Brienne lets out a sigh as she steps out of the bathroom, toweling her still wet hair.
After a long day of work – and subsequent work-out, it’s one of the best sensations imaginable to have the steaming hot water running down her body. The downside of it is that her tank-top now sticks to her in the way she hates it until her skin’s completely dried.
Brienne makes her way over to the kitchen to grab a bottle of juice from the fridge and downs half the bottle in one swig – until the phone beeps. Brienne rolls her eyes and snatches the phone from the counter, massaging her scalp with the towel as she goes. She glances at the screen with a huff before answering in a flat voice, “What do you want?”
“A good day to you, too, m’lady,” she can hear Jaime chuckle from the other end of the line. She’s never met a person who literally has the smile in his voice to the point that it doesn’t require her to see him to know the exact smug face he must be making at present.
“Hi,” she replies monotonously. “What do you want?”
“My, my, you’re rude to me for no reason.”
“Your mere existence is reason enough.”
“You know you love me,” Jaime grins.
“As if. So anyway, what brings me to the honor that you bother to call me?” she asks, as she flips down on the couch ungracefully.
Jaime and Brienne have a history that goes back roughly two years now. In the beginning, they truly, absolutely hated each other.
They met at a party Tyrion’s hosted – and had invited Brienne and her friends to, after Tyrion made her acquaintance through the job some time back, and took a liking to her. Little did he know that having Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister clash was about to unleash natural forces out of epic proportions. Jaime had made the fatal mistake to address her as “him” upon first seeing her, only to then go ahead to cover up for that mistake by making lewd comments instead, and pretty much chase Brienne throughout the entire location even though she told him to lay off, but he insisted, for reasons she fails to understand to this very day.
The evening, to put it simple, was a disaster, and either one hoped to never see the other person’s face again. Ever.
Any attempt on Tyrion’s behalf to mediate between the two was proven futile. Brienne didn’t want to have to do with the likes of Jaime Lannister – and she was certain that Jaime felt the same way about her. And to this day, she has no clue why Tyrion insisted that she got along with Jaime, because she didn’t really buy his explanation that he wanted to keep her as a friend – and that if she wanted to be friends with him, bypassing Jaime completely would be a thing of impossibility because the brothers are that close.
In the end, she agreed to have a coffee with the two brothers, only to find herself yet again fighting with the way too handsome older sibling. Tyrion was that close to giving up at this point and only buried his face in the menu as they went on verbally assaulting each other.
The odd thing was once it turned out that they even shared the same hobbies, as Tyrion pointed out to them. That was the moment both just blinked at each other and Tyrion was quick enough to suggest that maybe they should meet up to do something like that together, “if only to make a small dwarf happy and at peace with his friends and family”.
Well, neither one was out for peace, however, so they agreed to meeting up for sports – only to have the competition begin.
Brienne still considers it one of her personal victories that she managed to beat him to the ground during their first MMA fight against each other in the gym (after they awkwardly discovered that they had worked out at the same gym for almost over a year, and just never realized that, also due to the fact that they usually had different hours, but still, they did meet even before that day at the party and just never knew, or so they found out).
And she still considers it one of her worst losses that Jaime continued to trick and tease her into things she never should have and would have agreed to, had she been sane enough to just ignore him.
Just that with Jaime Lannister, there is no ignoring.
To the day, she has no clue how he convinced her of that bloody field trip in the Kingswood.
Well, and now? Now they make an odd set of friends who are all about fighting and more fighting.
“You have to do me a favor,” he replies.
“Aha, and what favor would that be?” she wrinkles her nose.
“Well, you know that I got myself this fabulous role that is going to so push my career in this totally awesome movie…,” he begins, but Brienne is quick enough to interrupt him, “You mean that you got yourself a bigger role in this movie that is actually, for a change, not some Indie project that you usually take part in? Or those cheaply animated films ‘with the narrative depth of a puddle’, to quote you? Oh, or that one time when you had the naked…?”
“Enough, enough, I got it, I got it. But you know that this is the first larger, serious production I have done, leave me that bit, will you?” Jaime huffs.
“If you just called to boast about starring in a quality film, then I will hang up right now,” Brienne warns him. She wanted to eat takeaway and watch that documentary on medieval weaponry, and not have Jaime boasting about his film career yet again. He does that often enough anyways.
“No, no, now wait. Wait!” he cries out in a hurry. “As I said, I need you to do me a favor.”
“And what favor would that be?” Brienne asks, with the slightest of smirks on her lips.
