For Brienne, it is still somewhat unbelievable to find herself amidst balloons, rainbow-colored festoons, and screaming and squealing children – and that with Hyle Hunt of all people.
Or the general fact that she works with Hyle Fuckin' Hunt, who tries out as a magician now. Gods know why she even bothers. Gods know why she didn't send him to the Seven Hells and back ever since the escapade back in High School where he and his other bros had a bet going on about who'd get Brienne to sleep with him first, to win a bloody wager.
But those are the kinds of things you earn yourself when you have a too big heart, and are seemingly too easy to forgive a man who comes to you with no job, no perspective, and the mental capacities of a chicken – and you, as a manager for parties (especially birthday parties for children, because the upper-class mothers and fathers seemingly can't do without a manager for even such an event – but Brienne will be the last to complain because that is the money she uses to pay her rent with) can potentially give him a perspective again.
So she gave Hunt a spot as one of the entertainers to book. At first she wanted to put him down in the clown segment, but he insisted that he was not halfway bad as a magician, that he did that during his school time (though Brienne can't remember ever having been quite enchanted by him), so Brienne told him that this is his trial or error today, and lets him entertain the kids as a magician today.
For better or worse.
Brienne is still uncertain if he will be able to pull it off, but she is not entirely stupid. The Lannisters and Baratheons are one of her best customers (and apparently with the biggest wallets), with three children, and some other relatives they recommended Brienne as a party manager to. She instructed Pod to stay close by during Hunt's performance, and if he majorly screws up, Podrick is supposed to make it look like it's actually wanted that way – and that the magician purposely screws up to make the children laugh. That means she is secure not to upset her customers, Hunt gets a chance to prove himself to be more than the jerk she takes him for, and if he fails, people won't notice.
Pod once jumped in, in such a fashion, before, because the other magician, Pycelle was his name, was just so old and rusty that he constantly lost the objects needed for the trick, his wand, and entangled himself in the cape so much that he almost fell over. Podrick, who was still just a (bit too young) intern by the time, the Seven may bless him, jumped in and helped to make it appear like a comedy. They actually redid the program to a comedy show later on, but Pycelle retired some time ago, and that means Brienne actually needed a magician.
So now, here she stands, making sure everything is set and that the kids are happy, while she keeps side-glancing in Hyle’s general direction, who is in the back of the house by the truck, getting ready for the show.
Cersei Lannister told her that she was only supposed to bring in “the best” – and that for her little babyboy Tommen, “only the best is enough”. And Brienne has any intention to do just that and give the blond-haired boy what his mother asked of her.
“Podrick, check on the snacks another time. We have more up in the fridge, see to it that there are no empty bowls. That doesn't come good,” she tells her intern. “And after that, you can get yourself in position for Hunt's show. I want to be sure that we are covered on that. You know what to do.”
“Aye, aye, ma'am,” Podrick salutes and rushes off into the kitchen to do as he was told.
“Better check on Hunt another time...,” she grumbles. He already takes forever to get changed – needless to mention that he ran late in the morning anyways. So much to how he is now “devoted” and will be there “one hundred percent”, as he told her in the job interview, which was more of a scene with her sitting at her small office desk, and the man almost on his knees, begging for a second chance, only to flash his dumb smile once she had agreed to giving him a chance – and instantly try to hit on her.
But Brienne is by no means interested.
And she is even less interested in the likes of Hyle Hunt.
She makes her way off the giant lawn of the enormous garden to the equally enormous car pool (with the Lannister-Baratheons, everything seems to be out of epic proportions, or so she learned), to see about Hunt.
Only to run into a... giant chicken?
Brienne blinks hard as she keeps pedaling back with her arms, only to have the giant chicken extend its wings, catch her wrist, and straighten her back up, successfully keeping her from falling.
“Seven Hells...,” she means to say, but the chicken interrupts her, “Sorry about that. I didn't mean to knock you over. I can't see in this thing, well, a bit, but nothing to the left or right. Are you okay?”
A man's voice, as far as Brienne can tell, but definitely muffled by the chicken costume. If Brienne knows this man by any chance, there is no sure telling at present.
