just laughing as she tugs him upstairs to her bedroom, as she starts stripping off her clothes. Her shoes are the first things she kicks off. Then her shirt gets dropped as she smiles at him. She keeps trying to kiss him as he holds her arms down, trying to get her attention. She thinks that he’s playing some sort of hard-to-get game with her, so she fights him on it as she tantalizingly presses her body up against his.

It’s when he finally blurts out, “Why did Yara talk to me about oral sex?” in frustration that she understands he’s serious.

 

 


The fight that they have is fairly typical and almost routine — except for the end of it. He is angry that she is airing their personal business out in public. He feels stung by it because what happens between them — what they have — is precious to him, and he likes to keep it close. It feels like it doesn’t mean as much to her because she is not protective of it. His pride is also bruised because Yara was smiling and laughing like the whole thing was funny, as she coached him on basically how to not suck in bed. This part he does not admit to Missandei because he feels too touchy about it currently, and he thinks bringing it up will derail the argument, shift it to his male ego and how stupid she thinks it is. He is trying to not let that aspect of things eclipse the actual matter at hand. He also doesn’t bring it up because he doesn’t want to lose this argument.

He lies a little bit to himself. He tells himself he is actually only angry that she is talking to her friends about something that she absolutely has refused to talk about with him. He tells himself he is angry because this is an ongoing communication issue. It also honestly pisses him off that he had to learn about it accidentally through Yara.

Missandei is stunned that she is getting smacked in the face with this. Immediately, she is pissed at Yara for running her mouth off like that — and she back burners that for later because she knows that she will not calm him down by telling him that Yara shouldn’t have told him that he was being gossiped about behind his back. Missandei just mostly starts off telling him that she is talkative. Her relationship with her friends is such that they tell each other everything. It would be really hard for her not to talk to them about him. And then Missandei tells him that nevertheless, she’s sorry that she has made him feel this way — that she has made him so uncomfortable and that she made him feel like she is untrustworthy. She honestly didn’t mean to. And then Missandei realizes that she’s talking to him about this in a bra, with her boobs just all up in his face. She quickly walks into her bathroom to pull on a robe.

When she returns, he says, “How much do they know?”

“About you?” She hesitates. Because she has honestly told them a lot. She has generally told them about all the ups and downs of the relationship, how it’s hard to work together and to also date. And also the broad notes of every terrible I love you blurt Missandei has made and every terrible fight they have had.

But what Grey is really asking is if Missandei has told her friends about his past — about his medical issues and what happened to his parents and how he grew up. That is information that he is wholly uncomfortable with strangers knowing about him.

“I’ve told them a lot,” she admits.

The truth is that she has not told them anything about his past. That aspect of things, she doesn’t feel is her place to share. But she assumes he’s talking about the sex and relationship stuff.

It’s too late for him to travel back to his apartment to sleep — it seems pointless to have him do that because this unexpected development. So she makes the bed for him in the guest room.

 

 


They are much more clear-headed in the morning, once alcohol has metabolized out of their bodies. Missandei picks up her phone and puts off reading Yara’s humongous text for later. Instead, she puts some coffee grounds into her French press and boils some water. Her hair is still gathered and tied up high on her head as she rubs her bare face and tells him that she actually has no food in the house. She asks him if he wants to go grab breakfast somewhere. What she doesn’t voice is that the other alternative is that he can just bounce on out and just leave her to continue stewing in her misery for a while and stuff.

Missandei doesn’t bother with makeup or really changing her clothes. After last night, she feels stung and gunshy. Last night, she gussied herself up and ended the night arguing with him and feeling really stupid over how she foolishly thought she was actually going to end the night with sex. She puts an overcoat over her sweats, steps into her sneakers, and grabs her house keys. The train is really crowded on Sunday mornings, and when Grey accidentally bumps into a cloth bag of groceries on the ground because he accidentally gets pushed from behind — the lady who owns the bag loudly says, “Shit, nigga, can you get off my apples?”

Which is a very strange thing to hear on a train in the northwest end of King’s Landing. That is a southend sentence.

Grey takes a modest step back — it’s all he can manage to do in the confined space. He says, “Hey, sorry. My bad, my bad.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she says huffily, tossing him up another short suspicious look before her mouth curves into a smile. The middle-aged white guy sitting next to her is carefully not moving a muscle as he generally acts like he is completely not in the middle of this interaction. The woman in the chair is noticing Grey’s face for the first time. “Oh, hey!” she says, switching gears, lowering her voice into a growl. “What’s your name, baby?”

That’s when Missandei shoves an elbow and then her face into the conversation. “His name is taken.” She actually says it without thinking much about it. She has the urge because she fucking cannot watch another woman hit on him right in front of her face like she’s not even a fucking person, like she’s not even there.

The woman with the grocery bag looks Missandei up and down as Grey wordlessly puts his hand on Missandei’s stomach to hold her in place. The woman looks at the state of Missandei’s hair, looks at her face, looks at the linty black pea coat covering an oversized college sweatshirt with a stubborn grease stain in the center of her chest. And the woman snorts loudly. “Girl, you need to take care of alla this,” she says, as her hand generously sweeps up and down trying to cover Missandei’s entire body. “If you wanna keep him. You’re looking a little . . . ya know.”

“What the fuck did you just say to me?”

Grey softly mutters, “Oh my God, stop,” as his hand presses a little bit harder against her stomach.

“Bitch, why you escalating this? We’re in the middle of a train! You think it’s appropriate to yell in the middle of the train?”

“Bitch, we were minding our business until you started up business.”

“Bitch, your man stepped on my apples!”

“Bitch, he did not touch your apples!”

“Bitch, you want me to show you!”

“Bitch, I do not want to see your fucked up apples!”

“Bitch, they are fucking organic!”

“Bitch, fuck your bougie apples!”

“Bitch, what is with the attitude! Fucking got me yelling on the fucking train and shit! You wanna go? I’ll beat your face off, you skinny cafe latte bitch.”

Missandei screams, “What!”

The train doors finally open, and it’s not even their stop — but Grey winds his arm around her stomach as she feint-lunges. He says, “Oh my God, stop!” as he drags her off the train, as she generally struggles against him. And once they are on the platform, he lets her go and he stares at her in shock.

And then he starts laughing at her. His eyes crinkle as he softly pulls her against his body, as his hand lightly touches her butt through her coat. He presses a firm kiss to her mouth before he says, “I just fucking saved your ass! What were you gonna do? Were you gonna fight her on the train? What were you planning on doing!”

 

 


Missandei isn’t entirely sure what she did exactly, besides almost get her ass beat on the train, to warrant all of the PDA. But it’s pretty exciting stuff. He keeps touching her and sneaking his hand into her coat to rub her hip and pull her close to his body. He keeps pressing soft kisses against her head as he hugs her. It’s pretty much the most amazing thing ever. She feels girly over it. There’s almost a part of her that wants for him to be like this all the time. And she’s trying not to ruin it by staring at him too hard in bewilderment. He keeps pressing his nose against her skin and hair to smell her. She keeps risking it by kissing him back sometimes. Her voice sounds breathy and high and feminine — as she talks into his ear and tells him he is so cute. This is the version of him that makes her heart palpitate and makes her body melt into goo.

They got off at the wrong stop, so he ends up taking her hand and pulling her to a nearby curry place that he likes.

There, she has him order for the both of them because he evidently has a vision in terms of what he wants to eat and what he wants to show her. She just goes and gathers up napkins and plastic wear. She catches a glimpse of herself in the sheet metal lining the side of the soda dispenser and she mentally goes, whoa. Too sexy.

His good mood is still hanging around when he drops off a bowl of curry in front of her face. He picks up a fork and stabs it in the middle for her before his fingers press into her cheek, lingering for a moment. He stares down at her fondly and says, “Hope you like it.”

He sits down, and they eat quietly for a few long minutes. She hadn’t realized how hungry she is — the last thing she ate was a few bites of birthday cake — so she generally starts just inhaling the food like an animal. He keeps pausing in his eating to watch her, smiling quietly mostly to himself.

At some point, they switch bowls so that she can try his. It’s sweeter. She tells him she’s on the fence, but she thinks she likes hers more. He tells her that he suspected as much.

When she catches him staring one too many times, she finally says, “What?” self-consciously. “What’s up with you?”

“I love you.”

Her face twitches into a smile involuntarily as she just dies a little bit inside. She softly says, “I love you, too.”

“I was just thinking about how maybe I shouldn’t be so protective with my shit,” he says, making her frown as she tries to figure out what specific thing in their long, ongoing, ever-growing list of things he’s referring to exactly. “I mean, it’s not the end of the world if people know about the brain tumor and the erection issues. It’s like, so what? So I had a brain tumor that caused a lot of developmental problems. It happens to people sometimes. I just need to let go of this notion of . . . weakness, I guess. Look, it’s okay if you want to talk to your friends about me.” He pauses, momentarily drawing his lips in a thin line. “That’s not me giving you permission. I know you can say whatever you want to whomever you want. That’s more me saying that I am not going to freak out over it anymore.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

She tells him that she has never talked about the brain surgery or the tumor removal — and definitely not stuff related to his — she has to brace herself before she says, “area” — first off, because she’s too squeamish to even say specific things about his penis to other people. Secondly, that would be quite the violation of privacy.

Grey says, “Shit. We fought for nothing.”

She just smiles and says, “We’ll get it right one of these days.”

They’ve never really done this before — just chilled together like this. Usually they are working. And typically when they’ve been home in King’s Landing in the past — they’ve just been holed up together somewhere, getting to know each other, whether through sex or through awkward dates. Right now, they are leisurely walking around and doing some window shopping — Missandei feels so self-conscious about what she’s wearing and how grubby she looks that she tells him about her Pretty Woman fantasy — not the being a prostitute with a heart of gold part — the part where Julia Roberts goes back into the bougie store where people shaded her, asks them if they’re based on commission, flashes the credit card, and says, “Big mistake.” Missandei lingers on the sidewalk, tilting her head as she stares through a window, at a suede bag. She already knows it’s too expensive, and she will never buy it. She tells him, “I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen Pretty Woman all the way through. I think I only know that quote from pop culture. And Broad City.” Then she says, “I feel like a lot of women like me relate to that moment. Where you get to go up to someone and be like, ‘Hey, remember me? Well, you were totally fucking wrong about me.’”

“I can relate to that, too,” he says quietly, touching the small of her back to steer her away from the window.

“Yeah? Have you fantasized about your Julia Roberts moment with all those assholes you went to school with?” She tilts her face up to look at him as she leans back into him. “If only they can see you now.”

He smiles at her. “I used to. Before I had the surgery. Maybe leading up to it, too.” He used to think about triumphantly declaring his normalcy to people. He’d have a regular body, which would secure him a pretty girl, which would prove to all of them that he is not at all pathetically hopeless and deserving of ridicule forever. However, he never ever once imagined that he’d be with someone like Missandei — someone so human and real and challenging and with her own specific set of characteristics and issues. He supposes that he used to think about a woman’s place in his life too abstractly, centered around how she could improve it. He says, “But now? Now I just don’t care about proving anything to anyone anymore.”

 

 


“Do you think Dany is right about me?” Missandei asks, pulling a bottle of kombucha off of the shelf in the co-op so she can read the ingredients list. She stuns herself with how goddamn bougie, how fucking basic, just how gentrified she has become. She lives in a brownstone in the northwest corner King’s Landing. The only thing stopping her from making her own kombucha is that she’s gone too many days of the month. She has a favorite coffee shop and bakery that she goes to all the time, and they have her order fucking memorized. She has allowed her name to be whitewashed and anglicized into Missy. And she gets excited when chia seeds are on sale. She makes a TV show for people with a high amount of disposal income. “Do you think I’m just a little bitch?” she asks Grey. Then she groans — as she thinks back to Drogo’s horrific impression of her while they were in New Ghis that one time — and all of the laughing that ensued. She says, “Wait. Maybe you shouldn’t answer this. Maybe I’m not ready to hear it.”

Grey actually thinks it’s funny that Missandei is also so concerned about being a little bitch. No, it’s actually not funny. It’s interesting. He says, “The thing with Dany is that she’s your boss. She’s our boss. So the whole thing is set up so that she gets a constant view of us trying to . . . not get fired. Basically.” He touches her hand as he drifts over to look at non-dairy cheese. “She has never seen you chew me out for being so typically male. She has never seen you rail on your brother for not being there for his kids. She has never seen you go off on on a woman on a train over apples.”

“So I’m the behind-the-scenes bitch in charge.”

He gives her a hard look. “And this bothers you.”

She shrugs, putting the kombucha back on the shelf. Sometimes she also thinks it’s unfair bullshit that hardship is associated with Blackness and conventional success is associated with whiteness. She says, “Maybe I want to be more than that sometimes.”

 

 


“Does my friendship with Drogo really bother you?”

She chuckles at that, flipping through racks of clearance clothes, trying to find things in her size in the slush pile. She pulls off a tank dress and she holds it up to her body — to her stained sweatshirt covered body. She says, “Honestly? I have no idea. My response to it is just dumb and visceral. And I mean — obviously I want you guys to get along with each other. I guess I just didn’t expect for you guys to like each other more than you like me.”

“Missandei,” he says, staring at her intently from where he is pretending to look at clothes. He’s looking at women’s clothes, too. “I like you a fucking lot. I like you more than I like him. Trust me.”

“I know you love me,” she says, smiling at him. “But you have so much fun with him. It’s like — I have never seen you have that much fun with anyone else, not even me.”

“Babe, we like, have sex. With each other. It’s fun sometimes.”

“Grey, chill, man. You don’t have to prove to me that you like banging me,” she says. “Dude, I’m just saying there is just something frankly kind of magical when you and Drogo are together and you guys get into your groove. It’s like, everyone can sense it. Especially Jaime. Poor guy has been kind of sad about it.”

“What? He said that to you?”

“Oh my God, he doesn’t have to. I have eyes, babe.”

 

 


“I’m going to ask you something, and it’s a little embarrassing for me,” she says, as she watches him flip through digital art prints and photographs. They wandered into a below-ground gallery, and then his ability to multitask just dropped off the face of the Earth. “So you have to focus a little harder, Grey.” She reaches over and snaps her fingers in his face. “Baby, pay attention.”

He looks up at her, across a stack of paper and plastic, his hand still on a board. He says, “What’s up?”

“How often do you get hit on when you’re just going about your business?”

He’s staring at her. He says, “Oh, God, are you serious? Do you want a percentage or something?”

“So it happens a lot,” she says evenly.

He frowns. “Women have been a lot friendlier to me since my surgery.” His expression stays tight, even as he drops the frown. “It’s kind of fucked up — that people really treat you differently based on how you look and how attractive they think you are. Why does this conversation embarrass you?”

“Uh, because I hate it when people hit on you? Because I’m insecure. Did you not see what happened on the train this morning?”

“Oh.” He pauses. “I thought you were just being . . .”

“Being what?” she prompts.

He clears his throat. And then he kind of lightly laughs. He says, “Yourself.” Upon her look, he adds, “You’re kind of volatile.”

 

 


“Tyrion’s dating Sansa,” he says, cracking his neck and staring ahead at the high school kids on the basketball court. “He told me when we first got home.”

Missandei tenses.

“I thought you should know, because it’s probably an eventuality — that we’re gonna run into them together.”

“How do you feel about it?”

“I feel nothing about it.”

“Really?” she says skeptically.

“Really,” he says.

She almost doesn’t believe him. She remembers how she felt when she learned that Harry was getting married. Even though she really knew that he was gay and they were years past their ill-fated childhood romance, it still kind of stung, to see him all moved on and happy when they had been so close to one another at one point. It stung so much that she got wasted on a bottle of wine and then cried into a toilet bowl with the wedding invitation in her lap. She was already in a relationship with Jared at that point — but that also didn’t matter. She still felt how she felt.

“What’s she like?”

“Who?”

“Sansa.”

Grey gives her a funny look. He says, “She’s very different from you, if that’s what you’re asking. She’s reserved and quiet and shy when you first meet her.”

“I’m quiet and shy, too, though.”

He shrugs. “Eh, not really.”

She lightly scoffs. “Okay?”

“I mean that in a good way. You were very friendly with me when I was first hired on.”

“That was just with you, though. I’m terrible to other people.”

“Yeah, that’s why everyone is constantly telling you that you’re too nice.”

She frowns. “Is she pretty? Sansa, I mean.” Missandei also wants to know how tall Sansa is, what Sansa’s weight is so she can figure out Sansa’s BMI so that she can compare it to her own. She wants to confirm that Sansa is white even though she is pretty sure Sansa is white, just from vague descriptions and name alone. And then she might want to know what Sansa does for a living so she can maybe try and guess how educated Sansa is and how much money Sansa makes. And then she will take all of the information and then obsessed about it — obsess over why he chose her instead of Sansa and whether he did it for substantial reasons or because he is just stupid.

Missy refrains from bombarding him with these questions because she knows that asking these questions will make her seem like superficial basket case with low self-esteem.

He grins. “Now why do her looks matter?” he says teasingly.

“Great,” Missandei says sarcastically. “Now I know she’s pretty.”

“She’s beautiful,” he says. He says it intentionally and purposefully, even as he smiles at Missandei warmly. Obviously he is just fucking nuts about this woman — but her question bothers him just a little bit, all the same.

 

 


“Do you think we’d be together right now, if I didn’t have my surgery?” he asks, as they shuffle onto another train. It’s slower and quieter now — they find seats near the door.

“You mean if you were still constantly in pain and tired all the time?” Missandei feels like she knows what he’s actually asking, but she’s playing dumb anyway. His line of thinking makes her kind of sad.

He puts it more succinctly: “I mean if my dick didn’t work, and I was still ugly.”

She frowns at that. “You were never ugly. You were always cute to me.” She is always tempted to give him just a boatload of reassurances. Based on how much she loves him right now and based on how attracted she is to him right now — it makes her very susceptible to fudging the truth a little bit. She’s tempted to romanticize their story and tell him that she knew he was special from the moment they met — and while that is sort of true — she really only knew that he was ridiculously talented and young when they first met. He was special in that sense. She initially thought he was also cute in that harmless little brother, reserved kind of way. She just doesn’t think there’s a way to properly convey to him that attraction isn’t always that immediate visceral, biological response. It can be something that grows immensely over time.

“Well, do you?” he says. “Think we’d be together if I didn’t have my surgery?”

She says, “I don’t know how to answer that. Because it wasn’t just these single pieces of you that changed with the surgery. You didn’t just become beautiful. You also became more open and less guarded. You kind of became more confident. You also started letting people in — and you’re more relaxed in social situations. It’s easier to see what you’re all about — your personality and stuff. Maybe that’s why you keep getting hit on.” She pauses. “Maybe it has less than to do with your looks than you think. Maybe you’re just more approachable now.”

“Maybe,” he says vaguely. And then in a dry tone of voice, he says, “Actually nope. Not really. It’s completely about my looks. People are superficial.”

It makes her chuckle lightly. “I’m not with you because you’re hot. So if you think that, you should really stop. If I only cared about that stuff, I’d like . . . be with someone like Drogo. But, your looks do factor into the whole thing,” she says reluctantly. “Like I said, it’s all converges together. I’m sexually attracted to you. I mean — obviously. I mean, God, in a really big way. I mean, it’s so obvious that it’s humiliating for me sometimes. Sex is an important part of our relationship, too. Don’t you think?”

“Well, yeah.”

“I read something — an interview Christopher Reeve gave,” she says. And then she bashfully admits, “I did a lot of reading when I learned — when you told me about —” she lowers her voice, “— the whole puberty thing.” She clears her throat. “He and his wife said they were still having sex after the accident. They were just more creative about it. Maybe you and I would be together, even if you didn’t have your surgery. I mean, for the short amount of time we could’ve been together before you like, died from a stroke or whatever. I would’ve been so sad.” Missandei pokes him in the shoulder playfully — because sometimes she can’t believe it. She just sometimes can’t believe he has lived the life that he has and that he’s the person that he is. She can’t believe how sick he was at one point and how long he suffered under it.

 

 


“You want to talk about sex?” he says, as he lightly blows the steam from his bowl of noodles.

“I had a feeling this was where we’d eventually end up,” she says, dripping some chili oil into her soup.

“How come you get so squeamish every time I start trying to go down on you?”

Missandei shifts her eyes around nervously, looking around at all of the people surrounding them — all of whom are completely absorbed in their own lives. She can’t believe she and Grey are talking about this in public. She lowers her head, ducking her face down. And she quietly says, “Thanks for easing into it, babe.”

He shrugs, looking distinctly unruffled as he tugs a curtain of noodles into his mouth. “Oh my God,” he mutters through his mouthful. “So good. How am I hungry all the time?” Then he says, “Do you just hate receiving oral?”

She can’t believe that he’s fucking better than her at this — at talking about sex. She doesn’t even realize that it’s because he got his practice in while he was talking to all of his doctors in detail about his penis — first the fact that he couldn’t get an erection to save his life, not with mental stimulation, not with physical stimulation, not with someone else, not by himself, not with porn — and then post-surgery, when he had to talk to his doctors about his constant erections — the hardness of them, the frequency of them, how they were disrupting his life, all the strangely innocuous things that inspired them.

Her cheeks feel flushed — from the steam emanating off her noodles and also from embarrassment.

He says, “Am I doing something wrong in bed?”

Her eyes widen. “No! Oh my God, no! You’re perfect,” she blurts.

He looks at her doubtfully. “I’m not perfect. Because I am pretty sure you have never had an orgasm when we’ve had sex. Thanks for not faking it, by the way.”

“Oh, I thought you didn’t notice,” she says lamely, just wanting to curl inward into herself.

“I’ve noticed,” he says, giving her a strange look.

“You didn’t say anything!”

“It’s awkward!” he says, fighting not to let his mouth turn into a smile. “What do you even say? ‘Hey, baby, I couldn’t help but notice that I’m just not meeting your needs at all because my sexual experience is very limited and lackluster. Maybe I can trick myself into thinking that this is something that doesn’t bother you. But wait! Why are you talking about our unsatisfying sex life with all of your friends again?’” He rolls his eyes as blood generally drains from her face. He adds, “I’m saying something now.”

“Well, I feel like a real asshole,” she says. “That’s great.” She’s stirring her noodles around. “Babe, it didn’t go down like that. Like, at all. You know that, right?”

“I’m trying not to be overly sensitive about it,” he mutters, stuffing his mouth again. She doesn’t understand how he can maintain his appetite during these tense conversations. Her stomach is in knots.

“Grey, I love having sex with you. You must know that.”

He looks underwhelmed.

“And there’s something you should probably know about me. This will explain a lot.” This is part where she is tempted to over-explain everything and lead him down the very convoluted path where she ties a tenuous line between the death of her parents — specifically the loss of her mother even though she also loved her dad very much — and the fact that there is just so much shit wrong or lacking in her. She takes a deep breath before expelling it. “Okay, fun fact. I have never had an orgasm before.”

After a short pause as he thinks, he says, “During sex?”

She stares at him. “Ever.”

 

 


They end up sitting and continuing to chat long after they’ve finished their meals. Well, after he finishes both of their meals. He is unreal — she keeps thinking that he is this unreal sort of perfection that has landed in her lap. She typically doesn’t like to broadcast this orgasm thing about herself because she finds it really embarrassing. She expects for him to generally respond like how her ex had first responded — with a lot of disbelief and confusion — and then over-confidence. But Grey amazingly takes it in stride and keeps a really straight face. She is convinced he is faking his calmness at first — but then he starts asking her these simple mechanical questions, such as when she first started having sex. He makes her blush with that matter-of-fact question, and she shyly avoids eye contact and tells him she was eighteen years old the first time. It was with her high school boyfriend. They had dated for two years leading up to the sex. They did it a few times before he came out to her.

Even that doesn’t phase Grey. She usually gets some look of surprise or some joking comment or something, when she decides to reveal that her high school boyfriend was gay, likely because it’s not a typical story of first-time sex or of the first time she thought she loved a guy. But Grey just looks like he’s casually filing away the information somewhere in his brain.

Masculinity is also really wrapped up around female pleasure and the ability to give it. Her inability to orgasm started to annoy Jared at some points, in spite of her assurances that it wasn’t him, that it was her fault. It was kind of a blow to his ego in a way that made him act out his frustrations on her sometimes. Sometimes he was withholding. Sometimes he was angry. Sometimes he was depressed and down on himself, and she had to reassure him and tell him that he was really hot and manly.

She supposes time will tell — how Grey will continue responding to this.

“Do you want to have an orgasm?” he asks.

“Um.” She blinks. “No one has asked me that before. Um, I guess? I mean, everyone always talks about how awesome it is. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Well, people talk a lot about what is regular and what is normal and why everyone should just fall in line and model themselves after this median average.” He rolls his eyes. “I went a long time without being able to have sex. Now, I feel like — we should think about why we want the things we want.”

Her mouth opens and closes — she’s a little speechless. She clenches her hand around her cup of tea. She thinks about all the times sex kind of made her feel real shitty. Like when some guy stopped loving her in the way that she wanted him to — and how she felt guilty and selfish for even wanting something from him that he was unable to give. Like when some other guy spent long minutes on oral on her body until she just gave up and he grew frustrated and she told him that it was okay if they moved on and he kind of bit her head off and asked her what the fuck was going on. They were so scared of breaking up and losing each other that he ended up asking her to marry him. And then there was also the other time when she was in such stunned grief that she tried to push it all away by giving a guy a really impossible blow job, which didn’t work — so she kept trying and she kept trying and she kept trying with him — for reasons almost beyond her comprehension. She has never wanted to try so hard with anyone else before. She sighs as she looks at Grey. She says, “I think I would like to have an orgasm.”

A slow smile grows over his face. It makes her heart pound. He says, “Well, alright then.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 


He comes up behind her and smoothy palms her ass, rubbing it up and down as he looks at it, encased in tight jeans. He loves this thing — it’s one of her many body parts that he really, really responds to. He sneaks his hand underneath her shirt to touch her warm bare stomach, to press his palm in the center of it, to pull her backwards into his body so that he doesn’t accidentally shove her into the hot stove in his enthusiasm.

“Babe,” she says, trying to concentrate as he nuzzles her neck, as his hand drifts up to cup a breast, lifting up her shirt and exposing her stomach to cool air. She groans. And then she clears her throat and says, “I’m kinda doing something here.”

She’s making him dinner. She’s making Naathi food. It continues to be an entirely nerve-wracking prospect because he’s not a kid like her nieces, so if he doesn’t like it, she will pretty much be crushed into a million pieces. The added pressure comes from the fact that he has eaten all over the world. His palate is discerning, and he has developed discriminating tastes. Her pulse was hammering in her head when she nervously told him she’d like to make him dinner before they have to go back to work. He just lazily smiled in response and said he’d like that. Then she spent entirely too long deciding what to make. Then she spent entirely too much time going to different grocery stores. Then she spent an entire day practicing something she’s already made a million times. Then he showed up a little early, in a funny mood — like he’s ready to smash. And she’s trying to be like — no, no, no, but I’m working so hard on dinner.

He gently turns her so he can give her a quick, soft, sexy kiss as he squeezes her ass and plasters his body to her body. And then he pulls back and quietly mutters, “Sorry. What can I do the help?”

Onions are sizzling on the pan right next to them. She has a pot with a soup base she made the other night trying to get to a boil. The overhead fan is noisily sucking up the steam and vapors from her efforts. Her concentration is shot. She stutters as she says, “M-maybe you can peel and mince some garlic for me?”

He lets her body go. He smiles at her and he says, “You’re so fucking cute. I love the stuttering.”

She smiles back. “Where were you when I had this speech impediment in the first grade?”

“I would’ve had such a thing for you in the first grade.”

“Really?”

He looks off the to the side. “Okay, no. Probably not. We were six years old. But man, by fourth grade, it would’ve been on.”

