Author's Note: Written for Tumblr's gameofshipschallenges for the day's prompt, "myth."
Words with Letters in Between
Two white lines of powder, perfectly parallel.
His face, so like hers, over the mirror.
A couple of ungentlemanly sniffs, and soon all will be in order.
Jaime raises his head and blinks, sniffling and rubbing his thumb and forefinger under his nostrils. The party is louder than it was a moment ago because someone has turned up the stereo, and the bass is too prominent. He unfolds himself from the floor and turns it down; otherwise the cops will come soon, and there are only so many messes Dad will clean up. That girl Paula from Uruguay – she's always pronounced his name "HIGH-me" and blames her native language for the jab – has already lowered her head over the little mirror on the coffee table, helping herself to his supply; no matter, it's endless. His teammate John, still clearly unshowered and wearing his basketball jersey, nearly slips on the beer and wine smeared across the hardwood floor of the living room, but he rights himself, only sloshing his own gin and tonic minimally. Most of the team is here, as usual, and the rugby team, and lots of hangers-on. Everyone is fucked up.
Except for one.
That towering hulk of a girl from the women's basketball team sits in Jaime's favorite plush chair, looking like an albino giant against the crimson velvet. What's-his-name Hunt from the rugby team hovers over her, and she's leaning about as far away from him as the chair will allow. She sips red wine slowly and meets Jaime's eyes for a moment as if this is all his fault. Well, she didn't have to come. He's still pissed at her for beaning him in the forehead playing ultimate frisbee last week.
He's sinking in the post-rush of the game, and all the people and the noise and the two lines aren't enough. Play and pussy are the only things that make you happy, Cersei once said, and she was right, of course. She'd bought him archery lessons on a whim, and an introductory handgun course, and of course fencing. He'd loved it all and imagined himself as a knight of sorts, one who'd managed to be born into the wrong time entirely. You won't go into the military, their father had informed him. It's politics for all the Lannisters. We have a duty …
For now, all he has is basketball. The high of a win gives him a sense of greatness, a sort of purpose, since he isn't much good at anything else. A straight C and D student, his academic counselor had observed his first year, just before referring him to the lady who'd tell him all about oral tests versus written ones. And then there's Tyrion, already with his master's and living near Capitol Hill doing whatever it is he is doing. And Cersei, with her Poli Sci degree and that asshole rising politician who jangles her shackles and chains like jewelry.
And here is Jaime, majoring in communications and public relations – supposedly in preparation to become a lobbyist – stuck down south at Duke University, the not-quite-Ivy-League school his family's name managed to place at his feet.
How could he not trample it?
He goes to the little mirror and cuts another line with the platinum credit card he's left lying there. He tightens the rolled-up twenty-dollar bill and sees that someone has opened his laptop on the coffee table to one of the blogs that covered tonight's game. A photographer has captured Jaime in mid-air, droplets of sweat flying from his hair, the ball just off the tip of his index finger before it continues its trajectory into the hoop. The headline, Gladen boybe ings Dukeclos et toeothFinialoFru, makes little sense to him in itself, though the context tells him what it probably says.
Paula from Uruguay knows about his dyslexia and never mocks him for it, even if she does for everything else. She leans over his shoulder and translates in a whisper: "Golden boy brings Duke closer to the Final Four." Her breath is warm and should tickle his ear in all the right ways, but she isn't Cersei. Luckily she already understands that she isn't for him, even if she can't know why, and she saunters off into the kitchen. The girls mostly think him haughty or vain; the gay boys are hopeful. They're all disappointed.
He leans back over the mirror.
The white line divides his face in two. He can almost pretend that he is looking into Cersei's eyes, can almost kiss her sculpted lips, if no one were watching just now. He wonders who he is, and how truthful a mirror really can be, even with the clarifying powder that sits atop it. (You'll have to stop soon, you know, John, already three sheets to the wind, said tonight. It'll fuck up your body and your brain. Not to mention that impressive nose of yours. And Jaime knows he's right. Why eat organic food all week and then drink himself into a coma every weekend and snort this shit? But tonight isn't the time for stopping. Cersei was at that gala tonight with Asshole Robert, who made his Big Announcement.)