“I am... fine, thank you. But... what are you doing here, sir… in a chicken costume?” Brienne asks. The man removes the chicken head to reveal…
“... Mr. Lannister!” Brienne blinks at Cersei Lannister's brother, Jaime, his hair matted with sweat, but otherwise as handsome as ever.
But it seems to be true there is nothing corruptible when it comes to Jaime Lannister.
“Ah, at last you recognize me!” he smirks, flashing his white teeth. “I already feared I never made a lasting impression on you.”
“Well, it was kind of hard... in that costume?” Brienne replies uncertainly. She only knows Jaime from the Lannister-Baratheon birthday parties and other festivities she helps host. He was there for every birthday as far as she recalls, and one time he really saved her when she was that close to knocking over a tray full of glasses and helped balance it before it fell. After someone had accidentally knocked against her from an angle Brienne couldn’t see from the corner of her eye until it was too late.
They talked briefly, but Brienne is always busy during these events. After all, it is her job, so she doesn’t really know this man except for the fact that he is always there for the festivities, is seemingly kinder than he appears (when she first saw him, he addressed her with “Sir”, and mistook her for one of the bartenders – to order a drink “quick, please, my throat's parched, man”), but also has that smug sort of grin that gives her goosebumps for reasons she can't explain.
“True,” he chuckles softly. “Maybe I should have put on a nametag.”
“… I still didn’t quite understand the reason for your… costume?” Brienne can’t help but keep asking.
“Oh, that’s a long story, actually. The short version is that I lost a bet to my younger brother and that my nephew only gets ‘the best of the best’, according to his mother. And his uncle in a chicken costume? I don’t know what would top that! He’s going to hate it!” he laughs, flashing his white teeth at her. “Well, no, he’ll love it. And my brother will love it because I know he has a video camera with him, the little leprechaun.”
“Well, Sir, I’m sorry to inform you, but we are about to have one of our acts for today. We have a schedule to stick to. We are supposed to start within the next three minutes, and I don’t know how the children will react to the act we have set up if they just saw a giant chicken mere seconds before?” Brienne points out to him, nervously checking her watch.
Where is Hunt when you need him?
“It’s summer, and it’s at least 85 °F. I have no intention to lose all of my body fluids by sweating into that thing. I am already close to a heatstroke,” Jaime argues. “It won’t take long anyways. And it’s a child’s birthday party. No need for strict rules, is there?”
“There is because I get paid for just that reason. I keep order here,” Brienne argues, now a bit more sternly. “That is what I am to do.”
“I am paying a debt to my brother. As we like to say, a Lannister always pays his debts. You see that I have to go. C’mon, you can’t tell me that I have to wait until your little magician pulled some rabbit out of a prepared hat to bore the kids out of their minds. I might die until then! And I can’t imagine that this is part of your schedule.”
“The house is big enough. You can take it off and put it back on once the act is over. Inside, there is also nice air conditioning, too,” Brienne offers, somewhat desperate now. The show is about to begin, and neither Hunt nor she are anywhere close to be in position.
“I don’t have a key. That means I’d have to go through the back. That means I’d spoil the surprise. And if you want to suggest that I take it off right here, this will prove to be kind of difficult because it’d leave me standing here with just my boxers and a muscle shirt.”
“… Why did you…?”
Brienne can feel the blush in her neck at this point, and she is probably red as a tomato all over her cheeks anyways. This can’t be true.
“I changed in my brother’s van. And I wasn’t going to wear even more clothing to get soaked. The little devil’s got the key, so… yeah, I’m not changing out of that costume before I gave my little chicken dance in front of the entire audience. After that, I don’t care anymore. My sister will probably have me removed anyways, but then my brother has to open the van and leave – because I will snitch on him the first chance I get.”
“You can’t do that, Sir, please, I will get you the car keys and then you can change back until the show is over. Then you can do… whatever chicken-thing you want to do,” Brienne bargains.
She knew this job came with odd situations, but she didn’t think that talking someone out of doing a chicken dance in a chicken costume would be one of these.