 

 


She loves everything about this — him capably helping her in the kitchen — he like, knows how to use a knife — her being able to make food for more than one person — him asking her a bunch of really sweet, really intelligent questions about what she’s doing and where it all comes from — and the both of them just casually sipping from beer bottles as they kind of nervously navigate around this newness in their relationship. This is so domestic and mundane — so coupley.

She looks like she’s about to jump right out of her skin after she puts a bowl down on the table for him. He swirls his spoon through the rice and greens — as he sneaks looks at her tortured expression. He says, “Missandei. You’re really giving me some serious anxiety right now. Maybe you should turn around for the first bite.”

She has noticed that he is not like other people she has known — other people she has cooked for who have assured her that of course they will love the food she makes them — or people like her brother, who takes certain things for granted and just scarfs it all down like a hoover sometimes. Grey has moderated his promises. Actually, he has given no promises that he’d like this. She’s just so nervous, and it’s making her need to pee. If he doesn’t like it and understand it, she’s going to be just be so sad, and maybe they have to reevaluate their entire relationship.

He puts down his spoon. “Jesus Christ, babe. I can’t eat with you watching me like that.”

“Okay, okay,” she says. “I need to go to the bathroom anyway.”

 

 


He sneaks the bite in while Missandei is peeing. He generally knows what to expect because he watched her make it — he generally knows it’s going to be a mix of heat and salt and fat from the pork and egg and a touch of acrid bitterness from the dark greens. He knew it was going to be hearty from all of the starch and carbs. He generally knew that he was going to like it because this kind of stuff is completely under the umbrella of shit he likes to eat. But he didn’t say that to her because she’s mental and he didn’t want to placate her. He further breaks up the bright yellow yolk with his spoon and then licks it clean as she comes back from the bathroom. She looks utterly defeated.

“Okay, are you ready for the verdict?” he asks, reaching out to grab her wrist, pulling her closer.

“Oh my God, no,” she says, covering her face with her other hand, letting him guide her body onto his lap.

“It’s really fucking good. It’s hard not to cook the shit out of the greens and you didn’t do that. It has integrity. This egg is a thing of beauty. It’s a nice fry. You seasoned it all well. I tend to think people under-salt food here at home but this is spot on,” he says. “It actually reminds me of my mom,” he adds shyly. “Of what she used to make. I mean, it sort of makes sense. Our islands aren’t that far apart from one another, and they have similar climate and vegetation. Stop crying.”

He reaches up and he smears his thumbs over the wetness underneath her eyes.

 

 


She actually eats her dinner in his lap because they are gross and codependent now — because she just cannot stand having all of this. His body feels extra warm. And also because it’s their last night together before they both head off to Yin. They are getting used to the pattern of this, the constant leaving and coming back, the constant putting their relationship on hold. It still bums her out nonetheless. She’s always extra attached to him as their time winds down. She always tries to squeeze in as much as she can.

He shifts her in his lap — the dining chair squeaks — as she kisses him. He tastes like garlic and salt and it’s crazy to her, that he tastes like Naathi food. She presses in deeper, takes him in deeper as her fingers dig into the back of his neck, as she smears her sensitive lips against his, as she touches her tongue to his with her eyes partially open, with a swatch of damp air between their open mouths. She says, “You’re gonna get so lucky tonight.”

“Oh, I know,” he says eagerly. “I can already tell I’m gonna get lucky.”

 

 


They muddle through the torture of doing all of the dishes because if they don’t, then they’d have to wake up extra early to run a load, which she really doesn’t want to do. Beyond that, the dishes would just sit in her sink and crust over for weeks.

Then, while naked in her bed, he asks her what she wants — how she envisions the sex playing out. She still does an all-body flush, and she still stutters as she chooses something at random. She tells him she’d like for him to be on top. Maybe.

The journey getting there is convoluted. To pull her out of her head and to get her going, he messes around with her breasts — another of his very favorites of her body parts — and he asks her if she has any idea of how much she took over his mind when he first started getting erections. He asks her if she knew the kind of hot and bothered state she always left him in — just how often he had to jerk off because he just fucking saw her in those khaki shorts.

She curls into him as she laughs. She tells him that she knows the shorts he is talking about. They have deep pockets and that’s why she wears them. They are good at holding her stuff. They actually make her ass look shapeless and flat, like she has one long, flat, lackluster mom ass.

He crawls down the bed on his hands and knees, rustling the sheets as he grabs her hips and rolls her over, before he dips down and takes a big bite from the thing in question.

She says, “Holy crap,” as the pain zips through her, as it gives way to excitement and pleasure.

He thinks that he is terrible at dirty talk — she completely disagrees with this — because he is compelled to maintain a certain straightforwardness. He can only tell the truth. When he is being jokingly self-deprecating, he tells her that them inching her toward having an orgasm is honestly like the blind leading the blind.

He’s also really observant. The progress that they have made with sex is largely because he’s so observant. He pays attention to her breathing and the sounds she makes — which she actually tries to tamp down on because she is still inexplicably so embarrassed when she’s naked in his presence — and he can generally make out when he’s missing the mark and when he’s right on the mark — through the subtle cues. It will end up not being enough — she will have to learn to be more explicit in what she wants.

They’ve talked about this when they haven’t both been naked. They’ve awkwardly talked about this with the TV droning on in the back. He surprised her with all of these principled stances that he has on sex. She has never known another guy — or another person really — who is so intentional with sex. He keeps telling her that sex isn’t about goals or achievement.

When Missandei visited her doctor for birth control, she mustered up the guts to bring up her whole inability to have an orgasm. She made herself bring it up because she thought about him — his entirety, from all the stuff he’s had to deal with to the way that he makes her feel — and she felt that it would be some serious pathetic chickenshit stuff, if she couldn’t even ask a medical professional what her deal is.

During the examination, her doctor told her that everything about Missandei’s reproductive system looks pretty normal — and she suspects that the tests results from the pap will say the same. Missandei’s doctor told her that her inability to orgasm is likely mental. Her doctor suggests relaxing more during sex.

Missandei left the appointment feeling discouraged — but also relieved? It was strangely unsatisfying, but comforting.

The progress on her orgasm is generally halting, and it feels impossible sometimes, with its stutters and stops, as he asks her if she wants more pressure, if she wants to slow it down or speed it up, if she wants something inside of her. The last thing sounds especially filthy to his ears for some reason, and it does to hers, too. Her pupils are blown, and she just looks up at him panting and torn. She sucks in a breath, and she nervously tells him she wants more pressure. The pace is great — perfect. And sure. Try putting something in her.

After some minutes of pleasantness, it largely becomes the same as it has always been. It feels clinical. When her doctor was trying to push a speculum up her vagina, she told Missandei to relax. And then when that didn’t work, she asked the medical assistant for more lube. It was kind of embarrassing, and it made Missandei wonder about all of the sexually forward women out there whose vaginas just opened up like flowers during pap smear time.

When her clit feels extra numb and when the old doubts start to creep back in — when Grey’s hand is tired and cramping from the weird angle — she asks him if they can just move on — for now. He says, “Sure, if you are sure.” He runs his wet hand up her body.

He is beyond hard as he slowly gets himself into her. They’ve been spending a lot more time on foreplay and that results in him just getting beyond wound up. He lets out a loud, tension-releasing groan as the tip pushes just beyond the threshold. His face reflects how he feels — and it makes her emotional. He crassly tells her fucking loves fucking her without a condom. It’s the best thing ever, the unobstructed heat and the unobstructed wetness and the tightness of it all. The intensity of his declaration makes her body heat up — she starts sweating — as she raises her head to catch his mouth in a kiss.

They are still kissing, and his hard body is all tension, as he slowly buries himself in her. She chokes on a gasp. She thinks that in spite of everything else — her body unwillingness to cooperate, their horrible schedule — they are still getting really good at sex — but really, he is getting really good at sex.

To her, he looks pained as he says, “God, you’re so fucking hot.”

She whispers back, “I love you,” so earnestly and sweetly that it makes him spontaneously laugh.

Then he kisses her hard, in almost a bruising kind of way as he pulls out and the slides back in easily. She interrupts the kiss to cry out a little. He touches her cheek, turns her face back to his. He says, “I love you, too.” And then he tries to navigate his thumb in between their bodies. “Should I?” he says.

It makes her want to laugh in lunacy, as she digs her heels into the backs of his thighs and forces the firm, tight, and jarring joining of their bodies. “I’m a little sore, babe,” she admits.

“Uh, okay,” he says absently, pulling his hand out, already blitzing out mentally from the incredible feel of her, sinking down to cover her body with his.

 

 


He asks, “Do you masturbate?” when he rolls off of her.

Which kind of blindsides her. She coughs — her body involuntarily pushes some of his semen out — and she automatically pretends she didn’t quite hear him. “Huh?”

“Do you masturbate?” he repeats, clearly.

“Oh. Not really,” she mumbles. And then she feels like she needs to justify this, so she says, “Because it goes nowhere and it’s like, what’s the point?”

He huffs out a short chuckle of amusement. “Oh my God, I can so relate to that, you don’t even know.”

“I don’t have a brain tumor, though,” she says lightly. He’s always pressing on their similarities — she’s always pressing on all of their differences.

“Maybe consider trying it again,” he says. “When we’re working.” He raises his head on his hand, arm anchored against her pillow. He touches her skin — raw and damp and still a little sensitive. He runs his hand down the center of her body, going in between her breasts. “Maybe think about me a little bit when you touch yourself on those cold, lonely nights in bed alone.”

“The nights will be warm though.”

He laughs and he drops his head back down on the bed and presses his nose into her cheek as he kisses her. Into her ear, he says, “You’re so shy when it comes to this, and it’s so fucking cute.” And after a pause, he says, “How in the world do you talk to Yara about oral sex when you sound like this all the time?”

“She does most of the talking, babe.”

“Ah, that makes sense.”

 

 


When he wakes up the next morning — his body feels flushed and warm — they’ve been sweating in her bed all night because he’s running a fever and she’s a victim of his radiant heat. His throat is sore, and his head is kind of pounding. She lays the back of her hand on his skin and she hesitantly tells him that she thinks he’s sick. He hasn’t been sick once since his surgery — he has forgotten what it’s like to not feel healthy. Because of this, he ends up being kind of fatalistic and melodramatic about it. He starts mentally beating his own ass and telling himself that he is just a garbage, useless person. This is what Missandei has to deal with — his negativity — as she gets dressed, makes him tea, and gathers their stuff together. Missandei also starts rummaging in her medicine cabinet, pounding zinc, echinacea, and vitamin C by the fist because while it’s too late for him, she might still be able to save herself. Being sick while traveling — it has happened to all of them — is the absolute pits.

He moves away when she starts to give him a kiss on the cheek, right before they lock up her house. She kind of looks at him in surprise, with her feelings a little bit hurt. He says, “I don’t want you to get sick. I also don’t deserve your kisses right now.”

She says, “Oh my God,” in awe. “Are you really being like this, right now?”

He says, “Love has made me kind of weak. You’ve kind of made me into a wuss.”

Which makes her comically swat him on the chest as he winces. “Shut up! Don’t say that, even if it’s a joke! People might hear you and take you seriously. And then my street cred will be ruined.” She twists her key in her lock and she says, “Just wait until you run into Drogo. You’ll button up then. You’ll be like —” She deepens and hollows out her voice. “Hey yo. Did you see that one sports game that no one gives a shit about but us? Man, that was so crazy, when that one team that we thought would win actually did win! Yeaaah, my cock is so massive that my pants can’t contain it. Sick? No! My big cock scares off all the germs and viruses.”

He gives her a lengthy stare — because he is just flabbergasted. Then he says, “I have never once said anything remotely close to that around you or apart from you. You’re really terrible at impressions.”

She hits him again. “Drogo is terrible at impressions!” she says. “He does a terrible impression of me but no one cares that it’s terrible!”

 

 


When they run into Jaime and Brienne at the airport, Jaime grins at Grey softly. It’s been awhile since they’ve hung out. Jaime says, “Hey, champ. How’s it shaking?” Jaime completely forgets to say hello to Missandei. She and Brienne silently wave to each other.

“I’m sick,” Grey says mutinously. “I feel terrible.”

The grin drops off Jaime’s face as he raises his palm to touch Grey’s forehead. “Oh, that sucks. You are sick.” To Missy, Jaime asks, “Did you give him Tylenol for the fever?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Missandei has learned that Grey does not respond well to being smothered or mothered or overly cared for. She learned this because he kind of freaked out at her over it, so she’d have to be a real dunderhead not to get the message. On the train, he stays resolutely on message, as he fights his sniffles. He ominously tells her that he doesn’t find that nurturing shit attractive at all, so if she’s going to baby him, she can just wipe sex off the calendar for the next month or so. She raises her brow at that — honestly because she didn’t expect that sex was on the calendar for the next month or so. So she smiles brightly at him in response to his bitchy statement — which is a reaction that confuses and disturbs him.

She tries to theorize with him why he is the way he is. Maybe it’s because his mother died when he was very young, and he’s had to fend for himself. How he behaves might be a defense mechanism because he has experienced loss. This commentary irritates him, too. He doesn’t agree. He believes that he is just the way he is, regardless of his circumstances. He tells her that he was largely the same when his mother was still alive — before the loss. He has always been independent. Missandei gently suggests that he can’t possibly have an accurate memory for that kind of stuff. He shifts the conversation and he tells her he is not a victim of his circumstances. He resents her implication that there is something wrong in him, in the way he is — he always resents the implication that he is the way he is because of trauma. He arrives at the root of his issues — he tells her that he simply thinks that people are so fucking weak all the time. It’s fucking weakass shit to wallow in pain and let it become a disruptive, life-interrupting thing. It’s fucking weakass to talk about it like a fucking little bitch, like he lacks the awareness that other people are dying and suffering far more dire shit. A lot of sickness is mental — and his mental strength is very strong. He just needs to get the fuck over this shit.

She almost understands now — how he went so long with a big, migraine-inducing tumor taking up space in his skull — and she never really ever means to imply that he is damaged in some way. She just tends to believe that her life completely changed when her parents died — the trajectory of who she’d become flipped when they died. She truly believes she’d be a different person, had they lived. She can’t help but speak from this point of view — whenever she’s talking to him about this.

She tries to give him his space. It is hard because she’s so attracted to him — even this mean-ass, angry side of him. Maybe especially this mean-ass angry side of him. There’s a bizarre sense of strength about him when he is being especially stubborn.

At the airport, he tells her — and everyone else who might try to fuss over him — that he would just like to fucking die in a hole by himself, when it’s time to die. He doesn’t want the parade of flowers and well wishes as he valiantly but fruitlessly rails against death. He wants his death to be inconspicuous and efficient.

He is delirious from his fever and prone to rambling. She actually thinks it’s the fucking cutest thing ever. She imagines that this was what he must’ve been like, as a little boy — just so freaking adorable and pouty and kind of comically pissed and frustrated at himself all the time because he has some trouble uncapping a bottle of water. He almost chucks the bottle across the airport terminal in his pissed off state.

It has to be love — a crazy, insane kind of love — that makes her just smile down at him so hard that her face aches — as he behaves like the most petulant and cranky asshole ever. He is snapping at people left and right — including her — and she’s still impervious to it. She just finds it to be so fucking cute.

She switches seats with Sandor so that she can sit next to him on the long flight. It was easy. No one wants to sit next to sickie and catch his virus. As they settle into their seats, she leans her head into him and sneaks her hand underneath his pullover. He’s very warm and damp. She rests her hand on his stomach as she curls into him and tries to sleep. She wakes up about two hours into the flight — when his cold shifts, when he starts hacking up a lung.

 

 


He’s delusional, so he keeps telling the rest of the crew that he is pretty sure he has one of those twenty-four hour bugs. He tells them, luckily, the bulk of his sickness will be reserved for travel day. Once they land in Yin, he will be tip-top. Jaime looks at Grey sadly — like he is a very slow and stupid child. He says, “You need to take it easy, man.”

During their layover, Missandei procures him a face mask. He’s already freaking out people on the airplane with his disruptive coughing. He’s going to continue freaking people out in Yin, because he looks so different than they do — and he’s also just a cesspool of germs.

He puts the face mask on without argument. It amuses Drogo, who pulls out his phone to take a picture and video of Grey. Drogo asks, “How sexy do you feel right now, baby?”

“Like I can slay so much ass,” Grey says in a deadpan, the entire effect of his personality just compounded because there’s now a mask hiding half of his unimpressed face.

Drogo turns the phone to Missandei. “You hear that, babe? Your man’s ready to go.”

She flushes in embarrassment. She’s still a prude even though she’s sexually active with a handsome guy who loves her. She can’t say much in response to Drogo. She’s too awkward to quip about sex. So she just kind of clears her throat and avoids eye contact. It makes Drogo laugh.

 

 


When they land in Yin and make the stupid-long and torturous journey to the hotel right in the thick of midday traffic — Grey tries to linger as the rest of them hammer out details for the next few days. Dany is not having any of it. She snaps at him and tells him to just shut up and get the hell up to his room and rest already. She tells him to order in some soup and to just sleep.

 

 


His entire body is aching, and it’s so hot as he crawls underneath hotel blankets and just closes his dry eyes. He feels really miserable. There was a really mortifying moment when he looked expectantly at Missandei in front of everyone and assumed she was going to bed with him. There was an awkward pause before she shyly told him that the entire crew was going to dinner, and she figured she’d go with them. And then she hesitated. She then said that she can stay back though — if he wanted her to.

He could feel all of their eyes on him — as he wore the stupid mask — as he just fucking stood around like a fucking stupid little fragile thing. He did not sound casual at all when he told her that it was no big deal — go have fun.

 

 

She sits next to Dany at dinner, kind of accidentally sequestered to the corner of the table, segregated from everyone else. They have a dedicated translator here, Hari, because this is one of the languages that Missandei is not fluent in — she has only a passable, if awkward grasp on it. As such, it’s not necessary for Missandei to sit in the center.

“What did you do over break?” Dany asks, which Missandei thinks is a little strange, considering they still spent five days a week interacting and working in the same office.

“Nothing special,” Missandei says. “Just did some spring cleaning and caught up with some friends. You?”

“I checked my brother into rehab again.”

Missandei inhales water accidentally and starts coughing, clutching onto her throat with her hand. “Oh my God,” she gasps out when her lungs are clear. “Is everything okay?”

Dany is kind of smiling at her in amusement. “No. It’s not. But it’s normal for him.”

“I’m sorry, Dany.”

“It’s okay. I’m not emotional about it anymore.”

“Is he married or does he have someone to take care of him when you’re away?”

“He’s a piece of shit, so no. I’m the only family he has left.”

“Jesus,” Missandei says. “Now I feel lame for telling you about my spring cleaning.”

Dany smiles. It’s really weird because this doesn’t seem like a conversation that warrants any smiling.

“I’m the only family my brother has left, too. I mean, he has two little girls — well, one is not so little anymore — but ah, well — I guess I also know a thing or two about being constantly let down by your big brother. Is yours older, too?”

“He is.”

 

 


Dany touches Missandei’s hair, pushing some curls gently off of her forehead, laughing softly. The motion looks a little bit flirtatious — at least to Drogo it does — because he shifts his attention over and watches them for a moment, his eyes scrutinizing. To Dany though, the motion is just something intuitive and natural. She’s actually a physically affectionate person — which is all the more apparent when she is not working. They’ve both been drinking — Dany because she is trying to forget about the looming list of tasks she has to contend with when she gets back to King’s Landing — Missandei because this is her boss and Missy is supremely nervous and all freaked out over whether this whole thing is some sort of mind fuck, some sort of test.

“You’re so beautiful,” Dany says, eyes flickering over Missandei’s face. “It must’ve been hard to grow up around men, being so beautiful.”

Missandei frowns, trying to figure out what Dany is getting at. She’s generally unaware that Dany is mostly speaking her own baggage out loud — she is projecting a little bit. But being victimized by men is actually something that they both have in common. Missandei’s smile is strained as she says, “It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been.” She’s generally thinking that the pockets of fear and confusion in her childhood don’t amount to much — because she mostly exited out of childhood unscathed. That’s more than a lot of people can say.

Dany hums vaguely, pulling her wine glass to her lips. She breathes down a small sip of the red before she licks her lips. Then she says, “Don’t do that. Don’t downplay your experiences.” Dany also has a tendency to admonish and correct, even when it comes to personal things.

 

 


She sees that she has wine mouth — this dirty, red-tinged mouth — when she gets back to her hotel room and gets ready for bed in the bathroom. She washes her face with the harsh hotel bar soap that they left for hand washing, because she’s been sweating all night and she wants to feel extra clean. Her phone rings right after she finishes peeing and brushing her teeth. She checks the caller ID before she picks up.

“Hey, you.”

“I heard you guys coming back,” he says into her ear. “How was your night?”

“Good.” She gives him some details — everything that they ate, what they talked about, the things people said about him — mostly jokes about him being terrible at being sick — also the fact that she and Dany had an entire conversation that wasn’t about work. She tells him that the new guy, Bronn, is kind of an asshole — but also kind of hilarious? She isn’t quite sure yet, if she is going to like him.

Missandei generally keeps things light and easy because he is sick and she wants him to get better as soon as possible. She refrains from telling him the heavy things that are currently weighing on her mind. She’s thinking a lot about the first time she got her period, actually. She was eleven. She knew what it was right away when she pulled her underwear down and saw red because her friends in school talked about it obsessively — and she had done some reading on the internet. The internet was also how she learned about rape, pedophilia, and got her first accidental glimpse of a man’s erect pink penis — because Mars’ method of policing the internet in their household was walking by with his buddies as she was doing her homework and asking her if she was looking at porn. That generally mortified her and made her want to die, which he thought was pretty funny. She supposes that the thing was that he had such trust and belief in her. He always believed that she was a good kid. She supposes that his blind trust wasn’t really the thing that she needed the most from him.

When she got her first period, she walked up to him like an adult and announced it. She told him she needed money to go buy maxi pads and tampons. He made a face, like he didn’t want to hear all the dirty details, and told her to bring him back change. And then she generally holed up in the bathroom and closely read the directions on the pull-out sheet in the tampon box and generally wasted one tampon by disassembling it to see what it was all about — wasted another via incorrect insertion — wasted a third because she just freaked out and dropped it in the toilet. And then she gave up and just stuck a maxi pad to her underwear and layered a thick wad of paper towels and then just crawled into bed and was just kind of sad because she was missing her mom — or the idea of her mom — as she slept away her cramps.

“I miss sleeping with you,” he says, his voice quiet and low. “Not just the sex, but I mean actually sleeping next to you.”

She perks up. “Do you want me to come over?”

“Nah, it’s okay. I don’t want you to get sick. And we have to get up early. I don’t want to keep you up all night with my coughing.”

“Maybe when you’re well, we can sleep together?” she asks hopefully. “Sometimes?”

“Sure, baby. That’d be nice.”

“I love it when you call me baby. Your voice gets all low and deep and soft and growly. It's especially low right now.”

He laughs softly in her ear. He says, “God, I’m so fucking in love with you.”

“I knowww,” she says, drawing out the syllable. “I mean, I don’t mean ‘I know’ like fuck yeah, duh. I mean ‘I know’ in the sense that I feel the exact same way about you. It’s crazy.”

“What are you wearing right now?”

Her laugh is loud and all snort and nose. “I love how you just switched gears so fast there.”

“Priorities, Missandei,” he says. “Priorities.”

“Babe,” she says breathily. “I’m shy.” She meant it as a truthful and honest statement — a tepid little confession about how she’s never ever had any sort of phone sex ever before because the idea of it just seems so corny and so awkward and so unsexy and forced. But it all ends up sounding kind of coy.

“Maybe I should tell you what I’m wearing,” he says. “I took off all my clothes. Because it is hot as fuck, and I am dying here. But if I take off the blankets, I start shivering with the chills. I’m pretty miserable. But also sexy as hell, right?”

“You sound so pathetic,” she says. “And you’re right. Sexy as hell.”

“I also smell like menthol because I rubbed that ointment you gave me all over my body because it aches so bad. The bed is just soiled with the stuff now. Housekeeping is gonna be like, ‘What the fuuuck happened here?’ tomorrow.”

“You are seriously like — so cute,” she gushes. “You are so fucking cute. I don’t think people even realize how fucking cute you are all the time. I can’t even stand it sometimes.”

“Missandei,” he says, tightening his tone. “What are you wearing?”

“Like, do you want the truth or do you want the pornographic version of what I’m wearing?”

“Surprise me.”

“Oh, okay. I’m wearing a t-shirt and shorts.”

“Oh, well. Why don’t you take off your shorts?”

She gasps. “Babe!”

“I might be drunk. I pounded a bottle of cough medicine, and I also took down that bitter herbal remedy that Jindo forced on me.” Jindo is their fixer. “It was actually pretty awesome. And really alcoholic. He said there were these special black peppercorns in the tincture. Plus ginger root and whatever else. Can you believe the guy went all the way home just to get me medicine? I told him I had cough syrup, but he told me that stuff doesn’t work as well as their medicine. He’s so nice. Baby, are your shorts off?”

Up until the last bit, she was actually biting into her fist as she listened to him ramble because she was just dying over how adorable he is. Then the last bit came and really put a damper on everything. “Grey. I’m sorry. But I don’t think it’s gonna happen tonight. I’m just so uptight. And you’re all loopy and not completely with it.”

“You know what? You’re right. You gotta lead by example, if you want people to follow your lead. Babe, I am like — so fucking miserable and sick, but also really fucking turned on right now. It’s probably just from hearing your voice. My body is so fucking weird sometimes. We haven’t had sex in like, thirty hours. And I just keep thinking about how you’re on birth control now and how we can just have sex whenever and wherever we want. And I keep thinking about how it fucking feels to be inside you without a fucking condom on. Missandei. The sensation is insane. Do you even get that?”

Her breathing is audible in his ear now. His phone is doubly hot against his feverish face.

On her side, she just knows that her underwear has become just a mess. Naturally, it’s so raw and human and basic that it embarrasses her a tad. She sounds strangled as she says, “Baby, hang tight. I’m coming over. This is ridiculous. You’re literally down the hall.”

“No!” he says quickly. “I didn’t start all this up so you’d come over.”

“Then why did you start all of this up?” she says.

“Okay, I can’t remember right now. I’m drunk.” He is totally lying.

“You thought you could just inspire me to masturbate on the phone with you?” She has totally hit the nail right on the head.

He doubles-down on his lying. He’s lying because he was caught. And he doesn’t want to look so transparent in his efforts. “Oh, right. Yeah, no. I thought I’d just hold you hostage as I masturbate on the phone with you.”

“Oh, really?”

He elongates his lie with the truth. He says, “Babe, it’s a big part of my life because of you and this stupid job. It is already happening. Even right now. As you sound ticked off at me. Do you want me to hang up and call you after? Or maybe we can just talk to each other tomorrow as we work and stuff.”

“No, don’t hang up.”

“Ha, I knew it.”

She squirms in bed, running her smooth legs up and down one another. “Grey. Don’t gloat. I’m in a very precarious situation right now, and I feel self-conscious and awkward. I can just freak out and hang up on you at any second. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.”

“Aw, shit, that’s my line.”

“Baby.”

“Do you wanna know what I’m doing right now?”

“I feel like I can guess what you’re doing right now.”

“I’m using my left hand. It’s weaker. So it reminds me of you.”

“Grey! Oh my God!”

“It’s a joke.” He laughs softly to himself. And then he groans and softly says, “I like talking to you as I beat off. It makes me focus on other things, and it delays the gratification.”

“Oh my God.”

“Do you remember when we got home from the Iron Islands? Do you remember what you did to me in the middle of your kitchen?”

“Yes,” she says.

“What did you do to me?”

“Babe.”

