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Peanut shells and spills from the beer had the staff of the bar bustling around non-stop. From the draft poured thick streams of beer that slipped like silk down the throat. Non-connoisseurs, who made up the crowd tonight, called for endless rounds of cheap beer.

Students from Riverrun Law occupied every square inch of the bar. They were at the tables, toasting once again to passing the bar. They were at the dimly-lit corners, sipping beer from each other’s tongue, or simply engaged in rough tongue tennis, couples and pairs who will just be for the night. They were at the pool tables, ready to make bets because their jobs were secure at last, and at the bar.

Catelyn Tully pushed herself off the wall, gasping and a little unsteady on her feet. Her dark auburn hair was mussed and smelled faintly of beer. Though she was clearly disoriented, her blue eyes were clear, sparkling at the promise of the life that lay ahead of her. She burst out laughing when she was shoved against the wall again, her lips coaxed open by the sure, wet kiss of her boyfriend.

“Let’s bounce, come on,” she whispered heatedly between kisses. He continued kissing her, hand slipping under the short skirt of her dress to fondle her hip and trace the curve of her underwear. “Petyr,” she giggled, planting a small hand on his chest to push him away. “If you want me naked you’d better put me to bed.”

“Ah. Looks like tonight is gonna be all about WildCat, isn’t it?” Petyr Baelish told her, taking another kiss from her mouth.

“You like WildCat.”

“Indeed. But it’s Cat I love.”

Catelyn put her arms around him, looking in his dark eyes. “Tell that to my Dad the next time you see him.”

He shrugged. “If he lets me within ten feet. He’ll sic your hounds on me, you can count on that. No father wants his precious baby daughter married to the coal miner’s son.”

“He might change his mind when he finds out you’re third in the bar. And that you’re the newest associate at Lannister & Lannister.” She smiled and kissed him back, her heart welling with pride and love. “Come on, take me home.”

They got their coats and flung their arms around each other on the way out. Catelyn pulled him to the parking lot and he shook his head. “What?”

“Cat, neither of us can drive. Come on, just leave the car here. It’s only five blocks.” Petyr said, trying to steer her away from the row of cars.

“No! Too far,” Catelyn complained, pulling him harder. “It’s only five blocks. What can happen between here and our place?”

“Alright. But you’re driving. I’ve had more to drink than you.”

“Pussy.” But she kissed him passionately, throwing herself in his arms and sending him toppling against a truck. Petyr kissed her back with equal fervor, hands slipping under her skirt and cupping her ass. She giggled and pushed away from him again.

“No! Fuck me in bed, Petyr!” She exclaimed before breaking into a run towards her car.

“I changed my mind. I love WildCat!” He called after her as he ran.

They got inside her car. He laughed when she failed to start the car, unable to stick the keys in the correct slot. It took her three tries before putting the key in and turning it to start the engine. They laughed as she revved up the engine before suddenly pulling out of her spot and swerving towards the exit.

The windows were down and Catelyn laughed at the kisses of the cold, evening hair on her cheeks. What a year this was. Law school was behind her. She’d placed twentieth in the bar. As of this afternoon, she had two firm offers from Stark, Manderly & Associates and Tyrell & Associates. She had until tomorrow morning to make her choice but she already knew where to go: Stark, Manderly.

She guided the car down the road, already imagining what lay ahead of her. In two years, she and Petyr were getting married, and she hoped, a year after that, to be pregnant. She hoped to make partner by the time she was thirty-five. Gods. Thirty-five. She was twenty-seven now. Eight years to begin and get her life in order.

As she fantasized about a big apartment in the city, Petyr’s hand settled on her knee then slyly crawled up. She bit her lip to stop a smile, but lost. Life was never perfect but there were moments in which she thought otherwise. This was one. She was a lawyer, at last, and would soon be Catelyn Tully-Baelish. Or Catelyn Baelish? Or—

The figure came out of nowhere. Petyr shouted first. She froze and in her panic, stepped on the accelerator rather than the breaks. She screamed as the body slanted to the ground, and screamed again hearing and feeling the tires bump and roll over the body. She let go of the wheel. 

“Cat!” Petyr yelled. “Stop!” 

“Oh my gods!” She braked, their bodies lurching sharply. She feared her ribs would crack from the grip of the seatbelt. Shaking, she pulled out the keys, feeling sick and numb. She gripped the wheel. A click to the side showed Petyr getting out of the car. "No! Petyr, stop!"

"Seven hells," Petyr was wailing as he ran toward the body. "Oh, gods. What have we done?"

Cat slowly got out of the car, her eyes quickly pulled to the slumped shape ten feet away from her.

A body. Her eyes were wide. She knew it was a person but right now she couldn’t reconcile the body on the ground with the idea of a person. Petyr fell to his knees beside it, checking for a pulse.

“Is it—is it. . .” she couldn’t say the words. Her heart was pounding so fast.

“He’s dead,” Petyr muttered, cursing under his breath.

Her hands flew to her mouth.

“Fuck.” He spat, shooting to his feet.

“I—I—“Catelyn looked around frantically. The street was deserted, though it was only half an hour before midnight. Why were there no lights in the windows? It slowly hit her that the buildings flanking the street were office buildings rather than apartments. She clutched her heart, its panicked beating rendering it a stranger, more like the violent fluttering of an animal in her chest. “Phone. Petyr. Petyr! we have to call the police.”

“What?”

“I—I ran over him and he’s dead. It was an accident---” She was going to be sick.

“No. No police.”

“What?”

She stared at him, aghast. The man who stood before her, with the dark hair she loved to run her fingers through, and the coat he had inherited from his father, was not. . .no. This was not the boy who sat next to her in Economics class that first day of college. He was not the boy who kissed her at the football field after picking out a star and naming it Littlefinger. This was not the person she had made love to under the stars, in her bed.

This was not the man she loved.

“We are calling the police,” she said firmly. “What the hell, Petyr?”

“Don’t be a fucking idiot, Cat.” The violence of his tone unnerved her. She reeled away as if from a slap. “Think. There’s a dead man and a car. What’s the first thing the police will do?”

“It was an accident!”

“It was fucking reckless! Gods damn it, Cat, we’ve both been drinking! I can smell the beer from your skin. You think we can still be lawyers after this?”

Catelyn’s jaw dropped. Shocked, her legs collapsed under her.

No. No. She will never be a lawyer. Eyes wide and her heart threatening to burst from her chest, she started to shake. Petyr gathered her in his arms. She burst into tears.

“It’s alright, Cat. It will be alright.”

She had killed someone. Petyr pulled her closer until her chin rested on his shoulder. Clinging to him, she could only stare at the broken, limp shape of the person the dead used to be. He. A man.

Someone’s father. Someone’s husband. Someone’s son. Gone. Because of me.

“What are we going to do?” She whispered, unable to tear her eyes away.

Petyr kissed her and glanced at the body.

“We live, Cat.” He suddenly grabbed her by the chin, his eyes sharp as they scrutinized her. She shivered from the coldness of his stare. “Do you hear me? No one can know. We can’t call the police or it’s shit for us, Cat. Do you understand? We come clean about this man and it’s over. Over. We will never be lawyers. I—“’ his voice broke and for the first time, she was reminded of the boy she had loved since college. “I will lose you, Cat. I can’t lose you. I love you too much.”

“I love you too,” she whispered. “I promise, Petyr. No one will know.”

Petyr nodded. She was the one to hug him this time. He was also shaking. “Hush. Everything will be alright.” She pulled away to kiss him firmly. “It’s a vow, Petyr. No one will know of this. You’re right. We will live.” Her eyes flashed. “We must.”

She stood up and stared at the body. He was wearing a coat over his clothes. Despite the lack of a proper light, she knew that the growing pool under him was blood.

“Come on, Petyr.” She turned back to him, offering her hand. He took it.

“Let’s go back to the car, Cat.” Petyr sounded tired.

She shook her head. “Not yet.”

“What do you mean?”

She glanced at the body again. “No one can know. Help me. We’ll throw him over Frey Bridge. The current will take him away.”

And then she walked, her boots thumping softly on the concrete as they led her towards the darkness cloaking the dead body,

She will live, and nothing will get in the way of what she wanted. She had worked too hard to let some body derail her.

Chapter Text

“Stop, just stop,” Jaime Lannister said gently from the door. Moving away from the frame he was leaning against, he picked up one of sweaters at the top of the growing heap of rejected clothes on the bed. Sapphire eyes clouded with frustration met his gaze as he walked to his wife, whose broad shoulders drooped deep.

“There’s honestly no way I can go back to work this Monday,” Brienne complained, running her fingers through her messy, pale hair. It felt greasy and tangled towards the ends, reminding her that two days had passed since a shampoo and longer since using a conditioner. She sighed and stared wearily at the turquoise sweater he held out to her. “I don’t know if that still fits me.”

Jaime smirked, glancing pointedly at her tits. Once faint curves, they now thrust boldly against her t-shirt. “Don’t women often long for big boobs? I don’t see a problem.”

She blushed and suddenly laughed. She snatched the sweater from him, shaking her head as more laughter erupted from her. “Big boobs, big ass. I don’t know,” she looked at the sweater as he hugged her from behind, brushing his lips on her nape. She sighed and leaned against him. “I’ve become fat.”

“I like your big ass,” he said, kissing her behind the ear. She giggled and pretended to pinch him.

“You know you should tell me I’m not fat.”

“You’re not fat, sweetheart. You just weigh a bit more than you used to.” She rolled her eyes. She still carried an extra thirteen pounds, and they seemed determined to stay. “You can weigh three hundred pounds and I’d still be crazy in love with you. I see nothing wrong with fat,” he said firmly, meeting her eyes in the mirror. She smiled, knowing this was true. “I love your body, but more than your body too.”

“Can I really do this?” She asked, tossing the sweater back on the bed.

Four months away from work had been hardly felt. She gave birth to their beautiful baby girl and with Jaime, took care of her. Work never entered her mind as she lost herself to breastfeeding, changing nappies, sterilizing bottles, pumping for milk, bathing her baby and more. She was tired, but not to the point where she wondered why on earth they decided to have a baby. Not yet, anyway.

She had been working since she was sixteen, first in fast-food restaurants, then as a teacher’s aide after getting her associate’s degree, her college studies interrupted when her father fell ill and needed round-the-clock care. She never went back to college, preferring to keep working and earning her own money. Her father’s death following a long battle with cancer had drained what little savings they had, so she also had no choice.

She started working as an insurance investigator two years ago. It required only grit, work experience, balls and certification. She liked research and surveillance, and kept herself updated on latest technological developments in the field. Before she took a leave to gave birth, she had convinced her company to start using OPEM, a device used to scan the memories of an insurance claimant and possible witnesses. Her company found a loophole in privacy and security laws so that they may use OPEM to verify claims and avoid frauds.

Her days revolved around her baby, and Jaime, of course. Her husband was one hell of trooper, stepping in without being asked, and, she had to admit, so much better than her in changing diapers and swaddling. She didn’t mind. After pushing a human being out of her vagina for close to twenty-two hours, she didn’t care if she achieved anything else.

Her boss at Baratheon Insurance gave assurances that she not only still had her job but also that she could expect a promotion before the end of the year. Brienne hoped so. Money was not a problem but it never hurt to have more. Childcare was expensive. At least when she returned to work, she wouldn’t have to worry about entrusting her baby to a stranger because Jaime worked from home, as a computer forensics investigator. Though freelance, local police and law enforcement from other states employed him regularly. He often had to turn down jobs.

But, though they have not really discussed it, Brienne wouldn’t be surprised if he longed working in an actual office someday. Whether that was a year from now or longer, it meant spending for childcare.

Her anxiety, she and Jaime knew, was not that she no longer fit in her old clothes. It was leaving the baby and being focused enough at work. She truly loved being with her family and hated to leave, even when she looked forward to the satisfaction of contributing with her paycheck again.

“Be Emma’s mom,” she continued, hugging his arms to herself, meeting his emerald eyes in the mirror. “Work. Be your wife. Still be me?”

“Is that what really worries you?”

She nodded. “Dare I say I think I’m good being a wife and a mom?”

“You’re better,” he assured her, kissing her firmly on the cheek. “Are you worried your work will suffer?”

“I think the fact that I had to leave means, to an effect, it has suffered. It’ll be like starting all over again. Not to mention hating myself for going back to work when I should stay home and take care of Emma.”

“You will continue to take great care of our baby,” he said. “What’s the point of marrying me if I don’t take over when you’re gone?”

She hummed. “Oh. I thought I married you so there’s someone who’s obligated to fuck me.”

He chuckled. “Fucking you isn’t an obligation, sweetheart. It’s an unlimited bonus.”

He squeezed her tits for emphasis, making her giggle. Sighing happily, she turned to kiss him, putting her palms on his chest to nudge him towards the bed. He fell right on top of her discarded clothes, wrinkling them, but neither cared. She crawled on top of him, tugging off her t-shirt before resuming their kiss.

He turned so she was under him, sending some of her clothes to the floor. She licked his slick lower lip before opening her mouth, inviting the slide of his tongue for a wet, sensuous sparring with hers. Her tits, heavy and aching with desire, began to leak milk. She moaned as his chest pressed down, his t-shirt getting damp from her milk. Her hands slipped underneath, caressing the firm, bulging muscles of his back, the long line of his spine. She hooked her leg around his hip, pressing him down, feeling the warm bulge of his cock under his jeans.

“That feels so nice,” she moaned throatily as his lips brushed back and forth, from one collarbone to the other. She buried her fingers in his thick, hair, her eyes half-closed from the brilliance of its gold color under the light. A sigh slipped from her as he nuzzled her neck. Goosebumps erupted from her skin. “Jaime, fuck me.”

“Gods, yes.”

His tongue was thrusting in her mouth, her hand cupping his cock through his jeans, when a soft cry came from the baby monitor. Jaime groaned, dropping his head on her shoulder while she sighed, unable to hide her disappointment. They looked at each other and she kissed him on the lips.

“Later?” She asked hopefully.

“It’s a guarantee,” he promised, kissing her back. “I’ll start on dinner.”

They smiled at each other then stood up. He cleared his throat, adjusting his pants, straightening his t-shirt. He handed her the t-shirt and she put it on, hissing softly as the cotton brushed against her tender nipples. She went to Emma’s bedroom while he headed for the kitchen.

“Hello, my love,” she murmured, her eyes bright with happiness as she peered over her baby. Round, clear eyes met her gaze. She wasn’t sure about Emma’s eye color yet—on some days, they appeared blue, and in a certain light, seemed green. Eagerly, she scooped her up from the crib, making soft, shushing sounds as Emma cried.

She rocked her gently in her arms, checking if her diaper needed changing. Nope. She wasn’t sweaty, didn’t seem cold. She thought to offer one of her tits but Emma just wailed, indicating she wasn’t hungry. Brienne kissed her on the forehead, laughing. “You sound just like your dad when I make him eat vegetables.”

She took Emma out of the room, and her wails softened to whimpers. When they reached the kitchen, she was no longer crying. She rested her head on her mother’s shoulder, her small, fat thumb in her lips as she looked at her father. Brienne noticed the difference right away.

“I don’t believe this. She was crying because she wanted to see you,” she remarked, giving Emma a gentle, playful slap on the bottom. Emma seemed to giggle and kept her eyes on Jaime, who was taking out chicken wings defrosted in the microwave.

“Probably to remind me that fucking leads to more like her,” Jaime said, winking at his daughter.

“Ugh, just our angel for now, please,” Brienne said, kissing her again and giving her a little squeeze. “Which reminds me, did you get condoms from the store earlier?”

“Of course. The jumbo pack.” He laughed at the tomato blush that exploded from her cheeks. “Come on. You know we always get the jumbo pack. Remember back in the day? It never lasted us long.”

“I’m not so sure about that now but I’m glad one of us is optimistic here.” Brienne teased him. Pregnancy hardly got in the way of their fucking. It just meant trying new positions that won’t harm her and the baby—they almost never backed away from any experimentation in the bedroom.

A month ago, they resumed fucking. But using condoms again was an adjustment. She’d been on the pill for years until they decided to try having a baby. Despite not really being able to feel the skin of his cock inside her, her orgasms were still intense—and faster now.

“How do you feel about barbecued chicken wings?” Jaime asked as he got the sauces and spices ready.

“One of the reasons I was right to marry you,” she declared. Firming her hold on Emma, she opened the fridge and looked inside. “I can make us a salad too.”

Jaime made a retching noise and she straightened up, holding a head of lettuce in hand. She said to Emma, “There it is. Now I really know he’s your dad, my love.”

“Bitch,” Jaime told her, kissing her on the cheek. She laughed. He bent a little so he was at Emma’s eye level. Speaking in a singsong voice, he said,  “Of course you’re mine, darling. You definitely have my nose, for starters. And my hair—”

“Jaime, we’re both blond.”

“But my blond is golden, like Emma’s. Now, where was I? Oh, when Mommy and Daddy first fucked, they didn’t leave the bed for a week. And Mommy said--”

“Oh my gods, Jaime!” Brienne exclaimed, covering Emma’s ear while hugging her close. “Don’t you dare!”

“Mommy said,” Jaime insisted, making his voice extra breathy, “`Oh, Jaime, no one has been inside me that deep.’”

Blushing furiously, she gasped, “Get out of here and start cooking!”

Jaime laughed, grabbed her face and kissed her hard on the mouth. She couldn’t help but grin, unable to get mad. He winked at her before turning to get the chicken wings and tucking the bottles of spices and sauces under his arms.

“Asshole!” She called after him as he kicked the door open to the backyard.

“Always!”

Brienne put Emma in her cradle and placed her on kitchen counter. In between getting the rest of the vegetables to make a salad, she flipped up her tablet to stream the local news.

She idly listened to reports about new shops, school policies, upcoming festivals. As she sprinkled salt on the chopped vegetables, her ears picked up a name: Catelyn Stark.

“Hey, Jaime,” she called out. “Come look. It’s Representative Stark.”

Keeping one eye on the screen then another at Emma, Brienne leaned over to adjust the volume of the tablet. Jaime entered the kitchen, tongs in hand. She raised in inquiring eyebrow at the long, orange-red splotch on his shirt. “I forgot about the marinade,” he explained sheepishly as she tried not to laugh.

“I hope the reporter asks her about the amendments to the privacy and security law,” she said as he stood beside her.

“It honestly makes me really uncomfortable. Looking into my head like that?”

“But it won’t be done without a good reason.”

A loophole in the law allowed Baratheon Insurance to use OPEM but there were voices still decrying that the use of such devices was an invasion of privacy. The legal team at work had to compose an iron-clad non-disclosure agreement regarding the memories they will be accessing. Brienne understood why a lot of people were suspicious but too many fraudulent claims had been plaguing the insurance industry for a long time. If the losses continue, she’d be out of the job.

On the side of law enforcement, once they allowed to use devices similar with OPEM, alibis can easily be verified, or crimes witnessed, criminals tracked and caught—which, Brienne believed, could hasten an investigation. As the law was written now, devices like OPEM could only be used by private companies and individuals.

Many legislators refused to amend the current laws, with the exception of the likes of Catelyn Stark. Brienne had voted for the other guy in the last election, although he lost. It was nice to see that her local representative believed in the same things as she did.

“We’re glad to have Representative Stark in our show today,” the host, a red-haired named Melisandre, was saying to the camera before turning to her. “Welcome, Ma’am.”

“I’m glad to be here,” Catelyn said. She had long, flowing auburn locks but styled neatly. Her make-up was natural. She wore a deep navy suit that brought out the blue of her eyes. The effect was as powerful and polished as it was feminine.

This was a woman you wanted at your side when things got ugly.

“Thank you for having me, Melisandre.”

“Representative Stark, Congress will be voting this Wednesday regarding the amendments on the Varys Bill. Would you mind enlightening our viewers regarding your stance on these amendments?”

“Not at all, Melisandre,” Catelyn said smoothly. “Allow me to give you the highlights of the current Varys Bill. It protects the privacy of Westerosi citizens, in public as well as in private, such as when you use your computer to browse online. So, while you can not be persecuted for what you do in private, and in your own time, criminal acts are the exception. But before getting permission or a warrant to look into your, for example, online activity, there must be clear probable cause. This way, the law and any other agency can not, and should not look into the activities you do with your computer. It allows the law to browse, but without going through several hurdles.”

“That’s very clear. Why is there a need to amend the law?”

“Because we live in a time where surveillance, such as CCTV cameras in shops, are not enough for prosecution. Images can be manipulated, enhanced, or a vital shot or scene can be deleted, either due to recklessness or for any other reason. Memories, on the other hand, can never be touched. They can never be altered. Which is very helpful in certain cases where the lack of undeniable proof of a crime can’t even bring forth charges against the perpetrator.”

“Could you give us a clear example, Representative Stark?”

“Of course. In the last five years, sixty-five percent of cases involving sexual assault have either been dismissed or thrown out due to a lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt in connection to the perpetrator. You can’t charge someone on hearsay, let alone pronounce a sentence. When a perpetrator uses a condom that’s DNA evidence law enforcement will never have. When footage is deleted, that’s evidence gone. Memories, on the other hand, will always be there. They can not be manipulated.”

“But will amendments to the Varys Bill single out only memories with regard to a crime?”

Brienne, who was standing next to Emma, crossed her arms. Jaime huffed. “Let’s see her answer that. Didn’t you tell me OPEM can’t control the memory you wish to access? You get a barrage of images.”

“We freeze only the memory in connection to the claim when found,” she murmured.

“Still, sweetheart. What if in between the memory of a guy hitting somebody and then driving off, there’s of him jacking off? That’s the kind of thing you’ll be seeing everyday.”

She gave him an exasperated look and gestured at the tablet. “Will you listen, please?”

“The Varys Bill makes the way for technologies such as OPEM, which stands for Open Memory, to be used legally. Just think, Melisandre. Should a victim be found unconscious, or, worse, dead, through the use of OPEM, the reason for it will quickly be found. If there’s a suspect the technology will show a face, a tattoo, a build, height, weight. Just think of the cases that can be resolved quickly. But until amendments are made to the Varys Bill, the use of OPEM is restricted for private use only.”

Jaime shook his head. “She didn’t answer the question.”

“Of course she won’t. She’s being smart.”

“Your stance on the bill is controversial, according to your constituents,” Melisandre remarked. “Don’t you think it might hurt your chances for re-election next year?”

“I don’t see any reason why not, Melisandre, as I firmly believe that the amendments will serve to protect the people even more and bring justice faster.” Catelyn Stark turned to the camera and Brienne couldn’t look away from the blue of her eyes. They clearly reflected the studio lights, like silver pillars or a beam of light in the darkness.

“People voted for me because they trusted in my pledge to protect and fight for their rights. Amendments to the Varys Bill protect their inalienable right to justice. That is the work I have been doing from the moment I ran for office, and will continue to do so until my last day. I never forget a vow I made, and I trust in the people to remember that.”

“Fuck,” Brienne breathed as Melisandre and Catelyn shook hands. “She just won.”

Chapter Text

Fifteen minutes of photo-ops and shaking hands followed the taping. When it was done, Catelyn’s Chief of Staff, Jon Snow, whisked her away from the crowd. She couldn’t be more grateful.

Jon Snow was in his early thirties, an ambitious lawyer who had clerked at the Supreme Court before deciding he could contribute to politics better by ensuring the right people were in power. He often wore a serious expression but among friends, let loose and his lopsided grin hardly left his face. He had dark, curly hair and dark, deep-set eyes and a trimmed dark beard. Catelyn teased him for being a hipster once and he had taken offense.

“You were incredible,” he told her as they walked away from the studio. “That was one hell of an argument for the amendment of the Varys Bill. I see a definite increase in your numbers.”

Catelyn laughed, throwing him a chiding look. “Jon, we’re not campaigning right now.”

“Ah, but that’s where you’re mistaken, Cat. You campaign to get the seat, you campaign to remain in that seat, and campaign to move to a better one,” Jon said, winking at her.

“You don’t know how to take it easy,” she remarked, shaking her head. “Go home to your girlfriend, Jon. See you tomorrow.”

“At least let me walk you to your car,” he offered.

He stayed until she was inside then went off to get in his car. As Catelyn started the engine, her phone buzzed. She swiped the screen and instantly regretted it.

Petyr Baelish: I saw the interview. You were great.

Catelyn was about to put the phone away when he sent another message. Please. Let me see you. We need to talk. It’s important.

She killed the engine, debating whether to ignore his message or call him.

The last time she had seen Petyr was more than ten years ago. It didn’t take long for their relationship to unravel from that horrible night. She loved him but couldn’t fathom spending the rest of her life with someone who could be so normal afterwards. He had started drinking too. She gave it a year then left.

Not long after, she started dating Ned Stark, the son of the founding partner of Stark, Manderly & Associates. He was not a lawyer, but an aspiring professor of history. His specialty was medieval history. His talk about knights and honor, rather than annoying her, had drawn her to him.

Petyr was hardly in her thoughts from the moment she left him. She knew he had lost his job and had become an alcoholic. None of the boy she loved grew with the man he had become. She couldn’t imagine how her life would be if she had stayed, had his children. Just the idea made her shudder.

Sighing, she scrolled through the address book for his name and pressed it. Two rings and his voice was in her ear. She stiffened upon hearing it.

“Cat?”

She closed her eyes for a moment then opened them. “What is it?”

Her cool tone didn’t affect him as she expected it would. “Listen, we need to talk. It’s urgent.”

“I’ve had a long day, Petyr. It’s really not a good idea for us to be seen together. I’m married. I have a child.”

“For old time’s sake, Cat, please.”

She stared helplessly at the night surrounding her. Except for the faint crescent of the moon, there were hardly any stars out. It was going to be a long, very dark drive home. “Petyr, I don’t know.”

“I know it’s late. Tomorrow. You name the place and time. I’ll be there. I just really need to talk to you.”

“I love Ned, Petyr.”

“I’m not going to ask you to leave him.”

“Good. Because I’ve had enough of your drunken calls telling me I made a mistake.”

“Catelyn. You have to let me see you.”

She sighed. “Where can I meet you?”

“I’m staying at the Eastwatch Hotel.”

Eastwatch Hotel. An old, run-down establishment located in what used to be the factory district but was now just a collection of dilapidated, boarded up structures that. Dead and gray in the day, it was the site of underground clubs and meet-ups late in the night and until the wee hours of the new day. She would have to be careful, but she couldn’t exactly have Petyr meet her on her side of the town.

“I’ll see you at noon.” She said woodenly. She could always tell Ned she forgot something in the office.

“Thank you, Cat. I’m sorry but it’s really important.”

She hung up, staring as the phone’s screen darkened. From the overhead light of the parking lot, she saw her face on the screen sunk in shadow. She tucked the phone back in her bag and stared at the night surrounding her. She didn’t like driving at night, no matter the time.

But there was no choice, as she head learned one fateful night a long time ago. She started the engine, waiting until she could back the car out of the lot and swing out into the night.

Home was a thirty-minute drive. It meant going through a long, empty dark highway flanked by the forest and the River Trident, a long stretch of water that flows into the Green Fork, a bigger body of water. Her headlights were the only sources of illumination in the lonely highway.