“I am dying in the heat, I tell you,” Jaime argues.
“Come with me,” Brienne says, taking matters into her own hands, dragging Jaime along with her, back to the car pool, where Hunt is…
“On the phone!? Hunt, put the phone away! Right now!” she yells. Hyle looks up at her aghast and almost drops the cell phone to the ground.
“S, sorry, it’s, uhm, this was urgent,” he stammers.
“Urgent is that you get your sorry ass to the garden – for your show. Or else I will have you fired before you can say ‘magician’. And no. I’m not kidding! Get moving! NOW!”
“Why are you bringing a giant chicken?” he asks, frowning at Jaime, wrinkling his nose.
“Rooster,” Jaime corrects him with a sly smile.
“Get going, or else I’ll show you a magic trick – and that is to teach you how to fly. Get going!” Brienne curses. Sometimes it does have its advantages to be as tall as she is. That means people will be naturally frightened of her.
And Hunt proves to be one of those people, quickly stealing away.
Brienne lets out a shaky breath, running the back of her hand over her forehead, “This must be some kind of joke.”
“You are quite good at calling the shots.”
“I, uhm, normally I’m not that bossy, it’s just…”
“Oh, no, I like that.”
Brienne blinks, puckers her lips for a moment, but then regains focus, “Now back to you.”
“Yeah, I was wondering about what we are doing here anyways. I know as a matter of fact that my brother’s car is locked.”
“Not mine,” Brienne argues. She gestures at Jaime to come to the back of the van. She climbs in and retrieves something from one of the many boxes there.
“What do you have in there? This is packed,” Jaime whistles, seemingly impressed by the hodgepodge of things she takes along for these occasions.
“We need those things. I always come prepared,” Brienne replies as she climbs back out of the van, only to blink as Jaime offers her a hand, well, wing, to climb out. “Thank you.”
“Roosters know what good tone is, even if they don’t know how to make nice sounds,” Jaime replies.
Brienne hands him the things in question.
“You seriously have spare pants and shirts in your van? For what do you need those?”
“Children run around, with glasses of juice in hands, or whatever else. Certain people don’t know that they shouldn’t eat spaghetti while in the costume… everything can happen. And we have to be prepared for everything,” Brienne replies.
“Even for wild roosters?” he grins.
“Even for roosters, yes.”
Brienne already means to say goodbye and make her way back to the front to observe Hunt, but that is when she finds the bundle of clothes back in her hands – and hears a thud. She blinks as she sees Jaime in really just red boxer shorts… short boxer shorts… with golden emblem… and a soaked cotton shirt…
Brienne can’t help the small squeal of surprise, quickly turning her eyes away.
“What? I thought you were prepared for everything?” he teases.
“You also could have said something… Sir,” Brienne argues, biting her lower lip.
“Oh, I don’t bother,” Jaime replies casually… now also stripping out of the muscle shirt. “I got nothing to hide.”
Brienne wants to hide behind the van or let Hunt pull a magic trick to make her disappear.
This has to be a joke.
“It's funny that we see each other so often,” he goes on as he finally puts on the white cotton shirt she’s given him, though she can still see his toned midsection, the sweat shining on…
“Well, you always throw the parties, don’t you? I see you about as often as I see my own family, thinking about it, since I only show up for those parties most of the time, well, and Christmas…”
And she hates him for it that he takes forever to button up those damned buttons.
“I already feared you weren’t going to be here today,” Jaime goes on.
“Why?” Brienne frowns. Why would he care if she was there or not? Not long ago, he thought she was a guy serving drinks.
“Cersei said that they’d have something new for the party. Now I know it’s the new magician, but until today, I feared she had changed the manager, which would have been a pity. It’s quite fascinating to see you flying around like a busy bee,” Jaime replies, at last also starting to put on the damned black trousers.
“Well, that’s my job,” Brienne replies uneasily.
Does he seriously mean to say that he has been watching her???
Jaime closes the zipper with a small frown, “Well, it’s a bit too big for me, but… I suppose it will hold.”
“If that is so, ugh, I will excuse myself. I have things to do…,” Brienne replies.