“Jesus Christ, Missandei. You drive my body nuts sometimes. You’re just a mix of contrasts. You fucking blow me in the middle of the afternoon — really fucking well, by the way. And then you can’t even talk to me as I jack off to the memory of that.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


When new guy Bronn — aka Daario 2.0 — asks the table how everyone slept during the breakfast meeting, Missandei blushes so hard that it’s actually visible on her skin — which makes Drogo look over with a brow quirked up as she resists the urge to nervously swat his gaze away, knowing that would only draw more attention. Bronn continues on after getting a few murmurs from the table. He’s saying that getting over the first hump of jet lag is generally grueling. Bronn doesn’t know any of them very well, and it’s his second week on the job. Dinner conversation with drinks is one thing, but now in the morning light, he’s afflicted with that new-person bland politeness that nearly all new people have.

Missandei is generally pretty sure that no one realizes that last night, she fumbled her way through really spectacularly bizarre and one-sided phone sex with a guy who is currently struggling through a coughing fit. Grey is gripping the table and trying to hold his breath so that Tyrion can actually finish an entire thought uninterrupted. The effect is middling. His choked gasps are about just as distracting as his wet hacking coughs. She was bad at phone sex because she’s an awkward and boring person. He’s sometimes odd and yet effortlessly perfect. She can’t look at him without blushing. He doesn’t know that after they hung up, she restlessly spent a few extra hours awake, just reliving the mortifying-for-her sound of his virus-raspy heavy breathing. She spent some of the night thinking to herself that this must be what sexual frustration truly feels like.

Grey actually seems worse today. He has another face mask on, and he’s sniffling behind the mask as a sheen of sweat breaks out over his forehead after every wipe with a paper napkin. He’s reportedly freezing and hot, sitting in the middle of their breakfast meeting with a jacket zipped up tight and buttoned as they rest of them wear tank tops and shorts He’s shivering next to Tyrion, who keeps looking over to ask, “Dude, are you like, dying right in front of our faces right now?”

“I might be,” Grey mutters. “I might be.”

“Do we actually need this asshole today?” Tyrion asks, looking mostly to Drogo. “Can we have Pod step in for a day?”

Pod pales. Because it’s one thing to take on a little bit more responsibility. It’s entirely another thing to take over Grey’s job, even if just for a day.

“Ah,” Drogo starts reluctantly. He casts Pod an apologetic look. “I think we do need this asshole today. Unfortunately.”

 

 


Their first one-on-one interaction of the day is when he’s leaning against the shadow of the van, trying to shield his monitor from the harsh glare of the sun so he can actually see what he’s doing. She hears him clear his throat before he lightly coughs. He barely ate any breakfast in the morning — which is kind of a major cause for concern when it comes to him.

“Hey,” she says.

He looks up at her, his eyes attentive and generally normal-looking. Normal-looking being a relative term. Jindo procured him a bevy of cloth masks because they are apparently better or more comfortable — and they are reuseable. There are little duckies on Grey’s face. He says, “What’s up?”

“I’m asking you to please take it easy today,” she says, fully expecting him to get annoyed with her. “You kind of delay your healing when you keep punishing your body. Talk to Drogo if you’re not feeling good and let him know. Take more breaks. Have Pod get you water and stuff. I’m talking to you as your producer, not as your girlfriend.”

He says, “Sure. I’ll try,” which is a bit of a stunning surprise. And then he goes back to his monitor.

“Oh, okay. Thanks.”

“Missandei,” he says, when she turns to leave.

“What?”

“I had a lot of fun last night. You’re a class act all the way.”

She immediately looks around to see if anyone is within earshot — no one is — and then she turns back to him and continues blushing some more even though she doesn’t even know what exactly he’s referring to. His face is impassive, but she suspects that he is being a fucking asshole, and he’s very amused.

As she covers her face momentarily, she can hear him laughing — and she can hear that laugh transition into a loud, mucus-filled series of coughs.

 

 


Grey sniffs up a gurgly roll of wet snot — which actually makes Drogo gag a little bit right next to him. Drogo waves his hands in front of his body as he fights to recover. Then he crankily asks Grey if he has to fucking do that all the time, to which Grey plainly says that if he doesn’t, then it’s way worse.

Pod is his arms and legs — Grey’s spontaneous coughing fits behind his mask have been ruining shots and really just grossing everyone out. Dany and Jaime have not been very far from a tube of antibacterial hand soap, which Missandei keeps pumping into their hands. It is over for her if Jaime and Dany get debilitatingly sick — it basically means the whole schedule gets reworked and they’ll likely run over-budget. Luckily, Jaime and Dany rarely get sick. Grey’s directing Pod with his hand holding onto a tabletop for balance, to keep the dizzying spells from toppling him over. He actually didn’t really eat dinner the night before, and he had no appetite for breakfast.

The smog in Yin is terrible, with the proximity to the Jade Sea and the heat from the sun locking in the humidity that rises from the asphalt. The smell of car and motorbike pollution exacerbates his cold. He’s nauseous, and he tries to disconnect as he watches Jaime pick apart a whole fried frog in concentration with his fingers, hissing every now and then from the heat. They’re in a lull, and Drogo asks, “How is it?”

“Pretty great,” Dany says, dropping a delicate bone onto her plate. She tears off a bit of flesh from a leg and holds it out to Drogo, who wipes his dusty hand on his pants real quick before reaching out to pluck the steaming meat from her fingers.

He tilts back and drops it in his mouth. “Taste like chicken,” he says, chewing through it quickly. He’s joking. He’s saying it because Dany hates cliche — inaccurate cliches to boot.

Sure enough, she rolls her eyes and glowers off to the side, which makes Drogo kind of laugh.

 

 


After five minutes of cursing, swearing, and threatening to smash the camera into the ground, Grey steps in and gently takes the unit away from Drogo. It won’t connect to the computer for some reason, and they want to use the big monitor to fine tune a timelapse of the fermentation of soybean curds over a few days. Grey suspects that it’s not the settings or the software. The cord is probably just toast, and they need a new one. He has Missandei and Hari put in a call to the rental house and — because they need to set this up already — he has Pod and a random colleague or friend of Hari navigate through the chaotic city to go pick up the cord.

Grey sits on a tiny stool and leans his back against the wall of the shop as Sandor and Bronn start dismantling gear and clearing out electrical cords. They’ve pick a spot in the back room, out of the way of the owners’ regular production area, and have set up lights already. Grey really likes how, every time he inhales or exhales, the wetness in his lungs gurgles. He feels really healthy.

This cold is giving him an odd bout of PSTD. He’s been distracted all day, just trying to remember how he used to deal with his migraines, actually. He actually remembers the production schedule sometimes shifting around his migraines. Missandei used to not schedule him for very detailed work or for very long hours on the first day because his body always needed the extra time to get used to the new climate. He’d always have a painful, throbbing headache within the first three days of filming.

He doesn’t remember being so preoccupied with discomfort back then — probably because he knew nothing else. Discomfort was his baseline and he didn’t deviate far from it. He was joking with Missandei when he said that love made him weak. In truth, it’s probably his good health that has made him weak — ironically. He finds that he is having a lot of trouble just coping with the aches, the fever, the chills the coughing, and the weakness. He’s been counting down the hours until nightfall. Then he can just crawl into bed and sleep.

“Shit, where the hell is Pod?” Drogo mutters, pulling out his phone to check the time.

“Hopefully not lost,” Brienne says mildly, trying not to stir up Drogo’s bad mood too much.

“Hari’s friend is with him,” Missandei says. “They’re probably stuck in traffic or something.”

“Guys, please don’t be optimistic about this,” Drogo says. “I just can’t handle it right now. Let’s just pretend Pod is lying dead in a ditch somewhere and we’re out a cord and we will never set up this shot and we’re just stuck here forever.” He gestures to the shop. “We live here now.” Grey slurps up another sniff and lightly coughs behind his mask. Drogo is kind of a sickophobe — people who are overly healthy tend to lack empathy in this area — so he tosses Grey a dirty look for not being more inconspicuous with his sickness. Then Drogo says, “And let’s pretend that this guy will never ever fucking be healthy again.”

“I’m really impressed that you haven’t punched someone in the face and smashed up a table yet,” Grey mutters, voice muffled by his stuffy nose and also his face mask. “In your vulnerable state. Way to practice self-restraint, man. It’s hard being you, I know.”

These days, Grey can really smoothly get away with such comments when it comes to Drogo. Drogo merely crosses his arms and loudly sighs — he gets the hint. And he pulls out his phone and starts passing by the time by trying to beat one of his sisters at a word game as he simultaneously tries to get the Grey, Missandei, and Brienne to help him cheat.

 

 


At crew dinner, Grey takes another dose of Jindo’s tincture right before he gets a facial as the lid of the fish hotpot gets lifted up right in front of him. He’s pretty sure that they chose this for dinner solely for his benefit, and at this point, he does not care that they are pandering to him. Bring it on.

He pulls his damp mask off for the first time all day — and he immediately notices Missandei’s eyes on him from her corner of the table, smiling at him real quickly before she catches herself and tears her eyes away. He smiles back at her — but not until she has already returned to a conversation with Dany.

As they start eating, he also wonders if the hotpot is also for everyone else’s benefit. The boiling soup and heat from the chilis are probably killing all of the bacteria that he is infecting into the communal food. Even so, a bowl gets brought out specifically to sequester his portion of the soup away from everyone else. Every now and then, Jaime picks out a piece of meat, fish, mushroom, or vegetable and deposits it wordlessly in Grey’s bowl.

Eating makes him feel better than he has all day. He can’t taste much still, but he can feel the stinging burn of the chilis and that clears up his sinuses so that he can breathe through his nose again.

“Alright alright,” Grey says to Jaime, covering his small hand bowl with his palm face down. He’s blocking a piece of squid from being plopped down. He can’t really handle solid foods all that well yet. He is a fucking baby.

Jaime moves the squid into his bowl and says, “Excuse me.” Jaime has been overly polite with him lately, for whatever reason — Grey can only hazard a guess based on what Missandei and her obsessive over-analyzing has observed. He has also decided to largely backburner this situation until they are back home in King’s Landing. He has so many personal things backburnered. Sex. Relationships.

Oh, just those two things.

But they feel immense.

“How are things going?” Grey says. He says it quietly so that no one can eavesdrop. He says it because he feels so awkward that they are behaving like strangers right now. He’s a little freaked out that this might be like that situation with Keith all over again and Jaime is probably about to tell him that they can’t play together anymore because Jaime just isn’t into it anymore.

“Things are going well,” Jaime says, frowning a little bit in concentration right before he shovels food into his mouth.

“That’s good.”

“How are things with you?” Jaime clears his throat.

“Ah, things are good.”

“Good. They seem good.”

“Is your dad —?”

“Ah, still alive.”

“Ah, that’s —”

“Complicated,” Jaime finishes.

And after an excruciating pause, Grey adds, “Maybe we should grab a bite when we get back home?”

“This conversation is actually destroying my brain cells,” Tyrion cuts in. He’s on Jaime’s other side, and he’s leaning over to look at Grey. “I am getting stupider by the second.”

 

 


With Missandei not needing to be translator, she stays close to Dany and Brienne on the far corner of the table. Hari is floating nearby them and when they comment on the segregation, Hari shrugs and simply says that it’s not uncommon. She always has half an ear on the other side of the table, ready to jump in if someone needs her assistance.

Missandei actually feels a little impotent and useless — which is stupid because she actually usually feels a little inconvenienced when she’s eating and also needing to constantly talk to the wait staff, relaying everyone’s requests. She has so much more free time at dinner to just eat now.

“Are you close to your dad?” Dany asks Brienne, continuing on a conversation they were having about family. Dany’s been on a kick because her brother continues to occupy her mind.

“We’re pretty close,” Brienne says, as she reaches out to ladle more soup into her small hand bowl. The soup is actually more than a touch too spicy for her, and she has been guzzling so much water, trying to hide how scorched and raw her mouth is from Dany. It has made her focus on the conversation a little shaky.

“How often do you talk?”

“About once a week. Sometimes it’s hard with the time difference.”

“Whoa.”

“That a lot?” Brienne says, sucking in a swatch of humid air, trying to give her taste buds a break.

“It seems nice,” Dany says softly. And then she says, “Why is that when women are close to their dads, it’s cute — but when men are close to their mothers, it’s creepy and unnatural?” Dany actually already has her own answer to this — but she is just aimlessly trying to keep the conversation going because, well, no one seems to have fun with her in the same way that they can have fun with Jaime.

“I’m real close to my mom,” Drogo cuts in. He was apparently eavesdropping. His eyes flick to Brienne real quick. “I also talk to her like, once a week.” He grins. “Is that creepy?”

“I feel like it explains everything and nothing about you,” Dany says in an unimpressed deadpan.

“Women with daddy issues are also creepy,” Drogo says. “For the record. I generally steer away.”

Dany scans her forefinger across herself, Missandei, and Brienne. To Drogo, she says, “Why are you talking to us, then?”

He definitely is picking up her ‘tude. He’d have to be an idiot not to notice it. But Drogo valiantly remains unruffled. He just leans back heavily in his chair, kind of rocking it even though it’s not meant to be rocked, and he looks at her assessingly, quietly. Then he kind of goes sideways while still staying on subject. He flips his attention to Missandei and he says, “I thought women with daddy issues date older men?” His attention is so focused on Missandei that he doesn’t pick up on Brienne’s squirming discomfort with this conversation.

Missandei has been friends with Drogo for a while now. She knows her own triggers. She knows he’s intentionally combative sometimes. She also knows he’s a little unnerved by Dany’s antagonism and he’s deflecting. She knows he sometimes says shit just to hear himself say something provocative. So Missy shakes her head and she says nothing in response to him.

Dany can’t really leave it alone though. After a long pause, she leans over Brienne lap so she can completely face him. And she says, “We were having a lively discussion between the three of us until you cut in and made everything about you and what you wanted to talk about. That was rude and inconsiderate.”

This stuns Drogo. He actually even recoils. Missandei actually feels a little bit bad for him — because she knows the effect that Dany’s shutdowns have on the psyche. They are demoralizing.

Drogo says, “Okay.” And then he says, “I didn’t realize I had done that.” And then with a lot of begrudging effort and dead eyes, he says, “I apologize. I’ll leave you to it now.”

After he turns away, it’s so awkward that it’s like the snake that eats its tail. It circles back to hilarious. Missandei grabs Dany’s wrist underneath the table to get her attention and then Missy’s eyes go into wide saucers as she stares into Dany’s pinched face — pinched from trying to stop herself from bursting out laughing. Brienne looks like she is uncomfortably holding in a burp or a fart. Missandei mouths, oh my God! into Dany’s face before she pointedly looks at Drogo’s ass-hurtedness. It is amazing. It is glorious.

 

 


She’s lying in bed with him for the one hour she gets before she has to tear herself away from his germs and go back to her own room. His body is overly warm. Whenever she touches his skin, it feels damp. Against his protests, she puts on one of his spare face masks — one that has been washed and laid out to dry, but Grey worries about the spread of germs anyway. Missandei is in a goofy and playful mood, and it’s transferring over into him. With both of them wearing masks, she’s giggling as she leans forward and presses her mouth to his mouth. She’s kissing him through two thick layers of patterned fabric. It makes him laugh softly, as she tells him that kissing this way is very unsatisfying.

All he has right now are his hands, which keep kneading into her body. He keeps spanning his palm and fingers over her soft curves, over her butt, her thighs, her breasts — he tries not to pay too much attention to her breasts because doing so just makes him seem so singularly focused, and he wants her to know that he loves her mind, too. His hand drifts down to the base of her spine, pressing into it.

She sighs in content as she pulls him into a deeper hug, as she sniffs the menthol emanating off of him. It’s almost too hot, and she’s sweating because of his body heat, but it feels so good to hold him after a long day.

“Thanks for giving me my space these last couple of days,” he murmurs. “I’ve noticed. I really appreciate your efforts.”

“It’s sometimes hard,” she says. “Sometimes I feel like I need you more than you need me.”

“Now, that’s just not true.”

“I mean physically.”

“That’s really not true.”

“I mean the cuddles, not the sex.”

“Okay. That might be true.”

“Thanks for bending the rules and letting me hang out with you before bedtime,” she says. “I also appreciate that.”

He smiles behind his mask — she can only tell through his eyes. He says, “It’s your rule! You’re bending your own rule! I’m okay with whatever, man. I actually like spending time with you whenever I can get it.”

“Have you noticed you’ve gotten hairier?” she says, suddenly changing the subject as her hand worms its way underneath his shirt, rubbing up and down his damp chest before her palm glides down his stomach, stopping at the hem of his pants. She can feel him getting hard. It’s become an almost mundane occurrence that she has folded into her life — his bodily responses.

“Well, yeah, I’ve noticed,” he says dryly. “I feel like I probably notice it way more than you do. Because I have to live with it.”

“I like it,” she says, pouting a little bit behind her mask. But then, she generally likes just about everything about his body.

“It’s funny. I used to really hate how smooth and baby-soft I was.” He laughs. “And I used to actually wish that I would, you know, look more manly and be hairier. But now — now, it’s like — it actually doesn’t matter to me as much as I thought it would.”

“How are you so good at all of this?” she says.

“Good at what?”

“Being in a relationship.”

“Am I?”

“I think so.”

“Well, as someone who has never satisfied a woman before —”

She smothers her laugh into the side of his face — as he generally chuckles, too. She holds him tightly. She says, “God, I love you so much. Especially when you say things like that. Will you start every sentence like that from now on? Every time you are asked to give an opinion, will you say that?”

“Sure,” he says. “‘Grey, what do you think about this pan for the establishing shot?’” he says, mimicking Drogo. And then adopting his own voice, he says, “Well! As someone who has never satisfied a woman before, I think I’m sick of wide perspective openers.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

When Missandei wakes up, she immediately rolls over to check her phone, to read all of the messages that came in while she was asleep — emails from the home office. She’s on autopilot and she’s not very in-tune with her body. The cramping in her lower abdomen is something she’s aware of in the back of her mind, but she assumes she ate something a little weird and she just needs to poop. She’s not making the connection that it’s her first month on birth control, which she started mid-cycle. It is shifting her bleeding days further down the month, delaying it two weeks. Right now, though, is when she typically is supposed to have her period. Her period is launching some sort of shocked revolt at the drugs that has bombarded her system.

She’s about to experience breakthrough bleeding. But all she does is she groggily pulls a tight sports bra over her sensitive nipples and pops her head through a loose white t-shirt. She shoves a few last minute overnight things — her toothbrush and a sweater — into her already stuffed bag and takes it and her suitcase down the elevator where Sandor and Hodor are waiting. The suitcase is staying at the hotel. Her smaller pouch where she keeps her lightweight computer and tablet is smushed against her warm chest. She completely neglects to pack pads or tampons.

The breakfast meeting is short but entirely predictable. It’s mostly just a few minutes where she crams some scratchy calories down her throat before they all pile into vans and travel for six hours. They are going deep into the mountains, to spend a few days with an indigenous tribe. The climate — she was told by Hari — is starkly different. Misty, humid, and a little cooler than the bustle of Yin. It’s a rainforest, which is something that yields excitement as well as concerns. Moisture is always a complication when it comes to electronics. Also — being off the grid for three days is also cause for concern. She has stuffed her pockets with external battery packs and an old fashioned flip phone.

In hour two of the drive, stuffed in a car with a bunch of dudes — Brienne and Dany are in the other van — Missandei clears her throat into her fist and the pressure in her body shoots just a little bit of blood out of her vagina — and she notes it with concern, wondering if it’s just normal discharge, knowing that it isn’t. She can feel it seeping out beyond the confines of her thin underwear. Realization hits her like a mack truck.

 

 


Despite all the grief he gets for being a misogynist, Drogo is probably the most perceptive when it comes to Missandei’s discomfort. He has five sisters. When they stop off to stretch their legs, he sees the awkward way in which she is walking. His eyes zoom right to her ass and then her crotch, when she turns around. There is a spot of blood on the front of her pants, and he immediately knows what has happened. He walks up to her, hands her his opened bottle of water, and casually says, “You’re bleeding.”

She immediately says, “No shit, Sherlock.”

Which makes him realize she is in a bad mood. She’s in a bad mood because neither Brienne, Dany, or Hari are carrying tampons or pads on them. She’s stranded.

Drogo asks, “Can I get you something? Your bag? Paper towels? Grey? Do you want to change into clean pants?”

Missandei gestures to the dirt road and the green fields, her eyes dull and her mouth frowning. She sighs and tiredly says, “How?”

“Surely you’re more resourceful than this.”

 

 


She feels insanely touched and almost a little bit misty, as she watches Drogo take a knife to one of his pit-stained white t-shirts, cutting it up into manageable pieces. He comes back with it — and some rope that he cut off from a roll and untwined, so it’s string — and he hands it to her, keeping some of t-shirt pieces for storage.

She earnestly says, “Thank you, Drogo.”

 

 


Missandei ends up changing her underwear and her pants out in a field of tall grass that only come up to her thighs. All of the men have their backs turned for the sake of her privacy. She pretends not to care because she has lost count of the many, many times one of the male crew members has peed in front of her. Honestly, she is feeling put on the spot, and she couldn’t really say no as Dany steamrolled over her and made the assumption that Missandei wanted to drop her drawers in the middle of nowhere. Beyond that, it is entirely freaking her out to be bare-assed because Drogo teased her about snakes. She’s scared a snake will sneak up and bite her in the butt.

She’s a dirty mess as she shoves paper, soiled bright red, into a plastic bag that Dany is helpfully holding open for her. The smell is pungent and now Brienne and Dany know what her period smells like. She takes another dampened paper towel from Brienne and starts trying to wipe down her thighs a little bit. And out loud, she says, “Why is there so much blood?” to cover up her self-consciousness.

“Dude,” Brienne says says stiffly. “I wonder the same thing every month.”

Missandei folds up Drogo’s t-shirt swatch a few times onto itself, as Dany rambles on, as she says, “Foreign pads are sometimes really crappy and small anyway. It’s like the women in Yin just bleed a little thimble-sized cup once a month or something.”

Brienne and Dany have a front row seat to her bleeding vagina, and it’s actually the most embarrassing and mortifying thing ever, even though Missy is doing her best to pretend it doesn’t affect her. Brienne is being really polite and averting her eyes. Dany is bold and frighteningly at ease with her body and other people’s bodies. None of them have sisters, so none of them are exactly familiar with being around other women in this way — but as Missy has found — again and again — being the minority in the presence of a lot of men tends to cultivate these moments of female bonding.

She awkwardly dumps her dirty underwear and shorts into another bag that Brienne is holding out. And then she pulls up her clean underwear and new pants up with her dirty hands. The wad of t-shirt is massive. It’s bigger than any pad she has ever worn. It’s just this thick bundle in between her legs.

“We can wash these later,” Brienne says helpfully, holding up her bag, referring to her soiled pants and underwear. “When we get to the village.”

 

 


“Shouldn’t you be over there helping out your girl?” Drogo says, grinning with his arms crossed over his chest.

Grey gives him a withering look from behind his face mask. “I don’t think she needs me to go over there to help her douche out her bloody vaginal canal.”

Grey’s comment makes Pod blush, as he simultaneously teeters a little bit on his feet, nervously. That’s really a mental image of Missandei that he can do without.

“How charmingly descriptive,” Tyrion says dryly. “I see how you won her heart. You’re very gallant. Very romantic.”

“I once had a girlfriend in high school who was scared that she lost a tampon up there,” Drogo says conversationally. “She had me go look for it. It was super gross. We broke up a week later. Not because of the period blood thing. Mostly because she was fucking jealous and insane. Good story, huh?”

It makes Tyrion laugh a little bit. “Drogo,” he says. “How are you still single?”

Drogo smiles — he gets that Tyrion is giving him shit. Nonetheless, he says, “Mostly by choice. I’m a catch.”

“She’s really going for it,” Bronn says, voice brusque, referring to Missandei.

“Don’t look!” Jaime says, swatting at him with his prosthesis.

“I’m not!” Bronn says. “She’s dressed again, anyway,” he adds slyly. Now, he’s just testing the waters and trying to give Grey a little bit of shit.

Grey doesn’t bite.

“One of my exes used to get really horny whenever she was on her period,” Drogo adds. To the sound of crickets. Sandor never engages. Hodor is typically always dead silent. Pod might still have not gotten his dick wet yet. Jaime is fucking weird. Tyrion is Tyrion. And Grey is uptight and borderline asexual. It’s times like these that makes him really miss Daario. Or Yara. “Hello?” Drogo says. “Is anyone out there?”

“I dated a girl who was always trying to get me to go down on her when she was on the rag,” Bronn says. “Wasn’t into it. But for other reasons not related to the period.”

“It takes a real man to drink from the red river, man,” Drogo says, smiling enigmatically.

“No, I mean, she offered to plug up her vaj with a tampon. The clit is nowhere near the hole.” Bronn smirks at Drogo. “Do you not know how these things work?”

Drogo is offended. “Oh, I know how these things work, trust me. And I’m saying that the clit is close enough to the hole.”

“It’s not really an issue if you’re doing it right.”

“Oh, I’m doing it right.”

Drogo and Bronn’s conversation is actually making the rest of them feel pretty awkward. Hodor and Jindo have already peaced out of the conversation, content to hang out by themselves by the van, making small talk with the drivers about their kids instead.

Sandor — as always — just doesn’t give a shit about the petty posturing. There’s a straightforwardness in him, and he hates subtext. Pod feels awkward because he’s always shut out of the locker room — metaphorically. In the past — literally. Jaime hates this conversation because every conversation about sex honestly just reminds him of his sister, and he’s been feeling particularly tortured by those memories lately. Tyrion has all sorts of hang-ups having to do with his dwarfism and his body. It took him a long time to entertain the idea that he might not die a virgin. It took him an even longer time to consider that he might not have to pay someone to have sex with him. And then someone he thought he’d love forever betrayed him in such an egregious way. And now, he is fucking stupid enough to feel hope and lie to himself and convince himself that it won’t happen again.

Sex is a touchy subject for some of them. Drogo, more or less, just assumes they are uptight bitches.

He’s also mostly ignorant to all of Grey’s issues, in spite of how close they have become lately. So it’s a little bewildering when Grey cracks his neck and says, “Well, I’ve never really satisfied a woman before,” with a straight face. “So I can’t add much to this conversation.” In the distance, Grey can see that Missandei is trying to clean off her hands with some wet naps. He says, “Excuse me,” as he leaves the group — as the rest of them stare at him quizzically because they can’t even tell if he’s joking or what — as he starts walking over to Missandei.

After a few beats, Bronn says, “What in the hell is that guy’s deal? I can’t tell if he’s hilarious or if he’s just an asshole.”

“Can’t he be both?” Jaime asks.

 

 


“Look, Ma, I’m a woman now,” Missandei says as Grey advances on them, pushing up Dany’s elbow so that the translucent garbage bag is held up high, so he can see it.

He smiles behind his mask, flicking his eyes to all of the red inside the bag. He carefully avoids making a joke about babies — they are not there yet, and it would make things very awkward — and he says, “Good job. It looks like someone suffered a terrible accident.”

“I’m really glad and not at all embarrassed that I made everyone wait as I dealt with my lady issues,” Missandei mutters.

“Who cares?” Dany throws in.

“Don’t worry about it,” Grey says smoothly. “Drogo is distracting everyone from your bleeding guts by starting up a dick measuring contest. You know how he do. He’s so heroic.”

“Classic,” Brienne says.

“Why are you over here already then?” Missandei asks Grey teasingly. Her voice is actually bringing heat — and it makes his body twinge pleasantly and a little achingly.

He follows the script. He says, “I lost, obviously. First one out. You know. You’ve seen it.” He manages to sound aggressive and ticked off — supposedly over losing.

That makes Brienne laugh — nervously because she’s not at all sure if she’s supposed to laugh. She actually doesn’t know if this supposed to be funny or what because Grey is just so serious all the time.

“Yeah,” Missandei says. “Me and my microscope have seen it.”