She lived in a modern house done mainly in glass with her husband and their seven-year-old son. At first, they were not too sure about being isolated. The highway was three miles away, for one, and nearly the same distance lay between theirs and the nearest house. But after a long day of making deals, making promises and breaking them to hold on to her congressional seat, and Ned bombarded by students, they came to appreciate their isolation. The stillness Catelyn equated to peace, to safety.

She glimpsed the lone, two-story structure of her house as she entered the street. It was the only light in the darkness. Ned’s car was already parked in the driveway. It was an hour past dinner—she had missed it because of the interview, but her family would still be up. She parked her car behind Ned’s and killed the engine. She took her bag as she slipped out of the car.

There. There it was. If not for the quiet, she would not hear the strains of the piano.

She opened the front door and was welcomed by clearer music from the piano. She used to play as a child before discovering cheerleading and student government. She could still play but never quite reached the level where she might have been quite the accomplished pianist.

“Hello,” she called out, just as a boyish voice made an excited gasp. She laughed and walked through the hallway, opening her arms as Robb leaped from the bench. He ran to her and she caught him, picking him up from the floor. He was going to break her back but she loved holding her baby boy. “Darling, that was some wonderful playing.”

“Mom!” Robb exclaimed, hugging her. They held each other for a moment before she put him back on the floor. As she straightened up, Ned approached, slipping an arm around her waist to kiss her on the cheek.

“Honey,” he murmured. “Long day?”

“Ugh, too long,” she complained, taking off her two-inch pumps and tossing them to the floor. “How was yours?”

Ned Stark was not classically handsome. He looked thuggish even in his tailored suits, but because he was broad and quite thick in build, without the fat. His hair was dark brown and his eyes were a deep, intense gray. He wore a solemn expression most of the time but when he smiled, he was quite good-looking.

Robb had taken after her in looks—wavy auburn hair and navy blue eyes. But like his father he often looked serious. He was quiet and had a few friends. Yet he seemed a well-adjusted child. Kids his age were more interested in video plays while he preferred to read and play music.

“I’ll tell you when counting sheep don’t put you to sleep,” Ned joked. “Come, I’ve kept dinner warm for you. Osha made beef stew.”

“She’s a goddess,” Catelyn declared. Osha was their housekeeper. She reported for work four times a week.

“Mom, do you want to hear me play while you eat?” Robb asked. He had a recital on Wednesday night.

“You know what, why don’t I eat here so I can hear you perfectly?” Catelyn suggested, ruffling his hair.

“Cool!” Robb said and dashed back to the piano.

“Let me have a word with your mother first in the kitchen, okay, Robb?” Ned said, taking Catelyn by the arm.

“What is it?”

He winked at her.

Open concept rooms were the rage right now but Catelyn still preferred divisions, partitions. She didn’t care if the former meant a wider, more welcoming space. Compartmentalizing meant order, not to mention privacy. Ned pulled her towards the dining room then the kitchen. As Robb began to play, Ned suddenly pushed her against the wall and kissed her.

Catelyn kissed him back hotly, opening her mouth and taking his jaw in her hand.

Petyr was the only other man she had been with besides Ned. Because he was her first, she would always compare her husband to him.

Where Petyr kissed her gently, like a prince from a fairy tale, Ned took her mouth with animalistic hunger. She sighed and groaned through their kiss, grateful that the piano was loud. She wished Ned didn’t kiss her like a starved animal, and would try for some finesse but she had learned to pick her battles. She could live, and learned to love, the man who stuck his tongue down her throat on their first date. Every time his cock thrust in her ass, she reminded herself of the stability his name and money had given her, and the power.

She shuddered, clinging to him as his hand delved under her skirt to palm her pussy through her panties. “I’ve missed you, Cat,” he rasped against her ear. “I need to have you.”

“But Robb—” she started to say before he kissed her.

“Now,” he insisted, pulling up her skirt. He pushed the panel of her panties to the side.

She sighed and nodded.

He fucked her against the wall, her arms and legs holding tightly on to him. She swallowed her whimpers of discomfort as his cock rammed in her pussy. She wasn’t very wet, and Ned was big. It was a small sacrifice to what she could ask of him later. That was the deal she had made with herself when she agreed to marry him. Her body and what passion and love she could summon for him in exchange for power. She had always known that being a lawyer was only the first step to a grander ambition.

Ned came with a soft growl, shuddering against her, his fingers biting painfully into her thighs. She let out a soft grunt, having experience some relief but not exactly a release. He kissed her on the lips, gently this time, but only because fucking had drained him. She waited until he set her back down on the floor before fixing her skirt. He zipped up, grinning at her with satisfaction.

“Go back to Robb,” he told her as she pulled up her blazer. “I’ll bring you the food.”

Ned was an animal but cared for her. Catelyn always had that assurance. Petyr, no matter how much he believed to love her, would in the end leave her hanging, or worse, in prison, if they had gone to the authorities about that night. In Ned, she was sure that he would not only kill to keep her out—he would even ensure that dead body will never be found. This was where she came to love him.

They listened to Robb play. Catelyn had a bowl of the stew on her lap, her legs up on the coffee table. Ned was sitting beside her, offering his shoulder as a pillow. Catelyn was thankful their boy was still too young to recognize the dazed looks on their faces, or that the scent clinging to them was of fucking.

Anyone looking in through one of the bay windows would see the perfect family. The protective father with an arm around his wife, watching with growing pride at his son’s talent with the piano. The beautiful, devoted wife, her expression serene because her life was complete. The wonderful, handsome little boy with a bright future ahead of him.

An image Catelyn never thought possible until she left Petyr. Perhaps she should have left him long before the accident. That was the problem with a first love. No matter how disappointing they were, there was always the thrill of the first kiss, the excitement of a cock entering her pussy for the first time. She had been ready to give her life to Petyr because she didn’t know any better.

In a way, she had to thank that man, whoever he was. He had come close to destroying her life but in death, he cooperated, giving her a new lease by staying under water. Embraced by the cold of an old sleeping bag and rocks, she could still see him as clearly as the night they put him there, and almost regarded him as a friend.

For the next hour, they spent time as a family. Catelyn treasured this time. No matter how hard her job got, she only had to look at the two men in her life to be reminded that every sacrifice she’d made was worth it. She loved Ned more out of necessity rather than passion, but she did care for him, in her own way. Robb she loved with all her heart. He was half of her. There was no choice.

She put him to bed later with a kiss, and a whisper that she loved him. He smiled at her as she drew the sheet over him. She turned off the light and went to the master suite.

Having been married to Ned for twelve years, she knew what some nights entailed. He was never satisfied with a quick fuck, more that they had been last intimate close to three weeks ago. Usually, she would make herself wet in the bathroom, fucking herself with fingers. There hadn’t been time for that tonight.

Sure enough, as soon as she was in bed, Ned put a hand on her thigh, and up it went. She smiled, knowing that this time he would be gentler, more like the kind of man she would have loved with all her heart, every fiber of her being.

They kissed, Ned settling himself over her, his legs nudging hers apart. She turned her head, shivering as his lips warmed the graceful line of her throat, hands cupping her tits through her nightie. She watched through half-closed eyes as he kissed down her stomach, pushing at the silk to bare the slightly rounded skin.

When his lips brushed against the faded caesarean scar, she felt that she truly loved him. Or could love him truer than she did.

He had been ready from the moment his hand settled on her thigh. His kisses and caresses ensured her pussy was wet enough, the tell-tale moisture on her thighs promising he won’t feel as brutal, there would be no discomfort. She turned on her hands and knees, raising her hips. Her long auburn hair fell over her shoulders, on the pillow as she submitted herself to the inevitable. His hands pushing up the silk. Tugging at her underwear. She raised her head, looking through the soft snarls of hair sheathing her eyes at the placid stretch of the Trident outside the window. How it flowed without trouble. Smooth. Almost silken. The currents taking things away.

Their isolation granted them privacy, and because the street was theirs, no one could simply go through it. As Ned fucked her from behind, she wondered what a bystander, or someone out on a boat ride would think if just happening to look up. There were no drapes to shield them from prying eyes, and Ned never fucked her in the dark.

She caught their reflection on the glass and looked away quickly. It was a turn-on for Ned, the possibility that they could be watched, and he teased her for being a prude. He couldn’t understand that it wasn’t the fucking that embarrassed her. It was the privacy they risked. Whether a local representative or a private citizen, she valued it, specially something so intimate, so revealing yet not the entire story.

But she knew people All it took was one narrative, whichever was first, to dominate and completely obliterate all the other sides. One look and the person would think she was helpless in the bedroom. One whiff of her breath from that night with Petyr and she would be labeled reckless, a criminal. Someone who belonged in prison.

She knew what stories had to be told. What should be in darkness.

As Ned huffed behind her, his hands bruising her hips again, she whined and struggled, trying to reach for the lamp switches on each bedside table. “What the hell, Cat?” He gasped, sunk in the throes of another orgasm to completely comprehend what she was doing. “What?”

She didn’t answer. She gritted her teeth as her arm stretched out, palm slamming on the switch to bring the first darkness. “Cat, damn it,” Ned swore, realizing what she was doing. “The lights—let me see you—”

She shook her head, her other arm reaching for the next lamp and plunging the room in total darkness. Now there was only the pale crescent of the moon, buried in the clouds.

“Cat—”

“Harder,” she cried out, grabbing the bedposts and pushing her hips back. “Do it harder.”

He shoved inside her, making her shout as she lurched forward. Gripping the bedposts, she swung her hips back, the curves hitting the hard surface of his thighs. His grip promised to ground her hipbones into powder and she whined in both pain and pleasure.

Harder he fucked her. Faster she fucked him back. Ned was growling. She was whimpering, moaning. In the darkness she knew getting fucked like this wasn’t submission. It was just another step. Another promise to getting what else she would want. The slide of his cock, the grind of his hips, were stamps of guarantee. Inescapable. Definite. True.

She could see it. Taste it. Power. There was more. And more would come with Ned. Only with Ned.

In the dark she was free. She was unleashed. She could be. It had been her friend since that night with Petyr.

Catelyn flew into her release with a scream.

 

Chapter Text

With a bottle of warmed breastmilk in hand, Jaime took charge of feeding Emma while Brienne put the plates in the dishwasher and cleared the table. She put the leftovers in stackable containers. There was enough for leftovers for lunch tomorrow, or dinner.

Since it will be a while before Emma would fall asleep, Brienne took advantage of the time. She listened to the soft, soothing guitar music of Jaime’s playlist, coming from Emma’s room. He would be dancing, softly shuffling his feet in random patterns all over the floor because the movements lulled their daughter to sleep.

Brienne used the time to put fresh sheets on the bed and to have a shower using her favorite bath gel. When she stepped out, there was no more music from Emma’s bedroom. She tightened the knot of her bathrobe and peeked inside.

“My sweet baby girl,” she murmured, standing over the crib and touching her soft, fluffy blond hair gently, to not wake her. “Am I cruel for leaving you?”

Working again made her excited—not surprising given that life had been pretty monotonous since giving birth. Wake up several times to feed, change nappies, check on Emma. Pump milk from her tits. Label then store them in the freezer. Fuck Jaime. Feed baby from tits. Sterilize bottles. Laundry. Prepare food. Visits to the pediatrician. Pretty much that routine, with variations. She could do them in her sleep.

She loved her job at Baratheon Insurance and took pride in it. It was regular, it put food on the table and allowed room for a few indulgences without much regrets. Her co-workers were nice, and her boss supportive. The base pay wasn’t much, truth be told. It was bonuses that helped buy the three-bedroom, two-toilet and bath house they lived in. Baratheon Insurance prided itself for being efficient and fast. The faster claims were verified and settled, the bigger the bonus. And Brienne worked fast.

Despite her excitement, she was terrified. Could she still do it? It was true—her priorities had changed. Jaime respected her job, but he wasn’t a fan when she started using OPEM. Invasion of privacy was not his top concern but her exposure to a lot of sick minds. Despite assurances from Baratheon Insurance that memories without a direct and clear connection to the claims would never be used, filed or stored in any way, Jaime believed people would be still fucking protective of their memories—to the death. There was also no undoing once Brienne herself saw them. She was bound to take them home.

And she had seen a lot of unpleasant, even disturbing things. It wasn’t memories of people jacking off that made her want to bathe in  hard-core cleaning agent. Some people were evil. She’d seen through their memories animals mutilated for fun, girlfriends beaten up. She saw someone slip a date-rape drug in a drink. The right thing would be to go to the police. Memories didn’t lie but they were subjective—and for that reason, the law couldn’t always step in. Plus, her use of OPEM and seeing these memories could be termed considered an illegal search, or a breaking and entering of some sorts. Unless she was actively looking for such memories, there was little to nothing that could be done.

But in her dedication to sieving through memories to find the truth, what would her daughter remember of her? Emma was still a baby but she could see, she could remember. She had memories. Once, Brienne had used OPEM on her and saw hers and Jaime’s faces feature prominently. There was no doubt that once at work, she would hardly grace Emma’s memories.

It hurt. And that was reason enough for Brienne to sometimes wonder why she still held this job when there were other things she could do. At what point will money be no longer worth her growing absences?

“Do you know how much I love you?” She whispered, looking at Emma, breathing in her natural, powder-and-honey fragrance. “Do you know what I’ll do for you?”

Emma slept on. “Anything and everything,” Brienne told her, pressing a kiss on her teeny, plump hand. “There is nothing I would never do. If you can’t. . .if you can’t remember me much then at least know that, Emma. It’s the truth.”

Another kiss, this time on the forehead, then she left. She found Jaime watching in the living room, eyes riveted by another Netflix show. He glanced up as she entered, nodding. “You look good. Come here.”

She smiled and sat down next to him. He kissed her on the neck. “You smell good too.”

“Thanks for taking care of Emma,” she said, stretching out her legs to put them on the coffee table. “You’re a god.”

“I should put that on a t-shirt,” he joked, throwing his arm around her shoulders.

“What’re you watching?” she asked snuggled against him, hugging him tight.

“Who the fuck knows,” he said, pressing the escape button to look for another show. “It’s all cooking shows and some dark documentary. Or a shitty Marillion. Maybe we should drop our subscription. There’s hardly anything good.”

“If it’s entertainment you want,” she murmured, her hand drifting to his thigh.“I know one.”

He was quick to catch her meaning. “Hmm,” he said, playing along. “Care to show me?”

As he spoke, her pulled her to straddle his lap. She laughed, kissing him on the forehead, around his eyes as he pulled at the ties of her robe. She stood so it would fall completely from her body, leaving her nude and limned by the weak light from the moon. She was about to straddle him again when he stopped her.

“Wait,” his voice was husky as he unzipped his jeans. “I just want to look at you.”

Brienne stood, her pale skin becoming a canvas of moving images from the screen, shadows and light. Jaime’s gasp was wet and rough as he fisted himself. She listened to the soft brush of palm on the tender skin of his cock, the rustle of pubic hairs.

She blushed as he stared hungrily at her mouth. The grave, intense look on his face suggested what he wanted to do to her mouth, possibly later. His gaze moved further down, lingering on her throat, at her tits. The tightening response of her nipples at his scrutiny was both of embarrassment and also eagerness. She will never get used to standing like this for Jaime, but the heat in his gaze made her stay.

She watched as his golden fingers clamped around his cock. He had a beautiful cock, long, elegant and pink. Not even porn showed a cock anywhere close to how pretty his was. He was big, a pillar of flesh at rest, a colossus as it rose at the sight of her.

A pity it was only his jeans he removed but he was still beautiful to look at. She stared at the chest muscles tensing under his t-shirt, the cords in his arms standing thick as he touched himself. When their eyes met, she knew what to do. She stepped forward, face reddening upon hearing the squelch from her pussy.

Jaime’s grin was feral. “You’re wet. Get over here.”

With a movement that was almost graceful, she straddled his lap.  

He kissed her. He still tasted of spice, of smoke, and the beer he had with dinner. She smiled, sliding her tongue inside his mouth, moving so he was leaning on the couch. Her tits, swollen from milk and lust, brushed his t-shirt. They groaned, and he gathered her in his arms, caressing her broad waist, squeezing her hip firmly. Slipping his hand lower, he coaxed her outer labia open and pushed a finger inside.

“Jaime.”

Fucking Jaime was always devastating in the best way. But the lead-up to it was just as good. The world tilting. Feeling lightheaded, her chest tight, her skin tingling. She grunted through their kiss as his fingers lodged deep in her pussy and in the unyielding passage of her ass. She felt as if stuffed full. The burn made her tremble. Her nipples, already swollen and firm, leaked milk, impatient for his kisses. Thick honey gushed from her pussy, plopping on his thighs.

As their mouths sparred and hands slipped between bodies to possess, her eyes, half-opening, glimpsed the window behind Jaime. The drapes were open. No neighbor would be peeking in, despite the lights from their houses that winked in the night. But she still stopped, with great reluctance. “Jaime, someone might see.”

“Hells,” he sighed, glancing behind him. With a hard, apologetic kiss, he put her on the couch. Her eyes shone as he dropped his pants, clearly not caring that someone might see him, and in the state that he was in. He strode boldly to the window, drawing the drapes closed.

“Only I get to see you like this,” he said as he went back to her, now pulling off his shirt. He raked her appreciatively, his eyes resting on her pale tits, at the milk gleaming from her nipples. “They can see me but not you.”

“What makes you think I’d want anyone to see your ass?” she teased as he once again pulled her on top. “I’d be punching women in the face non-stop.”

“We don’t want that. And you’re the only one I want to see me like this,” he said as she kissed him gently.

His lips traced the line of her neck as she caressed his muscled shoulders, pressed her palm on his hard, hairy chest. She hummed and cooed as he nuzzled her neck, his beard adding an extra, thrilling sensation that caused her nipples to stiffen painfully as milk began to drip from them, her pussy wetting his thigh. She arched her back, offering him her tits, her body, for whatever he wanted to do.

He kissed her tits, every freckle, laved tongue over these marks so they gleamed before taking one of her leaking nipples deep in his mouth. She whined as he sucked, rubbing her pussy alongside the hard, searing length of him. But he suddenly stilled her with hands on her hips, before one drifted to her nape and held her in place. As his lips moved to partake from the other nipple, his fingers pushed back inside her ass.

She cried out, quickly stifling it upon remembering her sleeping baby. Clutching at the edge of the sofa, she swallowed her sounds of pleasure as he suckled from her breasts, his kisses wet, loud, hungry. She pushed her face down his shoulder, opening her mouth to bite and suck on the supple flesh as his fingers fucked her in that dark crevice. The hottest, sweetest burn. His cock pressed, jabbed at her clit. Her pussy was pouring.

“Jaime,” she begged, her voice thick as if by tears.

“I know. Fuck. Brienne. So fucking good,” he grunted, sinking the entire length of his fingers inside her. There was no stopping her shriek this time, feeling her pussy squirt softly. He chuckled, kissing her firmly on the throat, right on the pulse.

“Condom,” he whispered, his other hand fisting her hair as she gasped. “Drawer.”

“You keep condoms in a drawer in the living room?

“We fuck everywhere, Brienne.”

She laughed and reached to the side, her movements loose, languid, as she pulled open the drawer open and found a strip there. “My good, naughty boy,” she remarked, grinning. She tore off a square, ripped it open. Jaime’s head fell back, revealing the bump of his Adam’s apple. She couldn’t resist rubbing him, squeezing his balls very gently as her teeth grazed the bob on his throat. Groaning while his hips jerked, she put the condom on him.

Jaime helped her, holding her as she fitted her pussy around his cock. Her eyes widened as she began to slide down him, remembering why she found this position to intense. Not only did Jaime feel a lot bigger in this position. He went farther inside her too. And she was wide from her orgasm.

Brienne grunted, sighed, clung to Jaime as she fucked herself on his cock. His fingers were under her butt, guiding her fast, desperate movements. She grabbed him by the face, needing his eyes on her. Green. Emeralds. Light. Hers.

She wailed against his shoulder as she came, biting him again as her body was seized with the aftershocks of orgasm. He hit his release seconds later, burying his shout in her mouth, his tongue intent on living in her throat.

In bed a short while later, Jaime’s head was pillowed on her chest. She smoothed his hair away from his face, kissed him. He sighed and licked her nipple.

Despite pleasure at his kiss, she couldn’t help but worry. “I hope we do that again soon.”

Jaime pushed himself up, frowning. “What do you mean?”

She bit her lip. “Alright, don’t laugh, okay? I know I’m being ridiculous but. . .I’m really excited about work. I am. I love my job. But just the idea of what awaits me, and what’s expected of me back here. . .I worry about getting overwhelmed. Of doing everything halfway.” She sighed impatiently. “It’s just that. . .nothing can be half-assed anymore, you know?”

Realizing that she had a serious matter that he had probably just set aside, Jaime raised himself from her breasts, lying down so he was directly facing her. The concern on his face just made her love him more.

“I don’t know if this makes sense,” he began carefully as she caressed his chest. “But. . .I think we have to accept the fact that given how hugely different things are now, doing things half-assed is inevitable.”

Brienne burst out laughing. Jaime rolled his eyes but he was grinning. “I’m serious! Fuck, Brienne. Come here.” She squealed as he grabbed her by the waist, removing the blankets covering her nude body. She hummed happily as she settled half on top of him, her chin resting on his chest.

“We’re not perfect but I think together, we’re great. Objectively speaking. We’re great. We made a gorgeous kid, for one. The fucking is out of this world—to say the least. We actually spend our money on real food rather than pizza, we have savings accounts. Brienne, we fucking have vegetables in every meal. We’ve invested in this fucking house. We haven’t done anything half-assed in years. I think it’s time we do, don’t you think?”

“Gods, when you talk like that, I can’t help but wonder at just the kind of lawyer you could have been,” she answered, admiring his take. “I get it. We’re bound to fuck up.”

“One of us might leave Emma in a coffee shop. I could turn in a wrong analysis. You could promise a client a substantial claim only for there to be next to nothing. We’re going to fuck up, Brienne. Like it or not. We’ll just have to look out for each other and just. . .keep loving, you know? And lots of fucking.”

“Lots of fucking,” she repeated. She smiled, throwing her leg over his thighs.

He smirked. “Absolutely. Clears my head, for one.”

Her heart quickened when he kissed her hand. “I do feel fantastic when you’re inside me.”

“Of course you do. My big cock touches everything.” He grasped her by the chin and kissed her hard on the mouth. A long thread of spit appeared between their lips as they parted. She sighed happily.

“I just want to be the best, Jaime.”

“So do, I. All of us. But we’re not going to be at optimum performance all the time. Except for the fucking.” He was firm. “That I can promise. My cock will always be hard and ready to fuck you into the next century.”

She smiled. “My legs will be open.”

She cuddled close, comforted from the warmth and scent of his skin, his beard rasping her cheek. “Okay, here’s another thing. There’s an actual human who depends on us for everything. Everything. She can breathe fine, can poop fine, eats fine. But beyond that, it’s all on us. And our baby is a never-ending money pit.”

“So fucking true,” Jaime agreed. “Thank the Seven she’s the cutest baby in Westeros.”

“Lucky baby, that Emma.” Brienne turned serious again. “We can give her the best life despite the fuckery we’ll end up doing from time to time.”

“We can. And we will.” He kissed her on the shoulder.

“I gotta start going after those bonuses. The Seven knows I’m the fastest investigator there. Which means bringing some of the work home with me.” She made a face.

Jaime kissed her. “Cheer up. I bring work home all the time,” he joked. “It’s the future. If you won’t bring home work, it shows up at your doorstep. At times with a hammer.” He shrugged. “Pound away until you get the bonus.”

“I’d like to be positive and say that when work is in our bailiwick, it comes with an envelope stuffed with cash.”

Chapter Text

 

The rhythmic, hammering sounds told Catelyn that Ned was at work in the garage. She watched him straighten a chair leg, one hand holding it steady while he pounded a nail into it with the other.

In suits, Ned’s rugged features and thick but trim build made him look like a thug, even the tailored ones. Shirts and jeans suited him better. She was standing by the door when he happened to look up, his lips forming a lopsided grin. She smiled back and went to him, a glass of iced tea in her hand.

“We could have just brought those to a shop for repair,” she chided him as the ice clinked in the while holding out the glass. He took it.

Three more chairs waited for treatment. They were from the dining room. Last night, Robb nearly fell off and that was when they discovered the wobbly legs on the chairs.

As Ned took a sip, Catelyn looked around. Their garage was organized. No overflowing boxes, no repository of old things only held on to by sentimentality. Ned had a small carpentry area where he did minor furniture repair. Behind him was a glass display that also functioned as a shelf. Tools were hung and labeled, so they were within reach and easy to identify.

“Too small a job for something I can easily do,” Ned replied after taking a sip.

“Listen, I forgot something in the office. I finished making lunch so you don’t have to worry about it. But I have to go back to the city and get a file.” Catelyn said, putting her arms around his waist. Then she pressed her breasts against his chest. “I promise I’ll be back long before you’ll even miss me.”

Ned sighed but he smoothed an auburn tendril from her cheek. “And here I thought you wanted us to go somewhere nice for lunch,” he said, looking pointedly at her clothes. She was wearing a white cashmere button-down sweater, white silk blouse and soft, gray slacks. She smiled and hugged him closer. Gray eyes twinkled back at her.

“I need to do my homework well.”

“I know. Alright,” he said, taking her chin and kissing her on the lips. “Don’t take too long.”

“I’ll be back plenty in time before dinner,” she promised, beginning to step away but Ned grabbed her for another kiss, this time plunging his tongue past her lips. She shuddered as he palmed her pussy, rubbing her firmly.

He had been fucking her for two nights a row. Ned Stark was the best of men but he was just like them when it came to needs. Fucking was an assurance. Their marriage was good but finding time for intimacy was becoming difficult.

Last year, he spoke to her about wanting another child. It took her a while to conceive because of the career she wanted to have. Having a son to pass on his name pleased Ned greatly but now he wanted another. Catelyn had promised to think about it but deep down, she knew the answer already. Robb was born soon after she was made senior partner. If not for her marriage to the son of the firm’s owner, she would have been cast out.

There was also her age. She was forty-two now, and about to run for re-election for her second term. Law firms may demand ten-hour work days but running a district was something else. Between her job, being a wife, and a mother, and projecting this image of success and aspiration, she didn’t have time for Ned grumbling about her refusal to have another, if she had told him. And he could be manipulative with his grudges. She had no energy for that.

She let Ned kiss and fondle her just enough so he was satisfied. As soon as his touches faltered, she stepped away and said her goodbye.

The sun was out despite the forecast of rain. Catelyn put her glasses on, making a face as the rays seemed to prick her pores despite the sweater. She got in her car with a sigh of relief.

Having to meet Petyr set her on edge. The two men have never met. She never identified him by name when the subject of past loves came up. What was the point? Besides, Petyr was best forgotten, to render him a blot in the neat, perfect life she had made. If only there was a way to erase that blot altogether, she thought, staring the engine.

The sun-drenched highway was disconcerting. She was so used to leaving in the gray, early hours of the morning and coming home on blackest nights. She was the only car again in this long, lonely stretch of road. People were either fucking or having their barbecues, she thought, adjusting the temperature levels of the AC to a cooler temperature.