“You have to come to the premiere with me,” he then says.
For a moment, there is just silence.
Brienne’s entire system seems to shut down until she can hear Jaime calling out her name over the phone.
“… Brienne? Brienne?! Did you have a seizure now or what? Say something!”
“What?!” she finally brings out.
“You have to come to the premier with me,” he repeats another time.
It still sounds too surreal to sink into her system yet, though.
“I heard you, I just don’t understand what devil possesses you to even think that I would ever accompany you to such a gathering. Are you out of your mind?” Brienne retorts, finally managing to gather her wits again.
“Look, I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t in a tight spot…,” he goes on.
“That’s nice of you to say,” she huffs.
“You know how I mean it, wench, so stop mimicking the hurt one now. You don’t want to go, that’s why I usually wouldn’t turn to you, but I need your help,” he retorts.
“Can’t you just go with one of your colleagues from the show? Or some chick you hooked up at a bar? Why me of all people?” Brienne grunts, leaning her head back on the couch, the damp clothes sticking to her skin now feeling like a straitjacket.
“Because I don't want to spend my time dismantling the argument that I am now in a relationship with whatever chick I may have hooked up somewhere for the sole sake of not appearing there alone. The crazy rumors regarding my relationship status just won’t wear down. That’s hurtful to my reputation, you know that. I don’t need the news all over me again, like it’s still going on with Cersei,” Jaime explains.
“Yeah, that is not… good,” Brienne wrinkles her nose.
The rumor kept – and still keeps – spreading that Jaime and his twin sister Cersei were in a love relationship, based on some piece of information from their youth days, when they were seen kissing or whatever else it was. Brienne never asked for clarification – because it was none of her business. As far as she knows, however, Jaime got the advice from his manager to “stay bachelor” for the people to see for a while, at least until the rumors died out.
Seemingly, those rumors are hard to kill, however.
“See? And that’s why I need you. It's out in the world that we are friends, or frenemies, whatever it is that you want to call it. No one’s going to ask questions if I take you to the premiere. You’re perfect for that occasion,” Jaime goes on to explain.
Perfect for that occasion.
He really should be glad that Brienne knows that this is something he doesn’t mean in an offensive way. There was a time, in the early beginning, when she took everything he said for what it was, and that made any interaction with Jaime a thing of impossibility almost. Until Brienne understood that he didn’t always mean things seriously – and Jaime, at the same time, had to get used to the idea of slowing it down when talking to her. In that way, they found a common ground that made a solid friendship possible.
At some point Brienne still fails to figure how she ever agreed to that unwritten contract of Jaime acting less like an asshole when around her while she agreed to accepting that he is an asshole every once in a while – but doesn’t mean most of the things he says. Without a doubt, the friendship she developed with Jaime is one of the most curious relationships she’s ever had in her entire life, which is ever the more a reason why most people don’t understand them.
Not that this is anything new to Brienne, however.
“There is a hole in your logic, however, and that is that I care about your reputation,” Brienne teases.
While she learned not to take offense in every of his statements, she also learned that one of the best ways to make him quit is to tease him about it.
Yet another thing that she never did or dared to do with other people – and in fact still doesn't dare to. Jaime is the only one she dares to talk to in such a way, probably because he is a bastard and he always knows it as a tease.
That makes things a lot easier for Brienne, in fact. She used to fear all the while that whenever she attempted to speak up, or make a joke, people would automatically assume that she’s really meant it – because she is such an “honest” and “trustworthy” person that most seem to think she is incapable of both being fun and up for a jest. With Jaime, or so he learned, there were no such expectations. He always understood her teases and jests as teases and jests. He never felt offended, and he even laughs at her jokes, however clumsy they come out.
So yes, it does have its merits to have a bastard for a friend – you can be at your worse around him and he won’t mind.
“You have to help me, woman.”
“Okay, I hoped that I wouldn’t have to use it, but: Oath…,” he goes on, but she cuts him off harshly, “Oh, shut up!”
“You know that I still have one open, so now I call in the favor,” Jaime goes on, and she would love to get in the car, drive up to his loft, and punch him in the face. She can hear his smile again – and it still drives her crazy.
“That is not fair,” she can’t help but pout.
Yet another thing she doesn’t do when around other people. Brienne usually never complains openly to other people that she doesn’t like or want to do something. With Jaime… she can. He does that all the while as well, so she feels more comfortable letting on her frustration when around him.
“On the contrary, I earned myself that right fair and square. You said so yourself back after the Kingswood incident. So you will accompany me to that premiere,” he replies triumphantly.
