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Red Shoes

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Brienne sits at a wooden table in some small restaurant downtown, nestling her clothes.

Why did she have to go with this short dress?

Brienne doesn’t feel comfortable in women’s wear anyways. She usually wears trousers with pride, and with her broad shoulders, she ends up buying blouses in the men’s department more often than she’d like to admit to anyone else.

But no, tonight she decided to wear this dark navy blue satin dress with a tight bodice, hugging her flat chest that looks only slightly fuller thanks to the one push-up bra she owns, and broad, rectangular straps, way too much cleavage to her liking, and a rather tightly fitting balloon skirt that only reaches up to half her thighs.

She will curse Margaery to the end of her days for giving her such a dress as a birthday gift, telling her that it looks fantastic on her. Only the Gods will know how she guessed her size so correctly – because Brienne never tried it on… until tonight.

But Brienne hates this dress because she feels exposed in it. People see her mannish body. Her broad shoulders, her flat chest, her way too long, way too fleshy legs, and her muscular arms. While she actually likes her muscles, that’s what she does so much workout for after all, Brienne knows that men are apparently irritated by a too-trained girl who thus has no longer the typically soft curves of a woman.

Yet, here she sits, in that navy blue dress she vows to burn one day, and those godforsaken red shoes that give her blisters just thinking about them when she stood in front of her wardrobe to get ready for the evening. These weren’t a gift from Margaery, no, Brienne brought those shoes of evil herself one time when Margaery, she really always has her hands in that in one way or the other, forced her to come along with the ladies.

Just that Brienne is anything but a lady.

And by no means one of the shopaholics Margaery gathered about herself, and is one herself with utmost pride. Brienne only roughly remembers the day, and that she trotted after the entourage of women as they pointed fingers at this dress, and that skirt, and these necklaces, and those seemingly orgasmic hairclips, judging by the way this one girl whose name she can’t remember cried out at the sight of the hairclips.

Not that Brienne would ever dare say what orgasmic is. While she has been in relationships before, it never came to it. Back in High School, there were a few of the football team who had made it a challenge about who’d take her virginity first, which resulted in a fake battle about her affection, though she found out soon enough that they just wanted to get inside Big Brienne, after she had made herself so rare.

That was when Brienne decided not to have sex until she’d find herself someone who cared about her… which is why she is long since out of school, long since out of college, and long since settled into her job – and still a virgin.

It’s nothing she is particularly ashamed or proud of, to Brienne, it was simply the right choice.

Brienne shifts in her seat, her feet aching at the movement. Oh right, the red stilettos she bought back during that shopping trip. It was really just to make Margaery and the others shut up, after all gave her this almost sympathetic look after she hadn’t bought anything for herself after three hours of Shopping Hell. The shoe store was the last in the street, and Brienne hoped that if she bought something, the women would give in and let her back home. So she brought herself to ask one of the saleswomen very awkwardly if they had any shoes her size. And Brienne wanted to die when the woman tapped her index finger against her chin, contemplating whether they had some giant shoes in store, but at last she brought the one pair they had indeed.

And that is how she ended up with the way too expensive, way too tight, way too red shoes.

And now she decided to wear them again, for the blind date she is on.

Brienne is big into chatting on the internet. She doesn’t have to talk to people face to face, which still tends to irritate her and make her sound like a squealy girl from High School. In fact, she feels a lot more comfortable talking to strangers because she doesn’t have to show them her ugly plank-face. She can talk to them about God and the world, she can say all the truths she doesn’t dare to say aloud in reality, because people wouldn’t take them for the truth, and even if they did, she could always claim them wrong – because they couldn’t read it on her face.

Because Brienne is a bad liar by nature.

When chatting, she even has enough confidence to flirt a bit. Emoticons are amazing. It’s a way of effectively using facial expressions without having to bother to make them yourself, or end up making the wrong face at the wrong time, as she does. A lot.

There was one guy who really seemed nice. She chatted a few hours with him.

SerDeerhunter27.

Stupid name.

Though BlueEyes25 is by no means any better. Brienne wanted to go with WarriorWoman at first, but feared that it would scare off men once more.