She swung towards the city and kept driving past the cute little shops with bright walls and people bustling about because they had no struggles in the world. She envied them, wondering how they could look so happy, so easy with life. They didn’t have a bill to amend, constituents accountable to, husbands to handle and lie to, that’s why.

She drove faster, making the turn to the older part of the city. It didn’t see much activity, except for a few restaurants that looked gray and desolate. Old factory buildings have either been demolished or converted into low-cost apartments.

She spied Eastwatch Hotel. Petyr had texted her his room number last night, which she memorized and quickly deleted. At least he was smart enough to get a room, but he probably expected her to pay for it. She hoped she had enough money and not just credit cards. As she neared the hotel, she saw an ice cream truck parked across the street.

Instead of parking in front, she opted to drive past, making turn at the corner. She had looked up the layout of the street and knew there were areas at the back of the hotel where she could park and not be seen. She went there, glad to find some cars in the lot too. She would have to walk a bit to get to the hotel but at least she won’t be seen. From her bag, she retrieved her sunglasses then pulled her hair up in a ponytail.

Eastwatch Hotel was old, worn, as if just plodding through its last days. Though the atmosphere was not decrepit, Catelyn picked up an earthy, moist smell that made her think of the bowels of the earth, or the river at night. The lighting was weak, casting people in anemic pallor. She ducked in the elevator and punched the number four.

In the hallway, things were a little better. The lighting had the brilliance of candlelight and the carpet, though faded, muffled the tap of her heels as she walked on it. She spotted Petyr’s room and knocked.

The door opened a moment later. She started at the sight of Petyr Baelish.

The last time she saw him, he had put on some weight and had sagging bags of skin under his eyes. The man standing before her was the Petyr of her youth, older now. Some grays in the hair, on his trimmed beard. A haunted look in his eyes rather than a sparkle. He grinned, but hesitantly. She schooled her face from shock to stoic but it difficult to stop gaping at him.

He had lost weight. A lot of weight. The navy sweater he wore brought out the gray-green color of his eyes. There was something at peace with him, she noted.

“Cat,” he said, hugging her before she could say anything. She hugged him back awkwardly, his slim build a direct contrast to Ned’s stocky and firm body. “It’s good to see you. It’s been so long. Come in,” he said, pulling away and ushering her inside.

She continued to stand by the door as he tried to introduce some order in the room. It was modest and small, with a king-sized bed, messy at the moment, imitation leather bench at the foot. She noted the open closet and the suitcase stashed inside it. As Petyr straightened the comforter, muttering under his breath. As he futilely tried to make the room close to presentable, she kept looking around, her eyes jumping to random objects: the bulky lamp in the style from twenty years ago, the small bust of an exotic figure that looked like a Dothraki warlord, from the blue paint on his face, newspaper. Hearing Petyr sigh and give a soft clap, she turned back to him. She took off the sunglasses.

He was smiling again. “You’re really here.”

“You asked to see me.” She glanced at the bench before choosing to sit on a small, Andal-style chair with intricate gold curlicues on the frame and the arms. The vibrant crimson was garish in a room of white-on-ivory-on-cream-on-eggshell. Petyr pulled the drapes open and she opened her mouth to protest.

“Let me see you, Cat. You look fantastic,” he said, looking back at her. Finding that there was no other chair to sit on, he settled for the bench. He looked apologetic. “I’m afraid my room is too small.”

“It’s not like I will be staying here long. I saw your suitcase.”

“Yes. I will be in town for a while.”

“Not just for the weekend?”

 “I. . .I’ll be working in the public attorneys’ office.”

Catelyn was stunned. “You’re staying here?”

He nodded. “I start next week. Big-city law firms aren’t exactly looking to hire an ex-alcoholic.”

She just stared at him. Realizing that this news didn’t sit well with her, he cleared his throat. “Cat. . .I—I need a fresh start. I don’t have family anymore. Nor a lot of friends. Friends who don’t drink.” He stood up, pacing anxiously back and forth. “I—I know it’s a lot to ask but I was hoping. . .for old time’s sake. . .?”

“Petyr, you’re asking too much of me,” she said, squirming in her seat. “I—I assume you know---”

“Yes. I know what you are now.”

“I have to think,” she said. “People voted for me because of my stand on family and women’s issues. How would it look if I’m associated with—”

“With an ex-alcoholic?” Petyr was grim, pausing to look at her.

“I’m not saying I won’t help you—”

“’I’m not asking you to make a public endorsement of me, Cat. I just want. . .if you can. . .I’ve lost so much already. I regret them but not as much as I regretted losing you.” She jumped when he suddenly knelt in front of her. There, in the depths of his eyes, she saw the young man that once had her heart. “I’ve never stopped loving you.”

“Oh my gods, Petyr.” Shocked, Catelyn jumped from her seat, snatching her hand away as he tried to hold it. Her face was aghast as when she turned back to him, finding him slowly standing up. “I have a husband. I have a child. You should never say to me ever again. Oh my gods.”

“Cat, please—”

“No, Petyr. I came here because. . .like you said. For old time’s sake but that’s all. How dare you make such a declaration. I’m a wife, Petyr. I’m someone’s wife!” She started to head for the door when his hand closed around her elbow.

“Cat—look, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please. Don’t go. Don’t go.”

She heard a shuffle, turned and once again found him on his knees. “Please, Cat. I won’t say anything again."

“Get off your knees,” she hissed, snatching her hand away. Petyr nodded and got up, looking contrite.

“I’m here because of what we had, Petyr. Nothing more,” she said firmly, holding his gaze. “If I hear another word of how you still have. . .feelings for me, I walk. Is that clear?”

“Yes. Look, I asked you here because I wish to make amends.” At her dubious look, he flushed. “Clearly I did the exact opposite. I’m sorry. I—I know about your marriage. I shouldn’t have said anything. Never again. You can trust me on that.”

“Don’t disappoint me.”

“Will you please sit back down?”

Catelyn hesitated but did as he requested. Petyr sat back on the bench.

“I’m on the twelve-step program,” he began. “I meant it when I said I’m here to make amends. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve hurt so many people. A lot of them are unforgiving. That’s why I moved here, Cat. A fresh start, in a place where no one really knows me. Except you. We don’t have to be in contact again after this day, if that is your wish. I will respect it.”

“Good.”

“I am sorry, Cat. You’ve done so good with your life and for a long time I’ve been very bitter about that. But I’ve been taking responsibility for my actions. I pushed you away. I hurt you.” He said, resting his elbows on his knees. “Could you ever forgive me?”

Since she believed him when he said he will keep his distance and forget about her, she would. But she was still on guard. She should speak to Jon Snow about it as soon as possible.

“I forgive you.”

Petyr was relieved. “Thank you, Cat.”

She stood up to leave but he was still talking.

“There’s also another reason I asked you to come,” he said, looking at the floor then at her. “It’s. . .about that night.”

It was as if the Stranger had suddenly entered the room, given the ringing silence that followed his words.

“I have been doing research about the man.” He said, standing up. He reached in the drawer to pull out a folder and handed it to her. She stared, refusing to touch it.

“Please, Cat.”

“No.”

“Cat—”

“Petyr, he was a bum, okay? He’s a nobody. How are you even sure it’s him?”

“Because there’s a photo and I never forgot his face, Cat. We spent hours chopping him up into pieces to fit him in the case and putting rocks---”

“Stop!” Catelyn cried out, shutting her eyes in a pathetic attempt to stop her mind from going there. It was worse. She remembered them panicked in the dark, terrified that they would be pulled over and the police discovering the body in the trunk. Remembered running out of the car and throwing up when Petyr suggested hacking the body into pieces. His fingers pulling her hair back. He had a chainsaw in his apartment. . .

She opened her eyes, grabbed the folder and threw it to the floor, spilling news clippings about the missing man. Petyr gasped and quickly scooped them up. Catelyn was furious.

“Did you forget why we were silent? Did you forget it was your idea? Do you know what will happen to us if you told?”

“We made a mistake!”

“Coming clean won’t undo it!”

Petyr shook his head, his chin trembling as he hugged the folder and the clippings to his chest. “I’ve written a letter. To his wife.”

“What?”

“I never identified you. She will never know it was me either.”

“You fucking idiot!”  The violence in her tone had Petyr reeling back. “Mail can always be traced. Always. You don’t think she won’t get the police involved? That they won’t access surveillance footage? How could you do this to us?”

“I have yet to mail it.”

It was the ultimate betrayal. She had wanted to go to the police. He had scared her. Convinced her that by chopping up the body to fit the pieces in the duffel bag will fix everything. Her heart thudded, remembering the roar of the chainsaw and the wet sounds of flesh ripped before the machine groaned as it cut through bone. Meanwhile, she took care of the head, smashing it with the lug wrench. She heard the crack of bone when she broke his nose. Kept beating his face, tasting her bile and the blood splattered on her lip. His eyeballs popped at some point, soft, squishy balls that yielded under her blows like soft-boiled eggs. . .

“Us?” Petyr roared back. “You just told me there’s no such thing anymore.”

Realizing she made a mistake, she sobbed and threw her arms around him. “Petyr, please. Don’t. No. I beg you.” She cupped his face, stroked his hair. He still held the folder to his chest. “This is not the way to make amends. Do you think it would help her, knowing what happened to her husband?”

“She deserves closure, Cat. Peace.”

“She has it! She can’t still believe he’s alive!”

“She refuses to leave their house, Cat. She always sets a place for him in the table because she believes he will be coming back anytime.”

She was crying now, terrified, angry, desperate. “Petyr you said you love me.”

“Catelyn—”

It was easy to kiss him because their heights almost matched. She sank against him, kissing him wildly, thrusting her tongue, grabbing at his hair. He staggered under the force of her body, dropping the blasted folder and clippings to the floor to hold her. She moaned, knowing he would find it irresistible and because she felt true. Only Petyr could do this.

He caressed her cheek, pushed a hand under her blouse to cup her tits. She shivered, the old responses Ned had never been able to summon coming back with the rush of a tidal wave.

She was going to have to fuck her way out of this.

Petyr pulled away. She stared at him, startled that he didn’t fling her to the bed. When their eyes met, she saw pity in them.

“I still love an image of you that’s turned out to be long dead. I don’t know you at all.”

“Petyr—”

“Trying your charms on me, Cat? And haven’t you just been telling me you’re married?”

“You have to believe me—”

“That you still love me? You’ll have to convince me harder, Cat. The kiss was great. That hasn’t changed. Your husband probably worships you because you fuck like a whore. I never forgot that.”

“Petyr, I’m begging you—”

“I owe you nothing. Yes, it was my idea. I will always regret that. I will never be forgiven. But knowing that I can face the repercussions of that choice will help me sleep better tonight. You on the other hand. . .you’re a stranger.”

“You will destroy my life with your honesty!”

“What about my life? Hells, Cat, we’re in this together. It’s not just you that gets destroyed.”

“Petyr,” she tried again, trying to reach for him. He sidestepped her. Shaking from her sobs, she made a final plea, “Oh, gods, please think of my son growing up without his mother!”

Petyr shook his head. “He was a father of three. Aged fifteen, twelve and six. He was an alcoholic and could never hold a job. But he was their father.”

Sobbing still, she could only watch as he strode to the door. “You should leave, Cat. I don’t want to see you again.”

Her life was over.

She wiped the sleeve of her sweater across her eyes, on her cheeks and she got her bag. Petyr stood by the door, ready to open it. She was still sobbing as she approached him.

Once she was out of that door, there was no going back.

No, from the moment she had agreed to see Petyr, her fate was sealed.

Their shoulders brushed.

Cat looked sadly at Petyr. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, before suddenly hugging him.

He hugged her back. She tightened her hold on him. “Cat.”

She began to squeeze.

Realizing what she was trying to do, he began to struggle. Desperation added to her strength, and she swung so she was between him and the door, her arms tightening around him that their ribs began to bump, brush, dig. Spotting the wall behind him, she determinedly moved him towards it, using the entire weight of her body to shove him against its unyielding surface.

She heard the crack of his skull on the wall. “What the fuck is wrong with you, Cat?”

As soon as he finished speaking, she grabbed the Dothraki bust from the table and hit him. Another crack, probably his cheekbone.

Petyr crumpled to floor, his eyes wide. She threw herself on top of him, her knees digging hard in his ribs as she brained him again. He gasped, swinging an arm and knocking it out of her hands. She was fast, slamming her arm down his throat and pressing.

“C—Cahh---”

Pressing some more.

He rocked against her, and it was just like old times. He loved it when she was on top. Loved to watch her tremble and moan from her orgasm. Catelyn gritted her teeth, her eyes dark pools as they reflected Petyr’s. His heart stuttered under her chest. The muscles and bones in his throat strained as he tried to catch air.

His lips opened, forming her name in silence.

His body began to soften. Catelyn bent, driving her arm to harder down his throat. She pinched his nostrils closed and slanted her mouth over his lips. She discovered a pool of spit.

She kept her mouth fused to his, firmed her hold on his nose.

As the air left Petyr for the last time and his body softened as if sucked of bone and strength, Catelyn Stark moaned and ground her hips against him.

 She gasped and slumped against his still form. Her chest was tight. Her heart hurt. She lay there for probably a minute, a few seconds, an hour. Maybe days. Just listening to herself breathe. Feeling the cold sweat coating her body. Petyr. Unmoving.

Gone.

Gone.

Slowly, she moved away from him, rising to her knees. His eyes were calm, unseeing dark pools. She pressed them close and rose to her feet. She took a deep, deep breath and stared out of the window.

It was over. Really over.

Through the glass, she saw that her ponytail remained tight. Her sweater and blouse still perfectly flat.

She was still looking out of the window when a loud thump followed by a cry came from the street below. She glanced at the young man on the ground clutching at his leg while the fat driver of the ice cream truck lumbered out.

Life goes on, she thought before turning away.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Home.

Catelyn took her time pulling out the keys. The clicking sounds were loud in the silence of the car and the faint rush of the river outside her house. Unbuckled her seatbelt next.

Gods, she thought, palming herself between the legs briefly. She was still damp and sticky.

Her eyes darted to the rearview mirror, glancing at the trunk before letting out a sigh. She picked up her bag from the passenger seat and got out.

She threw another look at the trunk before shouldering her bag and heading for the house. She dragged down the ends of her hair the hair band holding it in a ponytail, allowing the soft waves to ripple down her shoulders. For a second, her auburn hair gleamed dark crimson under the sun, against the white of her sweater. She hoped Ned didn’t notice that one of her pant legs had come uncuffed. Almost nothing slipped past him.

But she was not afraid nor anxious. She felt lit. Exhilarated.

A smile that refused to be suppressed stretched her lips as she threw another look at the car before letting herself inside the house. Immediately, Ned’s patient, amused voice and Robb’s whine reached her ears.

“I’m home!” She called out, halting the argument between father and son. She locked the door and put her bag on a console table. She walked down the hallway, excitement on her face as she heard Robb running toward her. He leaped from around the corner and straight into her opening arms.

“Mom!” Robb exclaimed, hugging her briefly but long enough for her to take a deep whiff of his hair. There were still traces of his sweet baby scent, as only his mother would know. She looked at him, breathing stopped from the fist around her heart. She touched him on the cheek. He was still soft. Her growing boy. Hers, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do to be apart from him.

Robb pouted up at her. “Dad says I should take a nap.”

“I order students to get a twenty-page paper done without question but at home, I’m hopeless,” Ned announced with mock defeat as he grinned at Catelyn. “Let’s see you do this, Cat.”

Catelyn ruffled Robb’s hair. “Guess what we’re having for dinner?”

Robb’s eyes lit up. “What?”

She winked at Ned and turned back to the boy. “It’s a secret only for children who nap.”

“Mom!”

She laughed and urged him toward the stairs. “Go on, now, Robb. Come on, it’s just an hour.”

“Alright,” he grunted, taking one step then two on the stairs. He turned back to her hopefully. “Err. . .if I guess can I not take a nap?”

“Nope, young man,” Catelyn shook her head, smiling at him. “That’s the deal. Nap for an hour or you’ll never know.”

Robb sighed loudly. Before he could turn around the corner toward his room, she called him. She smiled at his sullen face.

“I love you, Robb.”

He sighed loudly and rolled his eyes. “Fine, Mom.”

She stared a moment at the space he had just vacated before turning to Ned. Looking amused, she murmured, “Hope you were taking down notes.”

“Hard not to stare,” Ned said, taking her in his arms.

Usually, something in her recoiled at his first touch. There was none of that resistance now. For the first time she appreciated how he was so much taller, how solid his form was. That his eyes, the soft gray of an impending storm, could rival green-gray that once flickered.

He started to lower his head to kiss her. She hugged him instead, pressing her cheek to his chest. There was no man she could love as much as she had Petyr. But she did care for her husband. He had given her so much. In return she should try to love him more each day. This was the life she had chosen, and part of the burden was to try.

As she embraced Ned, her eyes rested on her car outside the window. She was still excited over what had happened at Eastwatch Hotel. At last every bit of that hellish night had been erased. No one would know. She hid a gasp against his shirt, squeezing her thighs together from the thrill of freedom. She was wet.

The life she had worked so hard to build was now truly hers. No one was taking it away. Now she was truly sure. No more looking over her shoulder. No more nights haunted by the roar of the chainsaw, still tasting blood when she swallowed. There was finally peace.

“Did it go okay?” Ned asked.

She froze. “I’m sorry?”

“The office,” he said, taking her face in his large hand. He laughed at the obvious relief on her face. “What the hell were you thinking?”

She shook her head, forcing herself to laugh. “Nothing. Sorry. My head has just been swamped with the amendment this Wednesday. I’m sorry. I’ve been neglecting you and Robb,” she said, sounding like she meant it. “I’m all yours now.”

“Until the vote,” Ned said, caressing her cheek.

She sighed. Leaning against him, she tilted her face up for a kiss. “It’s still a few days away. I want to forget that for now.”

He smiled and kissed her. She grabbed him by the face, enjoying his surprise as she quickly roughened the kiss. He felt so warm, so solid. She could enjoy being with him, like this.

Ned was clearly pleased that she was initiating this time, grinning as she pulled him behind her to the sofa. His eyes lit up as they stood next to it, a little smile tugging at the corners of her crimson lips as she loosened his belt. She looked up at him before taking hold of his pants. Then she pushed it down, her knees folding as she followed it to the floor.

His sigh was laced with a growl and a purr as her fingers wrapped around his cock, guiding it to her mouth. He was not very long. Rather he was thick, the shape of him flaring toward towards the base. It was easy to take all of him in her mouth.

Her nose was clouded with the dark, intimate scent of her husband as she made a show of worshipping his cock with hungry kisses and frantic licks. It had been a long time since she’d done this, but she never forgot what he liked. Rubbing him in between suckles, she looked up at him, holding his eyes while her other hand snaked towards his hip, then his ass.

He grunted as her fingers fluttered towards the cleft. Her mouth tightened around his cock when he suddenly grabbed her errant hand, crushing her wrist painfully. She gasped as his cock slipped out of her and he yanked her to her feet, shaking his head, his eyes cold as glaciers. As she whimpered from actual discomfort, she was smiling inside. Control was Ned Stark’s currency and she knew better than to try wrestling it from him. He thought she had repeated the mistake. Fool, she thought, before letting out a cry as he twisted her arm around her and shoved her towards the window.

She stared at her car. In the glass, she saw her eyes glitter.

“N-Ned. . .” she tried to say, pretending to struggle as he tore at her pants. He kept her arm pinned behind her. Her other hand flattened on the glass slowly fogging from her breathing. She whined as he ripped her panties open. Damn him. They were expensive silk.

Suddenly, his hand released her arm, only to close around her neck. She squirmed, seeing the shadowy, milky image of his grave, tight expression on the glass as he fumbled between them for his cock.

Her eyes hardened gazing at her car, once again a feeling of peace settling in her just as Ned drove hard into her pussy. Stunned, she tore her eyes away from the window, arching her neck and struggling to gasp as his hand tightened. Her head dropped toward the glass from the brutal thrusts of his cock inside her, making her shake and bang on the glass.

Her hands curled uselessly on the glass as he flattened her against it, clutching her by the throat and driving a hard finger between her labia to roughly play with her clitoris. She shuddered from the pleasure spiraling in her, her mind at war with her pussy as she flailed and struggled. She hated this. When this brute she married made her feel insanely good sometimes. It still felt like a betrayal to Petyr even when that man deserved to die.

To her relief, Ned released his hold on her throat, slipping his hand under her blouse to play with her tits through her bra. She grunted as he pressed her harder against the glass with his body, his head against the back of her skull stilling her.  

As Ned fucked her faster, harder, her eyes softened, glimmering with something that could pass for love. She gazed at the car until her gasps misted the glass, like a ghost.

 ******
Brienne squirmed, writhing helplessly on the bed as searing pleasure flared from her pussy and spread to the rest of her body. Her throat was tight, hurting as she fought to quell the screams desperate to escape.

Jaime, knowing her body so well, slipped his hand from her thigh toward her mouth, tugging sharply at her nipple. Then his hand cupped over her mouth. Relieved, she clutched it to her lips. Her screams melted into whimpers as she covered it with quick, hard kisses. As she pulled two fingers in her mouth, his lips attacked her clitoris.

She bit him. He groaned against her slick flesh. She sucked his fingers, gripping it with both hands. He pressed his face to her pussy, his beard scraping the glistening, inner folds. Hard fingers thrust in her. Her thighs tried to meet, seeking relief from the electric pleasure. Suddenly, he pulled his hand away from her face, and flattened it on her thigh to spread her wider. Her eyes huge, she gaped at the ceiling, feeling her juices flow. He slurped every drop then thrust his tongue inside.

Biting her fist, she whimpered, “Jaime.”

Through dazed eyes, she saw his blond head moving up and down her pussy, the firm muscles of his shoulders and back bunching, tensing. “I want you,” she sobbed. “I want you so much. Jaime. Jaime.

She wailed in protest, feeling her release approach. She needed to come, true. But she needed Jaime. Only Jaime. “Fuck me,” she pleaded, trying to break away from his hands, his devastating kisses. “Fuck me now, Jaime.”

To her relief, he got up. Through the soft lighting, she saw the lower half of his face gleaming with her. She couldn’t resist pulling him down, arms and legs wrapping around his body as she devoured his mouth and tongue and pawed at his shoulders, his back, his ass. “Inside, please,” she begged, licking her own flavor from her lips as her face flamed.

He nodded, emerald eyes glowing. “Let me get the condom.”

“No!” She shook her head. “I want only you. Just you.”

She turned on her hands and knees, thrust her ass in the air. “Damn,” he muttered, but his voice laced with excitement. She watched him dig in the bedside drawer for the lube and squeeze a generous amount on his palm.

She sighed as he got behind her, listening as he rubbed it on his cock. She blushed as his fingers swept her cheeks open and smeared some lube in her too. She closed her eyes, moaning, her nipples hardening painfully as his fingers fucked her to open and relax this tight, unyielding passage.

“Jaime, please.”

He chuckled softly, giving her butt a playful little spank. She giggled too, reaching behind to spread herself open. As he rubbed his lubed cockhead against her entrance, he kissed her between the shoulders. “Are you sure, sweetheart?”

She dropped her head forward, feeling her entire body blush as he continued kissing her. “Yes. I’ve missed you. Having just you.”

Groans left them as he tentatively thrust inside her. She wanted him fast, to really fuck her but she knew he wanted to be careful to not hurt her. Her legs were spread so impossibly wide, and his hand kept her skin spread so he could fit inside her, get her used again to having him like this. It had been so long when it was only Jaime inside her. She craved him bare inside her but didn’t want to risk another pregnancy so soon.

He was slow to fuck her, his cock pressing deeper at every return, forcing her to strain, stretch, give and give. She missed having him just like this, feeling him hard without the latex. Losing herself in the amazing sensation, she could feel the bulge of veins lining his cock rubbing the very sensitive nerves inside her. Her fell face on the pillow, and there she screamed her pleasure.

Jaime groaned behind a few moments later, and she whimpered at the warm spill of his cock inside her. She propped herself up on an elbow, pressing her weight into them because her legs were zapped of strength. Feeling his sweat splash on her back, her hand reached behind, desperate to touch him and finding the hairy column of his thigh. His hand pressed hers as he slammed inside one last time with a gasp.

She grunted, clutching at the pillow, hands gripping each other’s. He panted against her nape, ruffling her sweat-damp hairs as he wearily pulled out. She watched him fall in bed next to her, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. His face gleamed. She sniffed and was quickly intoxicated by the mix of sweat and freshly-scrubbed skin. Half-closed eyes slanted toward her, their emerald light now soft but still burning. As she reached up to caress his jaw, he took her hand and pressed it to his lips, kissing each finger.

“Are you okay?” He whispered, still holding her hand. “I wasn’t too rough?”

She shook her head, smiling softly. “You were great. Come here.”

He grinned as she pulled him close, embracing him as he put his head on her chest. He sighed and threw his arm around her waist, holding her just as tightly.

“Man, my cock is going to be lonely come tomorrow,” he teased, kissing around her nipple before licking it.

“You can pay me to stay.” She kissed his hair, loving the smell of sweat and shampoo.

“I’d better go buy a lottery ticket, then.”

“Uh-huh. You should.”

Neither moved. Then they suddenly burst out laughing.

From the baby monitor, Emma gurgled then wailed. Brienne clamped her hands around her mouth while Jaime buried his face between her tits, body shaking from silent laughter.

“She usually does wake up around this time,” Brienne said, glancing at the bedside clock. She smiled as Jaime kissed her firmly on the lips before hopping off the bed.

“I’ll get her. Stay,” he said, smirking as he made a big show of shrugging on his robe. “You’re worn out, sweetheart.”

She laughed again, just lying there as he made a quick visit to the bathroom to wash his hands before going to check on Emma. She got up, sighing as the clothes scattered all over. It was his fault, she thought, putting on her robe too before picking up the laundered and pressed clothes.

Jaime cleaned up the kitchen after lunch while Brienne fed Emma. Brienne rocked her to sleep afterwards, and her baby, satisfied from her meal, was quick to close her eyes and relax in her arms. Jaime and Brienne ran into each other in the hallway, he on his way for a shower, and her to get the clothes from the dryer. They stole a quick little kiss and as they went off to their different tasks, he patted her on the ass.

In the basement, she folded the clothes and put them in the laundry basket. She took it to the bedroom. As she opened the door, Jaime was stepping out of the bathroom, skin still dotted with water. Looking like a god wet and naked. In her shock, she had dropped the basket to the floor, spilling the clothes. He took one look at her and tossed her on the bed.

She was putting few t-shirts and sweaters in the dresser when Jaime returned, a red-faced but calm Emma in his arms. Emma’s face brightened upon seeing Brienne, thrusting her chubby arms to her. “She can’t be hungry again, is she?” Jaime asked as he transferred the baby to her arms.

Emma didn’t press her face on her tits. “No. Probably had a dream?” Brienne supposed, bouncing her gently and kissing her. Emma shrieked, giving her a gummy smile. “Did you have a bad dream?”