And that makes it ever the more worse.
That this is a victory for him.
The worst is not to lose, but to know that Jaime feels like the winner.
“Why did you even bother to try to convince me if you had intention to call me upon the Oathkeeper anyways?” Brienne can’t help but ask.
“Because I dared to hope that you, as a friend of mine, would support me, foolishly, or so it seems,” he tells her in an overly dramatic voice.
“If your acting skills are that bad, then I know why you only get yourself secondary roles in Indie movies where you have to shoot naked scenes in…,” she means to say, but he is quick enough to interrupt her, “My acting skills are not up to discussion, m’lady. This is about you accompanying me to that specific event. And you will have to go, whether you go on pouting like a child now or not. You said that you owe me. I am merely calling you upon a solemn vow you made, but well, if it doesn’t matter to you anymore…”
“Oh, whatever,” she snorts.
“Evening wear is required,” he goes on with an easy smile she can hear again.
“I hate you,” Brienne grumbles, leaning her head back again.
This is ridiculous.
Now she knows he also does that for a tease.
He knows what she looks like, by the Seven.
But a promise is a promise, even if it was given to a bastard of a man who seems to bring out the worst in her.
“You won’t have to concern yourself with any preparations. You’ll get the clothes and… everything else delivered right to your door. So you just have to put it on and have to… you just have to be there, pretty much. That should be easy enough unless you try to hide under the bed or something. Oh yes, and it’d be most kind of you if you found it in yourself to unpack your oh so rare smile when on the red carpet,” he goes on.
“What does it matter if I smile or not?” Brienne mutters angrily, her lips curling into a frown.
“I’d just like to not have you sulking this whole evening, dearest. So, watch a comedy or one of the documentaries on medieval weapons that you are so fond of and are probably off to watching tonight as well, whatever it is that it takes to make you flash that very nice smile I know you can display if you want to. Can we agree on that?” Jaime questions.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Brienne replies in a flat voice, for some reason she can’t explain finding her cheeks heated. Maybe the air conditioning is broken again?
“Splendid. I suppose it’ll be Margaery who’ll have the garment and other things delivered to you. She should come by on Friday around noon, for the fitting. Then I’ll come pick you up in the evening – and you’ll have to pretend that you can actually act like a normal human being, but I lowered my expectations regarding the matter anyways, so no worries,” he teases her.
Margaery is currently one of the highest demanded costume designers in entire Westeros. Jaime knows her through work, and Brienne knows her as well, because of Renly.
“Don’t enjoy yourself too much. Or else I will turn you down anyway,” Brienne warns him.
“Do I have to remind you of the Oathkeeper?” Jaime replies.
“No, but I rather take an Oathbreaker than let you make a fool of myself,” Brienne huffs.
“I swear by the Seven and the Old Gods and the New… and whatever other deity roaming around… that I will act civilly for as long as you act civilly. It’ll be a nice evening with fancy drink, fancy food, and fancy clothes. No big deal, well, except for the cameras and the reporters and the interviews, but those are minor things,” Jaime chuckles.
“You do not expect me to be talking to those folks, do you?” Brienne asks, her eyes suddenly growing wide at the realization.
He can’t mean for that, can he?
He knows her. He should know her.
She doesn’t talk to other people. She already has a problem to talk to strangers to ask for the directions.
“Well, if someone asks you a question, politeness would have it that you answer, in case you didn’t know,” he teases, but she interrupts him in a shrill voice, “Jaime!”
“I will try my best that they will not – but I can’t make any guarantees, let’s leave it at that, okay?” Jaime replies, now sounding almost apologetic.
“… Wait, you mean… I will have my picture taken by… and…,” Brienne mutters as suddenly the whole extent of Jaime’s plan comes raining down on her.
She will be at an official event. With cameras. And people. Staring. Looking. Laughing. She will be in clothes that will look ridiculous on her – as does everything she wears. Next to Jaime who looks like he was cut out of a magazine. And people will see that. Look. Laugh. And take pictures. With cameras. And they might ask questions. When she wears clothes that…
“Videos, and it’ll probably broadcasted on multiple channels because the film is not that unpopular, yes,” Jaime completes. “On, and the internet, of course.”
“I think I’m going to be sick,” Brienne mutters, clutching her stomach.
“You’re overreacting,” Jaime huffs.
“You are over-demanding,” she corrects him.