“Oh my God,” Dany cuts in, rolling her eyes. “You guys are so disgustingly adorable, and I love it. Never breakup, okay? That would be hugely inconvenient for me.”

 

 


Missandei actually ends up hanging out with Dany in the backseat for the rest of the drive. It is entirely weird because Dany is her boss, but Missy is entirely feeling too shitty to care. It starts with a comforting pat on the back that transitions into a lower back rub, which turns into her resting her head on the seat in front of them as Dany carries on with the massage. Missandei’s head is pounding, possibly from dehydration. Dany is force-feeding her water, which is a little annoying — it’s annoying in the sense that she cannot say no to Dany easily because she’s such a little bitch. Dany refuses to pick up on subtle cues, on Missandei’s very subtle reluctance. Dany is the kind of person that can read subtext easily, but she demands that people say what they want to say right to her face.

Missy doesn’t want to drink so much water because it’s inconvenient for her to pee at the moment. So in this way, she finds herself sympathizing with Grey a little extra.

But the back rub is nice. Her cramps are terrible and the acetaminophen has not kicked in yet.

 

 


Space in the village is limited — one of the tiny one-room houses has been vacated for the twelve of them, lined with musty sleeping pads on the floor, saturated with a human-y smell. They villagers don’t have running electricity, not many modern amenities. They do a run to the nearest town once a month to barter for some supplies like soap. They wash their clothes in the nearby river. There were long weeks of back and forth negotiation over having the crew film there for a few days — the issues running the gamut, in terms of unexpected concerns. Their crew had to come on this exact day because it’s a good time to accept foreigners or outsiders, according to the village shaman, for instance. Missandei had to adjust her schedule a million times, based on the sparse information that trickled out from Hari and her team of people on the ground.

The villagers are getting paid a fairly regular sum to be filmed — usually people don’t get paid to get filmed. The tight budget doesn’t allow for that, it can degrade what they are doing, and truly, restaurants and eateries get paid indirectly through exposure — but this village, in particular, does not stand to benefit from exposure. They are not a tourist attraction. But they can use the money, which Missandei hands over to village head before automatically bowing her head a little bit. It’s an instinct.

 

 


Grey drops his bag on the floor and sinks onto the floor pad. He doesn’t get easily squicked by anything. The stains and the smells emanating of the pads are off-putting to the other crew members — who are carefully trying to not offend in their responses as a woman — the homeowner, presumably — talks to Hari, who translates to the rest of them. They are speaking a dialect Missandei doesn’t know at all.

Hari says, “She says she’s very honored to have you stay here.”

“Please tell her that we’re so humbled that she has given up her family’s space for us,” says Dany. “We know this is an inconvenience.”

The polite back and forth lasts for long minutes. The crew is honestly starving and also tired after being sequestered in a car for six hours. Drogo is just itching to pull out his camera and start filming before it gets too dark — he’s jittery as he waits through a long litany of words.

After the homeowner is gone, Drogo leans over to tap Missandei on the shoulder, to get her attention. He says, “Your dream has finally come true, babe. We’re bunking down together.” There are not enough pads for everyone — that’s because multiple people share a pad. “You wanna be middle?”

“No,” she says, glaring at him.

“Okay,” he says, switching gears. To Grey, he says, “So it’s you, baby. You’re in the middle. Don’t get me sick, or I swear to God —”

“What?” Grey says challengingly.

Drogo grins. “I don’t know. It was an idle threat.” And then he spontaneously drops down on top of Grey on the pad and plasters his body against Grey, hooking a leg over Grey’s legs, encircling his arm around Grey and pinning him into the pad.

Grey snaps, “Drogo!”

“Shh, just melt into it, man.”

“Guys,” Jaime says impatiently, staring down at them with his arms crossed. “Come on. Stop fucking around. Get up. It’s time to work.”

 

 


For the rest of the day, they have to wade through a lot of programming — they didn’t realize that so much preparation had been done in anticipation of their arrival. It’s actually a little complicated because they want to capture a certain authenticity. The villagers are putting their best face forward. And it makes Missandei’s heart ache for them — because she understands the inclination, even as it makes their jobs just a teeny bit harder.

They kill a goat for food, for instance. It’s still a little too young — this is part of the reasons the villagers tried to delay filming for a little while, to let the goat mature a little bit more. Usually, their diet is a lot more modest and the goat is reserved for their big holiday. Missandei went back and forth through Hari on this for a long while — insisting that butchering a goat while they are there is completely not necessary. But that was an argument she lost.

Jaime gets to do the honor — the main symbolic honor. He actually passes the honor onto Dany, because while he has killed animals before — usually in service of the show — it is not at all his favorite thing to do. There is some slight issue with having Dany do the honor. The village elders discuss it with Hari animatedly. Jaime takes a surprisingly strong stance on this. He says he really just does not want to kill another fucking animal again. He points out that Dany does not even give a shit because she’s dead inside. Let her kill it. Or maybe neither of them need to kill it. The elders should do this anyway.

Amazingly, a knife gets happily pressed into Dany’s hand. Hari delicately relays to them that they village elders worried that Dany was a virgin more than they worried over her being a woman. The woman thing was actually a non-issue. After Hari hilariously assured them that Dany was not a virgin and would not curse the meat — then the village elders were like, oh, okay, cool. Have at it!

 

 


Drogo takes out his personal camera — his phone — and he smiles at Dany’s bloody mouth and her bloody hands, which are holding the goat’s heart, which she had carefully cut out of the chest of the goat. They were careful to preserve the blood of the goat so that the villagers can make sausage and stews from it. The heart is Dany’s prize. She plans to donate it back to the village after Drogo’s picture though. If that is allowed, that is. When they told Dany to eat it — when Hari passed along the message — Dany thought they were serious. But then they all screamed and yelled and then started laughing at her in horror when she took a bite, which made her think it was a joke that did not get translated over as such.

“You look savage,” Drogo mutters, fiddling with his phone’s buttons, struggling a little bit against the auto-focus.

“Really puts your period in perspective now, doesn’t it?” Dany says to Missandei, who is standing nearby.

“Dany, you look crazy,” Missy says.

“How’s my hair?” she says, reaching up with a red hand to pretend to pat her platinum messy lob, curling from the humidity. “Make sure I look cute, okay?”

“Of course,” Drogo says, chuckling, staring down at his phone screen. “Hold up the heart to your face.”

“Oh, okay. Maybe this can be a promo pic for this episode?”

“I dunno, Dany,” Missy says. “You know how the network feels about sex. You’re bringing it too hard. Just too hard right now.”

“Speaking of sex, Hari told me that one of the women told her that they are going to take the bowels to the river tomorrow to clean out the shit. And then they are going to make casings out of the intestines and fry up the bung. Totally delish. She wanted to know if we wanted to help.”

“Oh, you know I do.”

“There,” Drogo says. “Freeze. You look good. Ready?”

“Yep! Cheese!”

 

 


The smell and idea of the bed padding bothers her — and she also misses him — so she uses that as an excuse to basically sprawl out on top of him. It’s novel to be in a place that is completely devoid of light, so it’s pitch black and she can feel the hard, steady beating of his heart against her chest.

They have absolutely no privacy. Drogo is on his other side and a few guys are snoring loudly, but they don’t know who is actually sleeping. The wad of cotton fabric in between her legs is uncomfortable, and she’s paranoid about bleeding through her clothes and adding to the stains on the pad — oh, some of the stains make sense now — but outweighing that is really him. This is a longer shoot than typical. They are away for an entire month. The shifting hormones in her body are making her think about his naked body and his naked face when they are fucking — or maybe it’s not the hormones at all. Maybe it’s a placebo effect. Maybe she’s become accustomed to certain things, and it’s harder to go without now.

She wordlessly pulls down his mask — fucking Drogo made Grey paranoid enough to wear his mask to sleep — as she runs her lips over his, softly and carefully before she tries to get her tongue in his mouth. He’s reluctant because he really doesn’t want to get her sick, but then he feels her warm hand closer over his soft dick, which then stops being that soft, and he just relents. He tries to kiss her as quietly as possible. He tries to keep his breathing as quiet as possible. And it’s that suckling sound — the wet suction of her tongue lifting off of his — that makes him pull away.

He palms her face, trying to silently explain. And then her hand over his pants starts to rub up and down. His eyes roll back into his head as he grabs her wrist. He wants to talk to her about this — nothing serious, just stupid things about how he misses her fucking beautiful body so much, and he probably cannot exist like this for much longer. He’s fucking so sick of being sick. He’s so fucking sick of always having to deny himself the things that he wants. Something has to fucking change. It’s so fucking insane — that something has to change because their relationship is going well.

She wrenches her wrist out of his hand. Sex between them always has this element of control to it. There’s something about touching him and his responsiveness — his body’s neediness for her even when he feels emotionally far away — that sends this surge of power zipping through her. She slides her hand into his pants, and she just dares him to stop her. She also dares him to make a sound and get the both of them caught, as she starts silently stroking him up and down, her touch soft and careful, trying not to burn too much friction into his sensitive skin.

And then she pauses to dump saliva that she has collected in her mouth, into her palm. She rubs a little bit before her hands go back down his pants. And then his fingers dig painfully into her ass — which makes her think that she is doing it really right. His body jolts when she squeezes the tip of his penis too hard in her hand — he freezes and heat floods him as he waits for Drogo to turn over and tell them to fucking knock it off.

But that never happens.

When he comes — it takes a while, because it’s a rather restricted hand job, and he’s also very nervous and freaked out over getting caught — even as he lets it continue on because it feels so fucking good — when he comes, he comes in his pants, in his boxers. It’s a mess and she wipes her hand on his clothes, on the inside to contain it all. His pulse starts to calm down, slow down. Her soft lips press into his cheek as she extracts her hand. He has to sleep like this now. He wonders if this is some sort of statement from her — if she is making some sort of stance here. He cannot ask her, but he holds onto her tightly and kisses her forehead before he pulls his mask back up, before he closes his eyes and tries to go to sleep.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

The next morning, Drogo and everyone else is none the wiser, which Grey notes with extreme relief. He rises up from bed and wastes a lot of time puttering around, getting his equipment and shit together. He’s trying not to act like he’s really antsy and needs to pull down his crusty pants to clean himself off.

Breakfast is some flatbread and tea. She mentions needing to go down to the river to clean herself. She says it directly to him, smiling around context like a fucking jerk. God, he loves her. He follows her there like a dog, reaching out to grab her elbow here and there, scared she will trip on the boulders. She keeps yanking her arm out of his grasp — telling him that he actually disrupts her balance when she grabs her like that. She has the plastic bag of her pants and her underwear in her other hand.

They don’t get privacy down at the river, either. They are already women, children, and men washing up in the refreshing water — and they are staring at Grey and Missandei because they are foreigners.

They were already given a tutorial on how to go poop over the poop trench — via squatting. So they know how that works. They were not given a tutorial on how to wash themselves. Now they know — it’s publicly. Missandei is pretty sure Brienne is going to go the three days without bathing. Brienne might even go three days without pooping. Usually, Missy would do the same, but she has a stupid bleeding vagina issue.

She’s always afraid of offending. She hesitates because she doesn’t know the protocol. Everyone else around the river is already fucking naked and cool with it, like they didn’t grow up in a society that over-sexualizes everything. There are naked children playing in the water who don’t seem to be attached to an adult. Missandei feels very uncomfortable about unsupervised children being around men. She’s projecting.

She refocuses on him, as he takes her bag and opens it up. He starts pulling out her soiled clothing.

He’s already stooped down at the bank, with his hands shoved into the water. Her clothes are fractured underneath. They don’t have soap, so it’s just friction that will clean the blood off her clothes. He says, “Pull out your t-shirt pad. I’ll wash it, too. You want to reuse it later, right?”

 

 


This is how he cares for someone else. He is terrible at romantic declarations and whispered promises. He is terrible at classic gestures that he has seen other people do, because he has been shut out of that sort of thing for so long, and he sees a certain disingenuous in it all. But he cares for someone through these small actions. He wants her to be comfortable, so he washes her clothes before he deals with himself. He thinks a lot about how he can make small things like this easier for her.

Missandei just sees him elbow deep in her bloody mess — and she feels love for him and embarrassment over it. Because she associates her period with a certain kind of shame. She’s been influenced by her brother — a little bit. But really, Missandei is just uncomfortable with things that are out of her control. She is highly organized and rigid sometimes because she feels compelled to enforce order over things. That’s how things make sense to her. That’s how she manages chaos. And it’s what she’s good at — making sense out of things that come out senseless. There is agency in that.

Biology sometimes doesn’t follow any logical rule. Things that are too basic and too raw make her uncomfortable. Maybe this is why she can’t orgasm. She’s been watching and observing Dany’s ease in it all — it is mind-melting and also, it is becoming something inspirational to Missandei.

He lays her clothes out to dry on the hot rocks before he strips off his shirt and shoes. He’s entirely too self-conscious about getting naked in front of people who are not Missandei still — he’s not sure this is an aspect of himself he can ever shake off. So he walks into the river with his boxers on. People are blatantly staring at him — he assumes because he’s a fucking oddity. Though in truth, they stare simply because he is different.

The silt is soft underneath his feet. The current is fast enough to knock him down if he’s not careful. When he turns back around, he sees Missandei watching him.

 

 


It’s the first day he feels marginally healthier, so he leaves the face mask in his bag. It’s a relief to feel the wind on his skin again. It’s a relief to be able to hold a camera again. It feels amazing to clip into a rig, straps digging into his shoulders, that familiar weight. It’s the feeling of usefulness and of purpose. He is such a fucking deadweight when he is ill.

Pod is grateful that Grey is well enough to take over again because even though Drogo has been working hard to not be completely terrible to Pod, it’s not as if Drogo is nice. Drogo is constantly annoyed that Pod cannot read the shorthand that Drogo, Tyrion, and Grey have cultivated over the years.

“Okay, quiet!” Tyrion snaps, directing his comment at Bronn in particular, who is chatting with Jindo.

 

 


Her tablet has fifty percent battery life left, and it’s not like she can sync up anyway, so she’s writing with an old-fashioned pen and pad on the ground, over a straw mat, with Dany, Jaime, and Brienne. Dany does not want to film another tea ceremony. There has been so many ceremonies and rituals because the tribe has been keen on presenting all the greatest hits. To Missandei, Dany says, “It’s artificial, and it’s a waste of our time and a waste of their time and resources. Will you deal with this? We only have today and tomorrow here.”

Missandei refrains from saying that she has already been trying to deal with this. Instead, she says, “I’ll try.” There’s a whole set of cultural context to wade through with these things though. That’s what makes it difficult.

Missandei’s supposed wishy-washiness irritates Dany. She says, “Brienne?” trying to pull Brienne into the fray, but honestly, no one else is better at dealing with people than Missandei.

 

 


“It’s a rude gesture to tell them that you want them to skip the blessing of the meal,” Hari says. Missandei has gathered that Hari is very non-confrontational, more so than she is. It’s cramping her style.

Missandei crosses her arms. “They bless every meal?”

“Well, no.”

“We already got footage of them blessing a goat. We only have so much electricity. We can’t film everything. We can’t film too much of the same thing. Can you tell them that?”

“They don’t even understand the concept of a TV show,” Hari says reluctantly. “How are they going to understand this?”

“Hari, just please translate it for me.” Missy is finding that she fucking hates not being able to translate for herself. Being dependent on someone else is terrible and inconvenient because she can’t control the articulation or the timing or the wording. Again — it’s that word and that concept she is addicted to — control.

 

 


Filming has come to a standstill. The crew is loitering around patiently, after Missandei declared that they are currently at an impasse. She told the crew to shut it all down to preserve their batteries.

The village head — the oldest male — looks perturbed when Hari awkwardly and weakly translate for Missandei. It honestly makes Missy want to snap at Hari in front of the elder and tell Hari to stop being such a scared bitch because it makes things worse when she acts like a little bitch. It makes it seem like Hari knows that she’s doing something wrong already, but she’s so cowardly that she’s carrying forward anyway.

Missandei is currently hell-bent on pushing her Western agenda, so in the Common Tongue, which she knows he does not understand, she says, “We have an agreement, which we’d like for you to honor. With respect, you can do the ceremony or ritual. We’re not stopping you from doing it. But we will not film it.” He doesn’t understand her words — but she knows there’s a universality in body language.

 

 


“He’s upset,” Hari says, walking up to them. “He is talking about not having you be here anymore.”

Missandei shrugs. It’s an idle threat, she knows. She is beyond annoyed at Hari. She is beyond irritated at the rigidity of the village head going against what they agreed upon, what they paid for. She is questioning if Hari ever even correctly translated everything, or if Hari just fucking phoned in some weakass shit. “Okay,” Missandei says. “We’ve been here a day. I’d like half of the money back. That is more than fair. Go ask him for it. We will pack up and leave.”

Hari looks stressed and scared. “Missandei —”

“Hari!” Missandei snaps. “Seriously? Does Jindo speak this language adequately? Would you rather I talk through him?”

“No,” Hari says stiffly. “I will do it.”

 

 


“We might be leaving early,” Missandei says to the crew.

“I thought you were going to make it better,” Dany says. “Not blow it the fuck up with a temper tantrum.”

Missandei flinches and stiffens. Because Dany is just awesome at terribly unfair admonishments in front of everyone. Missy swallows down the sarcastic remark on the tip of her tongue — something about how it is an impossible situation, and she definitely loves how all of her hard work garners Dany accolades.

“They can capture b-roll on the way out,” Tyrion says, referring to Drogo and Grey, voice devoid of emotion. “We were saving that for end-of-battery-life anyway.”

“We have pretty good footage already. It might be enough,” says Drogo.

Grey is quiet. He actually feels really bad for her and the position she’s in. He’s seen her in this position many, many times — stuck in the middle of a lot of agendas and a lot of egos. She’s good at navigating through it, most of the time. She gets more heat over it than Brienne does. Because Dany honestly expects more from Missandei, which might not be entirely fair.

He’s reticent to speak up. He fears that anything he says in defense of her would translate as obligation, like he’s obligated to defend her because he’s fucking her now. But that’s actually not who they are, and that’s not what he does.

Grey says, “Honestly, we need one more thing — one more segment, one more meal, something.”

He can feel Missandei’s hot glare directed right at him.

 

 


Missandei pulls Jaime, Tyrion, Brienne, Hari, and Drogo off to the side and has Drogo point his camera to a woman who is weaving a basket out of dried grass leaves, coiled into rope. She holds the bottom of the basket with her foot. Missy remembers Brienne telling her that the tribespeople make crafts that they sell at market once a month. That’s their main source of income. And it’s typically women’s work.

“Ask her if she minds if we sit and watch her,” Missandei tells Hari. “Ask her if she minds the camera.”

Tyrion picks up on it real fast. He gets down low — the woman giggles and smiles — maybe because she finds the look of him really amusing, which is something Tyrion just puts up with. He smiles at her and he starts playing with the grass, trying to get her to teach him how to do it — which she does.

After some minutes, Jaime sits down, Drogo clicks on his camera and adjusts the focus. Brienne gives Jaime some notes and they all brainstorm questions to have Hari translate. They quickly decide that the tack to take is motherhood and womanhood.

 

 


Missandei’s gambit works. To save face, the village head shoots her an angry look and condemningly waves his hand at her. He says something about Missandei that Hari does not translate. But before he disappears into his home, he essentially says that their foreign asses might as well just do whatever the hell they want, because that’s what foreigners do.

She’ll take it! There’s a solid four more hours of daylight in which they film a lot of mundane craftsmaking and food prep. They really do watch the long, fascinating and painstaking process of scraping out the goat intestinal lining to produce casing for sausages. They watch women grind grains and seeds for their flatbread. They watch the building of the hearth for the communal meal every evening.

Missandei imagines that it was pride that made the village head want to elevate certain male-led rituals — the ceremonies, the animal sacrifice, before Dany got it, of course. She supposes that to them, it’s not so binary and so gendered. To them, it was just a matter of showcasing their very best sides, not their humblest sides. It was a pride in culture and in the preservation of culture. This, she understands well. And while she feels like an utter asshole over what she has done today, at the same time, her perspective is different. Her execution is different. Ultimately, they all have the same goal. Missandei thinks she has a good sense of what is actually compelling to people, what will make them care.

 

 


They make a lot of jokes about the poop trench over dinner, around a fire, jokes that Hari blushingly translates to the tribe. They appreciate it — and they laughingly give the crew tips on pooping technique. By dinner time, the village head is pretty much over being asshurt, and they are all pretending that they didn’t wade through that bit of friction earlier in the day. Rather, the alcohol starts flowing and their cups keep getting refilled and refilled and refilled.

Grey runs his hand over his camera lens, feeling how hot it is getting, from the radiant heat of the fire.

 

 


Before bedtime, Tyrion, Grey, and Drogo are huddled in a corner of the room, trying to review the day’s footage in a hurry. Pod is crouched next to Grey with a pad and pen, furiously taking down their dictated notes for Osha.

Missandei is already lying down on the pad when he and Drogo crawl over to her. She’s sleeping or she’s pretending to sleep — though she stirs a little bit when he accidentally shines the flashlight into her face.

He expects her to be standoffish and closed off — because he suspects that she’s pissed at him. He utterly hates the constant lack of privacy because it makes it completely impossible to talk to her in any straightforward kind of way.

So he feels pretty emotional about it when, after he lies down, he feels her inching toward him. Her cheek and the weight of her head comes down on his left shoulder. Her arms circle tightly around him, hugging him as she lets out a soft sigh.

His heart is pounding as he rolls over a bit and drags her body on top of his, letting her weight settle over him. He holds her tightly, pressing his mouth against her cheek.

 

 


They didn’t bring any housings for any underwater stuff for the PMW-F3, but they do have housings for the GoPros. As usual, Drogo does not even give a shit as he strips off his clothes and gets naked before hopping into the river and groaning out in relief. It’s a scorching, humid day. The forest traps in moisture and they are constantly damp and grimy.

In the river, he says, “Oh my God! This feels fucking amazing!” before he tries to splash Grey and Tyrion, before Grey tosses him a dirty look, before Drogo goes back to fiddling with the settings on the GoPro. He doesn’t yet know what he’s going to do with it. Maybe he will shoot a lot of dicks in the water.

Bronn follows in soon after, then Sandor, then Hodor, then Tyrion, then Jindo, then — with a lot of boss-pressure, which is like peer-pressure but with a horrible hierarchical element to it — Pod quickly pulls down his pants in a panic and then runs into the river, to the sound of Drogo’s loud, amused laughter. Drogo understands why the women aren’t getting naked — he can’t blame them — but Grey and Jaime’s prudishness is always a little weird to him.

“It’s always the pretty ones!” Bronn says jokingly, shooting his voice to the shore. Obviously, he never knew Grey when Grey wasn’t pretty — so he doesn’t realize the deeper meaning behind his words.

“Fuck you,” Jaime grumbles, reaching over with his left hand to unclip his prosthesis. “Fuck you all to hell.”

“Oh, yeah, baby!” Dany shouts, from behind him. “Take it off!”

“Stop it!” Jaime shouts, pausing before he drops his prosthesis on a flat boulder. “Stop objectifying me. Let me go at my own pace!” He actually nervously strips off his shirt and his pants quickly with one hand — in a very practiced and impressive way — after that.

And then there is one. Or rather, there are five, including the ladies. Dany actually shows up Grey by pulling off her shirt and pants — she purposely leaves her bra and underwear on — and she walks past him, tossing him a grin before she hops into the water, squealing at the shock of it.

 

 


“Drogo!” Grey shouts before right before he get yanked underwater. Drogo’s arms and his weight is pressing down on Grey’s shoulders and torso. He fights off Drogo a little bit underwater, before he kicks off the sandy ground and resurfaces roughly, splashing Jaime and Tyrion in the face. “Drogo!” he growls again, reaching out to claw at Drogo’s arm.

Drogo is just giggling and trying to duck behind Sandor — who is not enjoying this one bit.

Drogo, Grey has found, is very prone to physicality. Drogo has theorized that he just comes from a very affectionate family, so it’s just natural to him. Grey has countered by telling Drogo that he comes from no family — trying to make the subtle point that Drogo’s brand of physicality sometimes freaks him out. Drogo continues to be terrible at respecting his personal space.

Grey retreats to where Jaime is. He can bank on Jaime being weird and uptight like him when it comes to casual body contact. So that is nice.

Drogo is carrying Missandei around like a baby, with her arms around his neck. She also kept her bra and underwear on. Grey is getting more and more comfortable with their general physical closeness — surprisingly because he is getting hit with an onslaught of the same thing. He has recharacterized a lot of Drogo’s Drogoisms in his head.

He hears Drogo loudly shout, “Alley-oop!” before he throws Missandei up into the air and into the deep end of the river. They all hear her muffled, surprised shout.

Grey shoves out, “Fuck! Drogo!” right as her body hits the water, right as he pushes off to swim over to her.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 



It takes just a tiny bit longer than he expects for her to resurface. It’s enough time for a flood of panic to start pounding against his skull as he frantically scans the water for her. Her name is frozen in his throat right as she bobs up — a bubbly froth of dark brown hair and then her head and then her shoulders. He reaches out and grabs her. She gasps, and he’s yanking her out of the current before it drags her back down. She’s sputtering and coughing violently as she flips around and winds her arms around his neck and squeezes her legs tightly around his body. His feet can touch the bed of the river, though the water is up to his chin. His palm presses into her back, holding her body firmly to his as he walks backwards toward the bank.

“Oh my God,” he croaks out when they get to gentler waters. “You scared me half to death. Are you okay?” He’s trying pry her off of him enough so that he can angle her face to look at it, to verify that she is okay. “Missandei, are you okay?”

She’s a little freaked out and in shock, so she can only answer him in hacking coughs and the tightening of her limbs around his body.

Drogo splashes up to them. “Ah, fuck. I’m sorry!” He resists explaining to them that he thought it’d be funnier than it actually was. That is really his defense. “Is she alright? Are you okay, Missy? Jesus, I’m so sorry.”

“God,” she gasps. “You asshole. I told you not to throw me!”

Drogo resists telling her that he did hear her say that, but he still thought it’d be funny if he threw her. Instead, he says, “I’m really sorry!”

“Screw you, Drogo,” she says in irritation, before she rubs a fist into her eye, trying to squeeze the water out — before she sinks and hides her face back into the crook of Grey’s neck. “You’re such a jerk. People ask you to stop or they say no — and you just don’t listen.”

“Baby, are you okay?” Grey repeats, hiking her up higher in his arms.

“I’m fine,” she says testily, voice muffled by his skin. “I didn’t drown, obviously.”

 

 


Grey is still damp and in a thunderous mood as he straps his rig back onto his body and unhooks his camera from the stand. He grabs a brick off of their equipment table, clips it into the back of his camera, then lifts it before clicking in. He walks over to where Tyrion, Bronn, and Drogo are standing on front of a monitor. Dany and Jaime are prepping with Brienne in front of Drogo’s lens. Missandei is talking to Jindo and Hari. Her eyes swing up to look at him as he nears the group.

Grey sucks down a sip from Jindo’s tincture bottle, which he carries in his camera pouch. Because he does not currently give a shit. It burns on the way down his throat — he waves off the water that Tyrion holds out for him — and he looks resolutely ahead when Drogo nervously shuffles over and says, “Look, man —”

“What?” Grey says in exasperation, cutting him off.

“See this shake here,” Drogo says, gesturing to the monitor, rewinding back a few notches. It’s an overhead that they set up the day before. “Tyrion wants to know if there’s time to redo it.”

Grey shrugs. “Sure. Why not? I just had Sandor tear down the set-up after I asked repeatedly if the footage is good to go and you told me yes, which made me assume that you reviewed it.”

“I did,” Drogo says. “But Tyrion —”

“Don’t need a lengthy explanation,” Grey says, already walking away. “I’m going to talk to Sandor right now. He’s going to love this.”

Right when he’s out of earshot, Bronn cracks, “Is he always so chipper?”