Like observing Hyle Hunt.
Making sure that the snacks are back in place.
As Ms. Lannister is everything is according to her wishes.
And the cake.
And the firework for the evening.
And smacking Hunt.
Brienne still thinks about red icing for the giant birthday cake when she finds herself pressed against the van, and Jaime looming in front of her with a feral grin.
“M, Mr. Lannister?” Brienne gasps, feeling the heat of the van against her back.
“Jaime, just Jaime.”
“What are you…?” she means to say, but she never gets to finish the sentence as he kisses the words out of her.
The chicken costume still lying to their feet, yellow and red and cartoonish.
Brienne pushes him away once her mind operates again, “What in the Seven Hells do you think are you doing, Mr. Lannister? This is highly inappropriate. I work for your sister and… really, what are you thinking?”
“I am thinking that I find myself attending lame children birthday parties and other festivities only my sister enjoys in the hope that you’ll be there long enough,” he tells her.
Brienne can do nothing but blink at him.
“You… what? No. This is… just no.”
He is making fun of her right now, isn’t he? Like men usually are…
“You can go kid yourself, I…,” she means to say, but he is quick enough to cut her off, “I am not joking.”
“We can’t just do that. We don’t even know each other and… it doesn’t even matter. This is simply inappropriate,” Brienne rambles.
“I have been trying to talk to you on numerous occasions, but you were always busy,” Jaime argues.
“Yes, because this is my job.”
“I asked for your number.”
“I gave you my business card.”
“Your private number.”
“I don’t hand out my private number.”
“I wanted to schedule a date.”
“A party you wanted to host.”
“I invited you.”
“Which was pointless because I was there to organize it.”
“Exactly. So now I am making my intentions clear. This is not about the job. I don’t want to schedule a date for a part you are to host. I want…,” he steps closer, his feral grin back on.
“I am on a job right now. I have to be there and make sure everything goes according to plan,” Brienne argues vehemently, still not believing that this is supposed to be happening right now.
This can’t be happening.
Not to her.
And not on a friggin’ birthday party, right next to a friggin’ chicken costume.
Oh, Seven Hells, this is getting more ridiculous by the minute!
“You need more chaos in your life.”
“I need more structure to order the chaos in my life,” Brienne corrects him. “And anyways, how would you know?”
“Let’s make a test. You stay here a while longer, and I will prove to you that the party won’t go up in flames with you not there to watch over it like a hawk for every single second. For what do you have your equally busy intern?” he grins at her.
“You can’t tell me what to do,” Brienne retorts.
Why is she even having this discussion?
And that with Jaime Lannister of all people. That guy is a highly demanded bachelor in King’s Landing. He was even in magazines due to the Lannister Bank being one of the biggest banks in all of Westeros.
And he is supposed to be flirting with a mannish-looking, overly nervous party manager?
“Well, I can also get back in my chicken costume and interrupt your magical friend,” he teases.
“You would not,” Brienne growls.
“Watch me,” Jaime grins.
“I have to be back for the cake,” Brienne argues stubbornly.
Why does she even bargain with him?
Maybe she is the one with heatstroke?
“When is the cake to be served?”
“In 45 minutes,” Brienne replies defiantly.
“That’s a small eternity,” he argues.
“I have to be there at least fifteen minutes before,” Brienne argues. “For the candles.”
“Fifteen minutes for some candles?” he huffs, not buying it. “Those must be quite complicated candles, then, in which case I would recommend you to buy the normal ones the next time.”
“Five, then, whatever.”
Why is she even…?
Seven Hells, this day is chaos.
“Well, for what I have in mind, I need half an hour. Another five to get back changed… and that gives you time to get the cake, and I can do my chicken dance,” Jaime argues, his voice deep, but his smile ever the lighter, looming closer and closer to Brienne. “See? You are not the only one who can plan in advance.”
“Are you crazy?” Brienne argues stubbornly, her mouth standing open.
Is he seriously suggesting what she thinks he is suggesting?
