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Don't Stretch Your Luck

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“Uhm, I beg your pardon, but could you please repeat that another time? I fear I didn’t quite catch that.”

“Yoga.”

Brienne bites her lower lip, sitting up a little straighter on the uncomfortable wooden office chair. Maybe she shouldn’t have listened to Margaery when she offered her advice over coffee and gossip Brienne never had any interest in anyway.

She recommended this private practice to her after Brienne asked her if she knew any clinics around King’s Landing, insisting to the tall woman’s hesitant questioning that it enjoys the best of reputations, and that while Margaery hasn’t been there yet, she only heard the best from her friends, urging Brienne to “give it a try!”

And Brienne, perhaps rather foolishly in the retrospective, dared to trust the young woman’s judgment, since she hadn’t found herself a new physician of trust ever since she relocated to King’s Landing. Margaery knows all and sundry, after all, clearly taking after her grandmother Olenna.

So why not the all and sundry of the health department, right? Well, that was what Brienne told herself when she followed Margaery’s advice, checked out the admittedly fancy website full of bright colors, well-arranged photographs of the practice and the staff, and made an appointment soon thereafter.

The fact that the practice even had good reviews on Master of Whisperers, an internet website hosted by Varys, allowing for reviews on all kinds of things, reaching from taverns over ferries across the Narrow Sea to hospital and private practices, added to her reassurance that this was the right choice.

Though seemingly, it’s not.

Because sitting in the doctor’s office now makes Brienne want to take a leave for it, right now. Through the window if she must.

She has had the displeasure of encountering some many weird doctors over the years, but Brienne cannot say that any of them managed to catch her off-guard as much as this seasoned, tall, tanned man with gray hairs and rectangular glasses did just now.

“You mean to tell me that the only treatment option for my backpains is… yoga?” Brienne asks, still not quite believing what she just heard, or rather, still daring to hope that she misheard.

She suffered through that man with beer-gut probing at her aching back for ten minutes, repeatedly asking her if that spot hurt which she had said “yes” to each time, only for him to probe at just that spot again and repeat the process to the point that Brienne was short before throwing a tantrum.  

Brienne even suffered through the embarrassment of having to undress in front of that guy – because he is a professional, and surely not interested in her by any means, no one really is – but Brienne has that embarrassment so deeply ingrained into her system that she still breaks out in cold sweat when she is getting told to strip and lie down on the stomach at any doctor’s practice.

And that guy was not at all helping it!

And all that probing, which stood at the end of a strenuous journey full of waiting in stuffy, sticky waiting rooms, x-rays, blood tests with a pretty and sweet if inexperienced nurse who seemingly thought Brienne’s arm was a pincushion… for nothing. Or no, for that grand piece of advice right there. Hey, how about we do yoga instead of… treating your problems properly!  

“It’s not the only one, but it’d be a good start. I have had quite a few patients who managed to reduce pain through specific yoga exercises. I would rather recommend you to try out alternative ways of treatment before considering medication or surgery, knowing the risks and side effects coming with either one.”

Brienne licks her lips. Maybe she should have waited with the doctor’s appointment until next vacation back on Tarth. That physician knows her at least. While he isn’t really any less annoying, he knows her and her body by now, and doesn’t get funny with her anymore. She can deal with that guy. Brienne is not yet sure if she is ready to deal with the man right in front of her, however.

But then again, her back was killing her lately, and Brienne doesn’t know if she would make it through the flight over to Tarth in one piece. So perhaps she will have to. Which, apparently, seems to be the case for any physician she met up until now – she just suffers through them all.

“Well, it may apply to most people that they are untrained and that this leads to back pains, I am aware, but I can assure you that this is not the case for me. I am a very athletic person,” Brienne goes on to explain, though she can’t help but disappointed that he doesn’t seem to gather that from her reports. “I go jogging, I go to the gym for weight training and martial arts, I actually work exactly on building up back muscles to help gain more support for my back. I do fencing, swimming… like… with all due respect, a lack of training will hardly be the main problem here.”