Because she wants to be close to somebody.

She is very lonely.

Except for Margaery and Renly… and Loras, though she only likes him for Renly’s sake, she has no friends. Her father is far away, after she went to live in the city for the sake of her job.

If she wasn’t lonely, Brienne wouldn’t be up for a blind date. Her last relationship lies so far back already that she can’t remember when she was last kissed.

Not that she misses the guy. He turned out a cheater shortly after they got together. Breaking his nose was a lot more satisfactory than Brienne would like to admit.

So yes, she is on this blind date in a bloody sexy dress that feels alien on her, because she feels anything but sexy, in those shit red shoes, sipping water with a lemon slice, since Brienne doesn’t like to drink out of the fear to lose control, the side of her head burning because she burned herself with the hair straightener she usually never uses, for good reason. She keeps her hair short so that she doesn’t have to style it much. Usually, she uses gel at best, but tonight she wanted to look a bit better, let’s say, so she styled her hair and even put on make-up, needless to mention that she stabbed herself in the eye with the mascara brush at least two times, and had to rub off her lipstick at least five times because she always drew over the edges of her broad lips.

SerDeerhunter27 was really nice. He seemed interested in the same things like she. He said he tried out archery when still younger. Brienne still actively works on those skills. She has a fable for medieval things, which is why she also has a collection of medieval swords and other weapons. And it didn’t seem to put him off. In fact he seemed even interested.

So maybe this will be one of those moments from the chick movies Margaery likes so much.

They arranged to meet in this restaurant downtown at eight o’clock. She brought a small toy knight, as the symbol of recognition. He is supposed to come along with a rose, or so he said.

Brienne had to swallow thickly when she read that. Roses are her most hated plants, after Ronnet Connington had tossed a red rose to her feet after she refused yet again to have sex with him after they had their fourth date. That was a breakup she never regretted, even though it earned her many tears.

However, her secret date can’t know, so she will ignore the rose and simply hope that the man is as nice as he appeared in the chat.

Brienne checks her watch again.

Nine o’clock. She texted him a few times by now, but no reply yet. She just hopes that he got stuck in the traffic, and didn’t chicken out at the last second.

If only she wasn’t that desperate for physical contact. If only it was enough for her to stay in the realm of the internet, where you are safe from roses on the ground and people making bets about who’d get to take your virginity first, or deciding to turn prom into a living nightmare by making you the joke of the festivity by leaving the ugly duckling under the impression that everyone wanted to dance with her, when in fact no one wanted to, and only wanted to see her tears.

To the day, she feels indebted to Renly for grabbing her, dancing with her, and telling her not to let the nasty little shits see her tears. That was before he had his coming out with Loras, and Margaery was still his girlfriend, though both kept it up for Renly’s sake, until he felt confident enough to make it public. Brienne always admired Margaery for how supportive she had been of him, and that they are still the best friends.

The door opens and Brienne’s sapphire blue eyes spark in anticipation, hoping for a young, gallant man to come over to her with rose in hand, and in fact a hunky man comes inside, with a flower in his palm.

But the closer he comes, the more recognition dawns on her.

“Hyle?!”

He was one of the guys who made bets about taking her virginity. What is he doing here? She only saw him in college for a year, before he dropped out. Why is he here?

He can’t be… oh Gods, no.

Not again.

“Blue Eyes, it’s been such a long time,” he grins at her as he settles down.

“Please tell me that this is not what I think it is,” she breathes, her whole body tensing up.

Please, she made something out of herself. She went to college, has a job.

She thought High School was finally over.

“You seriously chatted with me all this time for this scene here?” she manages to say.

“To tell the truth, I lost a bet,” Hyle says with a grimace, nodding to the bar. Brienne tears around. In one of the cubicles she can hear laughter.

Please no.

“The guys and I still hang around. And as I said, I lost a bet,” Hyle says. “I couldn’t say no.”

“Just that you did,” she breathes, gathering her purse with clumsy hands, her body shaking, revolting against the pain spreading throughout her.

“Brienne, please, it was just a mean joke,” he argues, seeing the tears in her eyes.

