Brienne ignored the phone right next to her hand, and tried to concentrate on the man in front of her, which didn't work. She knew it was another text from Jaime. Most likely Hyle's name with the poop emoji. He really liked that combination. Hyle Hunt had stopped to look at her phone – she had told him right away that she needed to answer it if there was an emergency at work. Instead he studied the menu in his hands. Brienne took a deep breath, and read the menu for the fifth time without really understanding it.
How did she end up in one of the fanciest restaurants in King's Landing with Hyle Hunt, whom she swore to never even talk to again? Oh, right, her father asked her to. Selwyn Tarth loved his daughter, and she loved him which was the main reason why she couldn't refuse his plea that she should meet some people outside of work. Brienne had told him that she was hanging out with Margaery and Sansa as often as she could, but he explained to her quite specifically that he meant dating, not hanging out. Her father had a lot of experience with dating: a new, younger girlfriend every year since her mother had died. The last one had been shockingly close to Brienne's 28 years.
But as Selwyn had told her that he already talked to a young lad, she hadn't had the heart to tell him that she already knew Hyle Hunt. Brienne had met him in her freshmen year at college in High Garden. He was nice, charming, and possibly the only human being that had shown any romantic interest in her. They started dating and for almost five months, she felt like the happiest girl on earth.
Then she had found out about the bet. Some guys – including Hyle – had made a bet about her virginity. He had won. Brienne had broken his nose and collarbone. The other ones got some black eyes and bruised ribs. She threw away her plans to be a history major, and instead decided to follow her childhood dream of becoming a detective.
Now she was sitting here with him. He still looked like he did all those years ago. Brown hair and hazel eyes, not ugly, but not overly handsome. His smile was charming and for years Brienne had thought that he was the best match she would get. When she had been 8 years old, her old nanny Mrs Roelle had told her very bluntly how ugly she was. And she was right. She was tall, manly, her skin milk-white and freckled, her nose broken two times, her teeth crooked, her wide lips chapped. And on top of that, Margaery had forced her to wear make-up.
"I don't want to dress up."
"Brienne, I already explained it three times!"
"But I don't want to impress him. To be honest, I don't really want to see him at all."
"And that's exactly why you need to dress up!"
" … Yeah, I still see no point in that."
"Brienne, I love you, really, and you're my best friend, but sometimes you're so slow. Oh, don't you dare to give me that look! You know I'm right. Look, you want to make him regret what he did to you, right? You want to show him how wonderful your life is without him."
"Then you have to look like it! Look your best, show him how amazing you are, that you don't need him, make him regret everything and beg for forgiveness and then just dump him."
"But I won't look like that."
"That's bullshit, and you know that. You just need to play it right. And that's where I fit into the picture."
"I'm not wearing a dress."
"No, we won't make that mistake a second time."
"And no heels."
"Aw, come on!"
"I'm already tall enough. Do you want me to spit on his head?"
"That would be fun. But, seriously, you could totally work the heels. You already have amazing legs and they'll make your ass look great."
"I can't walk a meter in them. I won't wear them."
"... That was surprisingly easy."
"But then I'll do your hair and make-up!"
"What?! No! Those are two things! That's not a fair exchange!"
"Well, you're wearing two shoes, aren't you?"
Brienne loved Margaery Tyrell like the sister she never had, but sometimes she wanted to strangle her. But she had to admit that Margaery knew a thing or two about make-up. She had settled for a more natural look, only lining her eyes black. Half of her straw-blond hair was pinned back, and a few strands of the other half fell over her eye. It was annoying, but Brienne forced herself not to move them out of the way. They hid some of her scar. It had been one of the conditions Brienne had had. Margaery had frowned, not hiding her displeasure, but did as Brienne asked.
Instead of being forced into a dress, she wore a loose-fitting, black, silk top, and dark blue skinny jeans with flats. Not her choice of clothes, but Margaery hadn't even listened to her complaints. Brienne liked jeans, but not that tight. She missed her comfortable trainers, and though the top was pretty similar to her usual t-shirts, it was much smoother and made her feel like she wore nothing.
Hyle had complimented her when he picked her up. He put some effort into his appearance as well, wearing a suit and white shirt, but without a tie. Up until now, he had been a perfect gentleman. A part of her expected to hear some witty comment from him about her different outfit, her hairstyle or her make-up, but he said nothing. She was just so used to Jaime's behavior that Brienne easily forgot that other people actually had manners.
Of course Hyle had apologized for what had happened. For the mistake. Told her that he actually liked her and that he had been an idiot. Brienne had forced the tears to stay in her eyes, because all those years ago she had sworn to herself that she would not shed another tear because of that man. She was only here because of her father – he had threatened to sign her up for a dating website if she wouldn't go – and Margaery's plan about jealousy sounded highly doubtful to Brienne's ears.
"Are you sure it's not important?" Hyle asked, his eyes darting to her phone. "I mean, you told me you're on call."
"Not really on call, but there could be an important phone call," she told him, and quickly checked her phone. It was the 25th text from Jaime. "It's just my partner." To be honest, she kind of hoped that someone would call her. Not only would it be an excuse to leave Hyle, but that would also mean they had the Goat.
"Do you already know what you want to eat?" he asked, smiling at her.
"Uh … The steak sounds good," Brienne said quickly, picking the first dish she could spot. Jaime had told her to get the most expensive dish and barely eat from it. Although he had seemed very insistent that she should decline any offer of any kind of dessert at all.
"It does. Would you like any appetizer? A soup or a salad?"
"No. Thanks." To be honest, she didn't feel like eating at all. A strange nervousness inside of her was turning her stomach upside down every few seconds. Maybe it was just Hyle Hunt. Or maybe it was the fact that she could get a call about the Goat.
Hyle must have noticed her uneasiness. Well, her even greater uneasiness. To be socially awkward was nothing new to Brienne, and she was sure she would never get rid of it. Slowly he leaned forward, but before he could make a move to lay a hand on hers, she put them in her lap. "I'm really sorry for what happened between us."
"You already said that."
"Do you believe me?"
Part of her wanted to. A part of her believed that people could be gallant. That there were still some knights in shining armor. But life wasn't like that. Jaime had told her often enough. People weren't just good or just bad. There were many things in between.
"You claim that you cared for me," Brienne finally said. Hyle nodded eagerly, hoping to get back on her good side. "Then why did you do it? Why didn't you step back from the bet?"
He hesitated and she noticed how his eyes flinched, the light tremor in his hands, the shift of his weight. She always noticed things like that. It was a side-effect of seeing people confess – or trying to avoid confessing – their crimes. She wasn't the one that could get them to talk – that was usually Jaime's work, luring them into a trap with his skilled silver tongue – but she would always notice those details.