“Oh no, most definitely not. But what I noticed is that you are rather… stiff,” the doctor tells her, waving his blue pen around as though it was a magical wand, as it appears.

Well, of course I am, as hard as you kept probing at the one spot that hurts! Brienne wants to retort, but does not. She has manners, after all, yet another thing deeply ingrained into her system. She doesn’t yell at people, even less at doctors.

Unless they deserve it, obviously.  

Not that this helps her frustration with those people in any significant way, but Brienne has always been an advocate of good manners, no matter her wish to strangle some many people. No matter how old-fashioned that may be, she actually gives something on chivalry, the old codices, and that includes being polite to people, even when you would rather not.

Brienne runs her tongue over her lips, clenching and unclenching her wrists underneath the table as she goes on to ask, “Is it possible that you elaborated on this a bit further, please?”

The doctor gives her an appreciative sort of smile that has her convinced that he has no clue that Brienne is apparently very frustrated right at this moment and would rather not have him elaborate on much of anything.

Thus, he goes on to explain, swinging his magical pen around in-tune with his speaking rhythm, “You have a lot of tension in your body, to say the least. And that is what makes me believe that yoga will work miracles for you. Yoga will help you ease the tension that seems to only increase your backpains, I believe.”

Miracles.

The last time someone told Brienne that he could work miracles was when that certain someone wanted to convince her that he was exceptional in bed and would “rock her world.” Needless to mention that this guy earned himself anything but a cozy time – if at all, Brienne rocked his world as she shattered it. There are boundaries even to her patience and politeness after all.

“There is no doubt that you suffer through them thanks to your height,” the doctor adds.

Brienne bites the inside of her cheek hard enough to get a faint taste of copper.

Oh, so at least you recognize that I have these pains that make me want to cry at least once a day, the only thing preventing me from it being that I look even uglier when I cry! Thank you!

Brienne rolls her shoulders. She can already feel a new wave of pain about to crush – and she tends to blame that doctor for it right at this moment.

“As I gathered from your medical records, you already had them as a teenager, following your first growth spurt,” the physician with graying hair goes on to say, lazily turning the same damned page of the folder containing her medical records back and forth. As though that made it appear like he read that report in all earnest prior to shaking hands with her.

“Yes, exactly. I have had medication, which did not work at all too greatly for me. So I started to do more sports,” Brienne says, trying her best to keep her voice even.

As it says in the report… why am I having small-talk instead of discussing how you think yoga is the solution to all of my problems?!

“One could almost say excessively so,” the doctor continues, making Brienne frown at him. “I mean no offense, Miss Tarth, but that is quite an ambitious schedule for a young woman like you.”

“I have been in contact with my doctor on Tarth the whole time, and he said it’d be fine,” she insists.

“Yeah, no, I am just surprised that a young woman is so extreme about sports. Aren’t you afraid to turn into a fully fleshed bodybuilder at that rate?” the physician laughs, starting to turn the page over and over again to the point that Brienne wants to snatch the thing from him and never give it back.

Or smack him with it.

“I wanted to get rid of the pains, and for a time, sports helped,” Brienne replies, barely moving her lips apart as she speaks. “And as I said, I did so in accordance with my doctor back home. He even encouraged me to work on my fitness particularly in those areas.”

Deep down, Brienne knows that she shouldn’t even get that upset about it as she does right at this moment. Deep down she knows that it's not worth it, that he is not worth it, that his comments aren’t.

It’s not like she didn’t have it before that doctors were to busy glancing at the folders before them, their computers, or make the same comments and jokes every doctor seems to learn on some symposium or so.

Nevertheless, it drives Brienne nearly insane that she always gets the same comments, about how queer it is how excessive she is about sport, as a woman, or was as a young girl, the implication clearly being that she is something queer, something that doesn’t fit, doesn’t belong.