“Eh, he’s so weirdly invested in whether Missandei lives or dies,” Tyrion says sarcastically, uncapping his water bottle again. He sees Missy watching them. He raises his water to her.

 

 


Missandei feels a little touchy around everyone — which is sometimes a byproduct of constantly working in close quarters with people. She’s tired of Dany being her boss. She’s tired of Drogo being such a fucking dude all the time. She feels guilt over how she had hassled Hari — because now Hari is tiptoeing around her, much like how Pod tiptoes around Drogo. She’s tired of coworker-Grey being so stone cold around her when she’s not almost-dying.

Missy also gets whiplashed and shellshocked every time someone flips their personality — every time Dany gets personal and friendly, every time Drogo is unbearably sweet and considerate, every time she catches Grey staring at her, smoldering at her. She’s tired of dealing with her bleeding vagina and the primitive way she is stopping up the blood. She is tired of why it’s such a big fucking deal to her.

“Go, Camera B.” Tyrion is talking in her ear, over the shared line. He’s actually talking to Drogo. “A little quicker.”

 

 


They leave the village with a few grass baskets and an earthenware jug of booze that half of them plan to polish off during the six-hour drive back to Yin, back to the hotel. All of the kids clamor up to Drogo and Grey one last time. Grey and Drogo are like two creepy uncles who always carry candy in their pockets to lure children to them, to get some of the more shy children to let themselves be filmed. Drogo just chuckles as the kids grab onto his arm one last time — he’s strong enough for multiple kids to hang off his forearm.

Grey’s not as fun, but he does just empty out his and Drogo’s pockets and starts passing out the very last of the candy they were carrying.

 

 


“Remember that one time Drogo got so pissed at Daario during the long drive back to Braavos that he demanded that the driver stop the van so he could be let out?” Tyrion says lightly, eyes crinkling in the corners from amusement. “We were all like — how the fuck are you gonna get back to the city, Drogo? And you were like, 'Fuck that, fuck this! I don’t care! I’m walking back!’” They are in the booze van. The other van, made up of Missy, Dany, Brienne, Jindo, Hari, Pod, and Hodor, is the dry van.

“In my defense, I was really hammered,” Drogo says, snickering. “And Daario was honestly so fucking annoying that day.”

“Have any of you guys talked to him lately?” Sandor asks. “How’s he doing?”

“I have,” Grey mutters, with his head lolling back and forth against his head rest. He’s been mixing Jindo’s tincture with the village hooch. “He’s enjoying Dorne and the new gig a lot.”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah, I’m glad,” Jaime offers. “Poor guy. He was having a real rough go at it toward the end there.”

“Oh?” Bronn says, perking up. He’s interested because Daario had his job before he did. He’s interested because he believes in foreshadowing. He says, “Anything I should anticipate or worry about?”

“Oh, no man,” Drogo says dismissively. “It only got bad for Daario because he was stupid enough to bang the boss.”

“Oh, seriously?”

“Yeah, it went south. And then he just had to find a new job.”

“That’s why you don’t shit where you eat, man,” Bronn says, transferring the heavy jug into Tyrion’s lap. “Plenty of fish in the sea. No need to fuck around with the person who signs your checks.”

Tyrion hugs the jug to his body as he grins widely, orienting that grin at Grey. “Those are wise words, Bronn. Wise words, indeed.”

Drogo reaches into the seat behind him to palm Grey’s cheek. Grey swats him away. Drogo says, “Grey and Missy are different.”

“Yeah, they’re more on the same level,” Jaime says, tilting his head to look at Grey. “There’s less of a coercive boss-underling dynamic.”

Grey is distinctly uncomfortable with this conversation. He turns his face out the window and watches the greenery flicker by.

“I remember when Daario and I caught Grey and Missy fucking against a door —”

“Okay, that’s not correct.”

Tyrion ignores Grey’s interruption. He says, “I was so concerned! After they disappeared into Grey’s room, I remember saying to Daario, ‘Oh my God! We have to stop them! Before they make a mistake they will regret!’” Tyrion cracks up. “And Daario was like, ‘What are you, retarded? You can’t stop what they are doing.’ Daario was a wise man. You can’t stop true love.”

“God, shut up,” Grey says.

“Are you being sensitive?” Tyrion asks Grey in amusement.

“I feel like you’re making fun of me.”

“Dude, what?” Tyrion now looks surprised. “Dude, no. I’m teasing you a little bit — but I’m not trying to make you feel bad.” He frowns. “I thought that story was cute.”

That story actually contains a lot of shitty memories for Grey — he was shitty to Sansa, he was shitty to Missandei, she was so unhappy with him afterward for a long time, he was so upset over losing her as a friend because he couldn’t control the stupid thing in his pants — but he supposes that Tyrion doesn’t really know all of these intricate details.

The van lapses into awkward silence, which confuses their driver a little bit — their driver does not speak the Common Tongue. All he knows is that they were drunkenly talking a lot, and now they aren’t talking at all.

 

 


The van is a big one, with two of the passenger seats flipped around, the backs of them pressed against the driver’s seat and the empty front passenger seat. Tyrion is occupying one of those seats because he doesn’t get carsick ever. So he’s facing the rest of the guys, including Grey, who is in the very back seat with Jaime, when he breaks apart their casual small-talk during hour four of the drive. He says to Grey, “Look, man, I’m sorry that what I said bothered you.” Tyrion’s been thinking about it a lot in the past hour. He still cannot pick out where exactly he went wrong, but he feels bad that he has made Grey upset.

A lot of his apology is actually motivated by the fact that he is currently dating Grey’s ex. In another situation and another context, he probably would not care that much that Grey is so asshurt over a fairly innocuous comment.

Tyrion supposes that part of the reason he even brought up the whole thing about Grey and Missandei banging against a door is because he feels guilt, and he feels insecure. He feels weird and awkward over how things are generally dissatisfying and unresolved between him and Grey. He supposes that he misguidedly thought he could ease some of his guilt over how strongly he feels about Sansa if he could verify for himself that Grey is in a better situation with Missandei.

“No, man. I’m sorry for being overly sensitive,” Grey mutters. “Can I have the jug?”

The jug faithfully gets passed from Sandor to Jaime to Grey, who gingerly lifts it to his mouth and takes a careful sip.

 

 


After they get back to the hotel, Tyrion asks Grey if he’d like to grab a drink before dinner or something. Grey lightly coughs into the crook of his elbow — his face warm and flushed from the heat in Yin and also from all of the drinking that occurred in the van. Jaime is hovering nearby, and Tyrion winces and kind of whispers that he’d actually like to have a one-on-one with Grey, if that is okay.

 

 


Missandei intercepts him as he drags his suitcase back up to his new hotel room. She pushes him and their suitcases into his room, closes the door behind them, and she starts dragging him backwards by the hand, into the bathroom, toward the shower.

“Miss —” he starts. “Look, I can’t —”

“Oh, you can, and you will,” she says, as she starts pulling off her smelly shirt and her smelly sports bra. They have the rest of the evening free. There are a couple hours before dinner. She reaches for the closure on his pants. “I have a surprise for you.”

“No, I mean I promised to meet Tyrion downstairs in like, ten minutes. After a real quick shower.”

Her jaw drops. “What? Grey —” She blinks rapidly a few times. And then in exasperation, she says, “This is the first day you’re not acting like you’re dying. I’m still bleeding, but it’s not that heavy. This is the first time in a while we’ve been alone.” She’s whining now, and she hates the sound of her own voice. “Just text him and tell him you’ll see him later.”

He’s not loving how she is acting entitled to his dick. This is why he stiffly says, “I’m not going to do that. He really wants to talk.”

She lightly scoffs in disbelief. “I’m offering you sex.”

He stares at her. “Okay,” he says slowly. “But I can’t drop everything just because —” He clears his throat. “Can we raincheck?”

“What the fuck, man?”

“Sorry,” he says lamely. “I made a promise.” And then he sighs. He still has to shower, so he starts stripping. “We can shower at the same time?” he offers.

“Okay?” she says helplessly. “Thanks for the consolation prize?”

He really has a schedule to keep, so he slides the glass door open and flicks on the shower, which warms up faster than he expects. What he doesn’t expect is for her to elbow her way into the stall after him nakedly — because he was sure that he had ticked her off enough to make her leave the room.

He says, “Oh, hey,” right before she drags his head down for a kiss.

He will end up being about five minutes late meeting Tyrion, who will be unfailingly cool and polite about it. He will be late because his brain goes fuzzy — as it always does — whenever she gets naked in front of him. She cleans him liberally. She uses soap. It’s the first time in long days that they’ve had access to warm water and soap. He wants to jam himself into her body at the same time he counterintuitively asks her why the hell she is always trying to get him off lately. He wants to ask her if this kind of one-sided sex is a prelude to something new, or is it just a fucking amazing distraction tactic as she figures out her shit? He feels all sorts of conflicting thoughts and feelings over how she's been touching him — and he’s just rendered so dumb every time she touches him.

Her hand suddenly lifts off of him — he is still rock hard and well short of finishing. The absence of her hand makes him stare at her dumbly. Her face is flecked with water droplets. He’s close enough to see some of the water cling to her eyelashes.

“You’re gonna be late to meet Tyrion.”

He relieves some tension through a quick, disbelieving smile. He doesn't find this amusing at all, actually.  “Wow," he says. "So that’s how you want to play this?”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

 

Missandei feels stupid and juvenile and crazy and a little bit sad as she drags her damp body to the front desk of the hotel. She tells the woman there that she is with the production company, and she will need to book an extra hotel room. The front desk is seamless and efficient — and they put her in a room two floors above the rest of the crew because that’s the only room left. A plastic card gets stuffed into a paper envelope and pushed across the counter to Missy, which she sweeps up. She resists despondently saluting the front desk before she trudges back to the elevator.

Doreah in Travel had emailed her. Missy read the message in the van on the way home, when they hit civilization and data connection and a flood of information siphoned out of her tablet. Doreah actually wanted to know if Missy and Grey wanted to share a room when they got back to Yin. She took the liberty of responding yes for the both of them. Which suddenly seems like a mistake.

 

 


Grey and Tyrion end up walking to a cafe. Grey tells Tyrion he doesn’t want to be drunk all day — which is something Tyrion honestly cannot relate to. But he relents on the cafe thing. He figures that he’s dating his buddy’s ex — he’s falling in love with his buddy’s ex. It’s cool if they don’t drink alcohol for an hour or two.

Tyrion pays the nominal sum for their drinks, and then he generally ignores some of the curious stares that they are getting from passersby. He generally assumes that he is garnering most of the stares. Grey’s greatest physical blight is that he happens to be kind of dark. He’s handsome and dark. So terrible.

And that is another aspect of things that gives Tyrion a complex. Sansa has assured him that she and Grey did not get super physical, other than like, kissing and some accidental touching — which is vague enough that it actually drives Tyrion absolutely fucking nuts — but he has decided to let that sleeping dog lie. Really, he grew up watching girls completely ignore him as they fawn over his brother. He grew up gullible, entertaining the idea that some girls might like him for him — only to realize they were only using him to get to Jaime. Tyrion has difficulties sometimes, looking at Grey’s stature, Grey’s height, Grey’s changed body, Grey’s fucking face — and it’s like being in an alternate universe that pivots around deja vu. Sometimes it’s like looking into Jaime’s face. And Jaime’s greatest physical blight is that he is missing a hand. He’s handsome and handless. So fucking terrible. What a curse.

Male friendships — or the sparse ones that Tyrion has engaged in — generally are devoid of this kind of long-winded, verbalized honesty. He does not even know where to begin — so that he can start allaying his guilt. Sansa told him it is very important to her that he just clear the air with Grey, once and for all. She has apparently noticed that Tyrion does not have very many friends. 

“Okay,” Tyrion says lightly. “So going back to bros before hos . . .”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


“Tyrion,” Grey says, after Tyrion monopolizes a full ten minutes rambling on about every worry that has popped into his head. It’s crazy. It’s crazy because Grey does not care very much about bros before hos. That’s a disturbing construct that positions hos — or women — as commodities.

This kind of stuff is easy for him to rationalize and parse out intellectually when it comes to Sansa and the so-short time in which he was dating Sansa. He’s not ignorant to the fact that he went completely apeshit with jealousy when he thought Drogo was coming onto Missandei. But then, Grey was never in love with Sansa.

“I’m really okay with you being with Sansa,” Grey says. “I’m happy you guys are together, if she makes you happy. She and I were barely together. I’m more concerned that she still fucking hates my guts, honestly.”

“Oh, she’s over that,” Tyrion supplies, just biding time with his strategic comments. “In fact, Sansa would like to see you again one of these days, actually. She asks about you sometimes.” Tyrion is still trying to get comfortable with certain things. He’s prone to thinking that Sansa is so fucking amazing. That colors how he see things.

“Oh, God, that is weird.”

“So I’ll send you a cal evite for another fucking dinner party, then?” Tyrion says. “When we get back home? Bring Missandei. Sansa should meet the other woman. So that this dinner will be terrible as shit.”

“Okay?” Grey says, going along with Tyrion’s dark jokes.

“I feel stupid,” Tyrion mutters, dropping his voice back down to seriousness. “I keep comparing the two of them all the time — Shae and Sansa, I mean. I used to feel this way about Shae, too. I used to sing her praises, too. So I feel fucking dumb and awkward all the time.”

“Everyone feels dumb and awkward,” Grey insists. “I feel dumb and awkward all the time, too. That’s the nature of risk.”

“Oh shut up,” Tyrion says, in a light derisiveness that is not too biting. “Guy who is good-looking, young, and talented. Fucking sucks being you.”

“I wasn’t always like this.”

“There isn’t really a magical surgery that will fix my problems.”

“You’re making the assumption that Sansa is really superficial,” Grey says. “You’re assuming she’s going to let you down, so you’re not even giving her enough of a chance to prove that she won’t.”

“Dude, my wife left me for my abusive father, even though she knew about all of these issues I had with him,” Tyrion says. “Because I thought it was safe to tell her those things. So that's why it feels fucking impossible to come back from that sometimes.”

“Dude, I was on the verge of death and my dick was non-existent up until a year ago. My parents were murdered and no one gave a shit about me. I don’t think I know how sex works half the time — still. I am not joking when I say that I have never satisfied a woman sexually ever in my life.”

“Jesus Christ, you are being so melodramatic,” Tyrion says, shaking his head. “You are fine and able-bodied and people give so many fucking shits about you, it is actually ridic. A fucking beautiful woman hangs on your every word. Jaime and Drogo fight like fucking children trying to get your attention all the time. And sex is not that fucking complicated. Do shit that feels good. Don’t do shit that doesn’t feel good. You need to shut up.”

“Okay, a beautiful woman actually does not hang on my every word. If she does, she’s stockpiling the words so she can use them against me in a fight. Jaime and Drogo — I don’t even know. I don’t even know why they do the things they do. You’re melodramatic, Tyrion. You need to shut up.”

“Obviously I’m very melodramatic,” he says crankily. “That’s why I’m great at my job.”

Grey shakes his head. “Yo, tell me more stuff about sex being easy. Talk about that some more.”

Tyrion pitches forward as he starts cackling into the tabletop, because this is one of his very favorite things about Grey — the way in which Grey refuses to let anyone in his vicinity dwell too much in their own cultivated narrative of victimhood.

 

 


Both Grey and Missandei are under the impression that they are each the victim of sex rejection from the other. Missandei is a little sensitive that he seemed like he was really irritated and inconvenienced by the fact that she wanted to have sex with him. She’s been trying this thing where she takes charge of sex and doesn’t just let it happen to her. She’s actually incrementally trying to nudge her way up to feeling comfortable enough to have him go down on her. She’s subconsciously a little panicked and freaked out over the very simple and mundane idea of receiving pleasure without simultaneously giving it back. It feels uncomfortably self-serving to her, so that is one part of many convoluted reasons why she has been pulling down his pants and touching him a lot. She’s been trying to bank up some goodwill for her inevitable future oral. She is being bonkers. And it sucks to try sex things and to have them not go over well.

On Grey’s part, he is a little sensitive over the fact that she gave him half a really mean handjob to punish him for having friends. To be fair to him — that is pretty much what happened. It was not Missandei’s finest moment. Her brain kind of fritzed out after he told her that he did not want to have sex with her.

Obviously they are both operating under a slew of miscommunication issues, and there’s not a lot of time during the fourteen-hour work days when they can discuss these things. Except for now. The night is free and clear.

He has no idea which room is hers, and she’s not responding to any of his text messages, which is just fucking fantastic. When he’s at the door to his own room, he decides to go back down to the front desk because it occurs to him to ask them where she is.

The hotel has amazing security protocols — or they are fucking racially profiling him — because they refuse to tell him which room is Missandei’s. They make the point that if he and Missandei work together, then he would already know which room she is staying in. They tell him they can’t give him the information. The whole business makes him angry — and his anger is very apparent to them and everyone else within earshot — which is making him look like a fucking cliche. He blames everyone else for this.

Grey doesn’t realize that Missandei hasn’t been answering his texts because she has actually fallen asleep in bed in front of her TV. He assumes that she is punishing him for the stupidest, most unfair thing ever — because he wouldn’t cancel his plans with Tyrion to have sex with her. For a couple of hours, he’s frustrated and annoyed with her because he’s thinking these ugly things. He’s assuming that so many things in the recent past — the hand job, the blow job — are power moves on her part. He conflates things in his mind, and he starts to think that maybe she is fucking with his mind on purpose, and she is being petty by not returning his now-insane-ass emotional and accusatory text messages.

Missandei ends up sleeping right through dinner time — and it turns out none of the other crew members know which room she is staying in either. It turns out she is answering no one’s text messages. In the last day, Grey also has had to contend with this insane and fucking terrible realization that she is going crush his entire world by dying, so when he learns that she is not answering anyone’s texts — he drops his annoyance and his anger and he starts fear-spiraling.

Grey shoves Jaime at the front desk. He hopes that they fucking recognize Jaime’s white-ass fucking face from TV. He roughly tells Jaime, “Will you fucking find out which room she’s supposed to be staying in!”

“Buddy,” Drogo says, pressing his hand into Grey’s chest. He feels Grey’s pounding heart underneath his palm. Drogo calmly says, “I bet you she’s totally fine. Just don’t panic just yet.”

“Why the fuck is she not answering her phone!”

“I honestly do not know, bud.”

“She’s in room eight-eleven,” Jaime says, as he walks back up to them.

 

 


Drogo shoots Jaime a pointed look right before he starts jogging after Grey. Jaime follows suit and slips into the elevator right as the doors close. Drogo tries to laugh it off — he tries to already make this into a funny story that they will joke about later — but Grey is not having any of it. Drogo continues to sneak Jaime glances — not at all confident that Jaime can read his mind. The thing is that, to Drogo, Grey is strongly telegraphing Drogo’s dad right about now. But that’s worst-case scenario.

At room eight hundred and eleven, Grey starts repeatedly pounding his fist on the door without caring about how much noise he is making. That also reminds Drogo of his dad. Grey is calling out Missandei’s name repeatedly and demanding that she open the door, which again — deja vu.

When the door finally opens — when they see her slight figure step into the hallway light, blinking her sleepy eyes rapidly — a hit of relief just smacks both Jaime and Drogo in their faces. They let go of the breaths they had been holding, and Drogo’s mouth curves into a smile — right as Grey pushes his way into her room and starts yelling at her.

 

 


“I fell asleep!” Missandei says helplessly, for what feels like the thousandth time. “I was tired!”

“I fucking thought you were fucking dead!” Grey snaps at her.

“Why would you come to that conclusion?” she shouts back. “Of all things, why go straight to dead?”

“We’re in a fucking foreign country!”

She looks at him quizzically. “Okay? That’s surprisingly xenophobic coming from you.”

He sharply exhales. Because that was a low blow. And then he stretches his neck and looks as if his patience is wearing thin. He decides not to comment on what she just said. Instead, he points an accusing finger at her phone, which was abandoned on the corner of her bed. “You are never fucking more than two feet away from that thing! You answer emails at four in the fucking morning! And suddenly you get fifty text messages and no one fucking hears back from you?”

“Because I was sleeping! Am I not allowed to sleep?”

“How did you not hear your phone!” Grey shouts. “I called you repeatedly!”

“Grey,” Jaime says, hovering close. “Come on. Calm down a little bit. She’s okay. She didn’t mean to worry you.”

“Stop making excuses for me!” Missandei says, blinking back tears. “And don’t apologize to him for me! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Babe,” Drogo says, reaching out to touch her shoulder. “It’s all good. It’s all okay. This is just a misunderstanding. Let’s just all take a breath.”

She yanks her shoulder from his grasp. She says, “Stop telling me to calm down. I was calm until he came in here and started yelling at me. Now I’m upset!”

“Missandei, he’s yelling at you because he loves you. He loves you so much, babe.”

So — the second the words flew out of his mouth, Drogo can immediately detect how utterly batshit it all sounds. He winces.

“Wow,” Missandei says, shaking her head. “Nice. Very nice. I suppose that if he hits me, then it means he really, really loves me.”

“I would never fucking hit you!” Grey shouts into her face as he takes a step forward. Jaime has to delicately nudge himself in between Grey and Missandei, mostly as a shield between the verbal stuff. Jaime doesn’t really think Grey is going to smack Missandei in the face with his fist at all. On his part, Grey doesn’t even care that he is doing a terrible job of proving his point of non-violence. He tries to go around Jaime to put his finger back in Missandei’s face. He yells, “Have I ever fucking laid a hand on you!”

“Bitch, please, was I talking to you?” she snaps back. Fucking men always thinking they deserve fucking trophies because they are not beating the shit out of their women. She juts her chin out at Drogo. “I was talking to this fucking idiot and his crazy bent ideas of what fucking love is all about! This is why you’re single, Drogo!”

That triggers something in Drogo, because he raises his voice and shouts, “I’m single because I choose to be!” right back at her.

“We’re getting off-topic,” Jaime mutters, semi-glad that he’s not the instigator of a shouting match for once.

Soon after — the fighting ends. It ends because a number of hotel guests had called the front desk to complain about the screaming that is happening in eight-eleven. Male staff members come up to see what the commotion is all about. They tell Grey, Jaime, and Drogo that they have to leave Missandei’s room or else they will get kicked out of the hotel and the police will get called. At that point, Grey kind of throws his hands up in the air and says, “Of course!”

 

 


When Missandei stumbles down to breakfast, she’s wearing her sunglasses indoors because it’s a bright day and she spent a little bit of time last night angrily crying herself to sleep, so her eyes are a little puffy. She’s devoid of any makeup, and her wrinkled white tank top has Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool emblazoned on it, stretched across her breasts. It’s her sleep shirt. She woke up later than she intended to, looked in the mirror at herself, and just did not even fucking care.

“Hey, rockstar. How are you feeling this morning?” Drogo says, sliding a plate to her. He took the liberty of collecting the awful hotel food that she tends to like — toast, butter, jam, scrambled eggs, a ham patty, and some fruit — because he feels terrible about the screaming match that occurred in her hotel room — and he also still feels a little bit bad over her almost-drowning. Missandei has basically forgiven him for the second thing, though.

“Where is he?” she asks.

“He is loading equipment outside.”

She thinks about it — she’s doesn’t feel any which way about that. She tersely says, “Okay.”

“You know why he went nuts yesterday, right?”

“Drogo, I know that he’s your boy, but —”

“It’s because his parents are dead, Missandei. He’s a fucking orphan.”

“Okay, thanks, Dr. Phil,” she says, aggressively buttering her toast with a knife. “In case you’ve forgotten, I’m an orphan, too.” She shoves the entire piece of toast in her mouth.

After a moment of silence, one in which Drogo watches her shovel more food into her mouth, he decides it’s okay to change the subject. He says, “You look really pretty this morning.”

It makes her laugh a little maniacally through her eggs.

“I’m serious,” he insists, eyes roving over her asymmetrical wild curls, the perma-frown on her face, and the thick tank strap hanging off one shoulder. “I like rumpled Missandei out of her khakis. She’s sexy.”

“Are you hitting on me?” she asks suspiciously.

“It’s always a gray area with us, isn’t it?” he says, chuckling. And then he says, “Speaking of Grey areas — beyond the whole Ike and Tina dynamic you guys currently have going on —”

“Oh my God, shut up.”

“— how are things going otherwise?”

She scoffs. But then her mouth finally curves into a smile. It’s the first smile of the day. “Did you just ask me about my relationship voluntarily?”

Drogo shrugs, picking up his coffee cup. “I’m trying this new thing where I try to be a better friend and stuff. You know? Try not to accidentally murder my buds and whatnot.”

She is ravenous, due to missing dinner, so she continues scarfing down breakfast and chases it with hot gulps of burning coffee — as she blandly tells Drogo that everything is just peachy in general. He doesn’t quite buy it, and he tells her as much. At that point, she points an urgent finger at him and makes him promise to keep a secret. When he laughs, she reaches out and slaps his arm three quick times in succession, telling him that she is fucking serious.

His curiosity is really piqued — he thinks he’s about to be clued into some sex thing that is really weird and really funny — but when she tells him that she’s just been really sexually frustrated lately and work is really cramping her ability to have sex. And now, after last night, she will probably never fucking have sex ever again. Drogo resists rolling his eyes at her fucking melodramatic non-problem. She gets to go on work trips with her fucking sex partner for God’s sake. Drogo’s actually sexually frustrated, too. And he doesn’t have a convenient sex buddy like she does. He either has to put forth a moderate amount of effort and risk his health for some minutes of fun before getting his rocks off — or he is just celibate.

So to Missandei, he says, “Babe, just forgo an hour of sleep each night. It’s worth it to be a little tired during the day if it helps you to unwind — the both of you. He’s been unbearably anal retentive and bitchy lately. Now I know you’re to blame. You and your sleeping, non-texting ways.”

“No, man. That’s just his personality,” she says. “He’s like that when he gets laid, too.” She pauses to tightly shake her head. “God, why is he so fucking hot?” She’s serious, too. She’s not joking around.

Drogo laughs. “We all have a type.”

Then Sandor’s voice crackles over the walkie and announces that the first car is there. She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and pushes off of the table, leaning her face down to talk into the walkie. She clicks it. “Drogo and I are heading over right now,” she says.

“Show time, baby.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


“You look hot,” Dany says — and it sounds honest and earnest. She also means it as a double entendre. It’s a scorching day, so they are all uncomfortably melting under the sun. Dany reaches out to tug Missandei’s strap back onto her shoulder. “Love the shirt.”

“It’s ironic,” Missy says smoothly. “Because my mama didn’t raise me. And I might be a fool.”

Tyrion’s voice comes over the line. “Missandei.”

She clicks in. “Go for Missandei. What’s up?”

 

 


He’s actually still kind of mad at her because she doesn’t seem to take her own safety seriously enough for him — which is pretty much an unfair reason to be mad at her for because Drogo was the one who tried to drown her and she was actually in no danger when she decided to go off the grid for a few hours — but he currently does not care about how fair or unfair he is being, how right or wrong he is. He is currently operating under the whole he feels how he feels kind of thing.

Which is problematic when he sees her walk into a box truck with a walkie in her face, wearing the get-up that she is wearing. He follows her there. He is immediately positive that she’s wearing her shirt to mess with him — because he is currently very self-centered and feels wounded. He exhales out a quiet groan to himself, as his eyes rove up and down her body. He was already sweating under the humid sun, but now it feels like he’s burning up. His insides clench. His heart throbs. His dick wakes up and starts stirring with life. His attraction to her has always been immense. It devolved into such baseness after the adult onset puberty. And now that he’s had her — he means now that he’s fucked her and has been fucked by her, so he knows what it’s actually all about — well, he feels like he’s just exposed raw nerves all the time now.

