She knew it wasn't right.
The world was sustained by strict compliance with the rules. She had been trained for that, to discern the line that divided the right from the wrong, to classify, catalog and discriminate what was acceptable and what not. This was definitely not acceptable.
He was damaged, a failure according to his own words. Brienne reviewed the file, searched for documents, read all records of his missions, at least what the Agency allowed her to know, with the level of security assigned to her. What happened was long before he was recruited, before he even was a candidate. A misfit boy at school, a troubled teenager, expelled twice, from private high schools, finally entering a military academy. Brienne had also gone to the same academy, but it had not been for misbehavior, but to follow the family tradition. There were titles, medals and honors on the Tarth wall, and she was the last one left to continue the legacy. And there she had been recruited.
Jaime Lannister was instead the second son of a powerful western businessman, surrounded by excessive luxuries and very few limits. At the academy he had not been a prominent student, but he had shown enough talent. When he continued his professional military career, recruiters had him in their sights, his name always appearing on the list of possible candidates. Then the missions came and the success. The most important were the Brotherhood capture and the War of the Usurper (code names). But it was not until the controversial case of Aerys Targaryen happened that the Agency decided to bring him into its ranks. In fact, they put him up against the wall, they gave him no choice.
He was the best in his group's physical training. He excelled in languages and history, and demonstrated a great aptitude for critical thinking and decision-making under pressure. He advanced so quickly in the stages of the standard program that he was assigned to a mission barely a year and a half after entering the Agency. Brienne met him when she was transferred with Olenna Tyrrell, in the area of military psychology. She was in charge of doing the paperwork, carrying out the inspection of the subjects before each mission, recording the physical and mental health of those who survived to return to the world. He always came back. He seemed untouchable. Jaime was good with mind games. He liked to confront her, try to disarm her defenses, filter into her mind, as if she were the enemy. Brienne had several difficult subjects in her charge. He was the worst.
Sometimes she felt that he knew her, really knew her, and that scared Brienne.
He once brought a winter rose on the interview table. He looked at her very seriously and she felt the stomach stir, felt a huge hole in her chest. That night, she cried in her bed like a child, until she fell asleep. Olenna gave her a week's vacation, maybe because she had guessed, perhaps because she knew the work was affecting her.
Meanwhile Jaime had been assigned to the Bolton case. He was in the active field for four months, and then lost for half a year. When they were about to seal his file and discharge him from service, he appeared in a small village in Harrenhall, sick, dying. His recovery took fourteen months. His body healed properly. But his mind... this happened with the agents. If they didn't die in the mission, they'd come home, became invalid or insane. Jaime insisted that his right hand had been cut off, but that was not true. His hand was still there, intact, functionally. Pain medication wasn't even necessary.
It took him a long time to accept that he was complete, that he had survived, that he was safe. Then he wanted to be active again. But that wasn't possible unless he passed all the psychological tests, unless Olenna signed the paper. Brienne knew that in these cases they discharged the subjects. That was recommended. They were never the same again after so many traumas. Brienne didn't want him back on the field. She had nightmares about him... over his lost hand.
Then the interviews started again. Again they began tests, psychological and physical exams (over and over again). But this time he didn't bring her a rose or avenge the old affront of a lost rival (Ronnet was dead for all she knew). This time he violated the protocol and took her to a bar, and then his apartment. They both violated the protocol. Brienne had agreed to cross the line. It was also her responsibility.
They kissed when they entered the elevator. They kissed in the hallway and then in front of the door. They fell to the lobby floor in their haste as they entered. For her it was all a blurry dream, his hands stroking her, the weight of his body, the strength with which he had penetrated her, his breath on her face, her mouth, her neck. Brienne groaned unintelligible words while Jaime moved inside her.
A piece of her mind tried to convince to herself that this was only part of his eternal tactics. He was winning the game. Soon the final evaluation would come, Brienne's word ensuring his competence to be assigned. Olenna's firm accepting his reinstatement.
When he took her the second time, he wasn't gentle either. They finished undressing in the bedroom and he drove her to bed. He grabbed her from behind, burying deep in her, grabbing her hair with such force that Brienne's eyes filled with tears. Then she was more aware, felt the pain and pleasure. She heard every word Jaime muttered in her ear, she remembered the edge of his teeth biting her skin, his fingers clenching her waist, guiding her towards him, the roughness which his nails marked her breasts. He spilled into her like the first time.
At dawn Brienne got up first. She took a quick shower and then went back to bed. She rode him slowly, without letting him touch her. It was a slow and sweet torture, while his green eyes held her gaze with an indecipherable expression. She stepped aside before he was done. She showered again. Both bathed under a torrent of cold water. Then there weren't even goodbyes.
It started to be a habit. Their casual encounters without being casual. The questions had no scales or traps. Just random things, like colors, meals, special dates, soap marks. Why Ronnet was so important. The engagement. The roses. The betrayal.
Brienne inspected his hands, his fingers, every piece of skin. Sometimes everything fit. Sometimes everything made sense... She noticed the difference, the pressure and the force, something was wrong. Something was wrong with his nerves or his head. She wanted to be able to have those kinds of answers. But it wasn't possible for her.
In her final report, a twenty-page document that Olenna would reduce to a single one, Brienne detailed each evaluation. The final paragraph was: "The asset presents, despite his numerous scars both mental and physical, sufficient abilities to return to the field. There is no evidence of any permanent disability. Reinsertion is recommended." The first mission was enough. Just two days. Brienne received the news in front of a mirror shop. Jaime was gone. In fact, at last they'd sealed his file.
Brienne decided to ask for her transfer. She had enough of mind games and tests. They put her in a distant office in the north for low-security surveillance, just more paperwork, but less contact with the subjects.
Life was quiet and monotone again. Her routine was a collection of inconsequential moments. Until the morning she found a rose resting on the dining-room table.
It was blue. A winter rose.