As though their blinking and glancing upon her entering the room was not proof enough of that already.

As to sports, Brienne hoped that this would solve her problems without the need of having physicians prod at her for nothing. And for a time, it really seemed like the cure. The waves of pain were gone, and Brienne started to feel confident in her moves, once she learned even better to ignore people’s comments and cutting glances.

However, then she started at the office. That in turn meant office chairs, sitting in meetings for long periods of time, and having to reduce sports to after work or the weekends. And suddenly, the waves were back, leaving Brienne wanting to scream as they pulled her underwater.

Maybe I should have pursued a professional fencing career after all instead of joining business management. Perhaps that would have saved me from the backpains after all, Brienne thinks to herself.

“Yeah, getting back pains thanks to office routines is far from uncommon. You’d have no idea how many of my patients suffer from just those conditions.”

Brienne offers a crooked smile, nodding her head.

She probably could make a good guess, even, because Brienne read up on recent studies concerning the effects of office routines on backpains in some articles she found online prior to this appointment.

Brienne rather walks into a situation prepared, after all.

“And for them, yoga does the trick?” she asks, trying her best to keep that edge of sarcasm out of her voice.

“Not all, but for some, it works out really great. And for you, it wouldn’t be normal yoga. It’d be specialized yoga.”

“The difference being what exactly?”

“The medical yoga training is tailored to specific needs. So you would get help to ease particularly those areas of the body that keep giving you trouble. I don't mean to say that this will be the ultimate cure, but it’s something we should perhaps try out first before taking more drastic measurements. I assume you don’t want to be back on medication, or Gods may help, surgery, so long you can help it.”

“Most definitely. I would rather do without,” Brienne agrees.

Finally we are on the same page on something!

“I mean, if you cannot bring yourself to consider it, we may also go with another therapy option. I just really think this would work greatly for you, Ms. Tarth.”

Brienne sucks her lower lip into her mouth.  

Just because she is annoyed at the man in front of her should not override common sense, right? Maybe there is something true to that evaluation anyway, even if his meager attempt of adding gravitas to his words with the swing of his blue pen really doesn’t do him any favors.

“So… is there anyone you can recommend?” Brienne sighs at last, not quite believing herself to give in like that, because if there is one thing true about her, then it is that Brienne of Tarth does not yield.

The doctor beams at her, seemingly overly satisfied for having convinced her of his plans at last. “Yes, in fact. An expert, one could say. Helped many of my patients to work through their pains, particularly backpains.”

Brienne cocks an eyebrow at him.

An expert in yoga? Right.

“I will give you the address for the gym along with the phone number. You can either join the group sessions or schedule single sessions. Whichever you prefer.”

Brienne grimaces pensively. Neither option sounds very promising in her humble opinion.

Group sessions mean that she will have to do gymnastics of some sort in front of other people who are likely far better at this, and look far better in sports clothes.

Being one-on-one with some yoga trainer seems no more promising, however. If it’s one of those celery-eating chicks who wear tight neon-colored sportswear on any occasion with bouncy ponytail and bubbly personality, Brienne is sure that not a single muscle is going to ease under that lady’s ministration, no matter her efforts, now genuine or not.

And if it is one of those laid-back, weed-smoking, shaggy-haired yogis with psychedelic patterned harem pants, Brienne is most certain that she will back out instantly and never come back to that gym in a lifetime.

She draws the line at psychedelic patterned harem pants.

“I will… think about it, thank you,” Brienne concludes. The doctor gives her a bright smile as he starts to scribble the data in question on a sticky note, seemingly happy to have managed to convince her. Which leaves Brienne wondering if he is going to parade himself while chatting with his colleagues at the practice, sipping coffee from his “Best Doctor in the World” mug set up on the table for all to see.

She wouldn’t put it past him, that’s for sure.