"Do you want the truth?" he asked.
No, I want you to lie to me, like you did before. Back to the good old times, she thought. Brienne just nodded.
"I needed the money. Badly."
Brienne wanted to punch him. She wanted to slap him. She wanted to cry and scream. She wanted to know how he spent the money. She wanted to take that stupid knife next to her stupid plate at this stupid restaurant, and stab him right in the chest until the pain inside her would stop. But that wasn't smart. There were too many witnesses. The police work had taught her some things.
So she just kept silent, trying to swallow down her hurt pride and tears.
"I'm so sorry, Brienne," he said and leaned closer again. "I was stupid and I'm really, really regretting it. And since your father -"
Brienne didn't hear the rest of his sentence, because a movement at the door caught her eye. It was another habit of her job. Always scanning her surroundings and noticing changes. Surprisingly, she recognized the man that just, and she had to hold her breath for a second, not quite sure why she was reacting like that.
Jaime Lannister was standing there, looking around until their eyes met and he walked over to her table. Brienne couldn't tell why she was suddenly aware of his good looks – maybe because Margaery had tried to make her look good, maybe because she was feeling awful, maybe because she wanted to see Hyle's face, when he noticed that Brienne was working with the Jaime Lannister – but it hit her like a truck.
He was tall, fit – and Brienne knew that all too well, because they sparred quite often – and his boyish, playful behavior sometimes made her forget that he was fourteen years older than her. The warm light made his golden skin look smooth, and with the crimson t-shirt, the ripped jeans and the leather jacket, he stood out from all the dressed up and fancy guests. Not that it would look bad on him. Everything looked good on him.
And he looks even better without the clothes.
Quickly, Brienne banned that thought from her mind. A few weeks ago, Jaime and another colleague shaved their head, because of a drunken bet about who would look better with a bald head. Everyone knew the winner before they had even shaved off a single hair, but they encouraged them nevertheless. Jaime's face was just too perfect. Now his golden hair had grown back, but it wasn't as long as it used to be. It was ruffled pretty badly as well – which, of course, looked perfect, damn those Lannister genetics – which always happened when he ran his fingers through them carelessly or in thought. Stubble covered his jawline, like he haven't shaved in three days. His eyes shone like two emeralds. Underneath his fake seriousness was the usual hint of amusement.
He looked like a god who had decided to come down on the Earth to have some fun with some less-attractive-than-himself mortals. And everyone was more than willing to have some fun with him. A lot of heads turned in his direction as he passed all those tables, but he paid them no attention. Two waitresses almost collided as he walked by.
But neither of those facts explained why he was here, walking towards their table. Hyle had turned around to see why she wasn't paying any attention to him although Jaime's eyes didn't leave hers.
"Tell me again, what is the use of a fucking phone?" Jaime asked as he reached their table. For once he looked down at her and Brienne could tell that he was enjoying it. She was just two inches taller than him, but he liked to make a big deal out of it, calling her Giant just for fun.
"Why are you here, Jaime?" Brienne asked.
"Well, you would know, if you would have checked your phone like any normal person would do when they get a text."
"You've sent me like a million."
"And all of them were just -" She stopped, glancing at Hyle. She didn't like him, but she didn't want to tell him about the connection between him and a specific emoji. "nonsense."
"Not the last ones," Jaime hissed, now sounding genuine annoyed. "Or else you would know, why I'm here."
Quickly, she unlocked her phone and looked at his texts. The first twenty were just his usual ones – jokes, demands to text him back, Hyle and the poop emoji. The last five were different, though. She hadn't noticed, because after the tenth text, she had stopped opening them, knowing that he would call if there was an emergency.
Jaime: Just got a text from FB
FB was Flower Boy, his nickname for Loras Tyrell, a detective that Brienne knew from High Garden and who also transferred to King's Landing after what had happened to Renly Baratheon. They still weren't on good terms. Brienne doubted that they ever would be.
Jaime: Trying 2 call him for the last 10 min. Cross ur fingers n we might get some goat 2night.
Jaime: Have news. Call me or Ill come n get u.
Jaime: You didn't call, so don't blame me, Giant.
Jaime: I wasn't kidding.
With a thundering heart, Brienne blinked, looking from the screen to Jaime. It was always serious if he was using proper spelling. "Don't tell me that-"
"Not yet," Jaime said and smirked. "But they're close. Both Bronn and Flower Boy are after him, together with their units. They'll call me if they have them."
"Why? It's not their case, and they don't like working together or working with us."
"I called in a few favors." He shrugged like it wasn't a big deal. But it was. They had been trying to pin the Goat down for months. It was something personal and Jaime liked to say that Lannisters always paid their debts.
"At least now we know that trout is a specialty in all of the Riverlands and not just in Riverrun," Jaime chirped while they walked back to their motel. Brienne said nothing and took another deep breath to keep herself from punching him.
She was doing this for Catelyn Stark, after all she owed her a favor. Catelyn had been the one that took care of her after Renly Baratheon had been murdered by Stannis. Now her eldest daughter, Sansa, was missing. Of course Brienne had agreed to help – but it really had surprised her that Catelyn requested Jaime Lannister for the case as well. Everyone knew the Starks didn't like the Lannisters.
That had happened a bit over a month ago and their relationship was … not good, to say it in a nice way. They were at each others throats all the time, nearly killed each other in sparring-sessions and couldn't agree on a single thing. Except that they were both the only ones who believed they would find Sansa.
Which was the reason why they had been driving through all of the Riverlands together for the last two weeks. Jaime had heard a whisper from the Spider that Sansa had been spotted somewhere in the Riverlands. They had left a few hours later. Now they were in Maidenpool and they still hadn't found anything.
"Not as good as the one in the last town, though," Jaime continued, ignoring Brienne's mood. Or just trying to annoy her. The latter was probably the case. "But still better than one more burger. Or the thing you made that you called pasta."
"At least I tried to cook something," she spit back. "You haven't, if I remember correctly."
"Why should I cook? I have people who do that for me. It's unnecessary to learn it."
"Then stop complaining!"
"Well, I would, if I could be sure you haven't tried to food poison me. Are you trying to get rid of me? I'm hurt, Giant, I really am."
"Can't you just shut up for a minute?"
"But who would take part in this enjoyable conversation then?"
Before Brienne could answer – or rip his head from his body – they heard footsteps behind them. Jaime and Brienne exchanged a quick glance. There hadn't been anyone else than them in this street half a minute ago. Slowly they turned around and saw two men coming closer to them. Brienne wanted to reach to her gun, but then she remembered that they left them in the motel. Judging by Jaime's curse, he was thinking the same.