But Brienne doesn’t care if it is a joke or a trick or anything, she just has to get out of here and shred the dress, shred the shoes, everything. She almost stumbles thanks to the godforsaken stilettos – and out of reflex, Hyle seemingly wants to catch her arm, but Brienne snaps his hand away, “You touch me once, and that hand won’t touch anything ever again.”

“Brienne, please, I didn’t mean it like that, I was just…,” he tries once more, but before she knows what is happening, she hooked her foot under his chair and tilts it over with one might kick to send him crashing to the ground. The other men she surely all knows from High School howl in the cubicle, but Brienne feels too hurt to care about their faces. She hurries out of the restaurant, tears clouding her vision.

She is still the same silly girl she was back in High School. No matter how much she works out, no matter how well she is in her job. She will always be Brienne the Beauty.

Just that she isn’t a beauty.

Brienne just wants to run home to her apartment, clumsily rushing over the pavement. She wants to flag down a taxi, standing at the edge of the sidewalk, but as she leans forward, her stupid stiletto decides to move on its own, she slips, the heel landing right between the metal bars of a drain.

This shoes will be her death.

Brienne lets out a shriek as she tumbles, starting to fall forward towards the busy street, and for the briefest of moments Brienne is tempted to say to herself, “So be it”, but that is when she is suddenly pulled back by two arms. She already prepares for pain to explode in her arse for landing on the pavement, but the arms hold her upright and pull her away from the street, only to nudge her forward so she comes to stand upright, the red stiletto still stuck in the drain, leaving her standing on one high-heeled foot.

“Easy there,” a man’s voice rings out. Brienne blinks as the hands wander to press against her shoulders and a man like cut out of a magazine comes into view. Golden hair, shining eyes, flawless skin.

Maybe she got run over by a car after all, and is on her way to the Heavens at last.

“Are you alright?” he asks her, a loose strand falling into his eyes, which seem… concerned.

“Jaime? What is it?” another voice rings out.

“The lady almost got killed by falling face first out into the street,” the man, Jaime, calls over his shoulder.

“Having a heroic moment again, are we?” a dwarfish man says. Brienne still looks at the two dazed. Jaime’s eyes tear back around to her, “Well?”

“Should I call an ambulance?” the smaller man asks, now also sounding concerned.

“Should we?” Jaime asks, looking at her again.

“No, no, I… I am fine. I am sorry, I…,” Brienne mutters, the air catching in her throat. “Thank you.”

“It’s nothing,” he winks at her. “I have a tendency to rescue fair maidens.”

“Tyrion, can you get her shoe from over there?” Jaime asks, nodding at the red stiletto still sticking out of the drain. The smaller man nods wordlessly, gathering the vicious footwear to place next to her foot, “There you go.”

“Thank you,” she mumbles again, her voice trembling.

“And you’re sure you’re alright?” Jaime asks again, searching her eyes.

“Yes, I… uhm, I just stumbled, that’s all,” she says as she forces her bare foot into the red shoe, only to bend down with a cry, pain exploding in her ankle. She must have twisted it the wrong way either while falling or when Jaime pulled her back around. That is the problem when you train so much and fall so many times. Brienne’s ligaments have been stretched and sprained and torn that it takes just one wrong move for the red fire to explode in her ankle.

“She’s like you. You never admit it when you break something either,” Tyrion remarks. Jaime grimaces as he bends down next to her.

“Maybe we should bring you to hospital after all,” Jaime offers a sympathetic smile.

“I have that all the time. I just need to cool it,” Brienne manages to say and straightens back up, setting her jaw in a straight line.

“Ah, a brave one,” Tyrion chuckles softly.

“I’ll just take a taxi home, thank you very much for, for everything,” Brienne shakes her head, stumbling over to the edge again, hoping that a taxi will instantly pop up and take her away from the shame and the glow on her cheeks.

Why does she have to stumble into a real-life version of Prince Charming when she is a tear-stained klutz who just received yet another humiliation for the rest of her life?

But that is when he is right next to her, raising his arm, and for some reason, a taxi seems to fall from the sky only once he raises his hand.