“Here you go,” the gray-haired man says as he hands the note over to her. Brienne takes it, offering a crooked smile. “Thank you very much for the… consultation. I will let you know how I decided.”

She gathers her bag and last shreds of whatever dignity remained, getting ready to leave.

“Then I will see you around, Miss Tarth. Hopefully a bit less tensed,” the doctor tells her, winking at Brienne, expecting her to laugh at his little joke (not that she didn’t hear it before, like, ten times). She curls her lips upwards in what Brienne hopes to come across as a passable enough smile so not to offend the man.

Brienne gets up from the chair giving her even more backpains at once, though she ignores it all in favor of getting the Seven Hells out of this place, hurriedly taking the man’s sweaty hand for a quick shake before proceeding towards the door.

“I will see you around, then.”

Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not, Brienne thinks to herself.

“I will let you know how I have decided. Have a nice day, Doctor.”

“You, too, Ms. Tarth.”

So much to that, Brienne thinks to herself as she leaves the room.

“Now, who is next?” she can hear the doctor’s voice echo as Brienne whooshes down the narrow hallway as fast as possible.

Only once she is in the comforting space of the parking lot does Brienne dare to let out a breath she didn’t even know she was holding.

The blonde-haired woman leans against the wall outside, fighting a brief if intense duel with her coat, which will not properly loop over that stupid handbag she brought along because she thought it’d look a little better than the backpack she normally uses.

Because Brienne wanted to leave a good first impression on her new doctor, acting more like a lady than a mannish woman who tends to be confused for a guy most of her time.

Foolishly so, as it appears, Brienne thinks to herself, shaking her head. At last, her jacket stays put, and she gets a chance to dedicate her time to the sticky note the doctor gave to her.

A sticky note. That surely speaks for conviction.

Brienne bites her lower lip as her blue eyes dance over the information on the faintly yellow slip of paper. She frowns, reads again. Her frown deepens.

That can’t be.

She reads again. If possible, her frown deepens even more. But that is what it says.

But… that really can’t be. That’s simply not possible.

Brienne blinks repeatedly as she fidgets around with the sticky note, which now sticks to her fingers, stupid thing. The blonde woman shakes her hand repeatedly as she fishes out her phone from her blazer’s inner pocket with the other hand.  

Research time!

Because there is no way in the Seven Hells that this person is supposed her trainer. That is a thing of impossibility. The doctor must have made a mistake. He made quite a few in her humble opinion already, so why not write down the wrong name on a sticky note, right?

There just is no way. No. Way.

Brienne’s fingers dance over the surface of her phone, waiting for the results to pop up on the small screen. Gladly, the internet connection is not the almost bad around there, because the tension is almost unbearable to the point that her back is starting to play xylophone up and down her spine.

And if it is possible, her frown only deepens one more time as the results pop up on her Tobho Mottorola.

Maybe there is a way after all?!

Brienne shakes her head, checks the screen again, swipes up and down, checks another website.

The way still doesn’t disappear. It only keeps cementing as part of reality. Her reality. 

Brienne stuffs the phone away, pushing away from the wall with a small groan escaping her lips.

She will have to do more thorough research, as it appears, within the comfort of her apartment, however.

She has to find a way to debunk that ridiculous theory.

She has to.

Even if that means to read up on yoga after all.

Because even if there seems to be a way now, Brienne is not yet daring to believe that the name on the sticky note is meant to refer to her yoga trainer.

She knows that man, after all, and last time she checked, he was no yogi.

Which leaves three options: One, the internet is wrong, two, the doctor is referring to the right person though he used a wrong name, or three, what seems perhaps even more impossible than the internet being wrong, this is all true.

He, a yoga trainer.

Potentially her yoga trainer. And all Brienne wanted was a simple treatment plan for her backpains. That's all she's been asking for.

And now this.

Just what did I get myself into?

And far more importantly, how do I get out of it again?