"Look who it ith," someone said behind them. "Lookth like Jaime Lannithter and … ith that a woman?" Jaime turned around before she could – and froze at once. He was looking straight down the barrel of a gun. Out of the corner of her eyes, Brienne saw three more men approach. The one with the gun had a goatee and a wide smile.
Not an hour later, they were thrown into a basement, beaten up quite badly. Neither of them had wanted to go down without a fight, but without their weapons it had been pointless. Brienne wasn't sure if it was a good sign that the Bloody Mummers had showed up. It could mean that they were getting closer to Sansa – or they were just after a ransom for Jaime.
"They will come for you," Jaime said suddenly, after they were finished blaming each other for their situation. For a second Brienne just looked at him, not quite understanding what he meant. "To …" He didn't finish the sentence, just pressed his lips together. A shudder ran down her back as she understood him.
"I won't let them."
"Then you die. If you just let them do it, you might get away with a black eye or a few missing teeth."
"Do you honestly think I care about that?" She looked him straight in the eyes, and for the first time, it was Jaime who gave in and looked away.
It felt like an eternity. They didn't talk, didn't even look at each other, just sat there and waited for what would come. Brienne would never admit it, but she was glad that Jaime was there as well. For once – and it was probably the only time – she wished he would talk or joke or even insult her. Just … give her something she knew how to handle.
They both heard them coming. Out of the corners of her eyes, she saw Jaime lifting his head, but she remained motionless. The door flew open and there they were, laughing, dragging her out of the room while she struggled and kicked. Jaime started talking, spinning one lie after another – the sapphires of Tarth, the ransom her father would pay, the gold of the Lannisters, his father's influence. They didn't listen and the next thing Brienne noticed was that Jaime tackled them.
Then the scream.
Her head spun around to Jaime, who knelt on the floor, holding … something that was covered in blood. It took her a moment to realize that it was his hand. Anger and shock flamed up inside her, but before she could decide what she felt, they kicked her in the stomach several times and hit her head hard.
"You have to eat." Brienne had lost the count of how many times she had said that. Each time she said it, it sounded more and more like a plea.
But Jaime just wouldn't touch his food. It had been a couple of days since they had stabbed his hand. Brienne didn't exactly know how many times they had stabbed it. She had tried to count the holes while wrapping the wound in something clean and rinsing it with water, but she had a hard time concentrating on it.
The wound was probably infected. Jaime had a bad fever and if he didn't get some professional treatment soon, Brienne didn't know what to do. It seemed like Jaime had already given up. He stopped eating, stopped taking care of himself. She had to force him to drink and eat, and tried to give him something to hold on to. His family back in King's Landing. His job. Their case.
Nothing seemed to work and she was running out of ideas.
"You can't die in here," she hissed, suddenly annoyed and angry. His green eyes, now lifeless and dull, were still avoiding her gaze. "You're acting like a coward."
Brienne saw him blink twice, before he finally looked at her. "A coward?" His voice sounded hoarse and weak.
"Yes, a coward," Brienne continued, encouraged by his reply and her mood already better. "If you die here, they'll win."
"They ruined my hand."
"You're more than that hand." He made a huffing noise, almost a laugh but not quite. Suddenly she was angry again. "You can be more than your hand if you try. You can take revenge. But you need to live to do that, Jaime. So snap out of it and start to live again."
For a long moment – which wasn't even longer than one or two heartbeats – Jaime just continued to stare at her, and she was sure he would just go back to sulking and dying. However, he did lean forward, grabbed the almost hard bread and took a bite.
A few days later, Brienne stood behind the door, waiting for the footsteps to come. She still had to take care of Jaime, but he had set his mind on living now, which made everything a lot easier. Sadly his wound was only getting worse and he needed to see a doctor if he wanted to keep the hand. Which meant they had to get out of there.
Jaime was sitting against the wall, hunched and somewhat weak, but determination shone in his eyes. He wanted to get out of here as much as she wanted to. In her hand she had the heaviest object they had found, a small piece of wood. It was useless as a defense weapon, but it was heavy enough for their plan.
Soon enough Brienne could hear some heavy footsteps outside of the basement. Nervous she grabbed the wood harder and took a last breath. The door opened and a man stepped inside, carrying a small tray with their very, very humble meal on it. It took him two steps into the room to notice that something was wrong.
"Hey, where is the bi-"
As hard as she could, she hit his head. He fell down to the floor at once, their food and the tray clattering on the floor. Jaime got up and went over to her – he was still shaky on his legs, but he could walk – while Brienne took the gun from their kidnapper. They all carried guns which was now rather useful for Jaime and Brienne.
Both of them had overestimated Jaime's strength. He almost collapsed half way up the staircase and Brienne had to support him with an arm around his waist. Carefully and quietly they sneaked up to the living room. They had to get past it to get out of this house and there was no way they wouldn't see them. There were two other men in the room, laughing and playing cards. Relieved, Brienne exhaled. The other ones must have left. That made everything far easier. On the table lay their wallets, their phones, some keys and another gun. Quickly, she looked at Jaime, who just nodded, his forehead sweaty and exhaustion written all over his face.
Brienne had the element of surprise on her side. The two guys just had time to look up before she shot. She hit both of them in the shoulder. She didn't plan to kill them, but this would buy them some time. Quickly she jumped forward and grabbed their belongings, a pair of keys and the gun. As she dashed back to Jaime, one of them went after her, his face twisted in a grimace of pain. Without thinking twice, she shot him again – this time his other shoulder – and knocked over the nearest cupboard and a bookshelf, so they couldn't follow them any time soon.
Jaime was already at the door, though he looked like he would faint any second.
"Just stay with me for another minute, okay?" Brienne pleaded as she opened the door and almost carried him out of the house, because he wasn't fast enough. "Just until we're in a car."
He responded, but either he wasn't able to form any words or Brienne was too distracted to pay close attention to them. Instead she ran to the only car left and just hoped that those were the right keys. The car beeped as she hit the unlock button and she felt like crying – then she had to catch Jaime and lay him into the seat as he fainted. Half a minute later, they drove off, far above the speed limit.
They were so close to getting the Goat now, getting their revenge, that Brienne could almost taste it on her tongue. A smile tugged on the corners of her mouth. This was the best news she'd had in days!
Then she saw Hyle shifting in his seat out of the corners of her eyes, and she suddenly remembered where and with whom she was. And why she was here. She couldn't just … leave him here, could she? What would her father say? But on the other hand, it was work related.