“Thank you, again,” she mutters. And she wants to cry out when he even holds the car door open for her.

This all seems so wrong.

Jaime looks back to his brother, who shakes his head with a sigh.

“You and your puppy eyes shall be damned,” Tyrion grunts. “Fine, have fun. You’ll pay my drinks, though.”

Brienne grimaces, but then realises that Jaime actually gets in the car with her, only stating, “Someone’s got to make sure that you arrive home safely. You seem to be a bit shaken through tonight. And in any case, I want to make sure that the maiden I rescued arrives back in her castle.”

Brienne simply gives the driver her address, trying to sink into the seat the best she can, though she wants to howl in pain as her too long legs don’t have enough space in the damned taxi, and she can’t ease her foot somewhere.

This is torture.

Just as it is to have this Adonis next to her, when she is only a mess.

“Oh, yes, I forgot to properly introduce myself. The name’s Jaime Lannister. The other man was Tyrion, my younger brother. So may I know the identity of the maiden I saved, too?” he says after a moment of silence.

“Brienne of Tarth,” she replies.

Of Tarth? Does that mean I really rescued a blue blood?” Jaime looks at her.

“No, I mean, in a way, yes, but we are not rich or anything. Our fore-fore-fore-fore-fathers and mothers were royals for all I know. It’s just the name, really,” Brienne says.

“What do you do for a living?” Jaime goes on to ask.

“I, uhm… I work in the merchandise department of a company,” she replies. “And you?”

“I am being prepared to take over the Lannister Empire. We have a huge firm that does… something. I just know that I am the pretty face they use to sell whatever we sell, or ship whatever we ship. Tyrion is the one who handles everything for real. I am just the company’s face, upon our father’s insistence,” Jaime replies.

Brienne tilts her head. Why is he so openly telling her these things?

“And what do you do during your free time?” Jaime goes on.

“I… uhm, kickboxing and archery and collecting some things,” she says.

“Seriously? I never met a woman who was into archery and kickboxing,” Jaime smiles. “In fact, I always thought I was the only one who’d be into archery, at least around the area. Though I go with the simple longbow, you know, out of wood, not those robot-like things.”

And Gods, his smile could blind people.

“Me, too,” she replies. “I have a longbow from the medieval times, though that is just for display, of course.”

“Really?! I have a crossbow from the good old days,” Jaime grins, suddenly very excited. “Now don’t say you collect medieval weapons.”

“I do,” she shrugs. “I got a few things from my father, you know, from the fore-fore-fore-fore-fathers.”

“That might possibly the hottest thing someone’s ever said to me,” Jaime grins, and Brienne has to take a few deep breaths to calm herself.

What?

“I have one, too, a longbow, I mean, and in fact I have a few relicts from my family as well, but I always get the stares from Tyrion and my sister that I keep these things for display,” Jaime goes on. “I even took courses to wield a sword and all. That was amazing. You should try it.”

“I already did,” she replies. “I’m member of a club where we do that on a regular basis.”

Why is she telling him this?

And why does he bother to ask?

What is this here?

What? And I didn’t hear of that thing?! I shall be damned,” Jaime leans his head back.

Brienne frowns.

What is this man up to?

Or is this another joke at her expense by any chance?

Please no.

“May I ask why you’ve been crying?” he suddenly asks in a mute voice.

What is it to him?

What is it to anyone?

“Just a… bad joke at my expenses that I took a bit too seriously,” Brienne blurts out, running her palm over her eyes.

“What bad joke?” he keeps asking.

Why does he, though?

“Let’s just say that blind dates are a good opportunity for former High School bullies to get back at you one last time,” she exhales, but then covers her mouth.

Gods, she can’t just say that to a complete stranger!

“Some people just never grow out of their children’s shoes,” Jaime wrinkles his nose. “Or are seemingly just idiotic by nature. But wait… blind date?”

“I went on a blind date, it turned out to be someone I knew back from High School, who’s played a trick on me before, and now he said he lost a bet, which is why he was supposed to get me into a blind date to make a fool of myself. And he and his friends managed outright,” Brienne blurts out again. This time she slaps her mouth.