“You know, maybe you should take it easy for the rest of the day. You’re going back to work tomorrow,” Jaime suggested.

“What do you have in mind?”

“I thought pizza. And we take Emma to bed with us. What do you say?”

“It sounds like heaven,” she said honestly, kissing him on the cheek. As Jaime smiled at her, her phone rang and began to dance across the bedside table as it vibrated. She rolled her eyes while he went to get it, rolling his eyes too as he showed her who was calling her. Emma wailed at the sound and Jaime quickly pressed the button to answer it. He held it to Brienne’s ear.

“Hi, Renly,” she greeted her boss with forced cheer. Jaime shook his head and mouthed, Prick. She nodded. As much as she appreciated the opportunities her boss had given her, she drew the line at work calls during the weekend. I know.

“Brienne, hello. Sorry to call you on a Sunday.”

“No, no. It’s alright. What’s going on?” Since Emma continued to squirm, Brienne handed her to Jaime. Their daughter calmed once in his arms and she took the phone from him.

“There’s a claim filed just now. I thought there’s no better welcome back than an investigation. Interested?”

“Of course. What’s the claim?”

“Our client got in an accident involving an ice cream truck. The ice cream people refuse to pay so we need OPEM to verify the claim. If it’s just me, I’d believe our guy right away. No one takes on an ice cream company unless something really happened.”

“Well, I’m your gal.”

“Great. Looking forward to have you back tomorrow, Brienne. Sorry for interrupting your weekend.”

“It’s alright. Thanks for thinking of me, Renly.”

“No problem. You’re the best. Give my regards to Jaime and the baby.”

“Will do.” She hung up, turned off the phone and joined Jaime and Emma in bed.

 

******

Ned took charge of cooking that night. Catelyn was grateful. In the kitchen, the entire family chipped in, with her chopping the garlic, onions and fresh herbs, Ned making the fresh pasta and Robb grating the cheese. When it was time to toss the pasta into the boiling water, Catelyn excused herself.

She made sure father and son were distracted by the cooking before ducking out of the house. It wasn’t easy moving fast, and stealthily. Ned had used her hard and now her body was paying for it. She was riddled with cramps and it honestly hurt to sit down.

As their voices disappeared behind her, she went to the front door and unlocked it. The exterior lights were on. There was no nosy neighbor to worry about since they were alone, and the kitchen didn’t look out into the driveway. But gods, the hellish cold, she thought, seeing the air leave her lips in clear, white puffs. She hugged herself, wincing at how her body stiffened from the sudden motions. She gritted her teeth from discomfort and the cold while unlocking the trunk.

She stared at the suitcase, took a deep breath, and began to lift it.

Fuck the Seven but it was heavy.

She almost cried out as the suitcase slipped from her fingers and crashed on the concrete. Panicked, she looked back at the house but there was nothing. No door opening. Nothing. She sighed and pulled up the handle. She dragged the suitcase behind her toward the garage.

The door flipped open and she turned on the lights. She blinked at the sudden brightness, feeling her eyes sting. As she pulled the suitcase behind her, she walked past the glass display where Ned kept his tools. He was more into restoring furniture and doing minor repairs, but the garage was fully equipped with everything, from three kinds of hammers, cannisters of different nails and screws, and a chainsaw for getting rid of branches scraping the windows.

Since Ned worked for hours here, there were a few additions to accommodate his stay. Aside from a cupboard that held some snacks, he also kept a freezer for his drinks. It also served as storage for meat during The Feast of the Seven or when he went hunting and came back with enough supply to last them for two months. Catelyn steered the suitcase toward it.

She dragged the table as close as possible toward the freezer. She glared at the suitcase at her feet, took a deep breath and picked it up.

Her legs and arms screamed as she lifted the case and tossed it on the table. She panted, staring before unzipping it. She glanced behind her and cursed.

She had left the garage door open.

Working quickly, she flipped the case open. There Petyr lay, body in a tight fetal curl, looking miserable and pathetic even in death. Catelyn opened the freezer door, propping it up with one hand while she heaved and grunted to toss Petry right from the suitcase and into its icy mouth. He slammed headfirst, his back facing her. She shut the door and hid the suitcase behind one of the shelves. Then she pushed the table back to its original spot.

As she rushed out, she glanced at the chainsaw again, already knowing her next move. She closed the garage and once again found herself in the cold darkness, the temperature hardly any different from the icy gust coming from the freezer. She glanced back at the garage.

A few minutes later, she heard the front door open. She looked up from the basket at her side, seeing Ned looking at her disbelief.

“Cat!” He exclaimed, white puffs of his breath trailing after her name as he hugged himself. “What the hell are you doing out? It’s freezing!”

“I thought to get some flowers for the table,” she said, feeling her teeth chatter as she straightened up. She held up the basket as he rushed to her. “I thought they would look nice. We’re having very lovely roses this year, don’t you think so?”

Ned gave her an exasperated look as he threw an arm around her, thinking to shield her from the cold. “Of course, all you can think about is making the dinner table look nice. You forgot to even put a scarf. Or a shawl.”

“You don’t have a coat on,” she pretended to chide him as they walked back to the house.  They followed the curving path illuminated by the lights that automatically came on as soon as it was dark.

“I didn’t know where you were.” He said, kissing her on the forehead.

She had to smile. It didn’t reach her eyes. “It just hit me to add flowers. Besides, I can always count on you to show me the path I must walk so I won’t stumble in the dark places that lie ahead, right, Ned?”

As she spoke, she was already thinking about crushing some sleeping spills and mixing them in his drink. A long night waited for her, and a noisy one at that, despite the closed door later.

It just wouldn’t do for Ned to discover exactly what she was going to do with the chainsaw. He loved that thing, she thought, hearing the rush of the river Trident before Ned ushered her back inside the house.

Chapter Text

 

To help ease her into going back to work, Jaime made a big breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs and bacon. Brienne nibbled on her buttered toast while Emma fed from her breast. She could only watch wistfully as Jaime sipped coffee before reaching for her glass of milk. She hoped to breastfeed for a year which meant skipping a lot of her favorite things—coffee, hot sauce, soda, junk food and sushi. They were little sacrifices to ensure her baby had better chances of being healthy but was hard, sometimes. Though she had given up smoking years ago, she used to keep an emergency pack at the bottom of the cabinet under the bathroom sink. She flushed them down the toilet when she and Jaime decided to start trying for a baby.

But her heart was heaviest as she lowered Emma in the carrier. This was where she would be for the day so Jaime could keep an eye on her as he worked. In the morning light, Emma’s eyes were like the emeralds of her dad, and Brienne would carry that memory in the days to come.

She shrugged on her coat and took her bag from the counter. Jaime hugged her from her behind. She smiled as he kissed her, his tongue dipping for a taste of her before they slowly parted. She leaned in to rest her forehead against him, smelling the faint trace of cotton, milk and coffee from him.

“You’ll be great, sweetheart,” he whispered. “We’ll be right here. Waiting.”

She nodded, feeling silly for feeling on the verge of tears. She looked away, taking a deep interest in the clasp of her bag. Aside from her purse, she was also bringing her breast pump to work.

“Here, I made you a packed lunch,” Jaime said, holding out a bag towards her. At her startled, happy expression, he grinned. “It’s just a sandwich and an apple. Also, your favorite grape juice.”

“Gods, I love you so much,” she declared, suddenly hugging him fiercely.

The drive to work was twenty minutes. Brienne hoped she didn’t get too overwhelmed on her first day back, or that she didn’t annoy Jaime calling every hour to check on Emma. She had left him alone with their daughter before. So, it was just a matter of keeping sane until it was time to go home.

She was being fucking ridiculous. And too attached. She managed to laugh at herself as she pulled over in the parking lot of the building where Baratheon Insurance kept offices. It felt different to be out in the sun this morning, she thought, hefting her purse and breast pump kit but taking care with her packed lunch.

She pressed her employment ID on the scanner as she made her way in. With her pale hair and six-foot-three height, she stood out from the crowd despite wearing a dark coat and carrying briefcases and purses in somber colors. Clutching her lunch protectively to her chest, she squeezed in the elevator to be taken to the twentieth floor.

Baratheon Insurance was at the top floor. She had the carriage to herself by the time it made the last trip up.

She stepped away from the doors, suddenly hit by anxiety. Gone were her worries about Emma, Jaime, and being a bad mother for choosing to go back to work. Now she stared at the elegant, sleek offices of Baratheon Insurance with panic in her eyes.

She was staring dumbly at the black letters of Baratheon Insurance on a yellow background when somebody shrieked. Shocked out of her panic, her eyes widened as her co-workers rushed to gather around her and envelop her in hugs. Permutations of “Welcome back, Brienne!” “When will you bring your baby girl to work?” “We missed you, Tarth!” were yelled to her ears until they were ringing.

Flushed, embarrassed over the attention given to her, she wanted to curl into a ball and just disappear. But from out of where came a cake with vanilla frosting and “Welcome Back,” spelled in chocolate.

“We really felt your absence, Brienne,” Renly Baratheon said, breaking away from the crowd to give her a quick hug. They were of the same height, so his navy eyes looked directly into hers. He kept his black hair trimmed close to the skull, a thick, neat beard emphasizing the strength of his jaw.

“This is a nice welcome, thanks,” Brienne murmured, relieved that when he appeared, the crowd and excitement began to die down. Someone called out that cake will be served in the pantry and one would be bringing over a slice to Brienne’s desk.

“You look great, by the way. Motherhood suits you,” Renly remarked as she followed him down the aisle of cubicles.

“That’s nice to know. So, you said over the phone that you already have a job for me?” Brienne liked to get right to the point.

“Just something to get your pretty feet on your first day back,” Renly threw a smile over his shoulder. “But can I have a word with you in my office first? Leave your things at your desk then come to me.”

Brienne went to her desk. Cleared of work just before she went on her maternity leave, she put her bags on it, securing the lunch Jaime packed for her in a drawer. She straightened the photo frame of Jaime’s smiling face then went to Renly’s office.

“Hey,” he said, looking up from a folder as she stood hesitantly by the door. “Come in. Sit down.”

“Thanks,” she said, sitting down on one of the leather chairs at his desk.

“We’ll talk about the details of the claim I called you about in a bit, “ he began. “I thought we could discuss OPEM first.”

“Great. I was hoping we would, actually. The Congress will be voting to amend the Varys Law in a couple of days.”

“If the amendment gets enough votes, it will be a win for us. While we’re still waiting, I had our lawyers take another look at the current end-user license agreement. People have the right to disagree about our using OPEM on them in an investigation but. . .” His voice trailed off and he glanced at her pointedly.

Understanding right away, she said, “They must be urged to cooperate, nevertheless. We don’t need to involve law enforcement, unless we have to.” She knew the spiel by heart. It wasn’t coercion but a reminder to people that refusal to cooperate would lead to intervention from the police.

“Exactly.”

“What happens if the votes are not in our favor, Renly?”

He waved aside her concern. “My sources assure me that Catelyn Stark is leading the charge to amend the Varys Law. What she says, they will do.”

“I sure hope so. OPEM has made claims and verification a lot easier. The insurance industry loses millions to fraud every year.” It made bonuses a lot harder to get these days. Baratheon Insurance gave bonuses to claims resolved quickly so she was gung-ho in finishing her first assignment.

“That’s one thing. But I want you to always have copies of this.” Renly pushed the folder he had been looking at to her. “Make sure whoever you interview knows his or her rights.”

“Of course.”

“We really need that amendment. And I hope to make you claims supervisor, Brienne. It’s about time we start training people here about OPEM and you’re the best person for the job.”

It was difficult to hide her excitement. It looked like Renly was going to deliver on his promise, after all. She and Jaime were not struggling but they could always use the extra money. Like start a college fund for Emma.

“I hope so,” she said, biting her lip and letting herself smile. “Thanks for believing in me, Renly.”

 

*****
Catelyn, holding Robb by the hand, walked him and Ned to the door. Father and son were already dressed, Ned in his three-piece gray suit and striped navy and red tie, Robb in his uniform of black blazer, khaki pants, white shirt and black-and-gray tie. Catelyn was only wearing her robe over her pajamas.

“We should go out after this guy’s recital on Wednesday,” Ned said as he opened the door.

“Can we have pizza, Dad? Please?” Robb begged.

“I don’t see why not.” Ned grinned at him and turned back to Catelyn. His face suddenly serious, he added softly, “Promise me you’ll make it, Cat.”

“Ned, I’m not going to break my word,” Catelyn said, just about hiding the impatience from her voice. She bent to offer her cheek to Robb. “Give Mommy a kiss, Robb.”

Robb kissed her and, oblivious to the tension between his parents, ran out of the house and toward Ned’s car. Catelyn gazed after him, her throat welling up before turning back to Ned.

“I’m not going to miss my son’s recital. I know I have missed so much in the past, but I swear it,” she said, looking hard in his gray eyes. “Robb matters to me. You matter to me. You are all I need in my life.”

She put her arms around his waist as she spoke, knowing how to touch and where so the iron in his eyes would soften. Ned Stark could be such an exhausting man, and often not in the best way. He fucked her like a whore in bed, worshipped her like a goddess by reading her poetry afterward, and then accused her of the silliest things as soon as the sun rose.

He had become more temperamental as Robb’s recital date approached, which coincided when Congress voted for the amendment to the Varys Law. She softened her gaze, willing Ned to look at her, caressing his cheek to melt the frown on his face.

“I will be there, Ned.” She whispered.

Then she drew him down for a kiss, mashing her lips to his softly at first, before her tongue swooped in for a taste. He growled softly, suddenly seizing her around the waist and touching her possessively. Her hands on his chest pushed him away, gently but firmly.

“I trust you, Cat.” Ned kissed her again then went to his car. She stood by the door, waving as he pulled out of the driveway and drove away. She waited until they turned around the corner and disappeared.

Catelyn gave it ten minutes before she sprang toward the garage. She threw a hand over her eyes as the sun bored hard on her. The wind whipped at her robe and hair, sending tendrils straight into her mouth to be spat out. Her low-heeled, silken backless slippers were not suited for outdoors.

As she unlocked the garage door, Catelyn glanced toward the street again, tensing. Ned might have forgotten something. Or Robb. She waited another ten minutes then went right inside. She closed the door. She strolled past the glass display of hammers, drill and other carpentry tools, glancing at the chainsaw before reaching the freezer.

Before lifting the door, she took a deep breath, then held it. The freezer should contain the smell of the chopped pieces of Petyr. The chill should freeze the blood. She had to wait for at least six hours, to cut him into pieces. The pills in Ned’s drink last night, and Robb’s, knocked them out until morning, leaving her plenty of time to do the work needed. Clean-up was minimal.

Now the body. And what it had become.

She had floated some pieces of Petyr in the Trident last night but not all of him. Since their house was one of the few along it, it would be easy to determine where the forearm could have come from. She had peeled off the skin for his fingerprints so it would be harder to track him should someone find one of his hands.

No, she’ll have to dump the rest of him elsewhere. Then burn all the other evidence pointing to it.

Catelyn lifted the freezer door, stared at the bloody, perfectly-cut pieces of Petyr then bent to pick up the first of the many.

 

*******


Her tits hurt like a motherfucker.

Brienne winced as she killed the engine. The hot, pressing pain on her tits indicated that Emma was hungry. At home, she only had to raise her shirt to feed her baby. She had prepared for this inevitable by pumping milk before leaving work, and then soon after she had cake with her co-workers. That was at least a couple of hours ago.

It was great that Emma had voracious appetite, but Brienne’s body would have to adjust now that she was away. The only time Emma was ever fed from a bottle was when it was Jaime’s turn. She was almost exclusively fed right from Brienne’s tits.

She gave herself a moment in the parking lot of Kingsland hospital. She was wearing a sweater over her blouse—she only had to lift cloth and attack some buttons to start pumping. But she was in her car in broad daylight, with lightly-tinted windows. She sighed and unbuckled her seatbelt. She took her purse with her before she stepped out of the car, then unlocked the backseat to get the case containing the OPEM kit.

At the front desk, she asked for his room number. He was in a semi-private ward, at the fifth floor. Brienne groaned under her breath as she headed for the elevator. She hoped it didn’t take long to get his side of the story. Her tits were absolutely killing her.

She found Podrick Payne in the ward looking bored. Brienne felt sorry for him. He was young and a nice-looking enough young man with close-cropped dark hair and earnest brown eyes. He glumly acknowledged her presence as she introduced herself, his eyes flitting from her then back to his suspended leg.

“I’m missing school because of my busted leg,” he complained.

“You’re in school?” Brienne asked. From the record, she knew he was twenty-five years old.

“Night school,” he explained. “And on weekends I fill in as a line cook at Eastwatch Hotel. I’m not a regular there, just one of their emergency guys.”

“I see,” she murmured. She glanced at his leg. “So, are you okay for me verifying your claim? It’s standard routine,” she added. “The sooner we sit down for it, the better.”

“No problem, ma’am.”

“So, tell me what happened?”

“I was on my way to my shift at the Eastwatch Hotel, “ he said. “I got some smokes from the convenience store across the hotel, lit up. Smoked when I got out. Had a few drags before I threw the cigarette away. I swear to you, miss, I looked both sides of the street first before crossing. The ice cream truck was idle, so I didn’t pay any attention to it. I’ve just, like, maybe been two steps from the curb when it suddenly backed away and hit me.”

“What happened next?” Brienne asked.

Podrick shrugged. “I was on the ground and my leg really hurt. Then this guy in pink and blue, I think, came to me and started apologizing. I passed out. It hurt like Seven Hells, if you’ll excuse the language, ma’am.”

“Of course,” she assured him. She pulled a chair next to the bed and started readying the OPEM equipment. “So, the next thing is I’ll be looking inside your head. Here’s the form,” she said, giving him the folder containing the ELA. “Why don’t you take a look before I set up. You have the right to refuse but it might impede your claim—the process to verify will take longer.”

“No, I’ve no problem with you looking in my head.” Podrick tapped his finger on his temple, smiling at her. “Nothing to hide there.”

“Good.” Brienne handed him a pen. “If you will sign here, please,” she instructed, tapping the lower right corner of the contract. Podrick took the pen from her and scrawled his signature.

He watched her take out the tablet and the thumb-sized holder of the chip. “How does that work?”

“This is OPEM,” she explained, uncapping the holder and pulling out a tiny, flat silver disc. “Open Memory. What I will be doing is stick this right here,” she walked to him and carefully stuck the silver disc on his temple.

“It looks like a candy,” Podrick said. “Like a mint, you know?”

Brienne smiled. “Yep. It sure does.”

She made sure the tablet stuck to him before continuing to set up the rest of the OPEM equipment: a tablet to watch Podrick’s memories from and a small headset for listening. They were all wireless. She tucked the headset around her ear and looked at Podrick.

“Say, Ms. Lannister?”

“Yes?”

Podrick flushed. “Um, you’ll be seeing all my memories, right?”

“Well, not all,” she clarified. “Just what you remember. If you’re worried about me seeing some sensitive memories, the ELA you signed states I can not disclose other memories that do not pertain to your claim. It would be illegal for me to do so.”

“But there will be a record,” he persisted.

“We will use only memories that can be used to support your claim. Only those memories,” she added a gentler tone. She was used to getting badgered like this. “So, if you’re—”

Podrick watched in confusion as she looked in her bag. She held out a small pint of chocolate ice cream to him.

“What’s that for?”

“To help with your memories.” She removed the cover and handed it to him. “Smell is a great trigger for memory and you were standing by the ice cream truck when you got hit.”

“Interesting,” he said, nodding and clearly pleased. He sniffed the ice cream. “Is it okay to have this?”

“Sure,” she said, reaching in her bag again for a plastic spoon. “But just smell the ice cream for now. Concentrate on what happened yesterday.”

She sat down and picked up the tablet. Images began to play from the screen right away: a slim redhead with full, firm tits lying flat on her back on a bed. Her eyes stared at Brienne adoringly.

She will never get used seeing people fucking through strangers’ eyes. She blushed as the girl whispered, “You feel so good inside me, Pod.”

“Err, just concentrate on the moments prior to the accident,” Brienne suggested, crossing her arms and quickly regretting it. Her tits were killing her. Gods, she prayed. Don’t let me leak.

Podrick cleared his throat. “Okay. Sorry about that.”

“Smell the ice cream.” He did.

She saw Podrick Payne buying cigarettes from the convenience store across Eastwatch Hotel. He lit his cigarette. Smoke clouded his memories but only for a quick moment. He looked both sides of the street. There. The pink-and-blue ice cream truck. White Sno-Walkers was its name, written in font that looked like fluffy clouds but meant to look ice.

Podrick crossed the street. As he had told her, he was barely a few steps forward when the ice cream suddenly backed into him. Brienne saw the world spin, flip, as he fell. He cried out, groaning and cursing.

A fat man, dressed in a pink checked shirt and pale blue pants, lumbered out of the truck. He looked pale and terrified.

“You fucking hit me!” Podrick swore from the screen.

“You weren’t looking!” The fat guy whined. He had a pink face and big dark eyes.

“Turn, turn,” Brienne whispered, staring through Podrick’s eyes at the man. As Podrick gasped, she guessed that his head turned because he was suddenly staring at the windows of Eastwatch Hotel. The guestrooms.

There was only one face looking from a window of the hotel,  but it was too pale, and vanished quickly. But Brienne at least had another face to pursue the investigation, she thought. She whipped out her notebook and took notes of the ice cream truck guy futilely trying to calm down a hysterical Podrick. Then the screen went black.

“Thank you,” she told him,  getting the disc from his temple and stashing it carefully back in the thumb-sized cannnister. “We will be updating you on the claim shortly.”

“My claim is legit, right?’ Podricked asked, sounding worried.

“I believe it is,” she assured him, packing the equipment. “But there are witnesses I have to talk to first before we can finalize the claim, okay?”

“Okay,” Podrick mumbled, sinking back on the bed. “Man, I can’t believe the doctors won’t let me out yet. It just blows being on my ass all day.”

“I know the feeling,” Brienne sympathized, pulling the blanket all the way to his chest.

“Thanks, ma’am.”

“We’ll update you as soon as this is resolved,” she promised, taking the bag. “For now, just take care of yourself. Try not to worry so much.”

She tried not to run back to her car for her breast pump. But did, anyway.


 

Chapter Text

In what was turning out to be the longest, and the hardest day of his life, Jaime could only bury his  face in his palms as Emma screamed for probably the fiftieth time. A knife slashed through his heart with every howl leaving her tiny lungs. He opened his eyes, peering at the laptop. The display consisted of suddenly-indiscernible. He sighed, lowered his hands and got up from the chair to go to Emma.

She slept in a carrier on the coffee table. The crib was fine but Jaime worried about getting so lost in his work he might forget her.

As soon as Emma saw him, her cries stopped. His heart twisted at her tear-stained face, at how her chin wobbled—just like how Brienne’s would when watching a sad movie. “Sorry to keep you waiting, come here,” he murmured, carefully picking her up. Emma whimpered but raised her arms and legs. Maybe she already knew what it meant when he bent to her.

“I love you, kid. Do you miss Mommy?” he asked, kissing her on the cheek while checking if she needed changing. All clear. He pressed his palm gently on her tummy to check if it was empty. Still quite full. He hugged her close, grinning when she let out a squeal and kind of punched him. She probably thought she had been abandoned. He chuckled and kissed her again, looking in her beautiful eyes.

“I miss Mommy,” he murmured, watching her suck her thumb. In the afternoon light, her eyes looked blue. “But she has to work. She has help Daddy so we have a roof over our heads. Maybe buy a bigger and nicer house someday. Maybe if Daddy did what his Daddy wanted and just became a lawyer, Mommy wouldn’t have to work. She could just be with you all day.” He kissed her on the forehead. “But Mommy enjoys her job. And Daddy is so proud of her. She’s the best insurance investigator.”

Emma seemed to tilt her head, then blinked. She looked just like her mother. He laughed. “You understand me, I think.”

Since it wasn’t too hot out, Jaime decided to take her out for a walk in the yard. He put a cap on her little head, anyway, and wrapped her up in one of Brienne’s shawls, just to be safe. In his back pocket his phone went then he and Emma were out of the door.

Emma squealed again at the change of scenery. She waved her arms in excitement, and Jaime had to bounce her gently in his arms to calm her down. Her eyes darted side to side, her head following the directions they went. He spun slowly, giving her a thorough three-sixty of their yard. The lawn needed mowing—he will have to do that in the weekend, and some of the shrubs and ferns could use a good trimming. The house would have to be re-painted next year. As he assessed what improvements could be made, Emma looked at the explosion of colors around her: the soft blue of the sky, the rich green of the lawn and the earth peeking in between, the red of Jaime’s car.

The house stood in the center of a small yard. A driveway was on the side, just big enough for their two cars. A curving path he and Brienne laid literally brick-by-brick and bordered by tiny blue daisies led to the front door.  Jaime went there now, holding Emma firmly as he bent to pick a flower. He straightened up, holding it to her tiny nose. Emma squealed and squirmed energetically in his arms.

They had one of the more modest houses in the street, dwarfed by three-story structures with many bedrooms and baths, with pools in the back or an entertainment space. But he loved their house, and they had put so much work to make it truly their own. The exterior was in cerulean blue and white colors, so it stood out from the usual, gray or brown-green tones of the more impressive houses. They maintained the yard by themselves, rather than having a professional come by to plant, trim and mow. The mailbox was bright crimson, with Lannister Hear Us Roar painted in yellow.

Their house had character, and brightly-colored mailbox aside, stood out. It made them easy to find, even in the dark. No one would miss their house.

Because being outside calmed Emma down, Jaime decided to work in the yard for the rest of the afternoon. He kept the hat on her, but outfitted her in a sweater and thicker socks, bundled her again in Brienne’s shawl before taking her out in the carrier. He put on a heavy sweater too. Leaning against a tree and Emma cooing next to him, he flipped open the laptop and continued working.

He was highlighting some sections when his cellphone rang. Brienne’s shyly smiling face flashed on the screen. Grinning, he swiped to answer. “Sweetheart,” he greeted her.

“Hi, baby,” Brienne’s soft, husky voice was the perfect antidote for cold nights. “How are you?”

“I miss you,” he said honestly. Emma squealed, and he laughed. “Emma misses you too.”

“She’s precious. I miss you both so much,” Brienne said with a sigh. “Baby, I’ll be home in a few hours. I have to go drive and investigate a claim.”

“So soon?” Brienne mentioned last night that Renly already had something for her. Jaime didn’t realize it meant she was out on the field on her very first day back.

“Yeah. But I’ll wrap this up by Wednesday, max. I’m already out so it seems a waste to not take advantage and see this other guy.”

“Where are you going?”

“Horn Hill. It’s not too far. Aside from missing me,” he smiled at the teasing note in her voice, “what else is going on with you?”

Jaime glanced at Emma, who was distracted by butterflies. He lowered his voice anyway. “I wish you’re here. I want to fuck you.”

He really missed being with her in the middle of the afternoon. That was one of the perks during her leave. He’d have fucked her on the desk by now, his face pressed against her sweaty neck as she groaned and clung.