Right now, he feels conflicted, because obviously he wants to have sex with her real badly — yet he also wants to walk over there and tell her she has been a real fucking power-tripping dick to him lately, and it’s really not cool to use sex as a weapon, even though he keeps fucking consenting to it like a fucking weak little flower. He is going fucking crazy. He hasn’t been properly laid in weeks — and it’s another one of the ways he’s so weak now, post-surgery. He used to be able to go years without having any sex. Now, he can’t even go weeks. And there is never any fucking time for them to be alone and have an honest to God conversation about anything other than the fucking show.

“Hey,” he says, climbing into the truck and walking up to her as she squats and sorts through a box of cords.

She stiffens and goes rigid. And then she glances up, hands momentarily frozen in the pile of tangles. Her fucking shirt is ridiculous, and he can see right into her cleavage, into her pillowy soft breasts, from his vantage point. “Morning.”

“About last night —”

Her shoulders sag a little as she kind of angles her face further back to fully look at him. There’s a slight smile on her face. Her eyes are obscured behind sunglasses. “Got a little crazy there, didn’t it?”

He swallows, because, God, she looks too fucking good. “Yeah,” he says, with his mouth dry and his tongue thick in his mouth. “Kind of got carried away.”

“Yeah,” she says vaguely.

Honestly — Missandei is waiting for an apology from him. Because obviously he was in the wrong — because all she did was sleep and then get woken up by his freak out. Also, in the time between last night and this morning, she has made the observation that he is a huge hypocrite. He gets all uppity whenever she fusses over him and worries about his comfort — and yet it is totally okay for him to overreact and go apeshit because he worries about her safety. It’s a double standard. She also resents the implication that she needs his manly protection. She has actually been keeping her own ass alive for 28 years now. He is obviously wrong. He is so wrong on so many things. It is comical, how wrong on top of wrong he is.

Grey currently has no plans to apologize. Because he currently does not think he is in the wrong. The way that things unfolded was very logical and reasonable to him. Additionally, he thinks it was bullshit that she didn’t tell one fucking person her whereabouts. That was just dumb.

“Do you have something you want to say to me?” she asks, standing up. “This a social call?”

He looks torn. His hand is clenching and unclenching at his side. He realizes they are alone in the back of the truck. He softly says, “Baby.”

Which immediately gets her full attention. Her skin starts tingling, and her face starts sweating — and she reaches for him.

She gasps loudly when their bodies collide, when he pushes her against the shelving and pins her there with his body. She’s fighting to suck in air as she starts to pant. She says, “Oh my God,” as her hands start mindlessly running over his shoulders, down his back, heading for his ass — she squeezes and pulls him even closer as his mouth ghosts over hers, lips softly skimming against hers in this facsimile of sweetness. But it’s barely controlled, and he’s shaking from holding back. She says, “Your fucking body,” before leaving it at that, before deciding that it’s okay to be vague.

The back of the box truck is open and exposed to air and sunshine. He drags the neckline of her shirt down anyway, taking her sports bra down with it, exposing a nipple, which immediately puckers and tightens. He growls, “Your fucking body,” back to her. She is — amazingly — devoid of self-consciousness because she just wants sex from him so badly. Her body is aching, and she has to squeeze her legs together tightly because it feels like the entire universe is going to slide out of her fucking vagina. She’s about to get a little action in the back of an equipment truck. She’s really okay with that. She feels nutty enough to maybe let him go down on her in the back of an equipment truck. She’s trying to figure out how to convey this to him.

“What’s up with this outfit?” he says, circling her nipple with the tip of his forefinger. “It’s not what you usually wear.”

It is actually the wrong thing to say to her. Her entire body immediately burns up — and not in a sexy way. She mostly stares back at him in shock — he doesn’t yet know that he has fucked up — and then she knocks his hand off her breast and pulls her shirt and bra back up, protectively covering her boob with her fist and wrist.

He looks confused.

She says, “What are you trying to say about what I’m wearing?”

 

 


Drogo actually turns right back around when he gets within earshot of Grey and Missandei’s bickering, when he hears Missy angrily telling Grey that he can’t dictate what she wears or doesn’t wear. He can’t slut-shame her. She’s not his property. Drogo can hear Grey’s incredulous and incredibly loud, “What!” right as Drogo stumbles across Dany, Tyrion, and Jaime.

He checks the time on his watch. “Oh, wow. It’s already nine.”

“We’re behind schedule,” Tyrion says. “Usually, Missandei is more on top of things.”

Dany rolls her eyes. “She’s been preoccupied.”

“Go tell her she’s fired,” Jaime suggests, grinning. “That will light a fire under her ass. And Grey’s not wrong. That shirt is distracting.”

“Are you serious right now?” Dany says, turning to him. “It’s hot as hell out here and you assholes can’t concentrate on your jobs because you can see her shoulders? And this after this guy,” she gestures to Drogo, “takes off his clothes any chance he gets?”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“You ladies can honestly walk around naked all you want,” Drogo says smoothly. He really says it to rankle Dany and piss her off. “I’m into equal rights.”

She doesn’t take the bait at all. She says, “You’re an idiot,” right before she uncrosses her arms and kicks off the van, walking over to Grey and Missandei to throw cold water over their stupid argument so that the rest of them can start work.

 

 


Missy generally stays out of the way as the rest of crew sets up. She’s snacking on some rice crackers that she bought from a convenience stall, crouch-sitting in a corner of a restaurant and scrolling through her phone. It’s exciting for her to be back in the land of wifi-everywhere.

She’s reading about female masturbation. She’s doing her homework. There’s never a detailed enough manual. She has already written the alphabet over her clit. That does nothing for her. She has shoved her fingers up her wet hole. Also nothing. Maybe what she needs is a creepy sex toy that will cost entirely too much and then scare the shit out of her so much that she will never use it beyond the very first time.

Reading sex articles out in public like this is really not her favorite thing to do, but she’s made a resolution to herself and she insists on forward momentum. And she honestly has no time for this shit otherwise. She’s exhausted at the end of the day that all she wants to do is crash. Now she can’t even do that without getting all twitchy that he’s going to yell at her because she REM’ed too hard.

She particular hates reading on her phone because it’s hard to navigate through a bunch of tabs to do cross references. When he’s not in her face, there’s a big part of her doesn’t even know why she’s putting forth this kind of effort at the moment. She is so annoyed and frustrated with him.

Then when he’s in her face — when he walks by dragging a cord across the floor — she thinks that it’s actually much easier than she ever thought, to differentiate and distance sex from everything else.

 

 


They board a junk boat — which is a misnomer because it’s actually pretty deluxe, like a mini cruise ship — which will take them into a cave system.

Her heart more or less lurches in her chest when she watches Grey shove his face into his camera’s monitor and hop from the wet ground to a plastic stool, onto a rickety boat selling produce, down the outside of it, to stand at the very tip. She wants to beat the shit out of Drogo all the time, because his motions are thick and heavy and uncaring. He is always jumping on and off of things, rattling the ground, landing entirely too close to Grey sometimes. She’s afraid Drogo is going to miscalculate and slam into Grey, knocking him and his camera into the water. And then they will be out one really expensive camera and a lot of footage.

“Stalagmite,” Jaime says, crossing his arms behind his head.

“Stalactite,” Brienne corrects.

 

 


The crew breaks apart for some hours before they get to meet back up for crew dinner. For once, Missandei has a clear schedule and, other than Dany’s suggestion that three of them go out for manicures or pedicures — Missandei has a free hour to herself. She hightails it up to her hotel room, grabs the remote to the air conditioning unit, and turns it up on high. It takes a minute or so before it starts to feel amazing.

The door to her hotel room is locked, and that’s why she feels pretty okay in unbuttoning her jeans and pulling it and her underwear down her legs. The whole business continues to feel decidedly unsexy and perfunctory. She’s naked from the waist down, and she supposes that the one positive byproduct of fighting with Grey is that they have not had sex in a long while and she is beyond horny. The key difference between her and him and that that bastard can actually get himself off. In fact, she aided and abetted in his ability to get off easily not too long ago. In contrast, the tension in her body just lingers and lingers and aches and builds.

She actually thinks about him, as she licks two of her fingers and pushes her hand straight to her clit. She doesn’t think she needs to be romantic with herself. She doesn’t think she needs to do a lot of foreplay with herself. But what the hell does she know, anyway? She is bad at this. There have been mornings where she wakes up with her hand still stuck in between her legs — because she fell asleep while masturbating.

In her mind, he doesn’t talk — so he doesn’t behave like an asshole and say all the wrong things. In her mind, it’s just his secretive smiling face and the memory of things. She thinks about the way he smells when he’s warm and lying in bed with her. She thinks about the way the substantial weight of his body feels when it’s locked into hers, the soft sounds and noises that he makes during sex that drive her wild because he’s just so fucking hot sometimes. And she thinks about how he’s so fractured and how he’s such this dichotomy. She’s a person of consistency, for the most part. He is this person that runs so hot that he burns her in such a delicious way when they are at their best. He’s a person that is so bright and so light when he is warm and sweet and funny and charming. And then he flips it off and runs ice cold when it is inconvenient for him to love her.

He is so fucking annoying sometimes.

Erratic motions don’t work for her. Too much pressure doesn’t work. Light pressure is kind of tingly sometimes, but then it fizzles out. Messing around with her labias don’t seem to garner much result. She read something written by a sex therapist about how achieving orgasm requires simultaneous relaxation and also tension in the body. Missandei was like, what the fuck — when she read that. She does not even know how to do that, how to simultaneously relax and tense up. And forget about the g-spot. That is currently some advanced Jedi shit.

She tends to think her progress is non-existent or meager — but one truth that she has not noticed is that she is a lot less self-conscious and squeamish now. She’s learned a lot about body parts. She can name them now — even matter-of-factly to herself. She doesn’t realize that she has been so preoccupied with how irritated she is with Grey that she doesn’t have all that much time to freak out about how her low-cut shirt is betraying her professionalism. It all counts towards something.

She read something that almost equated the penis to the clit. They are counterparts of each other. She remembers the one time she curiously asked him how he jacked off — his technique — and he actually gave her a short demonstration, which, at the time, made her blush pretty hard. Now, the memory of it garners a different response. She remembers being surprised that he maintained skin-on-skin contact. When she jacks him off, she more or less tries to mimic the conditions of her vagina, finding something to lubricate with, running her hand up and down his shaft, sliding skin across skin, careful not to burn too much friction into him because — from his grimaces — she has learned he is not into that.

That’s why she licks her fingers before she starts trying on herself. That’s why she sometimes dips her fingers into her body to rewet them. But maybe the way she is doing this is all wrong.

She presses down more pressure and just forgets about gliding skin over skin for a while. She swirls flexible skin over nerves and bone like how she wipes down a counter with a dish rag. She does big, slowish circles.

Amazingly — it’s getting somewhere. She has learned she doesn’t do well with starts and stops. It has to be an unerring consistency. It feels like something is building. The ache actually grows and twinges. She starts to not have to manage her own breathing so consciously. She starts to straighten her legs and clench up a little — or a lot.

And then her phone buzzes. And — in light of recent events — Missandei immediately pulls her hand out from in between her legs, wiping her fingers on her shirt real quick before she rolls over and makes a grab for her phone. She’s kind of nervous that it’s a text from him.

But it’s not. It’s a text from Dany.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 


Dany lets out a big sigh and sinks back into the rattan chair as her wet, pale legs get massaged by a young woman with her hair tied in a bun. Hari is bopping her head along to silent music. In contrast, Missandei and Brienne are more tense and rigid in their seats — even after the salon employees told them to just relax. Missandei and Brienne didn’t grow up thinking that manicures and pedicures are luxuries that are important to them, so this is the first time they are engaging. They are surprised at the massage element to everything. They thought they were just getting their nails painted. All of the casual-but-intimate touching is crazy.

This is a bonding excursion as much as it’s a relaxation thing. Drogo actually tried to hop onto it. Unlike Tyrion, Bronn, and Jaime, Drogo has no male hang ups involving salons. The ladies were actually kind of shocked to learn that his mom is apparently a manicurist, so he’s been in and out of salons his entire life. He told them he can actually do a pretty mean set of gels. Dany couldn’t believe it. He also told them that he used to get pedicures a lot, back when he was playing soccer and got his feet bloodied up on a regular basis.

The whole explanation was actually insanely adorable, and they were actually pretty tempted to let him tag along, but Dany ultimately rejected him and told him that the excursion is ladies only.

As strong fingers dig into her calf, Missandei has decided she can work with this. This is a good life lesson. For once, she also can’t speak the language well enough to cover up her awkwardness with a bunch of probing and distracting questions. She really just has to sit back and chill out and do nothing as a young lady presses her thumbs into the arch of Missandei’s foot.

“How old are you?” Dany asks suddenly, orienting her question at Hari.

Hari hangs her head in slight embarrassment. She says, “Twenty-two.”

“Holy crap,” Brienne blurts. “You’re a little baby!” Brienne is actually only five years older than Hari.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” Dany asks, her voice lilting teasingly. “Or a girlfriend?” The add-on simultaneously confuses and embarrasses Hari. Dany is trying to not be so heteronormative, but Hari is not understanding Dany’s intention.

Her voice is choked when she says, “No.” She clears her throat. “No boyfriend.”

“Why not?” Dany asks pointedly.

Missy reaches over and lightly taps Dany’s arm with the back of her hand. In High Valyrian, Missy tells Dany that she’s really embarrassing the girl. Dany shoots Missandei a look and, in High Valyrian, she dryly says that she knows. It’s intentional.

 

 


Grey is long past the point where he worries that every setback or hiccup in their relationship means she’s going to break up with him. He’s grown pretty confident that she’s pretty emotionally attached to him now, and that is a fairly big comfort because he is really fucking super attached to her. He actually misses her so much. The funny thing about him — and by funny, he means damaged and sad — is that the more he misses her, the more tightly he closes himself off to her because he feels he needs to be all the more stronger.

“Heyo, brother,” Drogo says, clapping him on the back. “Let me buy us the first round.”

“I don’t feel like drinking.”

“Man, shut up. Be cool, okay? Be cool.”

Is Drogo really going to bully him into drinking via peer pressure? Nonetheless, Grey says, “I want a light beer then.” He doesn’t want to get full before dinner.

 

 


Like with so many other instances, Missy ends up doing what Dany wants her to do because Dany does not linger very long on anybody’s discomfort.

Missandei and Brienne end up awkwardly taking off all of their clothes — because a tiny spitfire of a Yi Tish woman tutted and scoffed at them and told them that white women are so shy. Missandei actually takes offense to that. Because she’s not white. She tries to prove that by taking off her clothes in a hurry — as she wonders how in the fucking world she got peer-pressured into getting totally naked in front of a bunch of women. Grey is pretty much the only person who gets to see her naked.

And actually, what helps alleviate Missandei’s anxieties over being naked is watching how freaking awkward and anxious Hari and Brienne are over being naked. Dany more or less rips Hari’s clothes off her body after a short conversation of dubious consent. Hari also has problems saying no to people with authority. She’s hopping around the room with her hands covering her bits as the masseuses laugh and make comments at her in-language.

Brienne ends up having a terrible, much more tortured go at it. Dany knows better than to pull Brienne’s clothes off for her. They just patiently wait. Brienne’s issue is that Missandei and Dany are conventionally beautiful and have banging bods. Brienne is decidedly unconventional. She keeps waiting to get smacked in the face with a casual, unkind comment.

Which never happens. This is because the masseuses deal with a million different types of bodies — hairy bodies, old bodies, heavy bodies, bony bodies, the bodies of assholes who come in expecting hand jobs and happy endings. Brienne’s smooth, muscular, and milky body is actually one of the more pleasant bodies to work on.

 

 


Drogo is twirling his beer bottle around on the table. They have been making quiet small talk. His tone shifts as he cautiously asks Grey, “What’s it like to be locked down to just one bitch?”

Grey rolls his eyes, because he knows Missandei would just love it if she heard Drogo talking about her like this. Grey shrugs. “It’s great,” he says, with more than a touch of sarcasm in his tone.

On Drogo’s part, he’s actually trying to get real and get personal. While Drogo has many friends, he has a very small number in which he can be super real around. He’s having a really hard time getting there because he’s talking to Grey, and not someone with ovaries. That’s why Drogo sounds like a real fucking moron. He tries a different tactic. He says, “All of my friends are getting married or they’re in relationships.”

“Okay,” Grey says evenly.

“Whenever I’m at home, people keep trying to set me up with their friends.”

“Okay.”

“One night stands aren’t what they used to be.”

“Okay.”

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Drogo says, finally exploding from the anxiety of being vulnerable in front of another male. “If you fucking say, ‘Okay,’ one more time, I’m going to fucking beat you.”

Grey pauses — his eyes shift around the restaurant bar. And then he slowly says, “Okay.”

“Goddammit!” Drogo shouts as his hand slams down on the table, freaking out nearby patrons. He grunts as he leans forward, arm spanning across the table. He lightly slaps Grey’s face before his hand lingers on Grey’s cheek — and then he laughs through his teeth. “Fuck you, you fucking bitch.”

Grey finally cracks a loopy smile. He says, “Are you having some sort of identity crisis or something? What’s going on?”

“What if I die alone, man? I mean, my slutty ways are real cute right now, but what happens when I’m seventy years old and in a nursing home and all them homies there have all their kids and grandkids visiting them during the holidays. And they’re pointing at me in my fuckin’ wheelchair, and they’re like, ‘Who’s that, Grandpa?’ And homies be like, ‘Oh, that’s Drogo. He’s going to die alone because he made questionable decisions in life.’”

Grey clears his throat. Because he’s trying not to laugh in Drogo’s face.

“We travel all the time,” Drogo mutters, running his hand down his face. “Nobody ever lasts past five dates. Either I lose interest or she loses interest or she meets someone else while I’m gone or we just lose momentum. It’s always something.”

“Do you want to be in a relationship?”

Drogo shrugs. “I don’t know. I just feel like everyone’s doing it.”

“Are you listening to yourself right now? That’s a stupid reason to get into a relationship. Fear is a stupid reason to be in a relationship.”

Drogo tips his beer bottle at Grey. He doesn’t get a chance to respond because his eyes suddenly catch the figures of Jaime and Bronn across the street. They spot him and Grey.

 

 


Missandei wills her body not to tense up, when the pretty young girl massaging her runs her abnormally strong hands up Missandei’s legs and digs her thumbs into the fleshy, tendon-y, bony area close to the apex of her legs. The masseuse’s thumbs go into the inside cleft of her butt and gets insanely close to her vagina and Missandei resists calling out and asking Dany if this is normal.

“Have you tried online dating?” Dany asks, voice muffled because she’s face down.

“Kinda,” Brienne says from the other table. “It’s terrible. First dates are terrible.”

“Oh. Yeah, I suppose you are right.”

How this is going is that they are all too aware of Dany’s status. What is more or less happening is that Dany keeps shoving probing personal questions at them, which they try to diplomatically answer. The information flow has only been going one way, because Dany is their boss and it honestly doesn’t yet occur to them to reciprocate and ask Dany questions about her life.

Dany feels like she’s failing. She cannot seem to push past general fear. She can’t seem to make them stop being afraid of her. She says, “Sooo — fuck, marry, kill: Drogo, Jaime, Grey — go!”

“Uh uh,” Brienne says automatically. “Pass.”

“Missandei?”

“Can I put down the same guy for all three?”

“Hari?”

They hear hesitation in the form of a long pause. Then Hari’s small voice says, “What . . . is this?”

“You guys are no fun. I’ve thought about this some. I’d obviously kill Jaime because I have a recurring dream where I do just that. I’d marry Grey because he’s responsible and conscientious. And I’d fuck Drogo because he seems like the kind of guy who needs to be humiliated in bed.”

 

 


Drogo is actually kind of annoyed that Jaime and Bronn show up and interrupt his conversation with Grey. Grey actually feels a little bit bad that everything got rewired and shifted when Jaime and Bronn showed up. They end up inviting the guys to sit with them at their table because it’s the polite thing to do.

Though Drogo is irritated, he does a pretty good job of not letting it show as he makes small talk with Jaime and Bronn. He is really fucking bored though, because he’s not at all interested in the white boy shit they are talking about. Drogo sucks down the rest of his beer and orders another. Grey ends up shifting his chair over to make space, shuffling closer to Drogo. Grey places his hand against the back of Drogo’s neck before patting it in apology. The gesture is not lost on Drogo. It’s also not lost on Jaime.

Jaime actually wanted to pretend that he didn’t see Drogo and Grey sitting there, but he was fucked by Bronn who insisted on interrupting Drogo and Grey’s date. Jaime resists loudly sighing as he watches Drogo and Grey probably jack each other off under the table.

 

 


In the privacy of her hotel room, Missandei tries to watch porn on her phone, which is terrible for her libido because she just gets distracted by how hairless and tan everyone is in porn. She focuses on all of the wrong things — like the production value of the porn. She starts estimating budget and thinking about how she would produce a porno.

She shuts off her phone completely. No interruptions.

 

 


Grey rubs the top of his head as he bides his time and thinks over what he wants to say. He then softly but firmly suggest to Tyrion that it’s such a waste. Tyrion plans to nix every single fucking shot from the market. They have been arguing about this for the last ten minutes.

There’s always a dozen or so hours of footage that Osha gets to comb through. There’s always a lot that doesn’t make final cut. Grey’s point is that she should have the option to use the footage. Tyrion’s point is that he just doesn’t want the footage to be in at all. Grey is preoccupied with how much fucking work — an entire day’s worth — getting that footage took. Grey feels like his work is thrown in the garbage. Tyrion agrees — that’s exactly what is happening. It is being trashed. Tyrion makes the grave mistake of downplaying the whole thing, telling Grey to get over it and to stop being such a butthurt artist. Tyrion points out that Grey gets paid a wage to do this kind of shit, not to express himself. He gets paid to do whatever he’s asked to do.

Grey mutters, “Whatever,” as he gets up and leaves the room. This is not actually an atypical fight. They have it from time to time. Grey could’ve probably moved past it smoothly in other circumstances. But he’s still a little raw from fighting with Missandei. He runs across Jaime in the hallway.

To Jaime, he says, “Dude, you won’t guess what your brother said to me.”

 

 


Her breakthrough comes in the form of the smallest, tiniest orgasm. It’s still an orgasm though, so there’s generally no mistaking it. It comes on the heels of long, long minutes where she just kept pushing past all of the discouraging numbness. She applies more pressure. And she focuses really hard on that encouraging ache, which grows and grows. The fact that it’s gradually intensifying gives Missandei something to hold onto, something to focus on.

Her mind is still so unsure. She’s still preoccupied with whether she is doing it correctly. She doesn’t know what kind of end point she is going to arrive at, if anywhere. She doesn’t know if she has expended a fair bit of time and a fair bit of effort on a dead end.

So when the ache reaches its critical mass — when it breaks and she starts spasming and trembling and her brain goes, holy shit — she is so stunned and surprised by it that she immediately takes her fingers off her clit, just accidentally nipping her orgasm right at its start. She realizes her mistake and tries to rectify it. She tries to go back to her clit, but it is too sensitive and she can barely touch it without tweaking out.

So much of what she thought an orgasm felt like and is all about is getting reworked in her head. She thought it was more abstract than it actually is — like a ephemeral cloud of pleasure. It’s actually fairly physical. She imagines this discrepancy is also like what she imagines being on drugs is all about. She’s never done drugs. Actually, a real point of comparison is that she used to think that drinking alcohol and being drunk felt one way — but then she became of age and started drinking and got drunk and learned that it’s another way entirely.

She’s exhausted, and she’s hot and sweaty. She blinks up at the ceiling. She kind of smiles and laughs at herself because this is kind of ridiculous. And then she rolls over and smears her face into the hotel blanket because it feels nice to do that. She wants to tell him about this — right away. She suddenly just loves him so much.

She delays telling him though. She kind of presses her luck and tries to replicate her results — but her clit is way too numb. It’s tired, too. Missandei is not yet multiorgasmic.

 

 


Jaime — who has not exactly been doing super well being the mediator between his dad and Cersei, his dad and Tyrion, Tyrion and Shae, Tyrion and Cersei, and a whole bunch of other fucking permutations — finds himself unexpectedly listening to Grey bitch about Tyrion. And it is the last straw for Jaime. To Grey, he says, “Hey, dude. It’s been a long day, and I’m tired of listening to other people’s problems. Why don’t you go talk to your fucking boyfriend about this?”

Grey looks and feels like he was just slapped in the face. He says to Jaime, “Why are you being such an asshole? Are you jealous of Drogo or something?”

“Yeah, I’m jealous of a guy who has an IQ in the double digits.”

 

 


Missy wants to dance and maybe break out into song when she hits the lobby of the hotel. She is not a frigid bitch and her pussy is not a barren desert wasteland!

She settles for a wide stretch with her arms up in the air. She kind of kicks a leg up and does a few karate chops as Drogo walks up to her, stifling a laugh. He says, “Are you drunk already?” They are about to shoot one of those scenes. It’s about to be one of those nights.

“You can’t ruin my mood, Drogo. You just can’t.”

The elevator doors open after that. Grey steps out. His face is twisted in a frown, and he is already radiating intense unhappiness.

“Aw, shit,” Drogo drawls. “It is on. The gods have sent down a warrior to boldly meet your challenge, milady.”

 

 


She’s so inexplicably fucking happy, and he has done nothing to contribute to it — so his paranoid mind starts running and it all quickly starts weighing on him. He shrinks further and further into himself as he listens to her squeal out peals of laughter when Drogo says something hilarious to her or whatever. It makes his chest constrict tightly because he starts to think that she just seems so happy without him. All he ever does is make her fucking miserable.

“Dude,” Tyrion says, punching Grey in the back kind of harshly as Grey plugs in some lights and shifts them around. He scarfed down dinner in a hurry and then just started working. “I’ve been thinking. Let’s compile the market shots later and package them up for Osha.”

“Man, it’s fine,” Grey mutters. “Whatever. It’s no big deal.”

“Dude, don’t be like that,” Tyrion says, voice lowered to prevent eavesdropping. “You were right. I was wrong. There are some nice bits in there.”

 

 


They’ve already eaten crew dinner together, but it’s been hours and the shoot is very long. Missandei keeps sneaking bites from Dany’s plate in between shots. She keeps reaching over to lightly dig her fingers in to break off pieces of minced meat and the saffron rice, swiping it through a tangy, garlicky brown sauce. Drogo keeps grumbling that she keeps moving Dany’s plate around, and it’s messing up continuity. She keeps snorting and rolling her eyes — turning her gaze to Brienne and telling Brienne that Drogo suddenly cares about continuity now. Missy keeps reaching for the small shots of alcohol that people keep feeding her.

Jindo is on-camera. And he’s trying to teach Dany and Jaime this impromptu gambling game. And he’s so drunk that he is managing to lose at this game that he has only half-taught them. He’s hilarious. And Missy has to press her palm tightly to her mouth and essentially suffocate herself so that her laugh-snorts don’t break into the shot and make things harder for Bronn.

She accidentally makes eye-contact with Grey from across the room. The intensity of his gaze actually startles her and makes her laughter die right in her throat. And she had already known — she was under the impression — that he was a little bit cranky tonight. That wasn’t anything new or alarming to her. But now — she clearly sees that he is actually utterly miserable.

 

 


During a break, in between resets, he can feel her sadass pity for how fucking pathetic he is. He can feel her attention on him. He can feel her walking up to him. He is being fragile, so he doesn’t turn around to greet her. He’s feels so tired and over this shit that he deludes himself into thinking that ignoring her will garner some sort of result that isn’t unfair to her. He imagines that she is coming up to him to either give him a short pep talk or to tell him to just fucking knock it off and just get the fuck over himself so he can focus on his fucking job.

He actually feels her breathing on the back of his neck. Her breath is garlicky and boozy and her body is very warm — and he stiffens as her hands run up his back, sliding up the straps of his camera harness. He’s swapping out lenses at the equipment table. He says nothing — he just listens to the rumbly din of the restaurant some more.