“Yes,” he replies, suddenly kissing her neck, and Brienne can do nothing but gasp. “Crazy for the busy bee who’s been driving me to the point of crazy ever since I first met her.”
“You mistook me for a man the first time you met me,” Brienne argues. He pulls away at once, looks at her for a moment, but then cracks up laughing, “Apologies, but I wasn’t paying attention. Once I set my eyes on you, there was no mistaking anymore.”
“Right,” she snorts.
Brienne knows that she looks mannish and awkward, in her stupid business suit she wears even for hot days such as these.
“The problem was that I had not seen your eyes yet,” Jaime argues. “I tried to hit on you, but you always had your mind on your job. So here we are… I just use the one opportunity that finally arose, if it came via rooster costume.”
Brienne swallows thickly.
“And since time is running, I need an answer now. Tick-tock.”
“We, we can’t do that.”
“You have a spacious van.”
“I can’t believe this.”
Only Brienne has a rooster hitting on her.
“You better do,” Jaime says, now only inches from her face. “Because I ain’t a magician… well, not the type with the cape and the rabbits.”
“That was not as smooth as you thought it was.”
“Was I supposed to joke about roosters, chicks, and clucking? That isn’t very sexy, c’mon.”
“I don’t do those kinds of things.”
“You say so now, because you haven’t tried it yet.”
“I don’t do that.”
“We can date later.”
“The party’s over – when? At nine the latest? Children gotta get to bed, right? I’ll even help pack things up. And then I take you out for drinks and maybe even dinner? We can have some chicken?”
“This is still not funny.”
“Time’s running out.”
“I don’t do that. You are basically a stranger.”
“I told you, I see you so often, it feels as though we know each other for years… in fact we do.”
“What’s the point of that if you just got back dressed?” she huffs.
Brienne is really clutching at straws now.
“The point is that I won’t be the one undressing me this time.”
“Oh, by the Seven,” Brienne shakes her head.
“You know you want it. Or else you wouldn’t even try to reason with me. You’d just walk away. So you can continue to play the hard-to-get, or… you leave that until later and I can properly court you once we’ve seized that moment?”
“Carpe Diem, really?”
There is a longer moment of silence, until there is the sound of a horn and children laughing.
“That… means Hunt officially screwed up as a magician and Podrick had to make it a comedy,” Brienne replies, tilting her head.
In fact, everything chaos is today.
And perchance that is actually a sign?
“So that was your plan with him right from the start?” Jaime chuckles softly, if amused.
“I always have a Plan B,” Brienne shrugs.
“And what is Plan B for our situation?” he asks.
Brienne blinks repeatedly.
Right, there is still that...
And the fact that she would rather just leave everything to Podrick, for she knows her intern can take care of everything, deep down knows...
And the fact that this is chaos, all the way through.
And before Brienne can even think through her actions, she gets inside the van.
If Hyle Hunt got his chance, then… why not… Jaime, right?
Maybe he mistook her for a guy this one time, but other than that...
And it'd be a lie to say that she didn't look at him on more than one occasion during these events, though that is a lie she won't ever push past her lips. He'd take way too much pleasure from that admission.
So maybe... maybe it's not just Hunt and Jaime who deserve a second shot, but... but maybe she earned herself one as well?
To... lose control?
If only for half an hour?
If chaos rages, why shouldn’t she just… roll with it?
Nobody would have to know...
“You said you have a Plan B. Now’s your chance to prove it,” she finds herself say in a voice she didn't know she has.
Jaime flashes the darkest of smiles as he follows her with confident strides.
“But you’ll leave the chicken costume right where it is.”
“You’ll leave the rooster right where it is.”
“Hm, I kind of liked it.”
Jaime lets out a loud laugh before he gets in as well, grabbing her around the waist to pull her in for a heated kiss.
And Brienne tries her best to forget that she is surrounded by rainbow-colored festoons, rainbow-colored cups, napkins, and costumes, the heat of the van, and that she will absolutely regret this once it's over.
And... the chicken costume outside the van also drifts away as she lets chaos overtake her senses.
Let chaos rage.
If a wild rooster appears, you just have to roll with it, or so it seems.