“Jaime,” she gasped. “Gods.” He listened to her breath hitching. “I—I want you too. Inside me.”

“Hurry home, then,” he urged her. “Don’t take too long with the interview.”

“I’ll try not to.” She still sounded breathless. “You shouldn’t have told me you missed fucking me.” Despite her scolding tone, he knew she was blushing. And she was still panting. “I don’t know how I’m going to do the interview thinking—thinking about your cock.”

“You’re more than welcome, sweetheart.”

“Oh, you.” 

“Hurry back to me.”


******

Because Horn Hill was some twenty miles outside of town, Brienne loaded up on gas. She tucked the receipt securely in her wallet so that accounting could reimburse her later.

One of the things she hated about being an insurance investigator was the travel it entailed. Baratheon Insurance had branches all over the country, so she had never been away for more than a day while checking a claim. But the long drives could be difficult. It got lonely, it got boring, and sometimes it meant going home late.

She called the White Sno-Walker Company beforehand to ensure that their employee Samwell Tarly was there. The database had been quick to find him, as well as information about the company. Though run by the Tarly family, it was one of the businesses the food and beverage industry deemed someone to watch out for. Quietly, it had been buying other smaller ice cream companies and slowly expanding its operations. The CEO was Randyll Tarly. Brienne wondered about the connection between him and her interviewee.

She had to show her ID and get a pass before security allowed her into the lot to park. A few White Sno-Walker trucks were parked on the other side, probably left back here for repairs. At the lobby, she was directed to the operations office.

“Brienne Tarth,” she said, showing her ID to the gum-chewing brunette at the door. The girl sat behind the desk with a computer, so Brienne assumed she was a secretary or receptionist. “I have an appointment with Mr. Samwell Tarly.”

“Oh, right,” the girl said. She pressed a button the intercom. “Sam, it’s the insurance lady.” Releasing the button, she whispered to Brienne, “You know, Sam’s nice. He didn’t mean to hit the other guy.”

“I’m sure he is,” Brienne said. “But there’s still insurance to be claimed.”

“His daddy is really upset with him,” the girl continued, twirling a lock of her dark hair around a singer. The nail polish was chipped. “Sam’s terrified of him.”

“If he’s not at fault he has no reason to be.”

“Sam cares too much. I told him he’s a grown man and must stand up to his daddy and brother. People laugh at him because he’s just like them instead of being in the fancy upstairs offices.”

Brienne was just about to tell her that she shouldn’t be talking about someone’s private affairs with total strangers when an overweight, pale-faced young man with sweaty dark hair entered the room, through the very same door she had gone through. Recognizing him from Podrick Payne’s memories, Brienne held out her hand.

“Samwell Tarly. I’m Brienne Lannister of Baratheon insurance.”

“Oh.” Samwell flushed and took her hand. His hand was sweaty and cool. “Just—just call me Sam.”

“I won’t take too much of your time. Is there some place where we can talk?”

Sam looked at the girl and she nodded ahead of them. “Use the pantry.”

Sam looked relieved. “Oh. Right. Thanks, Gilly.”

Brienne followed him to a small room with two round tables, four chairs each. A vending machine was next to a roll-away stand on which a coffeemaker stood, along with cannisters for sugar and cream. Sam sat down while she readied the OPEM equipment.

She showed him the ELA, asking him to read it thoroughly before they could proceed. But Sam took a pen out of his shirt pocket and signed right away. “My brother is a lawyer and told me about this document.” He managed an awkward, hesitant smile. “So, uh, I think I know already what I’m getting into.”

“It’s a pretty standard document but I’d like to assure you we will only be using memories connected to the claim.” Brienne went to him, sticking the tiny disk at his temple. She set up the tablet and the other OPEM equipment. For a final touch, she pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.

Sam’s brown eyes widened, and he shook his head. “Oh, no, no, no. Sorry, Miss Tarth but you can’t smoke here.”

“My client was smoking when the accident happened,” she explained, pulling out a stick and lighting it up. “This is just to help jog your memory.”

“Oh.” Sam sniffed. Brienne looked at the screen and the memories immediately began to play.

A very familiar, auburn-haired woman walked past Sam while he was in his truck. Despite her ponytail and heavily-tinted sunglasses, Brienne knew she had seen her before.

Next were scenes of Sam selling ice cream and sno-cones to a bunch of kids. Brienne flicked the cigarette in his direction, coaxing him to focus on the memories prior to the accident. Sam blushed and nodded. Soon, the scenes were of him climbing into the truck, whistling to himself. He started the truck and backed away.

There it was. He had failed to look or check if there was anyone standing behind the truck. As soon as the truck inched away from its slot, there was a clear, loud cry coming from the back and Sam cursing. He tried to look behind, but his seatbelt held him firmly. Sam killed the engine and pulled the keys out.

As he ran, he looked up, towards Eastwatch Hotel. Brienne started when the screen showed a much clearer face of the woman at the window.

It was her. The woman with the glasses. The ponytail.

The blurry face from Podrick’s memories.

Brienne almost roared in triumph.

She could fucking smell the bonus.

 

*****
“I don’t like how the media is portraying me as surveillance-obsessed with no care for civil liberties,” Catelyn complained to Jon Snow, glaring at the different newspapers and their headlines he had spread out before her. “Of course, I still believe and value privacy. I never once disregarded that. My point is making into law technology that aids in fighting crime.”

“Then keep saying that,” Jon advised her, putting away the newspapers with a sigh. “Look, Cat, this is your first term as congresswoman, and believe me, the points are proof that people want to see you for another term. You can’t let slander like this get to you,” he said, making a face at Westeros Daily, a national newspaper.

“People read. There are a lot of idiots out there but so are people who read and believe right away what shit like this puts out,” she said, still clearly upset with the newspaper. She stood up from her chair and walked to the window, her arms crossed tightly.

“I will say this again—”

“Oh, no. No, no, Jon.” Catelyn shook her head vehemently, turning back to him.. “There’s no way I will allow any press disturb me in the coming days. I have a vote to cast. I have to understand every goddamn thing in those,” she said, glancing at the pile of papers and folders on her desk, “just in time for my vote. I know where I stand already but I don’t want some reporter throwing some obscure case at me and contributing further to the issue of my being surveillance-obsessed.”

“You do have to admire its flair for drama,” Jon remarked, nodding at The Westeros Standard’s opinion page titled, “Congresswoman Stoneheart.”

“If I were a man I won’t be getting hit like this.”

“Nope, you won’t be. All the more you have to show them you’re firm where you stand and don’t care for the shit they fling at you. You’re here to do your job. Like with your family, your vote in amending the Varys Bill gives more protection to your district.”

“What happens if we lose?” Catelyn sighed and sat back on her armchair, looking at him critically. Her eyes were cold like the indigo sky of an imminent winter night. “My re-election rides on this.”

“If the amendment doesn’t get enough votes then we continue with what we’re fighting for. Family. Security. Safety. The tenets that won you this seat, Cat. And will make sure you serve another term.”

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Catelyn’s secretary, Jeyne Westerling peeked in.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Ms. Stark,” she said, looking shell-shocked. “But the president is on the phone.”

Jon and Catelyn looked at each other. Jeyne nodded. “Yes, ma’am. President Olenna Tyrell herself.”

 

*****
After Emma was put to bed, Brienne and Jaime retired to the bedroom. Brienne lay on her stomach on the bed, eyes alert as the computer screen searched the auburn-haired woman’s face in the database. She barely felt Jaime slip next to her until his hand was under her nightshirt. Blushing as he caressed her ass, she grinned at him over her shoulder. “Stop distracting me.”

“I thought we agreed never to take work to bed with us,” he teased her, pinching her playfully. She squeaked, trying to roll away. Instead, he grabbed her, pressing her against his chest. As she gave him her mouth, his hand settled on her pussy, pressing firmly before nudging the soft, silken folds open.

“Mmm, no, no,” she murmured while opening her legs for his fingers, massaging his tongue back with her own. She moaned, devouring his mouth for a few moments while his fingers pushed deep in her pussy. Reluctantly, she pulled away, trying not to laugh at his pout. “You have to let me finish this before you can have me,” she whispered, touching him on the cheek.

Jaime let out a dramatic sigh and glanced at the laptop. “Fine. Will this take long?”

“It shouldn’t,” she answered, rolling back on her stomach. She bit her lip as he kissed her on the shoulder, his hand once again under her nightshirt and skimming her ass.

He licked her on the cheek, tugged firmly at the edge of her shirt. “At least take this fucking thing off, Brienne. Emma will be up in a few hours. We gotta fuck fast and hard.”

She laughed, shaking her head at him yet kneeling up to unbutton her top anyway. “Do we fuck any other way?”

“Gentle is for sissies.” Jaime’s emerald eyes burned as the shirt fell away. “Better.”

Laughing, she fell down beside him. He touched her back, covered her shoulder and neck with kisses as she waited for the database to yield results. She had panels of the woman from Sam’s and Pod’s memories. So far, they have been identified as the same, based on facial shape and other features.

The two men’s memories were clear, but it never hurt to have another objective witness. Brienne squinted at the screen as Jaime nibbled on the tip of her ear. Sam had a clearer memory of the woman at the window, but she was only identifiable by her hairstyle and clothes, the shape of her face and her lips. She looked much clearer when she passed Sam’s truck but she was wearing dark sunglasses. There was no way to know anything about her eyes.

Brienne was getting bored watching the program run series after series of similar faces. She turned to Jaime, smiling, opening her arms. Her reward. But he was looking at the screenshots she had captured.

“Eastwatch Hotel,” he looked at her with concern. “Brienne, that’s not in the good part of town.”

“I didn’t go there,” she assured him, pulling his hand to her tits. She sighed as he plucked at a nipple. “I looked at the clients’ memories.”

“You should never go out on assignment alone in those places,” he told her, kissing her on the lips.

They kissed for a few seconds when the computer suddenly pinged. Jaime pulled her up with him and she turned to look at the screen. She stared at the image and confirmation in open-mouthed disbelief.

Even Jaime wasn’t breathing.

Eventually, she found the words.

“What the fuck is Catelyn Stark doing at that hotel?”

Chapter Text

Having missed dinner due to a call from the president, Catelyn went to Swordburgers, a fastfood restaurant with a drive-thru. The buzz over the call overrode what discomfort she had from the missed meal—rather, meals, as she’d ended up skipping lunch too. It was going to be a quick stop, make her order, pay and hope to the Seven she wasn’t pulled over for speeding on the highway.

But the staff manning the drive-thru recognized her. Practice had her bursting into a sunny smile that looked sincere. She gamely posed for selfies with the crew, holding up the burger, pretending to take a huge bite. The manager came forward too, shaking her hand.

“You’re doing great work, ma’am,” he said. Catelyn saw that his nameplate said Roose Bolton. He spoke in a cool, gravely voice that made her shudder. But his handshake was firm. His eyes were disturbingly pale, almost the same color as the clear sclera. “The restaurant has surveillance cameras for everyone’s safety.”

“How wonderful that you look after your employees’ welfare,” she said, making sure to emphasize the second word. She pulled her hand away. “I hate to leave but I have a son and husband waiting for me.”

“And you’re just eating burgers for dinner?”

“Long day,” she said, affecting a sigh but fluttering her eyelashes at him. “You know how it is. Do you have children, Roose?”

Roose straightened up his spine, puffing his chest out. “One, ma’am.”

She leaned forward, lowering her voice. He moved toward her too. “What’s his name?”

“Ramsay.”

“Ramsay. That’s a noble name for a child.” Catelyn said, pulling away. She shot him another smile pressing her foot on the gas. Roose looked pleased. “I’ll be sure to drop by again soon. Swordburgers smell like heaven.”

Now he looked like he would kiss her feet. “Thank you very much. Of course, ma’am. Well, thanks for agreeing to our requests. And making the time. You definitely have my vote.”

Catelyn rolled up the window and turned the car toward the exit. Her expression was stony. She believed in serving the people but sometimes, it could be. . .trying. Pleasantries and diplomacy were shit. Jon would have a heart attack if he knew exactly how she felt. Campaigns were necessary but  she truly loathed turning on the charm and keeping that smile up for hours.

But if pleasantries got her the votes. . .she thought, speeding through the dark highway to home. She had put away dead bodies to get where she was. Fucking ridiculous to let her refusal to be pleasant undo what she had worked so hard for.

Slowing the car down a little, she reached in the bag on the passenger seat and out some fries. Stuffed them in her mouth. Bliss. A longing glance at the burger made her mouth water. She sighed and returned her eyes to the road.

Ned was in the living room reading a book when she entered the house. Rather than reproaching her for the late hour, he smiled and stood up, spreading his arms. She smiled with some actual sincerity as she ran to him, giggling against his chest as they squeezed each other tightly. She dropped the bag of Swordburgers takeaway on the sofa to fully embrace him.

“President Olenna Tyrell talking to my wife,” he murmured against her ear, kissing her. Catelyn’s eyes sparkled, giddy over the sentence and the growl burring his voice. “Damn, Cat. I’m so fucking proud of you. What did she say? Can you tell me? Are you allowed?”

“Of course,” she said, pulling a little away from him. “She thought I was doing a good job in rallying people to the amendment. Really, that’s all.” She would say more when her stomach suddenly growled. Ned kissed her on the forehead.

“Poor thing. Here I am demanding what happened when you haven’t had dinner.”

“I’ll be fine. I’d like to check on Robb first?”

“Sure.” Ned kissed her on the lips. She kissed him back.

She took more fries from the bag, winked at him before stuffing her face. He laughed, and she blew him a kiss before going up the stairs.

Robb was in bed, watching from his tablet. His eyes lit up as she stood by the door, quickly flinging the tablet away as he opened his arms. She sighed and pulled him tightly to her, kissing him on the cheek. He smelled like a boy, still. Fresh, soapy, innocent. Her eyes, bright from Tyrell’s call, dimmed upon realizing the gravity of her deeds just to keep her life, her boy. Tearing up a little, she hugged him even more, closing her eyes at the feel of his little, warm body, at his small heart fluttering against her chest.

“Mom, Mom,” Robb was giggling as he struggled from her hold. “You’re squishing me.”

“I love you so much,” she whispered, meaning these words only with him. She set him away from her, eating up his round face, his auburn curls, the navy blue color of his eyes. She kissed him on the forehead. “I’m sorry I didn’t make it to dinner, Robb.”

“It’s okay,” he assured her, leaning against the pillows. “Daddy said you had an important call. From the president.”

“I did. But I missed you, anyway.”

Robb shrugged. “It’s just tonight, Mom. It’s cool.”

Catelyn couldn’t help but laugh. She tweaked him on the nose. “Now when did you start saying, ‘it’s cool,’ hmm? Where have I been?”

“Don’t worry, Mom. I know your work.”

You’re worth everything I have done and will continue to do. She reached out to play with his curls. “Can I tell you a secret?”

He nodded.

“I hate it when work takes so much time away from you.” She whispered, remembering the softness of his hair. “But everything I do, Robb, it’s only for you.”

“Me and Dad you mean?”

Catelyn took his hand and kissed it. “Never forget I love you.” Staring hard in his eyes, she declared, “There is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep you safe, Robb. You are all that matters. You.

 

*****
“I still don’t like it.”

“Jaime—”

“For fuck’s sake, Brienne.”

“It’s my job—”

“I fucking know!”

Jaime grunted in frustration, pinching the elegant bridge of his nose. Brienne looked at him with exasperation, and he threw the same expression right back at her. Sighing, she turned away, clutching her towel. There was no decent way to conduct this conversation dressed as she was—rather, undressed. Venting her impatience, she threw her towel at the chair with more force than necessary and expelled the same effort in yanking the drawer open and getting panties.

They had been arguing since last night. Surveillance and interviews were part of the job, and the most that thrilled her. They were also Jaime’s least favorite. Anyone from insurance was hardly loved and investigators were second to agents aiming to make a buck out of a misery. She knew, even without telling him, that he was aware of the unsavory characters she’d had to come across.

His worry made her anxious. His concern reminded her of his love. But on her second day back at her job, she needed support. Desperately.

She bent to put on the panties. Despite the tension, he groaned from behind.

She bit her lip, sweat breaking out of her nape, between her tits at the rough, sexual sound. She was still unfolding the panties when he came at her from behind, arms hugging her. She was quick to give her lips for a kiss, leaned against him as he cupped her tits possessively. They hurt and were heavy, nipples already beaded with milk. Emma was going to wake up soon. But she welcomed the roughness of his touch, planting her hands on the dresses as he nibbled on the side of her flushed neck. He pinched her nipples to squeeze more milk out, capturing her cry in his mouth. As milk dripped down to her stomach, he freed one of her tits to palm her pussy firmly.

The panties fell from her hand.

No matter how heated their arguments got, they always found their way to each other through fucking. She groaned, dropping her head against his shoulder as he tightened his hold on her pussy before dragging her back to bed.

He laid her down, stretched over her long body as he pulled off his t-shirt and lowered his pajamas. His eyes burned bright, frustrated with their argument yet excited about fucking. She knew her eyes matched the intensity. An ache reminded her of emptiness, of longing, took hold of her pussy. She was already wet.

“Jaime,” she moaned, taking him in her arms, kissing him hungrily. His morning rasp scraped her soft skin yet she deepened the kiss. Her nipples hardened from the tickle of his chest hairs, and her hands slid up and down his body in random directions, loving the taut skin over such lean and strong muscles.

She knew why he said those things. Fear. Worry. Concern. Love. Love, always.

“I just want you safe,” he whispered between kisses while using his knees to spread her legs far apart. She caught his lower lip between her big teeth and sucked. He groaned, throwing his head back, eyes of emerald fire boring hard into her. “You’re safest in my arms, Brienne.”

“I know you do,” she gasped, wrapping her leg around him, resting the heel of her foot on the firm curve of his buttock. The other rubbed against the curly hairs at the back of his leg. “I’m always careful, Jaime. I swear.” She pulled him by the hair gently and thrust her tongue in his mouth. “I always come back. I will always come back to you---”

Her sentence ended with a high-pitched wail of pleasure as he dragged a leaking nipple deep and hard in his mouth, sucking aggressively. She glanced at the baby monitor, hoping Emma would sleep some more, that she wouldn’t be roused by her parents’ ecstatic cries. Jaime, noticing her distraction, swiftly pushed the device facedown on the table and shoved his tongue in her mouth.

She moaned, opening her mouth wide, their kissing now simply a clash of tongues and tangled spit. He tasted of the morning, and was warm, wonderfully warm.  Reaching between their thrusting bodies, her fingers wrapped around his cock, a sigh slipping out of her once the smooth, familiar texture of his length was in her hand. She rubbed it in swift, desperate strokes, moaning against his tongue as his fingers pulled and pinched her swollen nipple, milk shooting out.

His tongue muffled her moans of pleasure-pain. Her nails drew blood from his arm. He yanked his mouth away with a snarl.

“Trust me,” she begged, taking him by the jaw, wanting more. Her eyes were watery as she made her plea.

“I just want you safe,” he grunted before pushing his tongue back in her mouth. She whimpered, threw her arms around his shoulders, pressed the heels of her feet against his ass. His cock prodded at her pussy lips. The rougher hairs of his pubic curls scraped and rubbed the tender skin of her inner thighs.

“I know,” she panted, looking in his eyes as he kissed her, thinking emerald green was the most beautiful color. With a tenderness belying their rough play, she caressed his cheek, pushed her fingers through his hair. He sighed, his lips softening against hers.

Holding him, she rolled over, pinning him to the bed and under her body. Gone was the impatience and annoyance from his face. Sweetly, she kissed every eyelash, rubbing her swollen, red lips against the very soft surface of his skin. She brushed kisses down the tip of his nose, toward his cheek, firmed them on the faint shadow under his eyes. Her spine arched through the kiss when his hands cupped her buttocks, fingertips teasing the sensitive crevice.

“I need you,” he groaned between the gentle sparring of their tongues. “Sweetheart,” he glanced pointedly at the drawer.

She nodded, reluctantly scrambling off him a little to take some condoms from it. As she fiddled with the contents, he kissed up her arm, licked a nipple, gave her right butt cheek a playful little spank. She giggled, dragging the strip from the drawer as he suddenly hauled her back in his arms, putting her under him. Wrenching her legs apart, his golden head dipped between them and tongued her pussy.

An arm over her eyes, fisting the packets of condoms tightly, she let out a shaken sob as his tongue slid up and down her slit, nudging the sticky folds to part and yield the dripping pink treasure beyond them. Sweat exploded from her pores, dotting between her tits, joining the milk pouring from her nipples. His kisses were always devastating in the best, head-spinning, world-tilting way. His tongue. Gods. Made to worship and destroy her. She squeaked as he licked the plump inner fold, tilted her hips up as he pushed fingers in her pussy while devouring her clit.

With her other hand, she blindly clawed for Jaime—for his hair, his shoulder, anything of him—until he was pressing his moist lips on her palm, sucking one of her fingers. She removed her arm from her eyes, rolling her hips in clear but silent invitation, a plea. A fervent kiss on her thigh and he was crawling back up to her body, taking one of the packets and ripping it open.

She caressed the taut flesh of his back as he claimed one of her dripping nipples again. He suckled roughly, possessively, making her arch, cry out for more, her pussy spill. He rubbed his cock between her folds, the velvet feel of him making her clit stiffen and thrust high and eager.

When he finally gifted her with the relief of his cock pushing deep inside her, she was close to a glorious death. He flattened her legs, pinning them between her shoulders and his chest as he lunged strong in her pussy, battering the wet, cushion-soft heart of her. She panted against his mouth, her own hips pushing back against him, swallowing his cock as it surged back inside. Despite the growing strain at the back of her thighs, she kept kissing him, lips opening to receive his tongue, letting him fuck her mouth.

Because she was so wet, and all her senses had been singing from the moment he kissed her earlier, she was quick to come. Jaime roared as she bit him in the ear, sucking hard on the outer lobe as she trembled, the muscles of her pussy milking his cock to the very last drop. He planted his palms by her ears and fucked her as if to wreck her, as if to break her. As she turned her head and squealed, he gritted his teeth, slamming into her a final time with a guttural cry before falling on her chest.

They lay together for maybe a moment or longer—time tend to stop with a loved one—listening to each other’s breath, feeling the hammering of hearts and the plop of sweat on bodies and the bed. Despite her drained muscles, Brienne’s arms circled Jaime’s shoulders. He raised his head and kissed her gently.

She mewled in disappointment as he pulled away from her. Her pussy was immediately bereft, hollow from the absence of is cock. Her thighs and the bed were wet from her juices, his spit. Through bleary eyes, she watched him drop a kiss on her shoulder before leaving the bed to get rid of the condom.

She licked her lips watching his butt muscles flex as he walked.

She continued to lie in the mess of sweat and pussy juices, milk. Wearily, she turned and put the baby monitor right back up. The digital bedside clock told her Emma would be awake in ten minutes.

Yet she didn’t want to move, content to just listen to Jaime gargle and brush his teeth. Watch his ass peeking through the slit between the door and the frame because he hadn’t shut it completely. Then the door opened and he stepped out. She made no effort to hide her desire for him, so quick to return and eager to be satisfied. His cock hung long and thick between his muscular legs, bobbing as he walked back to bed.

He looked contrite. So did she. She smiled as he picked up one of her feet, kissed it all the way to her leg, her knee. Then he fell back beside her. She turned to face him, playing with his pale, golden nipple, listening to the rustle of his chest hairs under her palm.

“I trust you,” he said as she snuggled close. His finger traced the slight dip of her waist before cupping her hip. “I’m just an overprotective husband, sweetheart.”

“I know.” She murmured, breathing in his smell. Sweat and fucking. Her.  She slipped her leg between his thighs. “I understand, Jaime. And I won’t love you if you weren’t overprotective,” she assured him, pressing against his body. “But you know I’m never reckless.”

“You mean it? You’ll run it by Renly?”

She looked in his eyes. “I will. I don’t break a promise, Jaime. Especially not with you.”

“I know.” He kissed her between the eyes. “It’s just that. . .this Catelyn Stark thing. . .then her being in that part of town. . .”

“I love you all the more for wanting to keep me safe,” she said honestly, holding him tightly.

“You’re safest with me, Brienne. I know you can take care of yourself but you’re safest with me. Nothing bad will happen when we’re together.”

She nodded. She was taller and bigger than her husband but she could always count on his strength. He kissed her again, sighing.

 “Fuck. Times like these I wish I just kept my head down and became a lawyer. You wouldn’t have to work.”

Though the tension between Jaime and the rest of the Lannisters had abated with the birth of Emma, cordiality remained a struggle. Brienne knew his father had yet to truly forgive him for refusing to continue with law school and joining the law firm. Though the split had happened a long time before she was in his life, Tywin Lannister blamed her too.

The old goat could blame her until his last breath. Jaime’s happiness was what mattered. If he wasn’t being at court all day defending another greedy corporation, it was his right to experience another life. She would never begrudge him for choosing another path, not when it led to her.

“That’s true. But you won’t be my Jaime.” He really won’t be. She loved him for the choices he’d made, for the man he became through them.

He smiled. “And I’m proud of you, with the work you do. So, despite a different financial situation, courtesy of me losing my balls to my father, I still won’t ask you.”

“Thank you, Jaime.” She said, her eyes twinkling. “And your balls.”

From the baby monitor, Emma gurgled and began to cry. They sighed and sat up. Jaime grabbed her for another kiss before his lips traced down her neck, her shoulder, lipping a nipple, her hip before kissing his way down her leg.

As she tingled and blushed down to her toes, he smirked and got up from the bed. “These long legs of yours better take you fast and away from trouble, Brienne. Promise me that.”

Though her tone was playful, she meant every word. “Dragons can never keep me from you.”

He stepped back in his pajamas. She got up and hugged him from behind.

“It’s a routine interview, Jaime. I’m just going to ask Catelyn if she saw anything.” She buried her nose in his hair, feathered a kiss down the line between his head and ear, feeling him shiver. He breathed deeply, head falling on her shoulder as he hugged her arms around him. “She’s not important at all, I just want to make sure and give Podrick Payne what he deserves. That’s all. The bonus in resolving it early won’t hurt us either.”

 From the monitor, Emma shrieked. 

Chapter Text

 

Delays were always annoying. For Brienne, every hour that she was no closer to resolving the insurance claim meant lesser chances of getting the bonus for speedy work. She had several claims to investigate but Podrick Payne’s was a good chunk.

An entire day had been wasted trying to get Representative Catelyn Stark. Her website listed an email address and contact numbers but there had been no response. Brienne found the number of her secretary, only to be told tersely that her boss had no time to sit down and verify an insurance claim. She sulked at her desk for the rest of the day while writing reports on the other claims.

Not even Jaime’s dimpled smiles and Emma’s excited babbling could completely pull her out of her grumpiness. She didn’t tell Jaime about failing to contact Catelyn Stark. He would be relieved. She wished he didn’t worry so much. Knowing his unease caused her anxiety. What harm did he imagine the congresswoman could do to her?