Jaime's eyes traveled from Brienne to Hyle. He smiled – which was probably bad. "Ah, but I see that you're busy. Wouldn't want to be the one that ruins the date, would I?"
"Jaime," Brienne growled, knowing that he would gladly be that kind of person.
"Oh no, it's fine," Hyle said quickly. "Brienne already told me that she might have to leave for work."
"You see, technically we don't have to leave until I get the call, so …" Without saying another word, Jaime grabbed the chair from the next table, turned it around and sat down between Hyle and Brienne, his arms propped up on the back. "Keep going. Just ignore me."
"I'm not … sure, if …," Hyle stumbled over his words, which was normally what Brienne did, but she was smart enough not to say anything. Instead she just shot death-glares at Jaime. Hyle looked at her for some help, but there wasn't much she could do.
Brienne was good at keeping Jaime from doing dangerous and stupid stuff, but she couldn't keep him from embarrassing someone. Especially her. He loved doing that.
"No, no, no," Jaime said, waving his left hand in front of him. "It would be a shame to end this date! I mean, look at this! Such a fancy restaurant, and quite expensive as well. You're all dressed up, and even Brienne tried to look less ugly."
He smiled and winked at her, while Brienne tried to fight her blush. That was as close to a compliment as she would get from him. She should be furious about it, but she wasn't.
"I bet it was Margaery." She nodded. He looked her up and down again, leaning back on the chair to get a better look. "No heels? I would have bet on it, that she would force you to wear some. Maybe it's better that way, you don't need to be any taller, Giant. And Miss Tyrell is quite talented with her eyeliner or mascara or whatever those make-up things are called. But the hair … I don't like it. It hides your eyes too much."
Jaime reached out a hand, no doubt to fix her hair problem, but Brienne just moved out of his way. She couldn't even say why she flinched away, after all it was just a bit of hair, but the idea of his hands on her skin right now made her very, very nervous. He stopped immediately and was looking at her with something in his eyes she didn't recognize.
"Stop it. Can't you see she's trying to hide the scar?" Hyle asked in a low voice.
"It makes her uncomfortable."
"Or are you too uncomfortable to look at it?" Jaime shot back, tearing his eyes away from Brienne's and looking at Hyle. "Do you want her to hide it?"
Automatically Brienne reached up to her cheek until her fingertips could touch her old scar. She got it shortly after she started to work for Renly. Someone wanted to attack him with a knife, Brienne got between them and the attacker flew. As a souvenir she got the scar all over her cheek. Jaime had teased her a lot about it, until he had found out why she had it.
A waitress saved Hyle from answering. "Does your friend want anything to drink?" Brienne was thankful that she turned up. Hopefully Hyle and Jaime would remember where they were before they started a fight – she just wasn't in the mood to stop a fight today. But as she looked over to the waitress, Brienne knew why she had come over. She was not the waitress that brought them their drinks and was a pretty girl, maybe a few years younger than herself, and she was basically tearing Jaime's clothes from his body just with her eyes.
"Well, I promised I wouldn't interfere with the date, but … a glass of water will hardly make any difference, would it?" Jaime just flashed her a charming smile. It could be flirting, but Brienne saw him smiling like that at everyone. She just assumed it was what he did. On the other hand, Brienne had never seen him flirting with anyone. Not seriously. He never went on dates. "Besides, Brienne wouldn't let me die of thirst."
"I wouldn't be so sure about it," Brienne muttered, and took a sip from her own glass of water.
"You shock me!" he exclaimed, his right hand dramatically over his heart. The waitress just looked from Jaime to Brienne and then Hyle before leaving again. Brienne barely noticed it. Her eyes were fixed on the bit of his black splint that popped out of his sleeve.
It was already pitch black when Brienne stopped the car. She had stopped once at a supermarket to get some ice for Jaime's wound and some terrible sandwiches – the Bloody Mummers had taken all their cash, but left the credit cards, luckily – but other than that she had driven as fast as she could to the nearest doctor in her area, according to the lady at the supermarket. She had looked at her in shock, but Brienne wasn't really surprise. One look in the rear view mirror was enough to get an idea how she must look. Jaime, on the other hand, had the nerve to still look handsome, even though he was half dead.
Leaving Jaime in the car – he fell in and out of consciousness every few minutes – she jumped out of the car and rang the bell. Qyburn was written on the name tag. Impatiently she rang the ball until an old man finally opened the door.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Are you a doctor?" Brienne asked, suddenly aware that it was just Qyburn, not Dr Qyburn. Was she at the wrong house?
"I am," Qyburn said and looked her over. "You are hurt. What happened?"
"My friend needs help," Brienne said and ignored the throbbing pain in her ribs and stomach she had had for days. "His hand … it had been stabbed. Several times. Can you help him?"
"I have to take a look at his wound." Without saying another word, Brienne led him to the car and opened the door. Jaime groaned, breathing heavily and clutched his hand to his chest. Qyburn leaned closer. "It is bad, but I think I can help. Bring him inside."
She had to carry Jaime and it was the first time she was glad for her build and strength. Without it, the task would have been quite impossible. Qyburn walked down several hallways, turned left and right and left again, before they reached a small room that was either a garage pretending to be a doctor's office or the messiest doctor's office she had ever seen. Carefully Brienne put Jaime down on a couch. He winced and hissed, but didn't do anything else. She wasn't even sure if he was aware of what was going on around him.
"You might want to rest," Qyburn told her as he came over to them with some surgery tools and gloves. "It'll take me a while."
"I'd rather stay," Brienne said. She didn't want to leave Jaime alone with this not-Dr Qyburn.
"It won't be a pretty and I doubt he will know if you stay here or not. Feel free to take a nap in the living room, drink some coffee, or eat something."
There was still a feeling in her gut that told her she should stay by Jaime's side, but Qyburn was right. She was exhausted and she needed to get them a place to stay for the next days. Not entirely happy with her choice, Brienne just nodded and took a last look at Jaime before she went into the living room.
The small room was decorated in an absolutely horrible manner, but Brienne just slumped down into the way too soft couch. For a second she just closed her eyes, quite sure she would fall asleep at once. She didn't. Instead her thoughts were spinning in her head. What should they do now? What if the Bloody Mummers came after them? Where would they stay? Where should they look for Sansa next? Could they even continue their search? With a sigh, she pulled out her phone and called Catelyn.
Brienne waited outside of Dr Pycelle's office. Her eyes went to the clock once again. Jaime was in there for almost half an hour. Was that good or bad? They didn't need to do more tests, did they? They covered that last week.