A sniff and all the thoughts are blasted away.
He is Jaime Fucking Lannister, and he could've been king of the world.
Still could, still could, a voice says. But even cradled in the bosom of artificial certainty he knows the voice is bullshitting him.
He stands up and whirls around, trying to decide what to do, whom to accost or pretend to seduce. Maybe he'll go into the garage and tinker with the Mercedes. Or lift some weights in the basement.
Then he notices What's-his-name Hunt kneeling in front of the giant and trying to slip his hands – and his face, apparently – up her miniskirt. She plants her sandaled foot on his chest – there's a glimpse of virginal white panties – and pushes him onto the floor, where he lies in a daze for a few seconds. She hasn't even spilled her wine.
Jaime crosses the room just as Hunt rises, a bleary but mean look in his eyes. The girl stands, too, and sets her wine glass on the stereo cabinet next to the red chair. Wearing those shoes she's a full six inches taller than both men. Her hands curl into fists.
"Problem?" asks Jaime.
"No," says the girl, jaw clenched.
"Yes," says Hunt at the same time. "Brienne's an ice cold bitch. Cold as the devil's ding-dong hanging in a well."
"That's an idiotic expression to use for someone you're trying to disparage as frigid, don't you think, Hyle?" says Brienne. Jaime laughs.
Hunt ignores the insult and glares at Jaime.
"Dude," says Jaime. "Leave it."
Hunt turns back to Brienne. "The guys all said you were a dyke, but I said, 'No, she's just asexual.' You know what that means?"
"That I give off spores to reproduce?"
Hunt's forehead wrinkles. "Whatever. I think you just need a good lay."
Jaime places his hand on Hunt's chest. "Why don't you go home? In the morning you'll regret being such an – "
Hunt swings at him, but he's drunk and Jaime dodges backward quickly. He springs back, ready to fight …
But Brienne punches Hunt in the nose.
Blood spurts all over her pale blue sweater. Some of it splatters onto the wall and the stereo cabinet. While Hunt holds onto his spurting nose, Jaime marches him to the front door, opens it, and shoves him out onto the front porch, where he flails on the painted wooden slats like an upturned tortoise. There is only one journalist out there now, perhaps nothing more than a paparazzo, and he is on his feet on the sidewalk in a flash, snapping photos; otherwise Jaime might have punched Hunt again for good measure. He slams the door.
"This is my house," he seethes, looking around angrily at no one.
"No, it's your daddy's," says Paula, who has found a bag of chips and stands in the kitchen doorway, munching.
"Out," he whispers. But no one hears him.
He stalks to the stereo and turns it off. He waits a few seconds for all the partiers to fall silent. Then he shouts, "OUT!"
He isn't certain why the party is over, but it most definitely is. All the same, he feels very, very alive.
"But the press is out there," says John. "Come on, man."
"They were there when you got here," says Jaime, turning his back on him and picking up a couple of beer bottles from the coffee table. "Go home. Take the back door if you want." He goes to the kitchen past Brienne, who stares at him.
As he clinks the bottles into the green recycling bin, he notices his white shirt has droplets of blood on it.
He looks back through the doorway at Brienne, still frozen in the living room and looking down at her own bloodied top, her yellow hair hanging in her eyes.
Something stirs in his cock, where it shouldn't, and in his chest, where it mustn't.
He mixes himself a Manhattan and tries to picture himself home again at Christmas, when he'd made the same drink for Cersei after that absurd dinner with the family and her loud, red-faced beau. Jaime had handed her the tumbler, and she'd brought out the coke, and afterwards the two of them had stood together, drinking and looking at each other's reflections in the large window over the kitchen sink, a couple of self-satisfied ghosts side by side, but not touching, never touching, for they dared not with Dad in the next room. Then Robert had shouldered his way between the two and the moment was over.
A few minutes later Jaime has finished his drink, and he and Brienne are the only ones left. He makes another. "Want one?" he asks.
She looks at him finally and, after a moment, shakes her head. She walks slowly to the stereo cabinet and picks up her wine glass. She takes a measured sip.