If he noticed her sullen face over dinner, he made no comment. Brienne nursed Emma while she ate chicken casserole and salad, trying to listen to Jaime as he spoke about the anomalies discovered from the accounting of a new client. Several thousand dragons were missing. His excitement should be infectious, but she was too obsessed with the bonus moving farther out of her reach with each passing hour.

She could be such a horrible wife sometimes.

So, she forced herself to smile, hoping it came close to the interest hoped from her. Jaime never looked bored when she prattled on about insurance, giving her one hundred percent of his attention. She asked him questions, really give him her ear. Rocked Emma gently in her arms as she engaged him in a discussion.

She tried. Really, really tried.

After Emma was put to bed, Brienne went to the living room. Jaime was watching his favorite medieval fantasy series, Kingslayer. She stood by the sofa, blushing, not knowing what to do. He hit PAUSE on the remote and glanced at her.

“Hey, come join me,” he invited her, patting a spot next to him. “Relax. Sit with me.”

She dropped beside him. He made an annoyed huff and suddenly hauled her close to his side, making her laugh. Realizing how silly she was over losing a bonus, she snuggled closer. He kissed her on the cheek and slouched on the sofa, putting his long legs on the coffee table. She smiled as he rested his head on her shoulder.

“You’re a million leagues away, sweetheart,” he remarked, his eyes glued to the action on the screen. He delved a hand under her sweater, lightly caressing her tummy.

“It’s the stupidest thing,” she complained, running her hand up and down his hair. He liked it when she did this. “I couldn’t get to Catelyn Stark today.” She was quick in venting her frustration about not making any headway with the calls.

“I did something today,” Jaime said a moment after her tirade.

“You discovered anomalies and suspect theft in your client’s records,” she said, remembering a bit from their earlier conversation.

“No. Not that.” He glanced up at her. “I spoke with father today.”

Brienne stiffened. “What?”

They were far from destitute, but she and Jaime were sometimes frugal to a fault. They had to be. Their jobs paid well but money was often the number one cause of conflict in any relationship, especially marriage. They kept accounts in several banks and hoped to open a trust fund for Emma soon, hence the belt-tightening.

“Are we okay?” She asked, hoping her voice didn’t reveal panic. “Financially?”

Her mind ran to their expenses. Insurance took care of the hospital and she got a paid maternity leave. Jaime’s clients paid on time. Did they miss a payment in the mortgage?

“Relax. We’re in the clear. No, I didn’t speak to him about money.” Jaime assured her, kissing her on the neck.

“What about Emma?” She asked carefully.

No matter how much she wanted to forget about Tywin Lannister, it still hurt that he had no interest in meeting Emma. Jaime called him after the birth. When three days passed and there was no call, not even a text, they assumed he might try reaching them at home. The harsher truth of Tywin’s silence had nagged Brienne since Jaime made the call but chose to kept silent, wanting to hope with her husband. The old man had to forgive and accept Jaime’s decisions. At least acknowledge his granddaughter. What parent could never forgive a child? Tywin Lannister was the answer.

Brienne tensed, waiting for Jaime’s answer. Tywin’s rejection was a dark shadow on the happiest day of their lives. Jaime had been so brave, outpouring with the love of a new parent for a child that was perfect in every way rather than wallowing in hurt. Since then, Brienne had vowed never to bring Tywin into their lives again. She never wanted Emma to know of his hate. She vowed to protect Jaime from however else his own father could hurt him.

Jaime looked away. “There’s no reason to speak of her with him, is there?”

“Shit,” she whispered. Taking his hand, she kissed it deeply. Jaime looked back at her sadly. “Oh, Jaime.”

“What can we do?”

“Why did you call him?” She admonished, hugging him tighter.

“Father was a major contributor to Catelyn Stark’s campaign,” Jaime explained. “I—I told him you just wanted to ask her questions in connection to an insurance claim by a client. Verification purposes,” he added. “He said he’d get back to me. Ten minutes later, his assistant gave me a number.”

“His assistant,” Brienne muttered. “Of course.”

“Never mind that.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. Brienne stared at it then him.

“You did this for me,” she murmured, trying not to be overwhelmed. Jaime risked more hurt just to help her.

“I did it for us. I wanted to give it to you earlier but knowing you, you’d probably call her. Wait for a decent hour,” he chided her gently, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. She grinned. “Come here.”

“You’re incredible,” she whispered, kissing him and hugging him. “Thank you.”

She took the piece of paper from him, looking at the numbers. “The first is her chief of staff’s number, Jon Snow. The second one is her personal private number,” he said.

Brienne looked at him again. Suddenly, she burst out laughing.

Then she threw her arms around Jaime again.

 

******
Wednesday. The day Congress would be voting to amend the Varys Bill.

Catelyn stood in front of the mirror. The world would be watching, more today than usual. Her highlights were still good so they hadn’t needed touching up. Despite late nights, her eyes were not puffy and she didn’t look washed out.

Knowing there would be cameras, she took better care with her clothes. The interior of the session hall was in blue and gray. To stand out, she selected a tailored, blood-red blazer. She wore a simple, short-sleeved black dress underneath, and kitten-heeled black shoes. For her a final touch, she wore small gold hoop earrings and a gold necklace in a simple chain. A small, tear-shaped ruby hung from it.

“You look wonderful,” Ned said from the doorway. She turned, giving him a small smile.

“Why do I feel like this is my swan song?” She asked as he went to her.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Cat. Today is just the beginning.” Ned said as she looked back in the mirror. His gray eyes were warm and admiring. “That is, if you wish for a second term.”

She smiled again before turning to put her hands on his shoulders.

“I would love to finish the job and be right there, applauding Robb at his first recital.” She said, her voice breaking a little at the mention of her son’s name. Ned kissed her on the forehead and she sighed. “I know you doubt if I’ll make it, Ned. But I will. I can never break a promise to Robb.”

“I believe you, Cat.” Ned said, sweeping a lock of her hair away from her shoulder. “I know I’ve been. . .I’ve been hard on you about it but only because it’s our boy. It means so much to him to have you there.”

She nodded, and he kissed her again. “You will slay today, my love. With the president expressing her support in the amendment, I can only think of bigger and better things for you. You deserve them.”

Looking in his eyes, she saw everything that had brought her to this moment, this life. It all began with that night. That man, whoever he was. He had put her on this path. Treacherous as it was, she had gained so much rather than losing anything.

Had she remained with Petyr, there would be no Robb. Simple as that. She could live without her job, this house, even Ned. But never her little boy. When the darkness threatened to take her by the throat, she only had to remember him. He was the light of her life. Her hope, her salvation.

“I better catch him before school,” she hastily tells Ned, clearing her throat. She rushed out of their bedroom.

The door to his room was open. Catelyn watched Robb put books in his backpack, just grinning until he noticed her. When he did, she said, “I thought to drop by and wish you luck for later, young man.”

“Mom!” Robb exclaimed, going to her. She opened her arms and hugged him. “You’ll make it. I believe you.”

“It’s a historic moment. I’d be a fool not to,” she assured him, kissing him. “Give me another hug?”

“You’re the best, Mom,” Robb said against her hair. “I love you.”

A few minutes later, Catelyn walked him and Ned to the door. She kissed them on the cheek, whispered to Robb she loved him again. Ned pressed a kiss on her palm before starting the car. She waved after them, watching until the car turned around the corner before heading back to the house.

Her phone was ringing, its shrill sound filling the house. She hurried up the stairs. “Jon,” she said, sounding a little breathless.

“Right, boss. Just thought to remind you that the crew from Good Morning Westeros will be interviewing you at ten a.m. today. I already gave answers to the newspapers that sent you questions regarding today’s vote.”

“Good, good,” she murmured. “But the GMW interview, is there no way of moving it?”

“We declined Talking Points and Westeros News, Cat. But it won’t hurt to have your face from one TV show. We decided on GMW because of its viewership.”

“Alright,” she said, sighing. “But that’s it. I have to be at the floor all day, Jon.”

“And you’ll be great. This is it, Cat. It’s the beginning of everything.”

She laughed. “You and my husband have twin minds.”

“I’ll take it as a compliment. See you later.”

“Sure thing. Goodbye. Thank you.”

No sooner had she put the phone down when it rang again. She answered it without looking at the screen. “Jon, I’m not going to do another interview. GMW is already enough. I have work to do. Very important work—”

“Um, I’m afraid you’ve mistaken me for someone else.” An unfamiliar voice spoke from the other line. Catelyn frowned, immediately stiffening.

“Who is this?”

“Forgive me, uh, ma’am.” She heard someone clearing a throat. The voice was deep, husky, but she couldn’t tell if the speaker was a woman. “I’m sorry to interrupt your busy day but it is very important that I speak to you. I spoke with your secretary yesterday but she claimed you were unavailable.”

“If this is another interview I’ll have to decline. I’m already doing a lot more than I’m pleased about.”

“No, no, ma’am. I’m not media.”

“Oh? Who are you, then? What exactly do you need me for?”

“I’m investigating an insurance claim. My name is Brienne Lannister.”

Catelyn was about to cut her off when she remembered the name. Lannister. Of course. She smiled brightly.

“Forgive me for being terse, earlier, dear. Lannister, you say? You wouldn’t happen to be related to Tywin, are you?”

“Um, he is my husband’s father. He gave me your number.”

Catelyn sat at the foot of the bed. A Lannister calling her. Tywin Lannister had practically funded her campaign. She was surprised to hear from him, or his representative.

It didn’t hurt to start planning for her next election.

“If I may, ma’am, I’m calling to ask if it might be possible to schedule an interview regarding an accident in front of the Eastwatch Hotel.”

Catelyn, her smile frozen, asked, “Excuse me? Did I just hear you say Eastwatch Hotel?”

“Yes, ma’am. Baratheon Insurance, where I’m an agent, is assisting a client of ours regarding an accident.”

“At Eastwatch Hotel?”

“In front of Eastwatch Hotel. OPEM was used on the people involved to verify the claim. You’re one the witnesses identified.”

“Surely,” Catelyn said slowly. Her heart was suddenly seized by icy claws. “Surely, there must be some mistake.”

“It was a one hundred percent match, ma’am.”

“How is that possible?” She had worn a disguise. Covered her hair. Wore glasses. How did they find out? She gripped the phone.

“Along with OPEM, Baratheon Insurance also has facial recognition software. We got screenshots of you from the witnesses’ memories. Ma’am, we just need your help in dotting the last i’s,” Brienne continued. Sensing her hesitation, she added, “I know it’s very inconvenient for your right now but the sooner this is resolved the better for everyone involved.”

“I just don’t see how you could possibly believe I’ll be in that area.”

“The software doesn’t lie, ma’am. If you are worried about discretion, I can assure you that only memories connected to the claim will be used. If there’s nothing, then we never saw each other.”

“This is not. . .how did you even get my number? Never mind. I remember.” Catelyn stood up. Her blazer felt heavy. “But I don’t know how I’ll be able to fit you in my schedule.”

“I recommend that we meet at the soonest possible time. Such an arrangement would be much better rather than getting law enforcement involved.” Brienne Lannister told her.

Catelyn walked to the window. She stared at the river, remembering the bits and pieces of her past that its current had taken away. It never failed to protect her secrets.

“I agree, Mrs. Lannister.”

Chapter Text

It was going to be a long day in Congress.

Good arguments rained from both sides of the amendment to the Varys Bill. Catelyn Stark led the administration, rallying her allies by raising issues regarding the exponential rise in crime rates prior to the integration of technology. Among her allies were Wyman Manderly, Jon Arryn and Yohn Royce.

Yohn Royce was on his last term as congressman. A three-star general at his retirement, he often had conservative views regarding women’s rights and immigration. Catelyn never imagined he would side with her on this issue. They’ve always been in opposition to each other. Congressman Royce liked to dig at her inexperience being a first-term congresswoman. She liked pointing out that his experience had given him blinders rather than a broader perspective of issues.

Yet for the amendment to the Varys Bill, they were on the same side. Yohn did not see technology like OPEM as a violation of civil rights.

“Diplomacy has averted wars but when it fails, soldiers, young men and women who are still far from the twilight of their lives, are sent to fights our wars. We have seen how technology can bring peace. Surveillance makes it possible for our military to track down enemies of peace and liberty—the foundations Westeros was built upon. It is because of technology we have warships patrolling and protecting our waters. Weapons, liked or despised, ensure that the eighteen-year-old boys and girls we sent to protect and fight for our rights return home safe.” Yohn paused for a moment for the entire hall to take in the significance of his message. “We have to wake up to the truth: technology is an ally. It ensures peace, it protects us. In our cities and towns, it is an ally against crime. Cameras monitor our streets, giving us the comfort that if we are unfortunate in being a victim, cameras have a record of the crime. The presence of cameras will make any criminal second-guess. We are safer. Some of us in this chamber regard technologies for recording, surveillance, and looking into our heads as intrusion, a violation. We must re-think of it as an interference, ladies and gentlemen. An interference to what, you ask? It interferes in the commission of a crime. If such interferences would make our towns and cities safer, then I cast my vote in the amendment of the Varys Bill.”

Applause rang throughout the chamber as Yohn thanked them and returned to his seat. On his way there, he passed by Catelyn’s. She looked at him as he approached, smirking inside as he offered his hand.

“Congresswoman Stark,” he said, clasping her hand in both of his. “One would think you’ve done this before.”

“That’s generous coming from you,” she said, affecting a blush. “Your support is appreciated.”

After he left, Catelyn glanced at her watch. She had three more hours before Robb’s recital, and two before meeting with Brienne Lannister of Baratheon Insurance.

Ned called her twice already, reminding her. He was monitoring the televised amendment from his office. She wished he didn’t.

She had been preparing for this day for weeks. She can handle President Olenna Tyrell monitoring the results but Ned was another story. He did it to make sure she made it to Robb’s recital on time. As proud as he claimed being married to a congresswoman, he only saw her as a mother.

And his whore.

The next to cast his vote was Barristan Selmy, a second-term congressman in his mid-fifties. Watching him stride on the aisle, Catelyn couldn’t help but think she made a mistake in getting Yohn Royce and Jon Arryn on her side. Their experience and sharpness of mind were not questionable, but they were on their last terms. It was a little earth-shaking that these men, known for being staunch conservatives, supported something that was quite progressive.

But they were old men—Congressman Royce was beginning to stoop. Barristan Selmy, who had also served in the army a few years after him, still looked youthful despite his gray hair. His build was still lean, making him a tailor’s dream. He was also handsome, with elegant, sculpted features belying his humble background of being the son of a line cook and a homemaker. Yohn, whose family had a strong military tradition aside from businesses in steel and transportation, looked like a peasant next to Congressman Selmy.

Catelyn sighed. Barristan was in the opposition.

“I will not deny the truths in Congressman Royce’s argument,” he began. “He almost had me convinced. But towards the end of his speech, he reminded me, unintentionally, why I can not support any bill nor government action that interferes with our right to privacy. It is true that surveillance cameras give us this feeling of safety, that someone is always looking out for us when we walk the streets at night. Technology allows us this illusion. Because you see, my fellow congressmen and congresswomen, no matter how many cameras you put up, or technological developments that allow us to look in the minds of the criminal to ensure the deserved conviction, the problem of crime still remains. It is our right to live in Westeros assured of safety. No amount of cameras or technology will protect us as long as crime remains part of our daily life.”

The next congressmen and congresswomen voted in opposition of the amendment to the Varys Bill. Catelyn tried not to be distressed when she saw the numbers. We will get the two-thirds.

She had been listening to arguments all day, and constantly penciling notes in the margins of the draft of her speech. Speeches were not required to place the vote. A few had just cast their vote but many took advantage of the opportunity not just to explain their stance but to also begin campaigning.

But her attention was divided in between scribbling rebuttals and looking up Brienne Lannister online, and her affiliations. The information was scant—strange for someone working for a company that depended heavily on tech. But she was definitely married to Jaime Lannister. Catelyn was friendly with Tywin Lannister but at the moment, was not part of the inner circle of the very rich and powerful to know the details of the rift between father and son. All she gleaned from some gossip sites was Tywin and Jaime had been at odds for a while, long before Brienne Tarth came into the picture.

Worried as she was with Baratheon Insurance’s reliance on OPEM, she couldn’t resist the opportunity of meeting a Lannister. And one who needed a favor from her. Her tongue almost tripped voicing out loud the things she would ask in return, and what such favors could do for her. Who was to say she couldn’t facilitate communication between the warring Lannisters? If things went well, she could look forward to a generous check from Tywin.

She was still making additional notes when she was called to the podium.

The buzz in the session hall heightened as she rose from her seat adjusting her crimson suit jacket. The hall began to quiet as she made her way to the microphone. She could already imagine the reporters’ commentary when the cameras focused on her. Catelyn Stark is a first-term congresswoman who won a near-unanimous victory in her district. She has made her platform on education, family and security. She has been a vocal proponent for the amendment on the Varys Bill, citing the faster resolution of criminal cases through technology to peer into memories. Her stance is considered controversial as it violates civil liberties. . .

She was the star. She had always known. She walked, her expression relaxed. Everyone else in the room dressed in their usual black and gray, or navy. She picked her crimson suit precisely for this reason and had retouched her make-up before going to session hall.

She could almost taste the victory of her second term.

“Ever since the proposal to the Varys Bill, it has been met with much opposition yet also relief,” she began. “The law is the law, indeed. But there comes a time when the laws in place are not enough to protect us. Wherever you are in the world, there will be crime. A loved one will be hurt. A father murdered,” she said, clearing her throat. “Or a mother. A brother. A sister. A child. We are all here because we promised the people that in this very session hall, we will ensure their safety and security. We ran for office so that we may bear the responsibility of ensuring security and justice. As a congresswoman, it is my responsibility to ensure there are laws to mete out the proper punishment to a crime. Because like it or not, criminals are a step ahead of us, or more. They escape prison because the law has yet to catch up to their crimes.

The Varys Bill, as it is now, only says that surveillance cameras and other monitoring and recording devices be placed so that we have a recording, and should a crime take place, proof. But these are not everywhere, nor am I advocating that they should be. It is still the prerogative of local businesses and shops, private residences, to put up cameras and make sure they are working. That is not enough. In the last year alone, thirty-five percent of crimes that took place where there should be working cameras were dismissed due to the absence of undeniable proof. Of the crimes that took place just outside the visual reach of these cameras, the number is sixty-two percent. They were also thrown out by courts due to the lack of supporting evidence. Of these, twenty-six percent involve children who remain missing to this day.

In areas where surveillance cameras worked and caught on tape the crime, seventy-seven percent have not only been solved, but because of undeniable supporting evidence, gave the victims the justice they so deserved. These crimes also involve kidnapped or children who have been missing, of which, among the cases of abduction caught on camera, ninety percent have been solved and reunited these children with their families. Surveillance and recording equipment serve as the arm of law enforcement. If not, we might still be looking for eight-year-old Robyn Arryn. Or justice for the fifteen-year-old high school student assaulted in broad daylight might still be elusive.

Eighty-three percent of missing children were found and returned to their families with the help of surveillance cameras. Those who oppose the amendment to the Varys Bill point out that allowing and enabling law enforcement and other agencies and private companies to use technology to look into people’s minds is a violation of civil rights. Is it? Because I believe this is an issue that goes beyond civil rights. Rather the issue we must talk about is that of inalienable rights—and every person alive has the right to be protected, to be assured of security. It is these very rights that the Varys Bill aims to protect, and what we as lawmakers must never forget as our responsibility to deliver. Our people should be able to sleep easy at night knowing they are safe. Our children should be able to walk the streets without fear of being taken, or worse. That’s why we are all in this session today. To protect the people. To ensure their safety and security. And so I vote yes to the amendment to the Varys Bill.”

Applause met her speech and she gave a small smile before heading back to her seat. Her phone was dancing across her desk as it vibrated from a text message.

It was Ned. Meet you at the recital?

Catelyn messaged him back. Yes. I’ll meet you there.

You were great on TV. I’m so proud of you.

She didn’t reply anymore. But she worried about Robb. She’d made a promise and intended to keep it.

The session ended with exactly two-thirds vote for the Amendment of the Varys Bill. Catelyn was deluged with congratulations and handshakes, and Jon Snow appeared informing her of several news outlets that wished to get a statement from her.

It was hard to resist. Catelyn’s eyes were dilating from the repeated flashbulbs going off. Even her pussy was getting wet from all the attention to her. But as she walked out of the session hall surrounded by media, she refused to say anything more than, “A victory for the people was won.”

“Playing it cool, are we?” Jon Snow remarked, pulling her away from the mob still shouting questions at her.

“What are you talking about?” She asked with exaggerated innocence. “A victory for the people was won.”

He chuckled. “Ah, Cat. I’m probably the only person besides yourself who really knows you. Alright. Play it cool, if you must.” He glanced at the reporters behind them, who have now settled for asking questions to other congressmen and congresswomen. He and Catelyn exchanged amused looks as the reporters asked their opinions about her speech.

“It’s working. Makes them want you more. I predict, hmm, a three percent jump.”

“Three percent. That’s generous, Mr. Snow.” She turned, waving at him. “Goodbye.”

“Squeeze me in tomorrow and we’ll talk about your campaign.”

Catelyn laughed and rolled her eyes. “Good night, Jon Snow. Go home. That’s an order.”

She glanced at her watch. An hour and a half before Robb’s recital. Twenty to drive home, get dressed, take that meeting with Mrs. Lannister, and then drive to the school. High on the success of the amendment to the Varys Bill, she blasted rock music from her cell phone on the drive home. She’d be cutting it quite close with the recital but Ned would have to understand that. The important thing was her presence. And she meant to keep her word to Robb.

She pulled up in the garage and left the door open, leaving the lights open. Brienne Lannnister would be arriving soon, she thought, looking at her watch again as she left the car.

Having already anticipated attention from the press because of today’s vote, she had opted to return home to get dressed for the recital. Attention got her name on the papers and if she mentioned Robb, it would reinforce her image as a youngish, devoted mother who also made the choice to serve. But her child was one of the few areas in her life she hardly let the media in on. Her near-silence on her son gave him protection, and tonight was all about him, not her.

The rush of the river drew her eyes to it. She shielded her eyes from the light of the afternoon sun. Reflected in the ripples of the river, it was like looking at an undulating gemstone, carats winking teasingly at her. An odd yet familiar kind of peace settled on her, causing her to drop her hand from her forehead and stare off in the distance.

Nothing in her life felt close to the peace and euphoria. Perhaps when she spread her legs for Petyr, when she hung between bliss and beautiful destruction as his tongue stabbed into her cunt over and over. The closest was when she had Robb, when the emptiness of her womb felt like a sweet death until the nurse put him in her arms and she saw her own eyes on her baby boy’s face.

Ned never stirred much in her, except for the occasional relief when her pussy rippled around his thick cock, or when she saw him relaxed and feeling like the king of the world after nearly ripping her mouth from fucking her and drowning her throat in semen. He was duty, even if she cared for him and wished to feel more. He was a means to an end. If not for Robb, she would have divorced him after winning the congressional race.

Strange as these feelings were, they felt as familiar as an old friend. She couldn’t help but laugh. She did not have old friends, nor anyone that could be a friend. But she welcomed these feelings. They felt like a death, a door closing and with another opening. She listened to the rushing river as she headed into the house. It was her friend, loyal and true. It would never reveal her secrets. She had just made a name for herself calling for the amendment of an important law. The river rush sounded like applause.

Her second term was upon her, or maybe she might even skip that step. President Olenna Tyrell was up for re-election too and had all but guaranteed an invitation for Catelyn to be her running mate as vice-president.

And nothing was going to destroy her. There was nothing that could stop her now.

Catelyn gave the river one last look and went inside the house. She stashed her coat in the hallway closet. While climbing the stairs, Ned called her on the phone.

“I’m just about to go to Robb’s school,” he said. “Are you home?”

“I just got here. I won’t be long,” Catelyn promised. “Although, there’s someone from Baratheon Insurance that needs me for a testimony. Nothing earth-shaking.”

“Just don’t take too long, please.” Ned told her. “By the way,” he added, a smile in his voice, “I meant to congratulate your first.”

“Did you?” She drawled, entering their bedroom. She stepped out of her shoes and went to the closet.

“I’m proud of you, Cat.” He told her seriously. “You’ve worked so hard to get this amendment.”

“We all did,” she reminded him. Generosity was easy. She had already spread her legs to shut him up over her long hours of work. What were words? “Thank you for helping me, Ned.”

“Like I have a choice,” he joked.

She stared at their wedding photograph on a shelf, catching her reflection in the glass. Fluffing her hair, she murmured, “I do love you, Ned. I—I don’t say it often but I do. I always will. You and Robb. Now, let me go. Or I’ll be late and really miss the entire thing.”

She tossed the phone on the bed before Ned could say goodbye. Getting ready would not take long—the dress hung outside the closet, and below it the kitten-heeled black shoes. She was zipping up the sleeveless, figure-hugging dress when she heard a car pull up.

Threading the pearl earrings through her ears, she watched a tall, blond woman emerge from a gray sedan.

Brienne Lannister.

The doorbell rang. “Just a second,” Catelyn called out, hurrying down the carpeted stairs. She righted her skirt, squared her shoulders and opened the door with a smile.

Her smile froze on her lips once she saw Brienne Lannister in the flesh. She was not the kind of woman a Lannister would be, even to piss off family.

Tall, unbelievably and exceedingly tall, with broad, mannish shoulders. This was Brienne Lannister. Catelyn had an assistant look her up but didn’t find much. Her social media accounts were inactive, while her school and employment records didn’t show a photo. Might as well, Catelyn thought, schooling her expression into a friendly one. Plain was already too kind a description for the woman standing before her.

At least she’d had a haircut recently but it could use a product to withstand the wind blowing it across her face. Her skin was too pale, splotchy as if fevered, with too many freckles. Her eyes were an unusual, brilliant blue but their beauty was lost in her coarse features. Her lips, thick and plump, made it difficult for Catelyn to not wince. They looked like a lump of liver.

Brienne was clearly more professional, or used to the reactions her appearance elicited. “Congresswoman Stark,” she began, smiling. “What an honor. I’m Brienne Lannister from Baratheon Insurance. We spoke on the phone.”

“Yes. I remember.” Catelyn said faintly, offering her hand. The woman’s coarse, large hand swallowed hers. “Come in.”

“I promise not to take too much of your time,” Brienne said as she walked past Catelyn. She was carrying a large, black case. “If I may, I’d like to say congratulations. I myself was hoping for the amendment.”

“Were you,” Catelyn said, closing the door.  She gave a small smile. “How lovely. Let me take  your coat.”

A discreet glance at the label of the blue pea coat showed a department store brand. As Catelyn put it away, Brienne fidgeted with her fitted white sweater. Catelyn didn’t doubt that it was another generic department store brand. She tried to hide her annoyance as she pushed the closet door closed. This meeting was only possible because she saw a potential donor in Brienne Lannister. She admired Catelyn, that was pretty obvious. But her clothes said she didn’t have the money to bankroll the campaign, only a name.

By the time Catelyn led Brienne to sit on an armchair, she was all smiles and business. She gave a slight start noticing the younger woman’s nipples pressing against the sweater.

Brienne flushed and hurried to an armchair while Catelyn sat on the sofa.