After they had gotten back to King's Landing, Brienne had forced Jaime to go to a doctor who actually wanted to be called Doctor. Qyburn had done what he could and, no doubt, without his help Jaime wouldn't have kept his hand. However, half of his hand was numb and it was extremely difficult for him to use it at all. At first he didn't want to see a doctor and they argued about it almost all the way back to King's Landing. But Brienne hadn't listened to him and had just said that she would drag him to one with her bare hands if she had to. After that he had stopped to arguing. She assumed he was just afraid. She certainly was.
Suddenly the door next to her opened. Brienne jumped to her feet, fiddling with the hem of her shirt. As soon as she saw Jaime, her heart dropped. His body was tense, his eyes hard and his left hand was clenched into a fist. He didn't even say goodbye to Dr Pycelle, slamming the door shut behind him. Brienne actually had to make an effort to keep up with him, even though her legs were longer than his.
"Jaime," she said as soon as they were outside of the hospital. He didn't react. "Jaime, wait!"
"Why?" he asked angrily and turned around, so abrupt that Brienne almost ran into him. "Why the fuck should I?"
"Talk to me. What did he say?"
"What do you think he said? This -" He held up his heavily bandaged hand. "is a mess. Unfixable. Too many bones or veins or whatever the fuck they are called are damaged. Which means I won't get feeling back. And maybe, with a lot of luck and physical therapy, I might be able to move half of it."
Brienne thought about something to say. It's not that bad? It could be worse? Just give it some time? That wouldn't make it better and Jaime wouldn't even accept those words. As they've been in the basement, she had kept him from giving up, but this? She wasn't sure how to handle it.
For a second Jaime waited to see if she would say something, but when she didn't he just walked over to his car. He wasn't able to drive himself, so Brienne has offered to drive him around, but he refused to be even seen anywhere near her old car. With a sigh, Brienne went over to the car herself, unlocked it and got into the driver seat. Jaime was next to her, fumbling and finally failing to buckle himself up. Without saying anything, she reached over and did it for him. He just stared out of the window.
They were almost at Jaime's expensive and overly huge apartment when Brienne decided to say something. "I will help you," she said, but avoided actually looking at him. He didn't move anyway. "I will not let you go through it alone. After all you just got stabbed because of -"
"Don't," he suddenly growled, and now he was looking at her. She could feel his hot, angry gaze pierce through her. "Don't even dare to finish that sentence. They've might have done it anyway. You have already done a lot for me."
"That doesn't mean I'm just going to abandon you now." Jaime didn't answer, but he was still looking at her. All too soon, they were at his apartment.
Instead of catching the empty bottle, it rolled down the table and crashed down on the floor, shattering in a million pieces. Jaime just laughed, finding it absurdly funny that Brienne hadn't caught it. She knew she should be angry at him, especially because he had had the idea to roll the bottle over the table, but she wasn't. Instead laughter bubbled up in her chest and suddenly she was leaning over the table, her laughter joined with Jaime's.
Brienne couldn't remember how many beers Jaime and she had had. She couldn't even remember why they were at his apartment drinking at all. Didn't they want to celebrate something? But what was it?
Oh well, it didn't matter. She was feeling great and it was the first time in a really, really long time that she heard Jaime laugh like this. The last few months had been pretty tough on him. A lot of physical therapy and he had had to get used to a new life. He struggled with himself, always too prideful to ask for help and he got frustrated too easily.
"We need to clean it up," Brienne said, wiping away the tears out of her eyes. Automatically she reached for a hand broom and a dustpan, but Jaime's hand was suddenly on hers.
"No, let me do it."
"It's fine, I got this."
"No, Giant, you're too drunk to do it. You would hurt yourself."
"Don't call me Giant!"
"But you are one!"
"I am not! Anyway, you're way drunker than me."
"No, I'm not! I'm perfect and fine!"
"Don't you mean perfectly fine?"
"So you think I'm perfectly fine?" He winked at her, smiling and showing all his pearl white, perfect teeth. Brienne could only blush – probably in the really ugly way with the deep red spot that covered all of her neck and face – and even now her brain failed to come up with any kind of answer.
"You need both hands to clean it up," she just said, kneeling down to clean up the trash. Jaime went still behind her, and Brienne thought she had crossed a line. Never before had she mentioned his lack of his hand. She really shouldn't have done that, after all she saw how much he struggled with it everyday.
Before she could come up with an answer, he said: "You're always doing that." He didn't sound angry, which was why Brienne looked up at him. Even though he had more to drink than her, he seemed almost sober now.
"What are you talking about?" she asked, after he didn't continued to talk.
Slowly Jaime was getting down next to her – of course he looked so much more graceful than she did –, but his eyes never left hers. "You help me all the time. I'm not even asking, even though I should be, and yet you're there nonetheless. And I never say thank you. Thank you, Brienne. For everything."
"It's alright," Brienne stuttered, suddenly feeling very hot under his gaze. "That's what friends are for."
"Friends." He tasted the sound of the word on his tongue, judging if he liked it or not. He must have deemed it worthy, because Brienne saw his beaming smile again. "When exactly did you accept that we are friends? I thought you would rather die than admit it."
"Well, I guess I just got used to your presence," she snapped back, looking back at the pieces of glass before throwing them away. "And it seems like I'm the only person in all of King's Landing who can actually deal with you."
"On that we should drink!" At once he was at his feet again, getting some more beers out of the fridge.
Quickly Brienne looked away before anyone would catch her staring.
Now things were awkward. Really awkward.
Brienne wasn't a big talker at all, but now she knew that Jaime would twist every word out of her mouth around, until he could make some kind of joke. Hyle wasn't talking either, obviously not sure what to say. Jaime, on the other hand, looked like he was enjoying himself. A big smile was plastered on his face while he looked from Brienne to Hyle, who just tried to act normal.
Of course, it didn't work.
"You don't have to sit here in silence," Jaime said. "It's your date! You should enjoy your time! Don't let me stop you! You were quite engaged in a conversation when I entered. Just continue."
One look from Hyle was enough to know that he didn't want to continue their conversation. At least not with Jaime next to them. For once, Brienne had to agree with him. Not because she had any sympathy – but because she knew what Jaime would do. It really surprised her that he hadn't already punched him.
"Nothing? Well, if you don't talk, I'll have to do it."
Oh, that was always bad. Brienne looked up to shoot him a death glare, but like always he just ignored it and turned to Hyle.
"I don't think we were ever introduced properly to one another," he said politely, but she could hear the subtle anger in his voice. He knew all too well who Hyle was. She had told Jaime everything after he had pressed her into saying why she wasn't free this evening. Jaime had probably made Peck look up his criminal record as well.