She quietly says, “Hey, cutie,” as her arms come around him. People are probably watching. She’s holding him tightly from behind.

He shuts his eyes. What fucking terrible timing for another patented mind-fuck in which she gets him hot and bothered and then leaves him hanging. “Missandei,” he says warningly.

“Not starting something,” she promises, rubbing her face into his back and smelling him. He feels her lips brush up against his shoulder blade before they press into it, before she slowly lets him go. “Just thought you could use a hug.”

His shoulders sag. He shuts his eyes again. He feels all emotional about her again. His heart just fucking hurts. He fucking wishes they weren’t working right now. He says, “Thank you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“God, it’s so hot, even at night,” Dany mutters sleepily, bending over to pull a plug out of the wall. “I can’t wait to take a cold shower and lie down in front of the AC.”

“I can’t wait to get a blast of cold air on my damp balls,” Drogo says — also tiredly — as he picks up an end of a table and carefully pulls it away from the wall. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he says to Dany in a deadpan. “Am I making shit about me again? Should we talk more about your cold shower until you’re ready to change the subject?”

“I can’t wait until we get back to King’s Landing, so that I can fire you,” Dany smoothly throws back. Such a comment never ceases to just wig Missandei the fuck out whenever it’s oriented at her — but Dany has no scruples and thinks it’s funny to threaten people’s livelihood.

And Drogo just doesn’t care. He’s scrappy, and he’s of the mindset that he will make money however he makes money. He says, “Great. Then it means I don’t have to look at your face all day errday.”

“Oh, you love it,” Dany says. “You love my beautiful face so much.”

Drogo responds in an entirely awkward and bizarre way. Missandei picks up on it right away because they insist on carrying on with their friendship. She watches as his body goes rigid and he adopts this defensive posture. He sounds entirely too serious and a little offended, when he says, “I don’t,” before he walks off.

Dany is stunned. She says, “Did I say something wrong?”

“Um,” Missy says carefully. “He probably is upset that you don’t care about his damp balls.”

Dany is suddenly also ticked off, too — also in an overly serious way. She says, “He’s such a freaking baby.” Dany is not letting this roll off her back. The end of the filming is looming over her, and she’s been thinking about what awaits her in King’s Landing. She says, “It’s just fine and dandy for Drogo to say whatever the fuck he wants to people but God forbid anyone ever say anything back to him. What a freaking baby. What a freaking precious little baby. I bet his mother fucking loved him too much when he was young.”

 

 


He muddled through the rest of the shoot with at least two times less angry dejectedness. Everything was fairly routine and regular. Jaime and Dany started getting sleepy because they have had the most to drink. Jindo passed out. The restaurant started to quiet down as patrons siphoned out. Grey knows it’s over when music streams over the speakers and Missandei makes no move to stop it from happening. It’s really hard to edit around music.

He has relaxed a little bit into things, and he has reminded himself that he has to compromise sometimes and let some things just go. Presently, he tries not to think about the fact that he sometimes feels like he is constantly compromising and letting things go. Presently, he tells himself that it’s just life. This is what adults do.

His phone buzzes in his pants as he’s cleaning and pulling up tape from the floor. He doesn’t know who on Earth would text him right now, so curiosity makes him pull his phone out to check it. It’s from Missandei. The last stream of texts between them was one-sided, from when he thought she had been murdered in her hotel room. He reamed her out over the phone because of it, sarcastically telling her she was real fucking inconsiderate for not notifying him that she was dead.

He is such a fucking asshole.

He has largely pretended to himself that maybe she hasn’t read his insane texts — or maybe she just read the earlier non-crazy ones and just skimmed through the rest. He hasn’t been able to go back and delete these reminders of his stupidity because part of him is just so bent on self-punishment.

Obviously she has read all of his texts. He doesn’t know anyone who wouldn’t read their text messages, in that sort of situation.

The text that just came in, from her, which sits directly underneath his fucking crazy insanity, says I love you.

He looks up, and his eyes search the room for her. He finds her staring and trying to smile at him. He finds her awkwardly waving to him.

 

 


To Grey, it’s a done deal after that text message. It is inevitable. He and Missandei are going to spend the night together. He has been visually keeping track of her, so that she can’t fucking sneak off and fall asleep in a corner somewhere without her phone. He’s anxious and antsy as they continue cleaning up. He struggles to pay attention as Sandor talks to him about tomorrow, what needs to be packed up to get shipped home, what needs to be packed and returned to the rental house, and what they still need out for the shoot. Grey can’t even think about tomorrow right now.

He actually fucking loses sight of her almost right away because he’s a fucking moron. They ride back to the hotel in different vehicles, and he has to wait as Drogo’s and Tyrion’s and Jaime’s and Bronn’s fucking dumb asses take forever to vacate the van. She’s not there when he hops out of the van and scans the lobby. He feels like he’s on the cusp of losing his fucking mind as he gruffly says goodnight to everyone and starts riding the elevator up to the eighth floor.

He tries to not bang his fist on the door. He tries not to flip out when she doesn’t answer right away. He really struggles in not flipping out when she doesn’t open it at all. He calls out her name. He tries not to sound angry and anxious as he says, “Missandei? Are you there?” into the door. He waits another thirty seconds before he forces himself to think positively. She is probably already asleep and can’t hear him — which is totally fine — or she’s loitering around somewhere else — which is also totally fine.

He resists fucking texting her and asking for her whereabouts like a fucking psycho.

He’s discouraged and tired and upset as he rides the elevator back down to the sixth floor.

He’s stunned when he sees her at his door. She’s sitting in front of it. Or rather, she was. She scrambles to her feet when she sees him approach.

 

 


She starts crying — just automatically and without conscious reason, like a complete idiot — when she sees him. She’s a little drunk, too. She had been starting to doubt the wisdom of waiting for him. She had been convinced that they won’t fight again. She might be crying in empathy, because she feels so bad that he feels bad. She might be crying because she just misses him so much, which is lunacy because she sees him every day.

She holds her arms out to him as he quickly walks up to her. A whoosh of air gets pushed out of her lungs as he grabs onto her, as he holds her to his body, as he lifts her up off her feet and presses his face into the crook of her neck. He lingers there for seconds before he transfers his attention and grabs her by the cheeks. She whimpers right before he kisses her.

 

 


She’s so emotional. He’s so emotional. She’s kissing him through the tears and she tastes the salt from in between their mouths.

Inside of his room, he pushes her onto the bed — so that she knows exactly what his intentions are with her — and he starts taking off her clothes. She tells him to hurry up as she simultaneously makes it harder for him because she keeps trying to hold onto his body. She tells him that she hates that they’ve been fighting, and that she’s sorry for everything — trying to throw a convenient blanket statement over all of the conflict so that she can just get laid already. He tells her he hates that they’ve been fighting, too. As he strips off her pants and her underwear, she tells him that she misses him so much. As she lies naked underneath him, he observes to himself that he wants to slow it down so that he can pore over every inch of her body.

She grabs his hand and puts it on her breast though. She takes her own hand and grabs his erection over his pants, pulling and pushing long strokes up and down as his jaw drops open, as he lets out an agonizing groan because he is fucking useless now. She tells him he feels so good and so substantial in her hand — and he’s warring with himself — because there is never enough time, and he always has to negotiate with himself.

He starts taking off his own clothes. First his shirt, and then his shoes. He leaves his pants for last because she’s feeling him up, and he wants to prolong that for as long as he can. But at some point, he’s undoing his belt as he tells her, “I have so much to say to you, but we need to fuck first. If that’s okay?”

She nods. She pushes him down into the bed, and she says, “You don’t need to tell me twice.” She climbs on top of him. This is actually happening a lot faster than he anticipated. There has been no foreplay. He’s about to say something about that — but then she touches him and grabs ahold of him — softly at first — and then firmly as she navigates him in between her legs. His face runs hot, and he grunts out this pain as his dick gets even harder. She’s ruining him as she whispers, “Why aren’t you fucking me already? It’s like you don’t want to.”

He wants to cry out in frustration — because sex has been coiled up tightly inside of him. He says, “What do you think we’re trying to do, right now?”

It’s actually this loopy sexual frustration that she is seeking out. She loves that someone so normally controlled and stoic and meticulous can get all stupid because of sex. That’s sexy to her. It’s a turn on for her.

It’s a lot of emotion and feeling that floods through her, as she lowers herself. This strangled, keening cry comes out of her throat as she slowly sinks down on him, as that lovely, hot familiar feeling of being connected to him comes back to her. It’s easy because she’s so aroused. She exhales loudly. And then she leans down and jams her face against his and she opens up her mouth. She half focuses on the kiss and half focuses on his fucking penis inside of her body and she doesn’t do a great job of kissing him or fucking him — both things are just raw and distracted and inelegant and rough and both feel so fucking fantastic. His fingers dig into the flesh of her hips and her ass. He’s holding her down so she can’t move. He says, “Shit, hold on,” as he tenses up, as he struggles not to just fucking lose it and come inside her already.

Long seconds pass as they both stay frozen. She’s only obedient because she wants this to last. And then when he says, “Okay,” she grabs onto the headboard for balance as she lifts up, as her knees simultaneously dig into the bed. The stroke is so smooth and devoid of any resistance. It’s just clean friction. She moans right as she bears back down, grinding their pubic bones together when she bottoms out.

She says, “Which one do you like more? Do you like these long ones —” She demonstrates what she’s talking about as he snaps his eyes shut and sinks his head further back into the mattress. “Or do you like this one?” Her hips don’t leaves his body. She just grinds and swirls and feels him moving around inside of her.

“Oh my God,” he says. He currently has no ability to collaborate with her on the fucking sex they are having because it’s been so long and all he can focus on is not losing it inside of her already. “You pick.”

She stops thrusting. “No, baby. I want you to pick.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah.”

“Then the second one!” he snaps.

She resumes. “Why do you like the second one more?”

He groans. He shakes his head. It was truly a random pick. He mutters, “Because it feels good.”

“How does it feel good?”

“Jesus Christ,” he pushes out, helping her even out her thrusts with his hands still on her hips, jamming her down harder and more violently, pushing himself deeper into her. He feels sad and happy and insane as her hips snap against his, so insane that he says, “I can’t do this anymore, Missandei. I just can’t. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

She suddenly stops. At first she thinks he means all of her questions — but the sound of his voice is so tortured and upset. She has this mild PTSD. She’s remembering what it felt like to wake up in his bed alone, to see him dressed and sitting in a chair, to listen to him gravely tell her that they needed to talk — before he told her that having sex with her was a huge mistake.

So when he repeatedly tells her he’s sorry, she actually thinks he means he’s sorry about them — that he’s saying he can’t do their relationship anymore. Her mind fights through the fog — she wonders why not. And then she starts tearing up because it’s like she already knows why not. It’s because she’s high maintenance and too much trouble and he doesn’t love her anymore. The very tail end of that illogical thought is actually just fucking devastating. So she starts crying earnestly.

He’s still inside of her, and his face reflects his panic and his confusion. He tells himself that he honestly cannot do one fucking single thing right anymore with her.

She says, “Why?” She realizes that he’s still inside of her, and she’s so embarrassed and ashamed. So she pulls away, and he comes out of her.

 

 


He looks into her wet eyes, and he just hates himself. He doesn’t even know why he hates himself yet — he just feels it.

“Why are you breaking up with me? What did I do wrong?” she says quietly in a short moment of reflective calm, before her face crumples back up and she starts crying again.

And that makes all the pieces snap into place. He says “What?” And then he says, “No no no,” shaking his head as he simultaneously kisses her swollen lips. His hands start kneading her body because his mouth is occupied. His touch is not gentle, and he’s squeezing her soft smooth body — her butt and her hips and her chest and her cheek as she whimpers, as he says, “God-fucking-dammit,” mostly to himself more than to her.

He flips her over onto her back and just thoughtlessly shoves himself back inside her. She gasps out a short shout. He’s losing his mind. He needs her so badly, and it’s crazy that she even questions it. Things just get really frantic and really desperate after that. He grabs her face and starts uncharacteristically muttering a lot of reassurances about his love for her. His voice goes into her ear as he chases his orgasm. His words makes her cry even though she can barely register or comprehend what he is actually saying because of what his body is doing to hers — but he sounds so heartbreakingly sweet, and it honestly feels like it’s been forever since she’s heard this tone come out of him. She starts tilting her hips to meet his thrusts, sinking her teeth into his shoulder and testing out how much pain he can withstand. She keeps burying these guttural groans into his skin.

He grabs onto her head and rips her teeth from his shoulder because — what the fuck — and he forces her to look at him. He harshly says, “I mean I don’t want to be without you anymore.” It’s almost a terrible thing to admit, that he has become so vulnerable and so codependent and so weak, and he kind of doesn’t care that he’s so weak because he just wants. He says, “I don’t want to do this fucking bullshit where we aren’t together when we’re working anymore.” He shakes his head as the sex continues barreling forward, as his body starts to numb out. He’s getting really close. It’s only been a few scant minutes. He tells her, “Almost, babe. Almost,” with a bit of self-loathing. He says, “Maybe I should just fucking get a new job or something.”

Her eyes widen. She says, “What?” And then he gets in really deep and kind of skims up against her cervix — it twinges and she gasps and digs her nails into his back. She honestly cannot talk to him right now. She can’t have a serious life conversation right now. She squeezes her legs tighter around his body. She starts to grind out, “Yes,” and “Come on,” and “Come inside me, baby,” — the last one making him look at her in this pained disbelief.

His thrusts become spastic, shallow, and erratic right before he orgasms. And when it happens, he forces himself to be very quiet about it — which is not what she wants. She groans as she holds onto his sweaty body tightly, as she just wishes he’d just lose it so completely for once. His eyes are shut tightly and a light flush shadows over his face. He sinks into her deep, one last time before the pleasure peaks and tapers. He’s panting.

She rips herself away from him after he finishes — it’s almost painful to do it. She can smell ejaculation fluid as it drips down her skin into the bed sheets. She shoves him backwards — he’s disoriented and unsure of what’s going on — and then she encases her hand over his sticky, wet, still erect penis. It’s usually not so handily lubricated and slippery like this. And this is another point of comparison — his penis, her clit. She gives him a stroke, pausing at the very top to tightly squeeze the head.

He yelps. His body twists jarringly and his face screws up in extreme discomfort. She watches his response in wonderment. It’s the same! She watches as he groans and says, “Oh my God, what the fuck, Missandei?” as he tries to knock her hand off his body.

She holds on tightly. “Is it sensitive?”

“Yeah, it’s sensitive!” he snaps.

“Interesting.”

“Oh my God, stop!”

She smiles as he tries to squirm out of her grasp. She presses her weight on him to try and hold him down. She’s stroking him roughly now, as he softens, paying extra attention to the tip each time she finds her way back up there. He’s spasming and whimpering out the aching pain, and his tense body is all flushed with ripples of rigid muscle and bone. He kind of looks amazing and beautiful. She imagines that he has got to be ticked off at her — but then he starts to laugh. It’s because he’s suddenly remembering Tyrion’s sex advice. Do shit that feels good. Don’t do shit that doesn’t feel good.

 

 


He groans, satiated and tired, pressing a kiss into her cheek before he rolls over onto his stomach — mostly so she no longer has access to his dick. He reaches over and drags her body up against his. His voice is muffled and low when he says, “That was lovely and a little scary.”

“It was, wasn’t it?” Her hand is running up and down his spine. Then she remembers. Then she smacks him on the butt and says, “You want to quit your job?”

“Huh?”

“You said you were thinking of leaving your job.”

He looks at her, perplexed. “I did? I don’t think so. I love my job.”

She slaps him again. The sound is stinging. “You just said it, not that long ago.”

“During sex?”

“Yeah.”

“You really can’t hold me to the things I say during sex.”

“What!” Missandei straightens up and starts pushing herself into a sitting position. She’s about to rail on him for how ridiculously unfair and also sad that is. Because he also said a bunch of super cute, super romantic things to her during sex — so do they not count either?

Then she catches a glimpse of the flicker on his face, and she realizes that he’s messing with her.

“You’re too easy sometimes,” he says plainly, grabbing her hands, pulling her back down on top of him as he rolls over. “I know all your triggers now.”

“And yet, you still insist on pressing on them,” she says, smiling at him, drawing this aimless pattern on his chest.

“That’s really not all I’d like to press on.”

“Whoa,” she says in awe. Then she exhales. “Damn, baby.” Then her hand drifts back down to his sticky, tacky, soft penis. She cups the whole bundle, along with his balls, as he starts to expand in her hand. It’s so crazy to her, how comfortable she has gotten with him.

He says, “Are we going to sleep at all tonight?”

It’s a leading question. She says, “Do you want to sleep tonight?” as she gets up and climbs back on top of him. He’s actually not quite ready to go again, but she plans to kill time in other ways.

He grabs her hips. He looks up at her. He wryly says, “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna last longer this time around.”

She presses her palms into his chest and she growls out, “God, you’re so hot. That is going to be your fucking undoing. You’re never going to get anything done ever again.” She is completely serious. He really is the sexiest thing on the planet, to her. He is definitely her type. Her type is so specific now.

He actually thinks that she is mocking him, just a touch. He doesn’t care. He thinks she’s funny. He is so in love with her.

 

 


After the second time he comes, after another bout of really enthusiastic, frantic sex — the kind of sex people have when one of them is going off to war — they only have another half an hour before they really start losing the battle against sleep. Half an hour isn’t nearly enough time to even make a dent in all of the things they need to talk about. But he does manage to tell her that it’s been hard on him, the way they’ve been leaving things unresolved. He tells her that they drag the entire production crew down, whenever they get distracted by one another. She tells him that that maybe one way to not be distracted by one another is to fuck each other dirtily, comprehensively, and regularly.

He sleepily says, “Be serious.”

She says, “I am serious.”

He softly says, “I honestly can’t carry on like we have been anymore. I’ve been going mental.” He hugs her tightly to his body. He says, “I’m really sorry for all the times I freaked out and told you that you were smothering me.” He stops short of telling her that maybe he was just trying too hard to be a man, which is fucking comically ironic. He was probably misguidedly confusing self-sufficiency with aloneness. He is probably ridiculously human and inconsistent. There will probably still be days when he pushes her away because she touches him in front of people too much. There will probably be days when he gets all sensitive and insecure because she doesn’t touch him enough.

He’s holding her so tightly that it takes her considerable effort to rip an arm out of his hold. She palms his cheek and cuddles her face up against his. She presses her mouth against his and she says, “We’ll figure it out.” Against his lips, she whispers, “I love that you love me.”

Their conversation had gotten so unexpectedly heavy that she has completely forgotten to tell him that she knows how to orgasm now. Sort of. Maybe.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 


Missandei purposely set the alarm to go off twenty minutes earlier than usual. She’s still half-asleep and woozy as she flips over to shut it off. They are still naked, which is hugely convenient and time-saving. He stirs only slightly in his sleep, groaning a bit as she pushes at his body and gets him to roll over onto his back. She lifts the blanket and pulls it over her head. And then she descends down underneath it. He’s soft and warm — but she finds that he’s still very responsive. He hardens underneath her soft hand, and then against her wet lips. She can still taste herself on him. She can smell herself on him. He’s a little salty. And then she can hear him waking up and groaning softly as she takes him fully into her mouth.

This is actually one thing he’s always wanted to wake up to. That is why he actually thinks he’s dreaming for a bit, until he snaps awake and realizes that it is real and it is happening to him. He goes rigid in bed as his jaw unhinges, and he bites back some sounds. He pushes the blanket off her head. Yep. Yep. He’s not making this up. She is going down on him.

“What the fuck, man?”

His heart is pounding. She orients her face to look up at him, and they make eye contact. He can vaguely recall these complaints he’s had recently about her power-tripping and acting like she owns his dick. He completely does not even currently give one shit about any of that at the moment. He’s too busy trying not to thrust up into her mouth. Men typically have the highest level of testosterone in the morning. Grey is not an exception to this. 

He risks touching her face. He says, “Uh, hi?”

She lifts her mouth off of him with a light pop. She says, “You always look so fucking good first thing in the morning. We’ve got fifteen minutes.”

 

 


It does not occur to her to tell him about her orgasm until she comes back out of the bathroom, after wiping down the remnants of him from in between her legs with wet toilet paper. She walks back into the room and says, “Guess what, baby!”

He doesn’t say anything, not even after he pulls a red shirt on over his head. He’s just looking at her expectantly.

She cracks a smile. “Come on, guess!” she urges excitedly.

He shakes his head. Because he’s no fun sometimes. He says, “Missandei, I’m not going to guess,” frowning slightly at her. “Just tell me.”

She gives him a hint. She says, “It has to do with sex.”

That stirs his interest a little bit more. She dips her hands underneath his shirt and rubs them up and down his stomach and chest as he maneuvers around her and tries to get his pants on. She’s feeling so squishy and happy and sweet on him. She just wants to keep immersing herself in his smell and his warmth and his air and his general whole being.

On his end, he feels a little bit self-conscious — and kind of undeserving of all the attention she’s been lavishing on him, all the nice things she’s been saying to him. It’s a bright day outside, and he winces against the sun as he deflects a little bit. He tells her that he needs his fucking coffee already. He makes the very general observation that they both got a whopping four hours of sleep.

“Yeah,” she says, refusing to play into his Grumpy Gus game. “Because we were fucking.” Her voice is breathy and low. “Each other,” she adds, needlessly clarifying. She is honestly too amped up from all of the sex to get pulled down by his backtracking seriousness. She kind of sticks her tongue out in between the rows of her teeth as she runs her hand over the front of his pants, over his penis, which is soft and — fortunately for him — pretty spent. Then she sucks in a hiss and trails her hand back over his stomach, underneath his shirt, to touch the trail of hair underneath his belly button. She is feeling him so fucking hard right now. “God, baby. Look at you. Oh my God, baby.”

To her, he looks raw, masculine, needy, vulnerable, and actually — just a shade darker in skin tone. Somehow. She just wants to laugh out this giddiness and jump all over him and tell him that they’re going to best friends now. They’re going hang out and do fun stuff together, and she’s also going to fucking ride the shit out of him the next chance she gets.

To him, she is staring him down like she wants to eat him. And it makes him nervous and turned on as he also wants to just give up and throw his hands up in the air and be all like, what the fuck. How the fuck is this his life?

She tilts her face up and she kisses him languidly and thoroughly — like they have all of the time in the world. It would be romantic, if not for the way her tongue is way, way in his mouth. He cradles her face with one hand and he lets himself reciprocate back. She’s honestly just the fucking best thing ever. He is so dead if he ever allows himself to fully feel how he feels for her.

“I had an orgasm!” she announces, once she pulls away.

He blinks. Then he says, “No, you didn’t.”

Which makes her blink. And then she laughs. She grabs onto his hand and squeezes it. She’s a little manic. She’s hopping up and down a little bit on her toes. She says, “Not just now, babe. I meant I think I figured it out. Maybe. In the last day or so.”

“Oh my God.”

 

 


When the elevator doors open and Drogo catches a glimpse of Grey and Missandei pressed up on each other before Grey suddenly ejects himself away from Missandei’s grubby hands and trips his way out of the elevator. Oh, awesome. They banged.

Drogo starts to obnoxiously do a slow clap. He tries to get the entire table in on it — but the rest of them are confused and also lame, and people generally don’t understand how hilarious Drogo is. The last empty seats at the table are on opposite ends. Drogo slides his arm across the back of Grey’s chair, skimming his shoulders as he settles in next to Drogo.

“Good morning, baby,” Drogo says, grinning. “You look well.”

“Jesus, shut the fuck up.”

Drogo lets out a throaty chuckle as Grey flips over his coffee cup and gets it filled up by a passing server.

 

 


Missandei is in the best mood ever, and it’s impossible for everyone not to notice. She agrees and acquiesces to just about everything during the production meeting. When Bronn throws out a joke request — another four thousand for music rights to a pop song that was playing overhead in a cafe, Missandei perks up in surprise — but then she cheerfully says, “Um, huh! Okay. Let me see what I can do with the budget.”

Drogo laughingly screams out, “No, you silly bitch! He is fucking with you!”

She does not even care that Drogo called her a silly bitch. She actually just starts giggling in her seat and shaking her head at herself. She says, “Oh, good one, Bronn! You got me! You’re so funny.”

Bronn counters her laugh with an uneasy one of his own. He laughs this way because he’s actually really charmed by Missandei this morning, and she’s kind of making him blush a little bit.

“Missandei,” Dany says, pressing some fingers into Missy’s bare arm. “Have you sent out those sponsorship emails yet?”

“I sure did! Do you want me to forward you the responses?”

Dany actually doesn’t give much of a shit about the sponsorship emails. She just wants to play around with this upgraded version of Missandei. “No, it’s okay,” she says. “Just curious.”

“I have a spreadsheet that tracks the responses. I’ll send it you.”

“Is it color-coded?”

“Uh, of course it’s color-coded!”

It’s pretty goddamn obvious that Missandei got laid last night, though there’s isn’t one single thing that telegraphs her sexual satisfaction. It’s the convergence of a lot of subtle things — her tousled, slightly wild hair, her ease with her body, the way she keeps biting her lip to stop herself from smiling too hard, the way she keeps not looking at Grey as she keeps sneaking glances at Grey, the general way in which her skin is glowing, the way she is just so freaking friendly with all of them.

Tyrion keeps getting distracted by Missandei’s fucking effervescent happiness, and it makes him a little psycho. He cannot even fucking make himself forget that Grey used to date Sansa. This is why, toward the end of the meeting, with panic and dread and jealousy digging down against his back, Tyrion slowly turns to Grey and shoves out his paranoid pain by saying, “Is your dick made of gold or something?” in front of everyone.

It elicits out this hacking cough from Brienne, who was in the middle of sipping her coffee.

That breaks the whole thing wide open. Drogo starts cracking up, and his loud laughter signals to everyone else that it’s okay to laugh, too. He actually stands up out of his seat and presses a heavy palm into the table, anchoring it down as he raises his other hand in front of Missandei. He says, “Way to get some, stud.”

She’s smiling so widely with all of her teeth exposed — because it’s true! It’s true! She got some. And she’s also very, very touched that Drogo is congratulating her on her sexual conquest like she is one of the guys. She high-fives him with gusto. She has to also get out of her seat for it. She earnestly says, “Thanks, Drogo! Thanks!”

 

 


Dany capitalizes on Missandei’s good mood by asking Missy if she’d like to grab dinner or lunch sometime, after they get back to King’s Landing. Missandei is dodging a motorbike that whizzes by, so she’s distracted as she says sure.

Dany immediately nails down a date, time, and even a restaurant. She even has Missandei update and sync both of their calendars.

 

 


“So, on a scale of one to ten, how pissed are you right now?” Drogo asks, flopping down next to Grey on the ground as he starts unpacking batteries and plugging in chargers.

Grey shrugs.

Drogo lightly shoves him. “Man, come on. She is so fucking happy right now. You did that. Are you kidding me? How can you be so cranky when you’ve made your girl so happy?”

“I don’t know,” Grey says quietly. “My brain is weird. I feel like I’m airing my dirty laundry out in public. It feels . . . so personal.” It’s hard for him to bask in it because he feels like he’s on the cusp of some sort of epic humiliation. He feels yanked around and teased by his own uncontrollable feelings, by his own hopefulness. It’s like when Jenaya, his first girlfriend, told him she was ready to have sex with him. It’s like all the lead up to that, before he went over to her house when her parents weren’t home. It’s like that optimism he had right before he pulled off his pants and gave it a shot with all of his blindness and all of his misguidedness. He couldn’t get it up. And she was young and confused, so she brutally betrayed him and told everyone what had happened.

He knows that Missandei is not like that at all. He knows that Missandei fucking loves him. He knows that Missandei apparently likes the way they have sex. He knows all of these things with his head, and he tries to use these things to try and calm his heart and his body the fuck down. But it’s hard to undo years and years of fear and unhappiness with a day’s worth of victories.