Just when does this humiliation end?!

“Oh, that’s nasty,” Jaime grimaces… sympathetically.

“I guess I should have known,” she mutters to herself.

“Why?” he frowns at her.

“It’s… nothing,” she purses her lips.

She should have known because she is an ugly, mannish plank after all, but that is nothing she has to let this handsome man know, right? Not that he can’t see it for himself, but she doesn’t have to say it out loud.

“If you don’t say, I will have to guess,” Jaime teases her.

“Look, it’s really kind of you that you do all this here, but you don’t have to bother yourself with my problems,” she argues. “It’s enough that I bother you to get me home.”

“In fact you saved me from playing wingman for my brother yet again. You have no idea how boring it is,” Jaime argues. “He has it a bit harder than most people because of his height, so I have to pave the way for him, pretty much. But since he is a little lusty shit, I end up hooking dozens of women for him.”

Brienne frowns. She reckons that it takes nothing much for him to hook up with someone, though she finds it astonishing in a strange way that he does that for his younger brother.

“So maybe I owe you my thanks,” Jaime grins. “For sparing me yet another night out of hooking up with women I am by no means interested in.”

She blinks at him.

“I rather rescue a lady.”

Brienne tries her best not to take on the crimson of her shoes.

At last the taxi arrives at its destination. Brienne already digs through her purse, but Jaime holds up his hand and pays the man. Brienne’s shoulders drop again.

What is this?

Jaime gets out of the car and holds out his hand to her to help her out. Once she stands on her good foot, he swings her arm over his shoulder to help her walk.

“You don’t have to do that. My apartment’s just over there. I will manage,” she tells him, but Jaime starts to walk, forcing her to walk with him.

“I rescued you, so the least you can do in return is to show me your collection,” he argues. “You don’t have to be scared. I’m no robber or so. I’m rich beyond reason.”

Brienne just lets him pull her along against better judgment. The stairs prove to be a test of her abilities, but she is glad that she is trained enough to manage to hobble up the stairs without unceremoniously falling down, though Jaime still makes sure that she doesn’t, always a steady grip on her.

They make it to her apartment door at last. Brienne fumbles for the keys and opens to hobble inside. Jaime sneaks in behind her like a cat, and closes the door with the heel of his polished shoe. He manoeuvres over to the next-best piece of furniture, which is her Recamier, to help her ease down on it. Brienne kicks off the red shoes at once, ignoring the pain exploding in her ankle as a result. She pulls her legs up to rest on the Recamier. She doesn’t want her foot to swell further, so it might be better to elevate the limb.

Jaime takes a moment to look around, spotting her collection.

“Okay, that collection is marvellous,” he remarks with awe in his voice.

“… Thank you,” she mumbles.

“How long do you collect?” he asks, running his finger along some of the weapons on display, making the metal sing.

“Since I’m fourteen,” she replies.

“Really? I started way later. I was already in my twenties,” he puckers his lips, looking around.

“It’s never too late,” Brienne shrugs.

Well, it’s likely too late for her.

She is ridiculous.

What is this here anyway? Why is he still here?

“Do you have peas?” he then asks.

“What?” she looks at him.

“Peas? Frozen peas? For your foot,” he says, already manoeuvring to the kitchen of the loft, as though it was the most natural thing on earth to hover around her place.

“I, uhm, I can do that myself, I have cooling bags in the…,” Brienne means already trying to get up, but he points a finger at her, “You stay where you are. Cooling bags. I should have guessed that you are better equipped due to the sports you do. Ah, the freezer.”

He starts to dig through the freezer until he brings out a blue cooling bag. He wraps it into one of the kitchen towels he finds there and walks back over to Brienne, whose eyes follow him on every step he takes, as though he’s been in that apartment for all his life. He plops down next to her and simply presses the cooling bag against her foot. Brienne hisses as the cold spreads throughout her, but then wants to jump at the realisation that this stranger is only inches from her.

She still waits for Hyle and the gang to holler on the stairs.