“I hope you don’t mind that I’d like to keep this short. My son’s recital is in an hour and I’d like to wish him luck before he plays.”

“Oh, no problem, Congresswoman Stark. I promise we won’t take long,” Brienne said, sounding like she meant it.

She listened as Brienne explained the reasons for asking to meet her. Through the use of OPEM on witnesses, she was identified as another witness that could verify a client’s insurance claim. There was no doubt to the claim, but Baratheon insurance just wanted to make sure they’ve covered everything.

“I understand wanting all your bases covered, Brienne—may I call you that? And we both know that I approve using technology in the solving of a crime. But this is an insurance claim. Requested by a private company. I want to make it clear that I will cooperate but I want assurance that my memories which have nothing to do with the claim will not be stored or used in any way. They must be deleted.”

“I understand, Congresswoman Stark—”

Catelyn held up a hand, chuckling. “Catelyn would do.”

Brienne’s eyes widened. “Seriously? I get to call you. . .that?”

“Why not?”

It was delightful how thrown she was with Catelyn’s offer that was the equivalent of gold.  Catelyn crossed her legs to mask the thrill coursing through her body and centering in her pussy.

“Oh. Well,” Brienne blushed and laughed to herself. “Um, Catelyn, I have a waiver here.” She pulled out a clipboard from the black case and slid it toward her. “Please read it carefully and then I’ll explain about OPEM. Then I can do a demo if you want.”

Catelyn already knew what to expect. Though her mind was on the vote all the day, she made sure to concentrate only on memories she was willing to let people see. That was one way to trick OPEM. She knew she would be given a prompt. Now she had to concentrate on memories that would not compromise her.

There was still no news of Petyr’s disappearance, nor had the river betrayed her. She was the final piece.

She gave the waiver a cursory glance, looked at Brienne over the top of the clipboard then took the pen clipped on it to sign her name. Handing it back to her, she said, “You said you would give a demo?”

“Yes. Would you like me to?”

“Please.”

Brienne began assembling the parts for the OPEM, explaining their use. The thumbnail-sized device was made of special material to adhere to the skin. She demonstrated where it went, on the spot just above the corner of the right eyebrow. Once placed, she continued, the images would be transmitted to the tablet’s screen.

Suddenly, she held out her hand to Catelyn, the tablet on her palm. “Whatever do you want me to do with it, Brienne?”

“You can look into my head,” she offered. “Go on, I have nothing to hide.”  

“You’re very brave, my dear, “Catelyn said. “And everyone has at least one teeny thing they’d take to their grave. Is this on already?” 

“Yes. Now, for OPEM to work, it helps if you give me a prompt,” Brienne told her as she stuck the device just a bit off to the side on top of her right eyebrow. “OPEM works right away as soon as it’s on me but if you want me to focus, a prompt is helpful in getting what you’re looking for.”

“Oh.” Catelyn looked at the screen, frowning a little. “A prompt.”

“Yes, ma’am. Sorry. Catelyn.”

“Well,” Catelyn stared at the images playing on the screen, like somebody was swiping through them pretty quickly. She blinked then looked at Brienne in the eye. “A happy memory. You must think one for me.”

As soon as she finished speaking, the zinging images in the screen slowed down. Catelyn stared at the screen as a pair of bright blue eyes came on. Then whoever was looking into them—Brienne—began to move farther away from the blue orbs, revealing at last the round, chubby face of a baby. She was squealing and waving her arms and legs as a familiar pair of pale hands put a fresh disaper on her.

“Little Miss Poopy Pants!” Exclaimed Brienne’s voice, followed by cooing sounds. Then kissing sounds.

A daughter, Catelyn marveled to herself. Fascinated, she watched as more images of the baby girl danced on the screen. In bed, squealing. Her eyes closing when her mother kissed her. Her face partially obscured by the breast she was nursing from.

“You have a beautiful daughter,” Catelyn could be honest about this. The baby had Brienne’s eyes but not her plain features.

“Thank you,” Brienne said. “She takes more after her father than me, luckily.”

As soon as she spoke the word father the screen revealed a man whom Catelyn assumed as Jaime Lannister. Blond hair. Green eyes. Elegant, handsome features. He was lying on his side, looking right at Catelyn so she felt she was there with him.

“I want to fuck you, Brienne,” he whispered.

Brienne squawked, plucking the device off her but it was too late. The device had managed to record some memories even when they had to play on the screen still. Catelyn watched as Jaime Lannister’s hungry stare filled the screen, the lower part of his face hidden by Brienne’s hairy blond pussy. To be polite, Catelyn turned away from the screen, crossing her legs to stamp on the soft, electric thrill swirling in her pussy.

She stared at the giant blond seated before her. Her pale skin was the color of overripe tomatoes. “I’m sorry,” Brienne whispered, blue eyes flitting to her before dropping on her lap. “I didn’t mean for you to see that.”

“It’s perfectly alright,” Catelyn assured her, handing the tablet back. “You’re a young woman. It’s not surprising to have a very passionate relationship with your husband. He’s also godly handsome. I don’t blame you for wanting to fuck him as much as you can.”

Brienne turned redder. “He’s the best person I know,” she said, biting her lip and glancing at Catelyn. Catelyn tried not to smirk as Brienne’s nipples tightened even more.

“It’s clear he enjoys fucking you.”

If Brienne was taken aback by Catelyn’s comment, she didn’t show it. She concentrated on assembling the equipment, stashing the clipboard with the signed waiver in the case. “Shall we begin?”

Catelyn nodded and sat back. “I have nothing to hide. Just like you.”

Finally, Brienne looked at her in the eye. “I’m really sorry you saw that. That was inappropriate.”

“Getting fucked by a man that handsome is truly a happy memory, Brienne. Don’t apologize. Few women are that lucky.”

“R-right.” Brienne stood up and went to her, putting the device on the same spot on Catelyn’s face. Then she returned to her seat and took the tablet from the table.

“So, Catelyn, as discussed, I will be giving you a prompt. And then I will ask you to smell this.” Brienne took out a small vial from the case. She waved it to Catelyn’s nose.

Catelyn sniffed. “That’s familiar. Air freshener?”

“Yes. It’s the same brand used in the rooms at Eastwatch Hotel.”

“Resourceful, aren’t you.”

Brienne shrugged and propped the tablet on her lap. “I worked as a maid there once. So, Catelyn, I’ve asked you to smell the air freshener to help you remember events from September 18, at approximately 1:00 p.m. while you were at Eastwatch Hotel. Can you do that?”

“Without question.”

Chapter Text

Sometime before the events in the previous chapter

It was closer to drive from her house to Catelyn Stark’s rather than from work. With Renly’s approval, Brienne clocked out early, taking the OPEM equipment with her. Because it was still a few hours before the meeting too, she decided to go home and be with Jaime and Emma.

Her tits hurt from the milk but since she was going home, she didn’t have to pump as usual. Brienne switched on the signal light as she changed lanes. As she navigated through the light traffic, she idly listened to the speeches from members of the Congress. Her work rode on the outcome of today’s amendment vote.

She left the highway and took the turn for home. She drove past small, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, the huge supermarket store chain where she and Jaime could get lost during the weekend, then more shops until she reached the residential area.

Even from the corner of the street, she saw bright crimson mailbox with the words Hear Us Roar in yellow. No matter how tired she was from work, she always perked up as soon as she arrived at her street. She pulled up in the driveway, smiling softly at the sight of their cerulean-and-white house. Though her tits were heavy and hurt, looking at their house cheered her up.

It was a dwarfed by the bigger, more elegant homes in the street but she loved it. It looked lost in the street, a storybook house plunked in the middle of sleek, modern architecture. She locked the car and headed for the front door.

Rock music was playing softly from the tablet propped in its stand in the living room. She grunted softly under her breath as she stashed her coat in the closet, then just dropped her bag on the couch before sitting down. As she pulled off her boots, she heard the creak from Jaime’s chair as he got up, then the soft groan of floorboards under his feet as he walked.

“Hey,” he said, joining her on the sofa. He kissed her on the cheek.

“Hi,” she said, popping off her boot and sitting back on the sofa. She took his hand and kissed it. “Is Emma awake? I thought I could feed her.” She didn’t hide the two growing wet spots on her sweater. Jaime glanced at them and shook his head.

“She’s fed and I just put her down for a nap.” He brushed a tendril from her face, his gaze sympathetic as she grimaced. “Where’s your breast pump?”

She groaned and laughed. “Fuck. I left it in the car. No, just stay.”

She stopped him with a hand on his thigh. Jaime used it to pull her close, cradling her in his arms. Her sigh was content as he covered her forehead and hair in kisses.

“I love it when you’re home early. You’ve been back at work for only a few days but I already fucking miss you so much,” he whispered.

“I miss being with you.” She confessed. Boredom and exhaustion were not problems during her maternity leave. Rather, she had felt overwhelmed and most of the time, feeling lost, all the information she had read in preparation for motherhood having vanished upon giving birth. Jaime was her rock during this time, supporting her, urging her to take it easy. While Emma would nurse, Brienne fell more in love watching her husband tidy up the kitchen or take out the trash, do the laundry. She hadn’t gone too crazy because he worked from home and could step in at anytime. But she made a point of taking on the brunt of childcare and domestic duties during his work hours.

When she was not busy and Jaime was taking a break or had finished work quickly, they went to each other. In bed, they loved with mouths and hands, especially during the first few weeks following the birth. She could never get enough of his cock, missing so much how it felt to be fucked by him. As soon as the doctor cleared her, they made up for lost time.

The wanting could never be satiated for long, however. She always had to touch him, and he could never stop kissing her either. She loved just being in his arms, like now, but couldn’t stop herself from unbuttoning his shirt partway to kiss his exposed chest.

He combed her hair back with fingers, cupping her face in his palms to take her lips.

They were quick and quiet to get rid of clothes. Brienne lay down on the floor, moaning softly against her palm cupped over her mouth as Jaime took deep drags of her engorged, dripping nipples. She spread her legs, rubbing her pussy against his hairy thigh, relishing the white-hot burn emitting from their contact. He eased the heaviness from her tits with kisses and greedy suckles, making her come with a sharp cry.

Facing each other on the floor, legs wrapped around each other, she stared into his soft emerald eyes, the droplets of milk on his beard. His finger traced the full curve of her lip.

“I want to fuck you,” he said huskily.

She nodded and shifted to her back, spreading her legs.

He didn’t give her his cock right away but his tongue. Pushing his face between her wet thighs, his tongue thrust deep in her drenched folds. Her tits, drained of milk for now, began to leak with it anew. Her eyes half-closed, she watched his blond head moving side to side as he fucked her pussy with tongue, suckled her clit.

“Jaime.”

She was trembling and on fire by the time he finished, stopping just short of making her come. As he fell in her arms and pushed his tongue in her mouth, his cock thrust inside her. There was nothing she could do to stop her release. Squealing, she felt herself shatter right away, gripping him by the shoulders, hips thrusting frantically. He laughed over her panting mouth as she felt herself squirt, her juices fountaining out of her as he fucked her. He came after three thrusts, helpless from her pussy still squirting and squeezing him. 

They stretched out naked on the sofa afterward. Jaime palmed her pussy, pushed a finger inside, making her squirm and moan sexily. In between kisses, they watched the vote to amend the Varys Bill.

“You really think Catelyn Stark will win?” Jaime asked.

“She’s great with arguing her side. And you can see she passionately believes in it, Jaime.”

A progression of congressmen explained their vote while some simply stated theirs. Emma saved them from boredom by screaming awake. Brienne offered to take care of her, kissing Jaime on the lips before reluctantly leaving his arms. She slipped on her shirt and panties then went to Emma.

Emma had calmed down by the time she reached her. Checking her diaper revealed a nasty surprise, making Brienne gag and laugh at the same time. She got a fresh diaper, baby wipes, baby powder. “Little Miss Poopy Pants!” She teased her baby, who laughed.

Soiled wipes into the bin, then the diaper stinking of Seven Hells, Brienne finished putting a fresh diaper on Emma and a onesie. Then she picked her up and went to Jaime.

Jaime, back in his shirt and jeans, grinned upon seeing them. “My girls,” he said, opening his arms. He kissed Brienne first then Emma, throwing his arm around them.

“Has Stark spoken yet?” Brienne asked as Emma crawled to Jaime’s lap. He grinned and took her.

“Should be soon. Congressman Selmy is up,” Jaime said.

“Just enough time for me to change, then,” she remarked.

In their bedroom, she replaced her nursing bra, put a tank top on then a sweater. She washed her pussy then got fresh underwear and jeans. Carrying rolled up socks, she rejoined her family at the sofa. Congressman Selmy was still talking.

“Guy knows how to argue,” Jaime told her.

“He’s good. He’s almost had me convinced.” Brienne said, grinning when Emma turned to her. She opened her arms and the baby left Jaime for her arms.

Brienne squealed when Catelyn Stark was called a while later. “I can’t believe I get to meet her,” she said, awed as the congresswoman went up to the podium.

Self-assured yet friendly, even in the deep crimson suit she wore, Catelyn Stark gave an impassioned speech about the high rates of criminal cases dropped due to lack of evidence, then the favorable turnout in criminal cases where surveillance and other recording equipment were involved. She held Emma closer as Catelyn spoke about missing children, praying that her child would never have to deal with any kind of danger. That she be always safe.

She glanced at Jaime, touching him on the shoulder but hoping she didn’t worry him. For both Jaime and Emma be safe. That was all she wanted in the world.

When she returned her attention to the speech, Catelyn was looking right at the camera, and she felt, right through her. She squirmed in her seat, frowning a little as the congresswoman’s clear, blue eyes seemed to follow her every movement, monitor her every breath.

Icy glee seemed to spark from her eyes but it was gone before Brienne could remark on it.

She checked the time and decided now was the time to leave. She could listen to the results during the drive. Jaime and Emma saw her off.

“Hurry home and I’ll have a hot meal for you,” he promised, his lips a kiss away.

“Goody. What are you making?” She asked, ruffling Emma’s hair while smiling at him.

“My world-famous slow-cooked pork chops.”

“You wonderful, god of a man,” she marveled, kissing him. Jaime chuckled through their kiss.

“Come back to me, Brienne. I love you.”

“Always.” They looked in each other’s eyes as she cradled his cheek.  Then she kissed Emma.

During the drive, Brienne listened to the radio. The commentators said that Congresswoman Stark’s speech may have just sealed the fate of the amendment to the Varys Bill. “Popular from the moment she began her campaign, the first-time congresswoman is one of the rising stars of our government. She’s kept mum about the possibility of second term, or a higher office but if she decides to run either way, the votes will surely come,” said one of the radio announcers.

It was beginning to get dark so Brienne switched on the headlights. She listened to the instructions from the AWeMaze, a navigational app exclusive only to Westeros. The drive was predicted to last for forty-five minutes, based on traffic conditions. She guided her car towards the highway.

Brienne lived close to the center so she was a little anxious upon finding herself the only driver in the highway twenty minutes later. Radio signal was sporadic too, although her AWeMaze continued to work. Congresswoman Stark must like her privacy very much. Feeling a little too isolated even with some radio, she lowered the windows. The evening air was cool and sharp, and she could hear the rush of the River Trident to the left.

When the signal got more consistent, the news finally hit her: Congress got exactly two-thirds of the votes needed to amend the Varys Bill. Brienne let out a little whoop and honked the horn. More commentaries about Catelyn Stark came on, ranging from her speech to her fashion choice.

The robotic AWeMaze voice instructed Brienne to turn right after three hundred meters. She glanced at the map and saw little dots and intricate branches indicating streets and intersections. Finally. She turned right, and within seconds, knew why this residential area needed the safety of distance.

The houses were nothing short of palatial. Modern or classic, or an eclectic mix, they stood high and proud, the money of their creators in every brick and tile, gleaming from every clear glass window. The cars in the driveway ranged from restored, gleaming classics to roomy, luxury SUVs. The houses that so dwarfed her humble bungalow seemed doll’s size compared to the three-story and higher houses lining the street and set far apart from each other.

Lawns were perfectly manicured and a vivid green. Flowers and ferns ranged from the exotic to something as expected as winter roses. The upkeep required alone for one house and garden was close to the mortgage she and Jaime paid every month, she guessed, driving past a house with an intricate fountain in front.

She drove past a jogger in head-to-toe pink, with a short chinchilla coat. The jogger was clearly overdressed yet Brienne felt she had to pat her two-year-old coat for reassurance.

Obeying more instructions, she slowed down, making a turn here and there, marveling at the houses, the cars. Yet for all the money these residents clearly had, a lot of the houses were dark, and it was still early. There was no one else out for a walk, except for the chinchilla lady. Brienne looked for her in the rearview mirror but of course, she was too far already and had made too many turns. She began to wonder if the woman was a figment of her imagination.

The seamless, perfectly perfect perfection, awe-inspiring at first glance, made Brienne uneasy as she drove. Her street was pretty quiet but every now and then heard the blast of rap music from their teenaged neighbor next door, or the laughter of the couple living on the other side of their house. When either she or Jaime took out the trash, they were bound to run into one of the neighbors and fall into conversation.

There was nothing like that here. 

Her stomach was a tangle of knots by the time she arrived at the congresswoman’s street. Discovering that it was the only house there did not help her anxiety.

She stared at the lit and open garage, and found that other lights were on in the house. Blaming anxiety over meeting a person she admired, she got out of the car.

The River Trident seemed to whoosh toward her. She had always thought rivers as quiet, not this loud. She steadied herself, reached for the case containing the OPEM equipment and went to the front door.

She rang the doorbell. “Just a second,” Catelyn called out. Brienne straightened her coat, tucked errant locks of her hair behind her ears. The door suddenly opened and there she was. The congresswoman she most admired. In the flesh.

And polished. Catelyn Stark never had a strand out of place on camera and it rang true away from it.  Her auburn hair in a sleek roll, big pearl earrings on her ears, natural make-up with a bold crimson lip color. Her dress was form-hugging. She looked feminine and projected elegance and power. Not feminine or soft power. But power.

Brienne caught the surprise on her face but she recovered quickly, flexing her smile. Brienne quickly noticed that the warmth in her smile was not shared with her eyes. On camera they looked blue but now, perhaps because of the low lighting and it was dark, her eyes seemed black. Black and unfathomable. Dark windows.

“Congresswoman Stark. What an honor. I’m Brienne Lannister from Baratheon Insurance. We spoke on the phone.”

Catelyn seemed to snap out of a trance, recovering to offer her hand. “Yes. I remember. Come in.” Then she stepped aside, offering her to precede.

“I promise not to take too much of your time,” Brienne said as she entered the house. The walls were done in blinding white, and she could see the bay windows surrounding the living room. It was all nice but she wasn’t too comfortable having windows that big. She pinked, thinking it wasn’t ideal for her and Jaime.

“If I may, I’d like to say congratulations,” she continued, turning to face Catelyn. “I myself was hoping for the amendment.”

She had been expecting thanks, and some witty comment. Instead, Catelyn slid her clear blue eyes from the top of her head down to her boots, cocked an eyebrow before closing the door. She gave a small smile. Once again it did not reach her eyes. She had pretty eyes, Brienne thought, but there was something. . .she couldn’t name it. Wondered if there was even a name for it.

“How lovely. Let me take your coat.”

Catelyn helped remove the coat and gestured that she take a seat. Brienne was impressed with the pale blue and gray carpeting, and the white furniture. There was no way white anything would last  long. There was Emma, for one. And Brienne and Jaime, who saw any flat surface as a place to fuck.

Her nipples tightened as she remembered how she spent her afternoon today.

“I hope you don’t mind that I’d like to keep this short. My son’s recital is in an hour and I’d like to wish him luck before he plays.” Catelyn said as she sat down. Damn. Even her movements to sit were graceful, and she sat with her back straight and elegant.

“Oh, no problem, Congresswoman Stark. I promise we won’t take long.” Brienne got the OPEM equipment ready, glancing at her for permission to put the case on the coffee table. Catelyn nodded.

“When we spoke on the phone I didn’t mention specifics, only that Baratheon Insurance needs your assistance in verifying a claim. There was an accident that took place in front of Eastwatch Hotel on September 18, at approximately 12:45 in the afternoon. We’ve looked in the memories of the insurance claimant, and the party responsible. We have no reason to doubt the claim but you were identified as a possible witness. Baratheon Insurance simply wishes to make sure, that’s why I’m here.”

 “I understand wanting all your bases covered, Brienne—may I call you that? And we both know that I approve using technology in the solving of a crime. But this is an insurance claim. Requested by a private company. I want to make it clear that I will cooperate but I want assurance that my memories which have nothing to do with the claim will not be stored or used in any way. They must be deleted.”

“I understand, Congresswoman Stark—”

Catelyn held up a hand, chuckling. “Catelyn would do.”

Brienne’s eyes widened. “Seriously? I get to call you. . .that?”

“Why not?”

First-name basis with Catelyn Stark! Who would’ve thought? For the first time, Brienne caught a giddiness in the congresswoman as she crossed her legs.

“Oh. Well,” Brienne blushed and laughed to herself. “Um, Catelyn, I have a waiver here.” She pulled out a clipboard from the black case and slid it toward her. “Please read it carefully and then I’ll explain about OPEM. Then I can do a demo if you want.”

Catelyn took the ELA from her and read a few lines. Brienne noted her sharp gaze and felt herself tense. Those blue eyes looked at her over the clipboard. It was hard no to squirm, and the knots in her stomach tightened. She felt like being scrutinized by a vulture.

But Catelyn looked away, taking the pen from the clipboard to affix her signature on the form. She handed it back to Brienne. “You said you would give a demo?”

“Yes. Would you like me to?”

“Please.”

Brienne had been ready for this. She understood Catelyn’s misgivings—unlike Podrick Payne and Samwell Tarly, she was a public figure. Podrick didn’t have to worry about memories of his getting blown by his girlfriend making it to the public. But Catelyn Stark, whether she was cleaning the sink or doing something controversial, was fair game.

As she booted up the tablet and took out the thumbnail-sized OPEM device, she explained their functions. She pretended to stick the device above the corner of her right eyebrow, gesturing at the tablet and saying this was where the images would show.

During her spiel, she became very aware of the cold light of Catelyn’s eyes. No, she seemed friendly, her smile was beautiful and she looked genuinely interested but to Brienne, it was one hell of a performance. She wondered if she saw the cracks because she was literally up close and personal.

Still, as her fan, shouldn’t be blinded to her faults? But there was something in Catelyn Stark, a deep-seated tension that was now bubbling up the surface.

Realizing that Catelyn must be suspicious, Brienne held out the tablet to her.

“Whatever do you want me to do with it, Brienne?”

“You can look into my head,” she offered. “Go on, I have nothing to hide.”  

“You’re very brave, my dear. And everyone has at least one teeny thing they’d take to their grave. Is this on already?” 

“Yes. Now, for OPEM to work, it helps if you give me a prompt,” Brienne told her as she stuck the device just a bit off to the side on top of her right eyebrow. “OPEM works right away as soon as it’s on me but if you want me to focus, a prompt is helpful in getting what you’re looking for.”

“Oh.” Catelyn looked at the screen, frowning a little. “A prompt.”

“Yes, ma’am. Sorry. Catelyn.”

“Well,” Catelyn stared at the screen for a moment then looked her in the eye. “A happy memory. You must think one for me.”

She knew it was a request but something about the way Catelyn said was laced with a command she should not think of disobeying. Or else.

It didn’t take long to identify a happy memory because it was so recent. Emma. Squealing and giggling as Brienne put a fresh diaper on her.

“Little Miss Poopy Pants!” She heard herself exclaim from the screen.

“You have a beautiful daughter.”

“Thank you,” Brienne said. “She takes more after her father than me. Luckily.”

As soon as she spoke the word father , she was transported back to the afternoon. Lying on the floor. Watching Jaime eat her out.

“I want to fuck you, Brienne,” she heard him say from the screen.

Brienne squawked, plucking off the device but it was too late. To her mortification, Catelyn was still watching the screen. She wanted to die seeing her scandalized and curious expression. Probably remembering she wasn’t alone, she put away the screen, crossing her legs as she did.

“I’m sorry,” Brienne whispered, looking at Catelyn briefly then her lap. “I didn’t mean for you to see that.”

“It’s perfectly alright,” Catelyn assured her, handing the tablet back. “You’re a young woman. It’s not surprising to have a very passionate relationship with your husband. He’s also godly handsome. I don’t blame you for wanting to fuck him as much as you can.”

Brienne was embarrassed but Catelyn’s remarks unsettled her. Was it because it was too frank? Thinking she was being overly sensitive, she assembled the OPEM equipment and stashed the clipboard with the signed ELA in the case.

“Shall we begin?”

Catelyn nodded and sat back. “I have nothing to hide. Just like you.”

“Right.” Brienne stood up and went to her, putting the device on the same spot on Catelyn’s face. Then she returned to her seat and took the tablet from the table.

“So, Catelyn, as discussed, I will be giving you a prompt. And then I will ask you to smell this.” Brienne took out a small vial from the case. She waved it to Catelyn’s nose.

Catelyn sniffed. “That’s familiar. Air freshener?”

“Yes. It’s the same brand used in the rooms at Eastwatch Hotel.”

“Resourceful, aren’t you.”

Brienne shrugged and propped the tablet on her lap. “I worked as a maid there once. So, Catelyn, I’ve asked you to smell the air freshener to help you remember events from September 18, at approximately 1:00 p.m. while you were at Eastwatch Hotel. Can you do that?”

“Without question.”

In the screen, Brienne watched Catelyn cross the street to go to Eastwatch Hotel. She passed by a wall of mirrors, where she glanced at herself and smirked. She took the elevator.

Catelyn was moving quite quickly so Brienne didn’t catch what she had pressed. Then a door to tone of the rooms was opening. In the next scene, Catelyn was staring at a suitcase in a closet.

“You can see there’s nothing going on. I also haven’t seen anything that would need an insurance claim.” Cat was impatient.

Brienne, who was looking at her small notebook where she kept notes, wasn’t intimidated. “Could you think back to how you got to look out the window?”

“I don’t even remember looking out the window.”

“But you did, Catelyn. I’m sorry if I’m being forceful but the footage I have shows you witnessed the accident. So if you could think back harder. After all,” she said, “we’re both doing this because we believe that people ought to get what they deserve, don’t they? Especially those who have been hurt? Those we couldn’t protect all the time?”

She meant to say it lightly but it didn’t come out that way. It was confirmed when Catelyn stared at her coldly. But she looked away quickly.

“Please try to remember,” Brienne urged her, more gently.

It seemed to do the trick. The screen showed lower part of the door at eye level, then its entirety as Catelyn got up. The scene shifted from the door and to the window.

Brienne stilled upon seeing her deathly pale face in the glass, but her eyes sparkling and looking so blue. Catelyn turned her head from side to side, checking her ponytail, then fixed the collar of her white blouse.

She was still staring out of the window when the Sno-Walker ice cream truck backed into Podrick Payne. A thump, then a cry from Podrick as he fell. Catelyn abruptly turned away.

“Well, that’s it,” Brienne declared. “That confirm my client’s claim.” She held out her hand.