“I was to such events before, it’s all fun and easy-going, trust me in this,” he now tries to assure her, seemingly growing conscious of the fact that Brienne is serious about possibly being sick over the matter. “After some time, you don’t even realize the cameras anymore. It’s one walk over the red carpet, after that, we’ll watch the movie and have food and the like. It’s not at all that bad.”
“You can say so because you are an actor. You are used to that!” Brienne insists.
“Will you do it?” he asks, now in a more serious voice. Brienne licks her lips, calling to mind that she made that promise to him and that she does owe him for it to this day.
And promises matter.
More than stupid cameras and fancy clothes and red carpets.
She is a creature of ridicule anyways, so what does it matter, right?
“Yeah, yeah, but if you dare complain about my looks or whatever else just one damn time, I swear by the Seven, you’ll regret this day,” Brienne warns him, hugging her arms.
“Nothing of the like. I’ll be a complete gentleman,” Jaime tells her. “I promise.”
“That I wanna see,” she huffs.
Jaime is about as chivalrous as Tyrion is tall.
“You will, you will. Just like you will enjoy yourself by the end of the evening, I’m sure of it,” he says, and she can hear that smile again.
“And I’m sure of it that this won’t be the case. You owe me for this, big time, Lannister,” Brienne warns him.
“Jaime,” she rolls her eyes. She used to refer to him by his last name in the initial time for a long while, to show him the distance she meant to put between them. He called her ‘wench’ all the while (and still does), but once they started to befriend it dawned on her that it was really a matter of heart to him that she referred to him by his first name. From Tyrion, she later on learned that he got the nickname Kingslayer in his younger yeras – and that Jaime hated it so much that this is one of the few weak points you can detect in his otherwise shiny and perfect golden armor behind which he hides all the things he actually means, feels, and thinks, an armor that Brienne, if at all, ever got to take the helmet off from thus far.
“So, are you going to watch that documentary or what?”
“What if I did?”
“You know that you are damn predictable, right?”
“Structured,” she corrects him. “I like it when things are in order.”
“Some chaos would do you good every once in a while,” he argues.
“For that I have you, don’t I?” she snorts. This time, the silence comes from the other end of the line, and Brienne, for a moment, doesn’t know what to think of it.
“… And anyways, I damn well know that you watch it as well. You always know the airing hours,” Brienne adds in a hurry.
“That may be, but you follow a very strict routine leading up to the event of watching that show. You come home, after training. You toss your things into the bedroom. You go through the mail. Then you grab a shower or bath, depends on the time, to then sit on the couch, still toweling your hair to then watch that show. Oh yeah, and at some point you drink that awful juice,” he argues, and Brienne can hear the wicked smirk on his lips again.
How does he know these kinds of things, though? Sure, they are over at each other’s apartments regularly after training, and it may have been a few times that she followed through that routine while he was there, but…
“Right, we both know it. I dare you send me a pic of you right now, to confirm me in my suspicion. I go one step further and say the worn pepper and salt tank top with the Tarth sigil on the lapel.”
“I won’t send you any pictures. Are you mad?”
“That means you wear it.”
“No, I don’t.”
She does, but what does he have to know?
“Accept it already. I know you inside-out.”
In fact, she wished she knew him about as well as he knows her, or at least seems to know her. He can read her even when she doesn’t let on. And at some point Brienne is still scared of that, but at the same time it makes her envious that she can’t do the same with Jaime, no matter what she tries. At some point he remains that unpredictable entity in her life, the Rubik’s Cube she can’t solve.
“Something remains the truth even if you don't accept it, you know?” he teases.
“Just that it isn’t the truth.”
“You are a terrible liar, you know that, right?”
“If you don’t want me to do anything within my powers to screw up the premiere for you, you should stop right there,” she warns him in a serious tone.
“Oh, oh, oh! Is m’lady into threatening me now? I get to know new sides of you every once in a while after all. But it’s all empty threats anyways – you are incapable of these kinds of things.”
“You bring out the worse in me, as I said, so maybe that, too?”
“Hm, that’d be interesting to find out. And I will, on Friday. So off you are to watching your documentary and your disgusting juice. Bye.”
Brienne tosses the phone on the couch, drawing her knees to her chest angrily as she extends her hand to grab the remote to switch to where the documentary will be shown, but then stops for a moment. If only to defy him, she should probably watch another show. Brienne sucks her lower lip into her mouth, letting out the smallest of hisses.
“I don’t do this because he’s said it,” she reminds herself. “Lucky shot, no more.”
“… Damn you.”
“… I’m going to a premiere.”