"Hyle Hunt," Hyle answered, but didn't reached out to take his hand. Jaime hadn't offered it anyway.
"And what do you do for a living, Mr Hunt?"
"Stop questioning him," Brienne growled. She wasn't entirely sure what game he was playing, but it couldn't be good. With – again fake – disbelief, Jaime looked at her.
"I'm not questioning him. I'm barely leading a conversation since none of you would do it. So, what are you doing?"
"You don't have to answer that, Hyle," Brienne said quickly.
"No, it's alright," Hyle said with a smile, before turning back to Jaime, "I'm teaching at the University."
"Really? How interesting." Judging from the look in his eyes, Jaime clearly wasn't interested. "And how did you two meet?"
Suddenly Brienne knew what Jaime wanted to do. Her first instinct was to stab her fork into his hand to stop him from talking. Then throw her water into his face. Maybe screaming would work as well. However, she did none of these. Instead she just closed her eyes and massaged her temples. This was going to be so much worse than she had thought. Couldn't Loras just call them already?
"Her father arranged it."
"So, this is a blind date? Well, well, well, how exciting. How did you find each other? Or did her father just say you should talk to the giant, awkward blond who looked like she was having a terrible time?"
"No, we've met before," Hyle answered slowly, but he was losing control over his emotions. His hands were clenched and his eyes hard. "In college."
"In college, you say?" Jaime started to nod slowly, pretending to be thinking. Brienne wished the waitress would come back to give Jaime his water, take their orders or tell them to leave. Any of those would work. Of course nothing happened, so he just continued to talk. "Y'know, now that I think about it, I think Brienne might have mentioned something about you. And a bet, if I remember correctly."
"What about you?" Hyle asked, instead of answering the question. Brienne was kind of glad, until she took one look at him and realized that he hadn't asked out of politeness. Hyle knew who Jaime was, too. Everyone knew. "Who exactly are you to her?"
"Well, I'm just her partner," Jaime said with a shrug. "Her best friend, too."
"Correct me, but isn't Margaery Tyrell her best friend?"
"Her best guy friend. Her occasional reminder to build up some self esteem. I'm the guy she has to drive around the whole time. And I'm without doubt the most handsome man she has ever met."
"You don't know that," Brienne said, finally having enough of all of the testosterone.
"I do know that. I look in the mirror every morning." Brienne just rolled her eyes and had to bite down on her tongue to avoid telling him that Renly had been quite handsome too. Even though he wasn't as handsome as Jaime was – but of course she would never tell him that. His ego was big enough without her encouraging him. He still seemed to pick up her thoughts. "Okay, the most handsome living man."
"You're not a man. You're a spoiled boy."
"If I'm a boy, what are you? The girl next door? The girl from Kindergarten? My mom?"
"Your annoyed and badly paid babysitter."
"That's not true. Lannisters are rich. You would be the best paid babysitter in the city."
"Still not enough to make up for your behavior."
"You know, I used to have a crush on my babysitter."
"So, how did you two become partners?" Hyle asked and Brienne had to tear her eyes away from Jaime, who winked at her. Her face was burning and she knew she was blushing.
"We looked at each other from the other side of the room and basically fell in love. Except on a work-level. Like partners. It was like fate. Platonic." Brienne could just roll her eyes at his ability to come up with a lie that quickly.
"I highly doubt that," Hyle said. "Brienne is too honorable to team up with someone like you through her own free will."
"Someone like me?" All humor was gone from Jaime's voice and his smirked had turned dangerous. Automatically Brienne sat up straighter.
"Don't think I don't know who you are. You're Jaime Lannister."
"Yes, I believe my family is quite famous. We do own Westeros' most successful company, and from time to time we're in the newspapers. I've been in them a few times myself."
"You're a murderer."
"Hyle, stop it right now," Brienne said, before Jaime would make a move to strangle him. Hyle's eyes twitched to her, but went back to Jaime a second later. Jaime's smirk was gone completely.
"You don't know a thing about me," he hissed and took his water, their new waitress just brought him.
Brienne stood in the small kitchen of their tiny, temporary apartment, cleaning the dishes. Catelyn had managed to get them a place to live for a few days. The apartment was not even half the size of her apartment in King's Landing and Brienne had thought that that was small. Jaime had made no comment about it. He hadn't said anything at all until now. His hand was heavily bandaged and Qyburn had given him enough painkillers and sleeping pills for a month. When they had stepped into the small living room yesterday for the first time, Jaime had crash on the couch and hadn't moved much since.
At this point, Brienne wasn't even sure if he realized where he was or with whom. Instead of eating actual food, he took the pills, falling asleep all the time and then waking up because of the pain, screaming loudly until she gave him some more painkillers. Jaime didn't talk, so Brienne had turned on the small TV with only three channels, just for the sake of escaping the silence. For two hours, they watched the Discovery channel. Not that it was interesting, but at least someone was talking.
"He was obsessed with them."
Brienne looked up from the sink to Jaime. It was weird to hear him talking again – and quite difficult to understand him, because he was only half conscious. His eyes were fixed on the screen. It showed something about explosives. She hadn't known he was watching it.
"Obsessed with them … and fire. Always carried a lighter in his pocket … pretty bad combination for such a paranoid asshole like him," Jaime said. Slowly Brienne walked over to him. She wasn't sure if he was talking to her or not. She didn't even know who he was talking about. Would he stop if she asked something? "Everyone knew about his obsession and yet nobody did anything. Everyone would have died. And when I shot him, saved everyone, they got angry at me. It isn't fair."
Suddenly she knew who he was talking about. Aerys Targaeryen, his former superior. Fifteen years ago, Jaime Lannister had produced the biggest scandal in all of Westeros by shooting him. Instead of denying it, he had confessed killing him, and yet he didn't have to go to jail, instead getting suspended for several years. There were nasty rumors that his father, Tywin Lannister, the richest man alive, had bribed the judges. Everyone said he killed him out of jealousy. It wasn't even questioned. Even Brienne believed it. That was until now.
"What happened?" she asked quietly, partly surprised that she had actually said something. For a moment Jaime just lay there, acting like he hadn't heard her. Maybe he really hadn't or maybe he didn't want to answer the question. It wasn't really her place to ask, and if he didn't want to talk about, there was nothing she could do.
But then he opened his mouth and started to talk. "The first months I didn't notice anything and nobody mentioned it. Nobody really wanted to get on the bad side of a Targaeryen. They called him Dragon. Thought it was a nickname someone gave him, but he actually forced everyone to call him that. Then, one night, he blew up a house for … no reason at all. I asked him why he did it. He said he liked to watch it burn. He wouldn't be affected by the flames. After all, he was a dragon. And dragons do not burn."