Catelyn smiled. For the first time it seemed genuine. But as she handed the OPEM back to Brienne, the screen continued displaying images. OPEM was no longer connected to Catelyn but it had stored some more her memories.

The images made no sense because they reeled so quickly and were so random. A slim man with dark hair, wielding a chainsaw. Screaming.

 “Fucking hell, Cat, don’t fall apart on me! Fuck you, don’t you dare!”

“Petyr, we should have just left him!” came Catelyn’s voice.

Then the whine of the chainsaw. An arm cut off. Blood everywhere. A scream. The sound of someone retching. Small, slim-fingered hands holding a lug wrench.

“Destroy his face. No should recognize him!” Yelled the man at Catelyn again.

Brienne grimaced as the lug wrench smashed into a man’s bloodied face. There was the snap of bone breaking. The nose. The forehead. Cheek. The wet sound of eyeballs squished, milky white scleara and red pulp looking like an odd soup of gooey and thready soft-boiled eggs in chunky tomato sauce.

An unseen woman, sounding like Caelyn, was sobbing.

Then it was the dark-haired man again, with more lines in his face, gasping as a slim, white-sleeved elbow pressed on his throat.

“C-C-Caaahhh---” he tried to say.

With growing horror, Brienne realized that these were actual memories of Catelyn Stark. Her eyes widened and she grabbed the tablet. She clutched it to her chest, but she had already seen more. The man, the same man being choked now dead in the freezer. A chainsaw screaming as it cut into his icy neck.

“Only my memories pertaining to the case will be used and recorded, right?” Catelyn said, speaking way too softly. She was still seated on the sofa, looking calm.

But she knew what Brienne had seen. They both did.

“It-It’s in the ELA,” Brienne managed to say.

“Good.”

Brienne nodded. She hated how her hands shook but Catelyn was watching her pack away her equipment. “I’ll see myself at the door,” she muttered.

“Nonsense,” Catelyn said, standing up. “Let me walk you out, Brienne.”

“It’s not necessary.”

Catelyn, standing over her, said quietly, “I insist.”

Brienne nodded and took the case. She stood up, finding some courage being so much taller than her. But she will have to turn her back. As she walked ahead of Catelyn, she scanned the room for objects that could be weapons. A crystal trout bookstand. A porcelain bust of a wolf. A heavy, decorative porcelain bowl.

It was the longest three minutes of Brienne’s life before they finally reached the door. She opened it and, taking a deep breath, turned back to Catelyn.

“I signed the waiver, Brienne. Don’t forget that only my memories concerning the accident can be used in any way. And it is illegal for you to keep footage or a record of my memories that do not concern it.”

Catelyn had a benign, almost placid expression on her face. It came with a close-lipped smile but again, with a strange, unfathomable stare. Dark windows, she had thought earlier. Not because the darkness hid the real Catelyn Stark. No. She was a shell of a human being. Nothingness. She was darkness.

“I know.”

“Hmm. Good. Let me help you with your coat.”

Brienne tried not to shake as Catelyn held out the coat and helped her in it. They looked at each other then Catelyn offered her hand. Wordlessly, Brienne took it.

She stepped out of the house, closing her eyes as the door clicked shut.

She wasted no time and sprinted.

She tore through the ground, thinking of Jaime and Emma. Her thumb pressed the button on the remote to unlock the car. Sweating, seeing white spots, close to tears and shaking violently, she threw herself inside. She strapped on her seatbelt and looked in front of her.

Catelyn Stark, perfect and sleek, was coming from the garage.

And carrying a hammer.

Brienne screamed. She actually screamed. Panicking, she gripped the key in her hand and tried to start the car.

The key fell.

“No, no, no. Please, please,” she sobbed, pawing the dark floor for the cold, metallic feel of the key. And found it.

But her victory was cut short. Catelyn, having snuck to the side of her window, slammed the hammer into the glass. Brienne shrieked, quickly shielding her head with her arm as glass rained on her. She tried starting the car, but the key fell again. She unclipped her belt, deciding to make a run for it when Catelyn’s arm swooped in and closed around her neck.

“Do you think I’m fucking stupid?” Catelyn hissed, locking her arm tighter. Brienne tried to struggle but there was little room to move where she was. “Did you think I was going to let you get away?”

“P—please—my baby—” Brienne clawed at her arm, tried to kick. Instead she kneed the stick, uselessly hit the horn. Catelyn screamed and squeezed even tighter.

Brienne tried shaking her away, grunting, gasping, keeping her palm pressed on the horn as Catelyn wrapped both arms around her neck, angling her head high and baring her throat. She clawed at Catelyn’s slim arms with her other hand, drawing blood, making her scream. 

My baby can’t grow up without a mother.

The Seven knew she tried. She really tried. Twisting away. Tried to hit. Cried out for mercy over the endless scream of the car horn. But Catelyn knew how to hold, how to choke. How to kill.

No. Not this way. Please.

Brienne, thinking of emerald eyes, gave it another try but the oxygen was leaving her body. Her movements grew feeble, and her pleas became whispers. As she felt the world go dark, something else wrapped around her neck. Fabric. Thick.

Her seatbelt.

Round and round her neck it looped. Brienne’s half-closed eyes saw Catelyn smiling, sweating, her makeup smudged and her lipstick smeared from their struggle. She gasped, trying to tear at the seatbelt, refusing even when the fight was clearly lost.

Catelyn yanked at the belt. Brienne felt blood pop in her eyeballs as a final gasp left her body.

 

******
Catelyn stared at her knuckles, white from how tightly she gripped the seatbelt. She stared at the still from of Brienne Lannister then suddenly loosened the belt. She fell headfirst on the steering wheel, landing right on the horn. Catelyn grinned, walking around the car as the horn continued to squeal and whine.

She slipped on the passenger seat, getting the OPEM case. Taking pity on Brienne still slumped on the steering wheel, she yanked her up. Her head lolled to the side as quiet filled the night.

Catelyn withdrew the thumbnail-sized device then the tablet. Brienne Lannister had family. This meant more people knew about their meeting.

She couldn’t have that.

Catelyn stuck the OPEM above Brienne’s right eyebrow and looked at the screen. More images of the baby and that handsome husband of hers. An image of a blue house. A mailbox with Hear Us Roar in yellow.

Finding no address, Catelyn was about to give up when she saw Brienne’s cellphone. It was open to the AWeMaze app.

“This should work.” She took the phone,” she muttered, scrolling the history of today’s drive. There. 28 Brightroar Drive.

Catelyn looked at her watch, cursing. An hour and a half before Robb’s recital. She’d have to work fast.

Brienne had parked facing the river so that made things very easy. Catelyn opened all car windows, even the trunk. Then she strapped the seatbelt back on over the dead insurance agent.

She picked up the hammer from where it had fallen on the ground. Grunting, falling on her knees on the ground, she propped it against the accelerator. The silver of the key winked at her, like the first star of the night. Her smile was ecstatic as she twisted it in, starting the car.

Then she yanked  the hand break.

It happened too quickly, and if she hadn’t jumped out of the way, the car would drag her into the river too. Panting, she watched Brienne’s car zoom straight into the river. It seemed to float for a second before sinking in one swoop.

And then it was gone.

Catelyn put a hand on her heart. The river would never yield her secrets.

She went back to the garage, retrieved another of Ned’s hammers and went to her car. She looked at her watch.

She won’t make it before Robb’s recital. There was nothing to be done. There was no choice. For her son. For their life.

Catelyn backed her car out of the garage and used the remote to close it. Then she swerved out of the driveway and into the street.

As she drove away to save her life, another broke through the surface of the river, gasping and wheezing.

With the air back in her lungs, Brienne Lannister began to swim.

 

Chapter Text

With Emma happily settled in a carrier on the kitchen table, Jaime worked on the potato salad to accompany the main course. The pork chops had been in the double-boiler all afternoon, and still had an hour to go.

After boiling the potatoes, he pulled the skin off with his fingers. They were the right balance of firm and tender, rather than soft like mashed. He engaged Emma in gobbledygook as he sliced them. Emma gurgled and squealed back at him, her gums biting into her teething toy.

“I’m so sorry your diet is mainly milk, kid,” Jaime told her, rinsing the shallots, scallions, parsley and tarragon under the sink next. He got another knife and chopped them up. “You’re missing the world. These pork chops are uh-maze-ing.” He kissed his fingertips dramatically and when he glanced at Emma, she had her little fist in her mouth. “That’s right. So, your teeth would be coming in, hmm, maybe in a month? More? You won’t regret the chops, I promise. And I make the best potato salad in the world. That’s how I got Mommy, you know. Losers do it with flowers. I do it with potato salad.”

He mixed the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, sprinkling salt on it before pouring it on the potatoes. He gradually introduced the other ingredients in the mixture, putting his wrist and spatula to work in between more gobbledygook conversation with Emma. He adjusted the taste until he kissed his fingertips again proudly. Finished, he put the salad in a nice bowl and presented it to his baby.

“Nice, eh? Just as Mommy likes it,” he said proudly.

Emma shrieked and put her toy in her mouth.

He put the salad in the fridge to cool then washed his hands. There was still some light out, but it would be dark in a few minutes. He got the sling placed next to the carrier earlier then began putting it on, layering the fabric over each section. Carefully, he slipped Emma into it. It held her securely but he still locked both arms around her as they went out into the yard.

Emma was quiet, her alert gaze following his movements as he picked flowers from the garden. He had her sniff a bloom, got down on one knee so he could pull an herb toward her nose. In the fading light of the day, he tried to see what color her eyes were. Brienne was convinced they were green, like his, but sometimes Jaime had seen them blue. In fact, he only saw them as blue.

Hugging Emma gently to his chest despite the sling, Jaime held the flowers and used the same hand to get back in the house. He quickly put the flowers in water, arranged them in a vase. The time on the clock said that Brienne should have arrived at her meeting with Catelyn Stark nearly an hour ago. Or earlier. Unless there were problems, she should be on her way home now. OPEM didn’t take long to use and she was good at giving the right prompt.

When the footage revealed Catelyn Stark as a possible witness, Jaime had gotten worried. There was nothing in the congresswoman’s character he found suspicious although he completely disagreed with her stance on the amendment to the Varys Bill. Brienne urged him to trust her, and believe that there was nothing to worry about. He would like to, one hundred percent, but she never grew up in the same world as he had.  In his world, any modicum of power a person had would always be exercised, and in ways that tend to border on the illegal. Power was power.

Seeing how worried Brienne was about not getting the bonus for resolving the insurance claim issue quickly weakened his resolve and he called Tywin Lannister. He would rather cut off all contact from his father but recognized how important it was for Brienne to get the bonus. He understood. After all, she was doing it for their family. They had steady jobs and earned well enough that indulgences can be quite easy and not something they would regret. But they had plans.

Like, move to a bigger house someday. Their bungalow only had three bedrooms and with baby equipment it was getting cramped. That needed a lot of money. Jaime also hoped that Brienne would change her mind about returning to school someday. He was proud of her work but felt that her lack of a college degree would hinder her from going further in her career. This also needed a lot of money.

They would love to have more children too. The process involved was the most fun for them. Becoming a mother had softened the hard angles of Brienne’s body too and for Jaime, she had become harder to resist. Oh, she was fucking sexy with her long legs and powerful body but she was so much sexier now that she was a mom. How they would manage more children would have to be planned, and it also required money. A lot of it.

So, as much as he hated it, he got in touch with Tywin and requested for Catelyn Stark’s personal contact details. Brienne never once asked him to do something like it. All the more he was compelled to help her. And she had been so appreciative. Jaime took pleasure in doing things for Brienne, not out of love but because he got hugs and kisses, and she made him feel like a god with her loving gaze. And her mouth.

Jaime knew he worried too much. The job was not dangerous. The part where Brienne was forced to see memories her clients and witnesses wanted to keep secret was what he didn’t like. She assured him that Baratheon Industries could be sued if memories not connected to a claim were made public or used in any way. But people could still be suspicious. They would still not trust any agreement. And Catelyn Stark, though hardly an unsavory character, was bound to have some secrets that her husband probably didn’t even know.

He kept those thoughts to himself after the argument they had. Not because Brienne wouldn’t listen  although she was stubborn and bullheaded. He didn’t want to come off as if he was stopping her from achieving a goal. He might not like what his wife was exposed to because of work but he supported her.

He put the vase in the center of the dining table then looked at the clock again. It was normal for Brienne to sometimes not call him when she got to a meeting, but she always made a point to get in touch when on her way home. He fished out the phone from his pocket. No message. No missed calls. Frowning, he pressed 1 and held the phone to his ear.

Emma cooed, probably sensing his worry. He smiled.

After three rings, he got her voicemail. “Hi. You’ve found me. Sorry for missing your call. Message me. Thanks.”

Jaime frowned and called her again. Same voicemail. He sent her a message. Pork chops ready to be devoured. Are you on your way home?

In his arms, Emma suddenly began to cry. He looked at her, frowning. She would cry when hungry, and the last time he fed her was before her nap. But they were soft sobs, not these loud wails of what seemed like pain. Concerned, he gently bounced her in his arms as he checked for insect bites, anything. Emma seemed to shake her head and suddenly pressed her face to his chest. She clung to his shirt, her tears wetting it. Jaime kissed her. “Ah. You’re hungry.”

Rocking her gently, he got a bottle of breastmilk from the freezer, then poured water in a pan. He turned up the heat high on the stove so the water would heat quickly. Still pressing kisses on Emma, who was now just whimpering and gurgling, he brought her to her room.

Her screams came back with a vengeance when Jaime began loosening the sling. Now worried that she was sick, he cradled her little head in his hand as he hugged her gently. She seemed to cling to him.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. But I need to get your milk, sweetheart. Help Daddy out. Don’t make me cry too, please?” He pleaded, her cries ripping at his heart. As he spoke, he resumed putting away the sling. Emma wailed as he bent to put her down in the crib. He stared at her, helpless and confused over her strange behavior. Hating himself, he turned away and left the room.

Her cries followed him to the kitchen, where the water in the pan was now boiling. He sighed and put the bottle in it, wishing for Brienne. If she was, then one of them could comfort Emma while the other took care of the milk. Taking care of their baby was easy for now—it just involved long naps, nappy changes and feeding. And Brienne took over as soon as she got home, and never made Jaime feel he wasn’t doing enough. He was always sure she appreciated his efforts and did her part. And more.

Emma’s cries began to soften, and he kept his eyes on the bottle. When the ice had thawed from it, he let it swish around the water for a few more seconds before plucking it out with tongs. As he dried it with a towel, he looked at the time and decided to call Brienne again.

“Hi. You’ve found me—”

Her phone must have died. He pushed the phone back in his pocket then uncapped the bottle to shake some milk on his wrist, checking for temperature. As he put the cap back on, he heard a movement from behind. Pleased, he turned around with a smile.

And saw a hammer swinging toward his face.

He jumped out of the way in the nick of time but banged his head on the cupboard. It hit him squarely in the back of his head. The kitchen shifted, the cabinets seeming to tilt before the hammer swung at him again. He threw himself to the side, flinging up his arm in a pathetic attempt at protection. Shaking his head from the dizziness, he saw a strange woman in a black dress wielding a hammer.

What the hell—he thought, recognizing her as she took another swing. His surprise spurred him to movement, but the hammer hit him right on the arm. Howling from pain, he grabbed the closest thing—the double-boiler.

He yanked it then hurled it at her, scattering glass, metal. Meat. The woman screamed from the scorching food and water that hit her in the chest and her middle.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” He growled at Catelyn Stark.

As soon as he finished speaking, she shrieked, grabbing the pan still full of the hot water. Jaime tried to duck but still got hit. Grimacing from the burn on his side, he slammed both palms on the counter and shelf and hurled himself to the door and into the living room.

As he ran, he tripped on one of the toys scattered on the floor. He flew, falling, scraping his chest on the carpet. Hit his head on the leg of an end table. Then Catelyn Stark was on him, her hair flying as she slammed her body on top of his, hitting him with the hammer. He quickly curled, moved side to side to protect his spine, his head, his face. But she was fast. Determined. Hit him back on the shoulder, resulting in a very loud pop from his socket and arm. Hit him on the side, on his ribs.

Weakening from the pain, his arm, unable to support itself fell. He saw the hammer swinging towards his head again. He turned but it hit him right on the side of his head.

He screamed.

Confused and terrified, he fought to get up, turning to grab her by the wrist, smacking her on the chin with his other fist. As Catelyn fell toward the coffee table, he slammed an elbow to her chest. The hammer flew from her hand. She fell with a grunt, making his stomach tun as he heard the crack of bone when it hit the table. Clawing at the carpet, he twisted away and shot to his feet, hand on his head to staunch the blood.

His neck and the back of his shirt were wet.

There was no need to check if he was bleeding.

Catelyn picked up the hammer and got up too. Jaime backed away, trying to focus as two images of the woman danced before his eyes. His legs shook. She was bleeding from when her teeth broke into the skin of her lips when he had punched her right under the chin.

“Why the fuck are you here? What did you to Brienne?” He demanded, his heart racing in panic, in fear. Pain. Not from the rupture in his head that was steadily coloring his gray shirt dark red. Pain from what was going to happen. And what had already happened.

Emma, hearing the commotion, started screaming her lungs out.

Blue eyes glared at him. Blue eyes that flashed like icicles.

There was nothing human behind those eyes.

“I can’t have more knowing,” Catelyn seethed, gripping the hammer. The vein in her wrist flexed.

Jaime didn’t have time to ask because she lunged forward. He flung his arm toward the shelf, grasped a heavy crystal figurine and hit her in the face. She yelled. He threw every object close enough—a book, a table lamp, yanked a drawer from the end table and threw it at her. It hit her right in the middle, sending her back on the floor, scattering condoms, loose change, hair ties and coupons.

Jaime ran to Emma’s room.

He blinked through the streaks of blood falling into his eyes as he threw the door open. Emma’s wails splintered his broken heart even more. Summoning what little strength he still had, he took his baby in his arms, holding her tightly while his other arm hung loose and useless on the side. She screamed seeing his bloody face, at his slick skin and clothes. He pushed her crib to the door. Then, with a pained grunt, he pushed up her window.

He almost dropped Emma when the door nudged open and then nearly flew off its hinges as Catelyn pushed it violently. Emma screamed as she saw Catelyn’s smeared, bruised face, the blood dripping from her nose where Jaime had hit her with the figurine.

She was still holding the hammer.

“We’ve done nothing to you,” Jaime told her, clutching Emma. Catelyn would have to smash him into a thousand pieces first before touching one hair on his daughter. “My baby has done nothing to you.”

“She also knows,” Catelyn whispered, advancing toward them slowly. Her chin trembled as she looked at Emma. “I can’t have her knowing too.” The last word was a sob.

“No one will know, whatever it is, ” Jaime was beginning to plea with her. “If you go, I won’t say anything.”

Her smirk reminded him of a beast savoring a cornered kill. “Brienne tried telling me that too.”

Jaime froze and Emma let out a wail. “What did you do to my wife?”

He was beginning to cry too.

“She fought. It wasn’t easy. But she did try. Kept talking about her baby. She is a beautiful baby.” Catelyn shook her head and tutted mockingly at Emma. “Brienne should have known better. I suppose, in her case, mothers don’t know best. And the poor dear will pay for it.”

Something snapped in Jaime then. He was dizzy. Only willpower and fear kept him upright and holding his Emma. Brienne was gone.

 It was enough to end him.

Then Catelyn started talking about Emma. His baby’s name from the vile woman’s mouth. About what was going to happen. There was no doubt that she wouldn’t let him live. But she had the ugliest fight in her hands if she thought to take Emma’s life too. I can’t die.  

Jaime didn’t think twice. Moving quickly, he put Emma on top of a dresser and threw himself at Catelyn, shoving her towards the crib, to the wall. The speed of his attack sent them crashing to floor, over the pile of wood from the broken crib. Tussling, struggling, screaming at each other, Jaime managed to wrestle the hammer out of her hands, tossing it right under the dresser.

Then he threw himself on top of her grabbed her by the throat.

Catelyn poked his eyes with her fingers and Jaime cried out, immediately letting go of her. He gasped as she pushed him to the floor, climbing over his back. Her hands wrapped around his neck. He grunted. Gasped. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Emma squirming on the dresser.

She was going to fall.

With a roar, Jaime curved his back up, punching Catelyn in the throat as he turned. Punched her breasts with the sides of his fists, relishing her screams. Her hands dropped from his neck.

But he wasn’t done. He was going to give her everything he had.

His fist. Again and again. The diaper bin. He grabbed it, hitting her right on the cheek with the edge the metal bin. Catelyn whimpered as she fell but he was far from done. His rage over the murder she wished on his baby had him picking up one of the heavily soiled diapers and shoving it in her mouth. He kept her pinned to the floor with his hand over her stuffed mouth and his knee on her ribs, twisting and digging as she struggled and whimpered, gagging.

Emma’s cries roused him from the black clutch of anger and fear. He slammed his elbow Catelyn’s middle again then ran to Emma. She was bawling, terrified. As Catelyn gagged and retched violently, Jaime and Emma escaped through the window.

He hoped the neighbors have heard the commotion, that someone had called the cops. He staggered in the dark, weakening from the loss of blood but his hold on Emma tight even with just one arm.

Shivering from the cold, he walked on unsteady legs through the yard, looking behind him, looking in front. As he lurched towards the street, he saw the flashing but silent blue and red lights of a siren. He dared to look and saw a squad car pulling up. Then two officers alighted. Guns drawn.

A neighbor, he thought. A neighbor had called. Panting, tears in his eyes, he fell on his knees before them.

“Sir, identify yourself.” The speaker was a woman, blond and short.

“J-Jaime Lanister, and this is my baby, Emma,” he gasped. He glanced wildly behind him as Emma cried harder and louder. “Please. My daughter and I. . .the woman. Catelyn Stark. She did this.”

His voice, broken from what had happened, and pain over Brienne, was a croak.

The two police officers glanced at each other. Then the same officer asked, “Where is she?”

“Inside.”

“Is she armed?” 

Jaime shook his head, rocking Emma desperately. “I don’t know. She came with a hammer. She’s in my baby’s room—”

That was enough for the two officers. As Jaime sank on the grass, the police exchanged a look. One of them went into the house, while the other, the woman who had addressed him earlier, stayed with him. She held out an arm to Jaime.

“Mr. Lannister, follow me. You and your baby will be safe in the car.”

Numbly, he followed her. Shock. The officer was asking him questions about the blood, if he was alright. But he was too anxious to focus. She helped them get in the backseat then turned to radio for back-up and emergency help using the radio strapped on her shoulder.

He was still staring at the house when her knock on the window startled him. She gestured at him to roll it down.

 “Sir, are you hurt?” He saw that her badge on the uniform indicated her name as Daenerys Targaryen. “Is the baby hurt??”

“N-no. No. It’s my blood.” He hated seeing blood on his daughter. “It’s only my blood.”

The woman looked at him, taking note of his bloodied face and clothes. Then she turned back to the radio, barking for an ambulance to get to them faster.

Before Jaime could speak, another squad car pulled up, lights flashing in silence too. The car stopped then the backdoor opened. Through the glass, he heard a muffled and familiar cry.

“My baby! Jaime!”

Jaime couldn’t believe it.

He struggled to get out of the car, his dislocated shoulder making his other arm pretty useless. Brienne. Brienne. As two more police officers entered the house, Brienne was stopped by the Officer Targaryen, pointing at Jaime and Emma in the backseat. Brienne’s face crumpled then she ran toward them.

He wanted to rage for being unable to open the door without having to let go of Emma. And he didn’t want to be away from his baby. Brienne got the door, dropping to her knees before him. Covered in one of the officers’ jacket, her hair wet, and a dark purple bruise ringing her neck, she burst into tears. Jaime did too. Then she was hugging him, them. She was trembling too.

“I tried to come back as soon as I could,” Brienne sobbed, her tears wetting Emma’s head.

“I thought you gone,” Jaime whispered, kissing her on the cheek. She was warm. Alive. Whimpering, Brienne turned to him and took his lips for a kiss. Tears fell from his eyes then, mixing with hers. She was truly alive. He opened his mouth, tasting her salt and she the metallic note of his blood. She pressed her forehead on his.

“You’re hurt,” she gasped.

“I don’t care. You’re alive,” he said, meaning it. He kissed her hard on the mouth.

Brienne’s head dropped to his chest, her big hand touching Emma, who had stopped crying as soon as her parents embraced. She took Emma in her arms, hugging her tightly. Over her head, Jaime and Brienne looked in each other’s eyes. There was no mistaking her fear given how bloody and bruised he was. But neither did he want to imagine what horrors she had gone through, to be wet and her voice sounding so hoarse, her face grimacing in pain when she spoke.

 

A crackle from Officer Targarye’s radio had their heads swiveling in her direction. She quickly ushered them back in the car, locking the door. Emma, still in Brienne’s arms, began whimpering and grabbing her tits.

“Jaime, I—”  Brienne bit her lip. “Please. I can’t. . .I need to hold Emma. My sweater. . .”

He understood. He didn’t want to stop holding her and their baby too.

He helped her with her sweater, pulling it up, and her tank top. He unsnapped the cup of her bra to free her tit. Brienne sniffled and she helped Emma take hold of the nipple in her little mouth.

“Jaime, where are you hurt?” She asked him quietly.

He couldn’t begin to tell her. He kissed her on the shoulder instead. “I’ll be okay.” You’re alive. Emma’s safe. It didn’t matter that he was leaning against her a little too heavily, or that his words were slurred.

Just then the front door open, two police officers flanking a handcuffed Catelyn Stark. Her dress was torn and stained. Through the flashing blue and red lights, Jaime saw a suspicious green-brown stain around her mouth. The police were trying to discreetly breathe through their mouths or cover their noses.

The forlorn expression on Catelyn Stark’s face was no longer the crazed look she had on earlier as she tried to end his life with a hammer. She looked frail surrounded by police officers. Like someone who had been through hell.

Jaime did not feel sorry for her. He went through Seven Hells and more. Brienne was also watching Catelyn led into the other car, her jaw tight.

The anger, having receded like the tide once Jaime was sure Emma was safe, came rushing back. Even Brienne was trembling anew.

It was Emma, suddenly gurgling and squirming in her arms, that snapped them out of it. They watched as her little hands touched Brienne’s chest. She continued to suckle. Jaime felt himself choke.

“I was going to feed her. She shouldn’t be hungry now.”

Brienne looked at him, her eyes red from tears. Her hand cradled his cheek and he held it to his face.

He used his working arm to hug her and Emma, resting his chin on her firm shoulder again. He was tired. Weak. Dizzy. As he rested against his wife, she turned to kiss him awkwardly on the forehead. He closed his eyes, listening to his daughter’s gentle suckles, his wife’s steady, deep breathing.

Besides rest, there was nothing else he could possibly want.

He relaxed even more against Brienne, her strength a comfort. Harder he leaned against her, lulled by the overwhelming peace that muffled her cries of his name. Emma’s wails.

There was no need, he was alright, he wanted to tell Brienne, whose voice sounded small and so far away as she called for help. He was at peace. Everything was okay now. They were safe.