“You should definitely see a doctor about that,” he tells her in a soft voice. “Really, high heels are pretty, but not at all functional.”

“Why are you doing this?” she can’t help but ask.

“Huh?” he frowns at her.

“Why… are you… so kind to me? You don’t have to be, alright?” she tells him. Jaime tilts his head, “You do know what flirting is, right?”

“What?” she looks at him.

“While I didn’t really plan on rescuing a maiden from getting run over by a car, I am more than interested now, especially after you confirmed me in my belief that we are very much alike. I thought I had made that clear by now,” he replies.

Interested?

In what?

Her?

Sex with her?

Oh, no. This must be it. He wants a reward now, is that it?

“So? Will you go on a date with me some time?” he then asks.

“You… you want to date me?!” she can’t help but exclaim. That is absolutely ridiculous. This is too much out of the movies. And Brienne long since gave up on happy endings.

“Hey, you can’t blame me. If you looked only half as sexy in that blue dress and weren’t interested in all those things that are my passion, then just saving you would have been fine, but now you turn out to be one of those unicorns and you blame me for wanting to catch it?” he argues.

Unicorn?!

… Wait, sexy?

“Cat’s got your tongue, Blue Eyes?” he winks at her.

And this time it sounds nice.

Blue Eyes.

Like a compliment.

A nickname.

Two words of affection.

“C’mon, I really made an effort. You could at least reward me with a proper reply,” he argues.

“Why would you want to date me? I’m a mess, you got to witness it first hand,” she can’t help but ask instead.

She knows how often she rehearsed for date-conversations with the few men she had, how she tried anything to have things under control so that she didn’t end up as awkwardly as she does. But now she has a man only inches from her, in her apartment, after she was almost run over by a car, after she got tricked by High School bullies into a fake blind date.

That is not at all under control.

This is not at all how it should be, for him. Because that guy could have all the pretty models roaming the streets of the city. And yet, here he is in her loft, telling her those things that leave her blushing like a stupid teenager.

If he had met her on, let’s say a blind date, she may have been able to charm, but how is any of this charming?

“You are a hot mess,” he grins at her. “Now don’t tell me that men don’t queue up for you.”

“They don’t,” Brienne replies. “Why would they?”

“Why would they not?” he retorts. “You still didn’t answer my question, though. Look, this has been odd for me, too. I’m usually the type of a guy who courts a woman the very old-fashioned way, but because of the circumstance of our first meeting, it wouldn’t have been smart to drag you to a club to shake it up a bit, right? So I ask you for a date once you are… ready. Because then I can do what I am good at. And I’m really good at the whole gentleman-thing, believe me. You haven’t seen me in tux yet.”

“I just want to warn you that I’m not at all… ugh… interesting,” she argues.

“Let me be judge of that, princess,” he winks at her. “So? You and I? Date? Old-fashioned? No blind dates or whatever else?”

“… If you want to,” she says before thinking. Because she wants to get lost in his eyes, in the kindness he radiates.

“Since I want to a lot, that is a clear yes,” Jaime chuckles.

“Alright,” she nods.

“Well, I think you should get some sleep. You must be exhausted after all the chaos,” Jaime exhales. He slowly gets up.

“Ah, right, I will leave you my card. Just ring once you find the time,” he says, taking a small card out of his pocket. “I usually don’t do that with girls. I always find that snobbish, but it’s legible. My scrawl can hardly be read. One time I wrote my number down for someone, he didn’t have a chance to reach me because he couldn’t read the number, no matter how hard he tried.”

Brienne twists the card in her fingers, running her fingertips over the edges.

“But don’t forget to call, Blue Eyes. I know where you live. If you don’t call back soon, I will have to climb the tower to see the princess,” he grins at her, but then bends down, two fingers under her chin, to bring his lips on hers. Brienne blinks at him wide-eyed. Jaime pulls away after a few seconds with a slightly feral smirk, “That was my reward for rescuing a fair maiden. So, don’t forget to call.”

And with that he simply disappears.

Brienne runs her fingers over her lips, a small smile spreading over her face.

Maybe the damned red shoes were good for something after all.