He joins her in the living room and tips his glass in her direction. "Nice knuckle sandwich you gave him."
She huffs and looks away.
"Can I – would you like to change clothes?"
"No, thank you." Then she notices the blood on her knuckles. "Maybe." She looks at her sweater again. "Yes."
Jaime leads her into his bedroom and rummages through a drawer while Brienne stands there awkwardly looking around. He finds some sweatpants and a t-shirt. Brienne goes into his bathroom and sets down her wine glass next to his toothbrush. She washes her hands with the same deliberation that she's been nursing her wine all evening.
Standing next to her with the clothes tucked under his arm, he sips his drink and watches her in the mirror. Something is different about her tonight, and not just the fact that she punched a guy in the face. Her sweater really brings out her eyes. They are astonishingly blue. He thinks of the azure skies of the Caribbean.
"You don't normally dress that way, do you?"
She reaches for the hand towel, looks at him in the mirror, and shakes her head.
"What were you trying to do?" He's not sure why it came out that way, but he can't backpedal.
She sighs and picks up her wine glass, takes a tiny sip, and swallows. She pushes the hair out of her eyes in front and massages the buzzed back of her neck before letting her hand fall to her side. "Fit in," she mutters with a shrug.
They watch each other's reflections for a second too long. "I know the feeling," he says at last.
Brienne starts to smile, her brows knitting as she inhales to retort. But then she presses her lips together and says nothing, though the bemused expression remains. Of course, everyone thinks the Lannisters own everything and everyone, and they do own quite a bit, and that really should make him happy, shouldn't it? He knows he'd sound like a complete ingrate if he complained about any of it. But he also knows it's an accident of fate that he was born into his family. At least Tyrion is smart, even if he isn't tall or traditionally handsome. Tyrion will make his way. So will Cersei, with or without that jackass of hers.
Jamie wonders about himself.
"Here," he says, setting the clothes on the counter. He pulls the door shut behind him and goes back into the living room.
He doesn't like being alone, and nighttime is the worst. But Dad thinks having roommates would be beneath the family name, not to mention damaging to the house he bought; so Jaime rattles around in here alone most of the time.
Maybe he and Brienne could go out tonight. He knows just what he'd like to do.
She comes into the living room looking much more like herself in his grey sweats and white t-shirt. She kicks off her sandals and curls up like a cat, feet tucked under her, a pale, pointed elbow on one red velvet arm of the chair, the other hand still holding the same wine glass.
Jaime kneels in front of her.
"Let's go find Hyle Hunt and kick his ass," he says. "Me and you."
Brienne stares at him in horror for a second, then she bursts out laughing, throwing her head back; and her long, white neck really is exquisite. So is her laugh, and the way her face lights up when she smiles. She's really not such a militant sourpuss after all, he thinks, grinning.
He stands. "Up." He pulls on one of her feet, laughing at her protests. "Up, up, up. Let's go!"
Finally she stands, and she looks down at her feet as if she's about to ask him for some socks and sneakers to wear for the job.
"No," she says quietly.
"What? You were made to kick his ass. You know you were." He's tweaked, and he hopes he's not insulting her, but Brienne is a badass and it thrills him to know it. She should know it, too.
"No, Jaime," she says, looking into his eyes. He can't stop smiling at her, even though he knows she's about to leave. Then she tips back the glass and downs the rest of her wine in three strangely dainty swallows, and he watches her neck again. When she's finished she hands him her glass. "Thanks for stepping in."
He's about to tell her she didn't need his help, but she's already slipped back into her girly shoes and opened the front door. Camera flashes burst around her briefly before she shuts it.
She'll come around, Jaime thinks. He pictures the two of them at the gun and archery ranges, fencing together, boxing. She will.
He finishes his drink, puts the glasses in the kitchen, and goes into his bathroom. In the mirror he sees that there really is a lot of blood on his shirt, and he smiles again. What is wrong with him? He laughs out loud.
Then he notices that Brienne has left her clothes on the counter.
He picks up her pale blue sweater, the one that brought out the color of her eyes.
He knows a gentleman would never do such a thing, but still, he sniffs it.