This is something he refrains from telling Drogo — at least right now. They are working.

“Sex is a natural, healthy part of life,” Drogo tells him, simultaneously misreading Grey’s silence and hitting the nail of Grey’s issue right on the head.

Grey looks at Drogo blankly. He says, “Okay.”

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Drogo says passionately. “You shouldn’t be ashamed for wanting it or for liking it. I really mean that. I really believe that.”

“Okay.”

“Man! If you weren’t so goddamn likable, I would fucking punch you in the face for all the times you say okay to me.” Drogo throws his hands up, hitting Grey in the shoulder with one of them. “Man, Missy’s so happy, and she’s currently really awesome to work with — and so everyone is having a really great time today. We are all having fun and just killing it today. We are making the fucking greatest travel show on the fucking planet! We go places other people don’t get to go! We do shit other people can only fucking dream of — or they would if they were anywhere near as fucking creative and courageous like us! You did that all, man! With your fucking dick! Do you know how fucking cool that is!”

“Oh my God,” Grey mutters. “Please stop.”

“Man, own it. Own your piece of the pie. And don’t apologize for it.”

 

 


At the end of the day, he tiredly collapses down into a lawn chair in front of an aqua blue infinity swimming pool. The cushion is thick and smells lightly of bleach, chlorine, and suntan lotion underneath him. The sun is setting and the sky is on fire with tones of pink and orange. This kind of beauty is hard to capture — and its elusiveness makes it extra precious. So he generally lazes about, refrains from getting up and grabbing his camera, and just starts committing the sky to memory.

 

 


It’s the night before they are slated to leave. They all get hammered and overeat. Someone is having a party in the same fancy restaurant and a guy who has to be someone’s drunk uncle walks over to them and starts speaking, giving a toast. Hari struggles to translate — her face is bright red and shiny and her eyes are heavy-lidded. She starts being lazy and giving them cliffnotes. She says that the guy is wishing them safe travels, good luck, and lots of money.

Drogo first pulls Dany onto the makeshift dancefloor. It surprises absolutely nobody, that Drogo is good at dancing and has this natural and sexually charged sense of rhythm. Even Dany seems the slightest bit charmed by his drunken antics.

“Oh, God, they are ridiculously photogenic together,” Brienne mutters, lowering a DSLR down into her lap.

Missandei chuckles.

“What is that even like?”

Missandei laughs again — and then she realizes that Brienne is serious. So Missandei says, “It’s overrated.” She says, “I don’t like looking at pictures of myself.”

“That’s crazy.”

“You’re crazy,” Missandei says. “I think you’re lovely to look at. You’re interesting to look at — and that’s more artful than pretty is.”

“Oh, God,” Brienne mutters.

“Interesting is not a euphemism for something bad,” Missandei insists.

Brienne is uncomfortable with any conversation that revolves around her face or her body, so she purposely shifts the focus back on Missandei. She asks, “Why don’t you like to look at pictures of yourself?”

“I don’t know,” Missandei murmurs, still watching Drogo and Dany. “I feel like I look awkward and dorky in all pictures.”

 

 


Safely hidden in her hotel room, with his suitcase already packed and left by the door, Missandei slowly hitches her jean-clad leg over his hip, digging the heel of her foot into his butt, anchoring his pelvis tighter against hers. It’s been a slow, torturous, and sometimes uncomfortable grind, as they get sweatier and sweatier, as she takes kissing breaks to roughly breathe him in and taste him. She asks him, “Will it always feel this way?” She’s referring to how obsessed and how in love she feels.

“I don’t think so,” he says. He tends to think that he is always the more pragmatic one. He tends to think that he is realistic, rather than pessimistic. “At some point, it probably cools down.”

She frowns. “I don’t like that. I want to love you forever.”

That makes his body warm up and flush. He’s probably a little embarrassed. He’s probably also a little caught off-guard by the words. It’s a really crazy concept. And his current response to it makes him realize that he has been a bit short-sighted in it all. He has mostly just been taking their relationship one day at a time.

She stops squirming underneath him. “Does that scare you, that I said that?”

He exhales. He says, “I’m not sure. I’m trying to figure that out.”

Her smile is a little nervous, but she valiantly pushes on past all of the old insecurities anyway. She runs her hands up his back, kneading the muscle there, giving him an impromptu massage. They always are so good at the hot, desperate, no-tomorrow kind of sex that they have. They are not as practiced as this slower pace, reflective, and deliberate kind of intimacy. They both manage to be just constantly self-conscious and uneasy in it.

“Where do you see this going?” she says, with her heart beating in her throat. “Like, do you see us just traveling the world and making a TV show indefinitely? Or do you see something else?”

“I don’t know,” he says honestly. “I haven’t really thought about it.”

“Oh, okay.”

 

 


At a point, he’s just so fucking tired of being such a fucking disappointment to her — so he decides to give them both a break from it. He takes off most of the rest of her clothes, and he pushes away the distractions bouncing around in his head — stuff about his parents and his childhood and also all of these terrible thoughts he actually has about Missandei and about losing her due to all of his inabilities and all of his shortcomings. He has advanced way farther with her than he ever expected. He kind of more or less expected to leave this job brokenhearted like Daario did. He kind of oriented most of his mental efforts in preparation of that. He honestly didn’t expect he’d get this far — that he’d be dealing with a woman who really, really wants him to stick around.

He’s distracted, even as he captures her wrists and pushes them into the mattress above her head with one hand. It causes her chest to arch. He lowers his face and licks a line down her right breast, over her nipple. It makes her breathing hitch. He says, “You like that.” He’s been trying to stockpile all of this sex information about her. “Which part do you like? The part where I’m holding you down or the licking?”

He sounds so blase and casual that it makes her want to laugh. Instead, she smiles at up him sweetly and she says, “Both. I’m a creepster. I like it when men hold me down.”

He lightly chuckles. The distractions are quieting now. His body is taking over now. His pants are getting too tight and uncomfortable, so he reaches down to undo the button and unzip himself. It’s completely a perfunctory action — but her eyes follow his actions and she starts breathing heavily. She starts trying to rub her legs together.

She says, “I can’t wait to be home. I can’t wait until the days when we don’t have an early wake up call. We can just spend hours fucking.”

“Hours, huh?”

His other hand is dipping into her underwear. Their flight is at eight in the morning. They have to be at the airport by six. It’s forty minutes to get there. They have to wake up by five. It’s already past midnight. It took her — seriouslyforever — to achieve the one orgasm.

She squeezes her thighs around his hand, and she says, “Baby, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not ready for that, yet.”

He pauses. “Okay.”

“It’s just — I want to actually know what I’m doing before I teach you.”

“Oh, okay,” he says, pulling his hand out.

“Are you mad?”

That’s when his blank face twists into a frown. He says, “Mad? Why would I be mad?”

They both simultaneously realize that she was speaking out her own sexual baggage.

Grey says, “What a fucking asshole.”

“He was a nice guy,” she says, still so prone to defending Jared.

“I don’t want to talk about him anymore,” he says.

“Okay.”

 

 


All of the seriousness is just making the sex go terribly sideways and awkward — and time is ticking by, so they both just revert and retreat into their safe places. She drops her voice and starts shuffling down the bed real quick so she can grab his ass and suck his half-hard dick into her mouth. It expands immediately, and he’s groaning and digging his fingers into her hair as he mutters that he’s sorry for fucking up her beautiful hair but her mouth is just fucking killing him.

She gives him a few licks, coating him with her spit before she climbs back up, flips onto her back, and grabs his body, pulling him in between her legs. She tells him she needs him. He tells her that she is so fucking fine. It’s a bit of a rough push to get him inside of her because she is a little dry — which is a little troubling to him — but the spit from her mouth has helped things — that’s why she did it — and after he’s in and after she gets used to the extra mass in her body — after he experimentally withdraws a little bit and pushes back in — it is smooth and it is good.

She tells him to go faster and harder — egging him on to finish already. She says it mostly because she worries that he’s been so sleep deprived — it can’t be healthy for him. She also says it because she fucking loves the sound of skin against skin. She loves the grunts of effort that come out of him. She loves his swollen face, which is always in such disbelief — like he can’t believe that she is letting him fuck her. She runs her hands all over his body and she forces him to kiss her as he fucks her — and it lasts a few short seconds before he rips himself away and just agonizes over the feel of her tight, wet body. She’s a little more vocal than usual. He fucking loves it. It does great things for his ego.

After he comes, he just collapses on top of her, burying her. It makes her laugh as she presses kisses into his cheek and runs her nails over his scalp. He laughs as he lifts off of her a little bit, and he says, “Thanks for always letting me have one-sided sex with you.”

“Don’t mention it, baby,” she says coyly. “You’re very welcome for all of the one-sided sex.”

“God, I owe you one,” he mumbles. “Or a million. Probably a million.”

And then more seriously, she says, “We don’t need a score sheet.”

He completely disagrees. Also more seriously, he says, “Can I watch you masturbate when we get back home?”

She rolls over so she can shove her embarrassed whine into a pillow. Then she says, “Okay.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

The alarm on Missandei’s phone keeps blaring and blaring and beside him, she keeps groaning and mumbling, fighting sleep. He realizes she’s not going to turn off the alarm, so he rolls over in the cocoon of warmth, shoves his armpit into her face, and swipes blindly at her phone until the noise stops.

They continue sleeping for another ten minutes, with his body spooning her back and his face buried in her hair — until she just magically and suddenly springs up, awake, and says, “Oh my God, we’re gonna be late!”

 

 


The trip to the airport is a rushed, exhausting whirlwind. She’s typically never late to things, but lately, she’s always been one of the last people to show up to meetings or really — the very last person. On the long drive to the airport, she gets teased about it. She’s all bundled up, prepared for the airplane’s cold circulating air, wearing soft yoga pants and an oversized knitted cardigan, as Drogo pokes at her and asks her why she overslept. Grey is within earshot, as Missandei purposely lets herself sound whiny and girly — this is a tone that Drogo weirdly responds to, probably because of all of his sisters — and she says, “Stop ittt!” as she bats his poking finger away. “I am trying to beat jetlaggg!”

“Surrre,” he says.

 

 


Missandei’s good mood persists. She shares a lot of her food — not that she usually doesn’t — but today she acts like each crumb of bread is a miracle of life and she’s giddy whenever she says, “You have got to try this!” and shoves calories into other people’s faces.

Drogo has told her, “It’s fucking airport food.”

She spends some long minutes in the terminal avidly listening to Pod talk about his girl troubles — the fact that women don’t ever really see him as a viable option, the fact that he’s not anyone’s first pick. Missandei rests her hand on his forearm and asks him what kind of girl he is looking to date. He tells her he already has a crush on someone — he is prone to crushes — it’s a girl he met through friends. She’s an avid hiker, and she is really outgoing and friendly and fun. All of her traits — as relayed through Pod — sound bland and rather nondescript, probably because Pod has not known the girl for very long before deciding to have a crush on her. Missandei is too nice and to point this out to Pod. She’s in the middle of suggesting that he just become friends with her and spend more time with her. Find common activities and do them. Talk to each other and learn things about each other.

That’s when Drogo breaks in and frustratingly shoves out his careless bullshit. He suggests playing mind games. He says stuff like, “Don’t lay it all out on the table right away. Be a little mysterious. Build some anticipation. Ignore her sometimes. Make her think that you have a busy, exciting life, and that maybe you’re too busy with other women to text her back.”

“Are you serious?” Missy says. “That is terrible advice.”

“He’s gonna get friendzoned so hard with what you’re telling him to do, Missy.”

The rest of the conversation completely devolves from there. Drogo starts pulling in the other guys, trying to get them to chime in their two cents. Sandor peaces out right away because he thinks Drogo is a frivolous idiot sometimes, and Hodor has been married to his wife forever, so his thoughts are entirely too romantic and too out of touch with reality. All Grey is good for with these things is decoration. He stands around and adds to the body count. Missandei is not like Drogo — so bold in conviction. Missandei sees Dany and Brienne engrossed in a conversation together and she feels so fucking lame and awkward over the prospect of ruining their conversation so that they can come over and back her up against Drogo’s bullshit.

Naturally, Drogo takes it upon himself to recap the set-up, and he does it in an entirely unfair way that stacks the deck in his favor. Jaime, Bronn, and Tyrion — who specifically can barely muster up enough interest in the conversation — generally back Drogo up, based on how he framed the question, which is whether Pod will get friendzoned so hard with Missandei’s entire schtick.

She groans. “Oh my God, it’s not a schtick. It’s not a game. It’s just how you get to know a person.”

Drogo says, “Babe, no offense, but you’re a hot girl.”

She looks back at him blankly. She doesn’t respond yet because she knows it’s coming. She knows him so well now. She knows this is a neg.

“So you don’t actually have to work very hard to get with anyone. You can walk down the street and there will be a dozen guys who are ready to have sex with you, right away.” In front of everyone, he tells her that the way their world works is that women are pursued and men are the pursuers. He tells her that he can’t change how the world works — it’s just how it is. He tells her that she happens to be worth a very high value, so every time she is so charmed that some handsome guy has taken an interest in her life, there are at least twenty other guys that she has completely ignored, who also want to fucking sit there and stare at her hot body and her pretty face, as she tells them about her hopes and dreams. That is why most guys, about eighty percent, need an extra edge. Not all of them can be a Grey. Most are Pods.

Missandei refrains from pointing out that she had to basically fucking beg Grey to give her a chance — she was the pursuer there. But she doesn’t point it out because she figures that it’s neither here nor there.

Pod is young, and he is impressionable. Drogo’s social capital and his charisma is sometimes immense. Pod also has these memories of having that little puppy crush on Missandei, and her not realizing he even existed at all. So to Pod, everything that Drogo is saying sounds completely accurate and correct.

To her credit, Missandei doesn’t burst into tears in front of them — which is what she may have done if she was five years younger — well, hell — even if this had happened a year ago, she might’ve burst into tears privately in a bathroom stall somewhere. At a point, she realizes that Bronn looks too amused by this conversation, and thus, not that emotionally invested in it. None of them actually look very emotionally invested. This is just a fun what-if debate to them. She realizes — not for the first time — that she feels in a way that is disproportionate to everyone else. And it is a losing prospect. So she leans back in her slippery airport chair, and she just shrugs and tells Pod to just do what the fuck ever he wants. See what happens. It sounds like sour grapes and like she is admitting defeat. And whatever. It is what it is.

She worries that Drogo — that fucking single-forever wonder — might probably be right when it comes to the short term, when it comes to sex. Maybe everyone was talking about sex, and she was dumb and talking about a relationship.

 

 


“Thanks for backing me up there, dude,” Missandei says dully, refilling her water bottle at a drinking fountain with Grey standing close by, near the restrooms.

“Which part did you want me to dispute?” he says, purposely too casually. “The part where you’re a hot piece or the part where there are a bunch of guys constantly trying to get into your pants?”

“So you agree with him,” she says flatly.

“No, I don’t agree with him at all,” he says. “But since when do you want me to shove myself into a conversation to defend your honor?”

“It’s not about that. It’s about not spreading around bullshit misinformation.”

“Why do you care so much about whether Pod gets laid or not?”

She looks at his face. She says, “Sometimes, I really don’t think you understand what it’s like constantly be in this environment, to constantly be outnumbered, outvoted, and talked over.”

He refrains from telling her that he actually knows exactly what that’s fucking like. Instead, he says, “It’s fucking Drogo, Missandei. He says crazy shit all the time. Why do you let him get to you? Just ignore him. That’s what I do sometimes. It’s less stressful.”

“Sometimes, I want to get stressed out,” she says urgently. “Sometimes, there are things that matter and are worth speaking up about.”

“Whether or not Pod gets laid is one of those things you need to take a stand on?” he says sarcastically.

“You are not getting this,” she says, looking back at him, feeling inordinately emotional about this. She feels disappointed in him. Maybe for the first time since they’ve gotten together. “You are not getting this at all.”

 

 


When they are back in King’s Landing, it’s the middle of the afternoon and she’s exhausted. She didn’t get very much sleep on the plane, so it feels like she’s been awake for a whole day. She has to hold off on sleeping for another six hours or so. Her heart is beating hard in her chest because her body is just deteriorating — as she watches the baggage carousel for her suitcase.

She doesn’t get a chance to awkwardly fight with the conveyor belt and her luggage as her coworkers laugh at her antics — because Grey spots her suitcase before she does and yanks it off the belt for her. He’s actually been feeling pretty shitty about their latest fight — both because of the actual content of the fight itself and the fact that it is the fucking latest in a fucking longass line of fucking arguments.

“Thank you,” she says quietly, taking the handle from him.

He hesitates. They had plans for her to go back to his place with him after getting home — because he lives closer to the airport and he’s closer to the city center. They were talking about grabbing a bite together later. He doesn’t know if she’s still coming over — because of the fight.

Missandei is actually also conflicted over the same thing. She asks, “Do you still want me to come over? I don’t have to. We can spend some time apart.”

His heart is just throbbing in his chest. They’ve already spent sixteen hours on a plane and ten hours on a layover apart. He says, “It’s up to you,” because he is a fucking chickenshit coward. “Whatever you want.”

“Okay,” she says slowly. “I guess I’ll come over.”

 

 


He runs his hands nervously up and down his jeans, as she showers in his bathroom. It’s only three in the afternoon. They are both exhausted as hell. They had these really optimistic plans at one point, to get ahead of jetlag by holing up in his place and having a lot of sex with each other. He supposes that his stupid mouth kind of messed that up.

She’s kind of dressed — in a bra and her panties — as she exits his bathroom, patting her hair dry with a towel. His place is tiny and there’s nowhere for her to go except to his bed, which she does go to. She flops down on top of it with this familiarity now, and it just makes his chest ache as he watches her wrap up her hair real quick before she picks up her phone and starts scrolling through it. Her knees are swinging back and forth. Her smooth legs are bent, and her feet are rubbing themselves into his sheets.

“Oh, God,” she mutters, reading something on her phone. “The network has some fucking notes on the latest cut of Mantarys ep. Fucking shit, I can’t read this shit right now. That fucking ep is probably going to get delayed — again.”

 

 


It’s pretty classic, but he beats off in the shower — as she hangs out in the other room, probably none the wiser. It’s just that he’s having a hard time focusing on the stuff that is coming out of her mouth — the stuff she is saying to him — because she keeps insisting on not putting her clothes on. She insists on rolling around in his bed, carelessly taking up too much space with her limbs and her body. He orgasms kind of painfully and roughly — it’s actually pretty nice. He has to bury his face into his forearm.

When he comes back into the room, the towel is off her head and her suitcase is unzipped and burrowed into. She’s still not dressed, but she has already worked some product into her hair, which is air-drying into her signature curls. She is lying down on his bed and is casually reading one of his books that she found on the floor. A biography of Ornette Coleman and the history of free jazz. It is three-forty. Time is moving by lightning fast. And by that, he means that he is completely fucked.

When she notices him staring, she doesn’t lift her eyes from the book. She says, “You nerd,” referring to the book.

He’s so loopy and sleep-deprived that he can’t tell if she’s insulting him or if she’s complimenting him. He doesn’t know where he’s supposed to put his body. His eyes are dry, and he honestly just wants to sleep so badly. He wants to sleep with her. He thinks back to the last morning, curled up around her awesome body — and how awesome that was. That was a fucking awesome moment in time — before it all went back to shit.

“What time is it?”

“Three-forty-one.”

“Boo.”

“Yeah, we’re fucked.”

 

 


They decide to go get some real food — it would kill at least two hours. She has to pull on clothes for that — and he’s grateful and a little sad about it. She also leans heavily against him as they wait for the train on the platform. He takes it to mean that she is less angry with him — so he risks it and slides an arm around her waist. It makes her curl into a hug. It makes her sleepily snuggle into him as they continue waiting for the train.

“You smell so yummy,” she murmurs, rubbing her nose into his neck.

 

 


“Dude,” he finally says over a bowl of rice and raw fish, finally exploding from all of the pressure. “I’m sorry.”

“Huh?” she says, her face lightly screwed up in confusion. “For what?”

“For not backing you up at the airport.”

It takes a beat before recognition dawns on her. She vaguely says, “Oh.” Then she says, “It’s okay. I’m over it. And you were right. You shouldn’t have to back me up. I’m a big girl. I should fight my own battles against fucking sexism.” She spits out the last part a little violently — some rice shoots out of her mouth — which she sees — which makes her laugh a little bit at herself. She is the fucking most adorable thing in the world to him sometimes.

“It’s just that I’m so fucking bad at that sort of stuff,” he says.

“What stuff?”

“At speaking up.”

She looks down at her food. Because she’s not entirely sure this is a trait that she is attracted to. And she’s also so, so tired. She says, “Oh.” She’s not sure she currently has the capacity to hash this out. He’s so comparatively lively. Her brain is so fuzzy. She’s kind of just blindly honest, as she says, “Sometimes I feel so sad and so alone in it all. I mean, I know Dany gets it — but Dany is the big boss, so it’s different for her. Sometimes, I feel like no one listens to me and no one cares what I think and they don’t think I’m funny even though I’m probably funnier than all of you guys combined.” She looks entirely serious as she says this. She stares into his face and she says, “Sometimes Drogo says terribly corny stuff. Like, he just makes sound effects or he’s just yelling out words. Like, last night, Bronn was telling Drogo that he was so hilarious — and I was just sitting there wondering if I am crazy, because Drogo was not even funny at that moment. And everyone always just congratulates Drogo on how great he is at impressions. And I know I’m just obsessively harping on this like a psycho, but I really don’t think he’s that good at impressions. Like, all he does is make himself tits and then that’s it. He is every woman who has ever existed. I just don’t think it’s funny. But am I crazy? Am I fucking crazy? Sometimes I think I’m being gaslighted by all of you guys. I don’t know what’s up or down sometimes.” She sighs tiredly. “I don’t think men should have to come up with methods to fucking trick a woman into sleeping with them — but what do I know?” She suddenly slams her hand down on the table, startling Grey and also a few people around them. “But what do I know!” she shouts.

 

 


It’s six o’clock, and she is actually snoozing against his shoulder on the train. He doesn’t have the heart to prod her awake — and he rationalizes that it’s just ten more minutes.

He takes her hand — warm and soft and pliant — and he squeezes it in between his. She doesn’t wake up — she actually responds by slowly closing her fingers around his palm. He generally never feels that big — that tall or that large or that substantial — but he observes that her hand looks just tiny in his.

When it’s their stop, he learns that he has waited too long before waking her up. Getting her alert and going is a messy endeavor. He’s shaking her as he simultaneously yanks her up and drags her off the train — she’s mumbling and disoriented, but her feet work.

 

 


She says, “Oh, God, I’m so tired, but I want to do this so badly,” as she sluggishly and slowly takes off her shirt. His hands smooth down her back as she kind of giggles like a loon and asks him, “Have you ever fallen asleep during sex before?”

He says, “No. Not even close.” He’s always been panicked and anxious and scared out of his mind. Or he’s been on that autopilot of primal need and desperation.

“Okay,” Missandei whispers. “So don’t get your feelings hurt if it accidentally happens tonight.” Her eyes are barely open as she smiles down at him — as she takes off her bra. She carelessly touches herself a little bit — her hand squeezes her breast as her eyes shut, as she lets out a soft hum — which shoots straight to his fucking dick and balls. She continues to be the most beautiful person he has ever seen.

It occurs to him to tell her this. He chokes on the words. He says, “God, you are so fucking beautiful,” as he reaches up to cup her other breast.

The sex is slow and languid — it’s probably the slowest they’ve ever done this. She gets on top of him because — she says — she loves looking at the changing expressions on his face. She experiments around, shifting her weight, changing where she puts her hands, changing the angle, changing the stroke, occasionally squeezing her kegels and asking him if he can feel it. He faithfully says that he can definitely feel it. She squeezes down tight as she slowing sinks back down on him. It makes him break out into a sweat — the bed is getting so damp — as he reaches up to grab her breasts and push them together with his hands.

She asks him about men and their obsession with breasts. She asks, “What is it about them that you like so much?”

He runs his thumbs over her nipples, making her jerk, making him bounce and thrust up deeper inside her. He says, “God, just look at them. Look at you.”

She smiles down at him, her face so soft and so sweet and so open. She leans to kiss him — the sex becomes this shallow, grinding thing — and she quietly asks him what sex feels like for him. She smears the entire front of her body against his — he gasps — and she asks, “How does it feel when I do that?”

“Oh my God, it just feels good.”

“You’re a man of few words,” she says, laughing. “I get that.”

“I just can’t think of much when I’m inside of you,” he confesses, grabbing onto her hips and lifting her up because she has gotten distracted and she has slowed down — and then he drops her down. The glide is slick and tight and warm and it feels amazing. He does it again.

She says, “God, that’s hot.” Then she says, “I like it when you do that — when you basically use my body to jack yourself off.” She laughs softly.

He frowns. “I don’t like it when you say stuff like that. It makes me mad at myself.”

“Oh, baby,” she says, closing the distance between them again, pressing a kiss to his mouth. “I don’t mean it in a bastardly way. I mean I like that you want me so much.”

“I want you so much,” he says, nodding.

“Like, a lot.”

“Like, it’s pretty gross sometimes.”

“I’m into it.”

“That’s why we work.”

“Keep masturbating using my body, baby.”

He laughs at that, accidentally letting her slip in his hands. She falls neatly down and her clit gets squished in between his pelvis and her pelvis — and it gives her a really nice tingle. She bites down on her bottom lip — she glances at his clock. It’s seven-thirty.

She experimentally reaches in between them to look for her clit. It’s a mess down there — really wet and slippery and she knows that it has got to be all her — it’s beyond what occurs when she’s going solo. She touches herself. It’s nice. It’s feels good. It’s also different — maybe a little bit more blocked because of his fucking hard dick inside of her. It’s so crazy that this is her life.

He is so into it. He is watching her like she’s a wildebeest or something and he’s a lion in the plains. He’s trying so hard not to spook her.

She catches him watching her.

He says, “What do you need from me?”

She squeezes one eye shut, maybe in a kind of sexy wink as she thinks it out. She says, “Just stay still. Let me see if I can make this happen with your penis inside my body. Don’t move, okay?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


After less than a minute of awkwardly rubbing herself down as he watches with interest, she freaks out with self-consciousness because she feels so unsexy. She manages to feel very matronly as she straddles him, naked as hell, with his dick chilling inside of her body. That is quite a feat.

So she tells him that it’s too difficult — the setup is too constrained, with his stuff mashed into hers. And then there’s also his fucking face, which is staring at her too hard. She is crumbling under the weight of his expectations. Her clit is too numb and too nervous.

He doesn’t get much of a chance to respond to her before she lifts up and drops him from her vagina. He’s still painfully erect, and he isn’t sure what is going on, as she collapses next to him on the bed, with her back to him.

He’s about to ask her if they’re just going to sleep now, with his fucking hard-on in between them — but then her hand reaches around and touches his wet dick, patting it so she knows where it is. He dumbly watches as she shifts around and shimmies her butt backwards, toward his dick, which is pointed right at her like it knows what it wants. He tells himself oh shit as she grabs onto him and rubs him right back into the cradle of her warm entrance. He tells himself oh shit and also that he better not fuck up this prime opportunity, as he slowly pushes himself back into her.

When the cushion of her ass stops him, he pushes just a little more because there’s a little give to it. It makes her moan, and it rattles him in a good way. It makes him freeze as he digs his fingers into her bottom. He says, “Holy shit. Holy shit. I’m going to fucking die now. Holy shit. Oh my God, you feel fucking great!” He grunts. And then his hand drifts around to run over her soft front — her soft breasts and her soft stomach and back to her breasts. She’s not wrong. He does kind of have a one-track mind sometimes. His heart is just slamming in his chest and he is just really, really wide awake now. He can’t wait to just pound the shit out of her ass. There is just something about it. There is just something about it th