He fell silent for a few seconds, remembering what had happened, before he continued to talk. Brienne wasn't sure if he realized that she was still there. So many painkillers were never good. "I started to notice things. How much he liked fire. How much he liked violence. That he always had a lighter even though he was a non-smoker. And that he saw an enemy in every fucking person. Aerys became convinced that half the city was part of a terrorist group and the other half were their allies secretly trying to take him down. He didn't like that idea. So he installed bombs all over the city, to blow them all up, to see them all burn. I don't know why he trusted me with the details. Maybe his mind was just too fucked up. Maybe he needed at least one person he could trust. It was the city or him. In the end, the decision was easier than I thought. Maybe dragons can't burn, but they die if you shoot them."
Brienne swallowed. She had followed the news about the shooting, even though she had been a little girl fifteen years ago, but she had never heard this side of the story. It had always been Jaime Lannister killed Chief of Police Aerys Targaeryen, Lannister heir killed out of jealousy. And she hadn't doubted it for one second. But now? Even though Jaime was probably high on all the pills, he had sounded sincere. Yes, he still killed him, but he saved a whole city, thousands of lives. Wouldn't she do the same?
Suddenly he looked at her, his eyes full of insecurity. A thought hit her that made her more than a little bit uncomfortable. "Did you tell that anyone else?"
"Who do you think would be interested in hearing my side of the story, after I confessed that I killed the great Aerys Targaeryen? Nobody wanted to hear it. Not the judges, not my father, not my brother, not my sister. Nobody. So I told it to nobody."
"But you told me."
There was a heavy silence while they just looked at each other. Brienne had so many questions: Why did you tell me? Why didn't you try to tell anyone else? Why did you let everyone call you a murderer? She didn't ask any of them though. Instead, she just got up, went into the kitchen and brought him his barely touched dinner from earlier. Jaime didn't comment on in, but sat up and started to eat slowly. And yes, maybe she did feel a little bit proud that he decided to share his story with her.
"We should get back to King's Landing," Brienne finally said after three days. She had the conversation all planned out in her head, and was ready for the discussion. She was even prepared for his snarling remarks, though she hadn't hurt any of them since he got injured. Somehow she missed them.
Instead of hearing the expected words, he just shifted his gaze from his once again barely touched food to her. For a long time, he just looked in unsettling silence."Why?"
"Because you're hurt badly."
"What about the Stark girl?"
"I don't think the Spider had an actual trail. Maybe he just wanted to get us out of King's Landing. Maybe he has Sansa. Maybe he told the Bloody Mummers where we were."
"So you're giving up?" His words shouldn't have hurt so much, but somehow they did.
"This whole trip was a disaster. We've found nothing, you almost lost your hand, and we couldn't even stop to fight!"
"You're right," he agreed. Again he was just staring at her, but not for as long as before. "Let's call a truce."
"A truce. The fighting has to stop. I think we would make a pretty decent."
"You need trust to have a truce."
"I trust you." This time, it was Brienne who could only stare at him. "You didn't let me die when I wanted to. You kept me safe and without you, I would be in a far worse shape now. Probably without my hand as well. Could you trust me too?"
Her first instinct was to say no. She didn't trust him. He had done nothing but insult her, hurting her feelings more than a couple of times. He had made her wait for hours in the office, pretending she had gotten the time wrong, though she knew she hadn't. He cared for no one but himself, was arrogant and way too sure of himself. If parents wanted their children to know what honorable and a bad reputation meant, they would tell them of Jaime Lannister.
And yet he had saved her from being raped. He had apologized for the really hurtful insults and it had sounded unusually honest. He had trusted her with the real story behind Aerys. He had made her take some of his painkillers when she was too prideful to ask for them.
As an answer, Brienne nodded.
Jaime relaxed and exhaled. Slowly he started to smirk, looking like a shadow of his usual self. "Good. That makes things way easier."
"Where should we look for her? We've already been to every town in the Riverlands. She could be anywhere."
"We should go east."
"I doubt she will be in Essos."
"Not that far east, Giant. Try to use your brain once in a while."
"You're one to talk." He just smiled at her, flashing his perfect teeth. But before he could actually reply, Brienne caught up with his thought. "You want to look in the Vale?"
"Her aunt Lysa lives there."
"Catelyn said Sansa had only seen her twice in her life."
"She's still family. And the Arryn Mansion is pretty high up in the mountains. It's a good place to hide."
"You realize that is an insane long-shot?"
"Not any more insane than searching through all of the Riverlands." Brienne couldn't help but agree.
They stayed at the house for another week and a half, though they were actually productive this time. As well as they could, they tried to gather the information they could remember; Sansa's friends, family, hobbies, her favorite dish, her last status update on Facebook, who did and didn't like the Starks, and so on. Slowly Jaime started to talk more and more, finally with something to concentrate on again.
Neither Brienne nor Jaime could really believe it when they actually found Sansa in the Vale. Not with Lysa Arryn, but with Petyr Baelish, an old and very good friend of Catelyn, as he called himself. Jaime just snorted at that, called him Little Finger and asked him how many times exactly he had tried to get Catelyn on a date. Brienne just rolled her eyes. A few days later, they watched as Catelyn pulled her daughter into the most bone-crushing embrace they had ever seen, and slapped Baelish right across the face. Jaime actually had to leave the room because he couldn't stop laughing.
"Would you like to order anything to eat?" the waitress asked with an easy smile on her lips.
"Yes," Brienne said quickly, before the boys could start anything worse than an argument.
"I'll take the steak," Hyle said, while giving back his menu and smiled at the waitress. "And Brienne takes it as well." She had already forgotten that she had told him, she would eat that. To be honest, she wasn't feeling like eating a steak. She was way too nervous about Loras hopefully soon-coming call.
"Actually, cancel her steak," Jaime said, before the girl could leave. "She takes a large portion of fries with ketchup."
"Are you sure?" she asked, her eyes flicking from him to Brienne and Hyle.
"What are you doing?" Brienne and Hyle asked at the same time.
"You're both right, what was I thinking? No fries. Nachos. With a lot of cheese on them, please."
"Anything for you, Sir?" She probably asked because she didn't want to get the order changed once again. Jaime just shook his head and she left.
"You can't just change the order," Hyle hissed. At this point, both men had given up to show anything but hate in their looks for each other.
"I can, if she doesn't want it."
"I asked her, what she wanted."
"That was before I arrived and told her about our work related thing. When she gets too nervous, she doesn't eat anything except fries, nachos or chips." For a second, Brienne could only stare at Jaime, who was taking another sip of his water. She had never told him that. He must have picked it up on his own. She was somewhat moved that he actually noticed.
"Didn't you promise not to interfere with our date?" Hyle growled.
"That not interfering. If I were to punch you in your face, because you broke her heart with a stupid bet, that would be interfering."
"You two will stop this right now," Brienne hissed, before Hyle could form the words that wanted to get out of his half open mouth. She did her best to glare at them, and only Hyle had the grace to look ashamed. "We're in a restaurant and you are fighting like children. If you don't stop, they might throw us out."
"As if they could," Jaime snarled, but Brienne wasn't having any of it right now.
"I'm serious, Jaime. You were the one waltzing in and if you don't behave, I am going to throw you out."
"I didn't realize you were enjoying your date so much," he said, but there was something cold in his voice. Brienne would have said he was hurt, if she didn't know him better. He had no reason to be.
Before either of them could answer, Jaime's phone rang. Brienne's heart skipped a beat and Jaime reached immediately into his pocket to get it out.
"Hello?" he answered it, though his eyes didn't leave hers as he listened to the hushed voice. Her hands got sweaty and she drank all of her water because her throat turned dry. Suddenly the look in his eyes changed and a smirk was pulling at the corners of his mouth. They had them. "We'll be there in five. Three, if we don't hit any red lights."
At once, he was on his feet again, pushing the chair back to the table next to them. Brienne got up as well – and Hyle. Jaime just shot her a look and left, while she grabbed her bag and coat, and turned to her date. "I'm sorry, it's just -"
"Work, I get it," Hyle said and tried to smile. It looked almost sincere. "You have to go."
"No, you're not. But I guess I deserve that." This time, his smile looked way more real. "Just do me a favor and don't let him drag you down, okay?" For a second, Brienne wanted to tell him that Jaime wasn't a bad person, that he would never drag her down and that he would never hurt her. But she didn't have the time. As an answer, she just nodded and left.
Jaime was waiting outside, next to his black and red Valyrian. Again, she couldn't help but roll her eyes, especially when she saw Jaime's somewhat disappointed look. "Please don't tell me you took the Valyrian because you wanted Hyle to see it?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Giant," he said and tossed her the keys. "It's a car and you usually drive in cars."
"Except this isn't any car, but a Valyrian, the most expensive car there is," Brienne explained and opened the car. The leather seats were soft and comfortable, just like you would expect in a car worth more than everything Brienne owned combined.
"Total coincidence," Jaime defended himself while typing in the address and buckling himself up. "Not that he would ever drive a car like this with all the speeding tickets he has."
"I can't believe you looked it up." Brienne shook her head and started the car. The motor was almost silent. She had driven the Valyrian once before when she had driven Jaime to one of his family dinners. It was by far the nicest car she had ever driven and she loved it.
"I didn't look it up. Peck was kind enough to offer it."
"More like you ordered him. He isn't your assistant, you know."
"I think I really should get an assistant."
"What? Am I not enough?"
"Jealous?" Jaime smiled widely while Brienne backed out of the parking lot and drove off on the street. She couldn't say if his mood – and hers as well – was so much better now because they got the call or because they were away from Hyle. "Besides, you're not my assistant. You're my babysitter, remember?"
"How could I ever forget that," she sighed and had to stop at the first red light. "You were really behaving badly back there, you know that, right?"
"Oh c'mon, it was just a bit of fun."
"It wasn't funny, Jaime."
After that he was silent for an unnervingly long time. She fought the urge to look over to him, to ask him what was wrong all of the sudden. His moods could change quickly, but her words couldn't have bothered him that much.
Finally the red light turned to green, and at the same moment, Jaime started to speak again. "You could go back." Because Brienne didn't know what he was talking about, she just gave him a quick, confused look before concentrating on the traffic again. "To Hunt, I mean. Back to your date."
"What?" she asked, because it was the only word she was able to form. Did he really just said that?
"I can handle this on my own, if you want to go back. I've never asked if you want to come with me."
"If I didn't want to go with you, you would have noticed. Besides I've been wanting to get the Goat for one and a half years now. I'm not letting him off that easily."
"I just thought that -"
"I did not enjoy that date and if it hadn't been for my father, I wouldn't even have met him. Nevertheless your behavior was terrible. You were humiliating me."
"Did you hear me vow that I will always humiliate you if I get the chance?" If Brienne could have, she would have hit him. Instead she was settling for a dark glare and Jaime laughed. "But you have to agree that his face was priceless. And not one word was a lie."
"Really? What about the part where we apparently stared at each other from the other side of the room?"
"Well, we did. I just didn't say the she-wolf was there was well. And that it wasn't love, but I made sure to mention it wasn't a romantic feeling. Wouldn't want to destroy his hopes."
Brienne couldn't help but laugh. This was ridiculous and childish and so Jaime that it was almost hard to believe. "You're impossible."
"You wouldn't want it any other way."
Brienne turned right and they saw some police cars in front of them. She parked on the side, next to some old trash bins and turned off the car. Her heart was beating so fast, she almost felt nauseous, but at the same time she was terribly excited. With a deep breath, she put a hand on the handle to open the door.
"Brienne," Jaime said and put his hand on her shoulder before she could move. Confused, she looked back at him. He seemed tense. "Maybe I lied once."
"Does it matter now?" she asked impatiently.
"Yes," he said so firmly that she stopped. "Because … I still have a crush on my babysitter." Brienne blinked. Once, twice – three times until her brain was finally able to process what he meant. He didn't mean his old babysitter. Her face burned and she was probably blushing more than ever. Even if she had been a more talkative person, she couldn't have said anything. Especially not under his determined – and maybe she was hallucinating, but also nervous – gaze. "And I was wondering if you want to get a coffee after this."
"Coffee?" she asked breathless. Jaime nodded. Her throat was dry and she became very aware how close they were. That his hand was still on her shoulder. That there were about a dozen colleagues a couple of feet away from them. That she really liked that idea. "I … tonight?"
"If you don't want to -"
"I just … We don't know how this night will go. We may be up for hours." Jaime's furrowed eyebrows told her that he clearly wasn't catching onto what she failed to say. "I mean, how about we just see how tonight turns out before we set a date for our coffee?"
For a moment, Jaime just stared at her, his green eyes piercing through her. Then he smiled. "Fair enough. Now, let's get some goat."
A/N: All characters belong to GRRM! Big thanks to josiepug on ao3 who beta-read it for me. Cheers!