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redder than the solo cup in her hand

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Jaime’s more than a little drunk, and possibly also under the influence of some other intoxicant. He has half a mind to warn people of the drink this guy Bronn hands out, but every time the thought comes to him it is chased away by something like how sparkly the light is in this room—his one last sober braincell informs him it’s a Lannister family donation crystal chandelier, or some idiotic thing like that, because why would anyone put a chandelier in a frat house—and he has to lean on a wall for twenty seconds to get his bearings.

No one else seems to mind being drunk out of their mind, and Jaime supposes this is what frat house parties are for, but surely someone has to be a little wary of a neighbouring community college dropout crashing their very classy, very sophisticated party and handing out—is that Brienne Tarth?

It is. Captain of the women’s rugby team, Brienne Tarth, notable straight-edged person who has probably never touched alcohol or men in her life, is standing at a corner by the kitchen island, frowning into her red solo cup as if she could puzzle the contents if she looked hard enough. She’s wearing what she usually wears, loose shirt and jeans, but Jaime’s brain stutters at her lips. Her lips are ridiculously huge, almost to the point where it’s comical, and one of the many insults aimed at her looks would talk about how she looks like she gets cheap injections or maybe even someone punches her in the mouth every day. Anyway, Brienne Tarth doesn’t wear make-up because she just doesn’t, least of all lipstick because of how her lips just are, but today she’s wearing lipstick.

It’s very, very red.

Jaime would think of a better word or metaphor for it when he’s sober, but he knows it’s very red, redder than the solo cup in her hand, redder than the Lannister coat of arms. It’s just. He doesn’t understand. Those lips look so… pillow-y.

“I’m sorry?” she asks, frowning.

Huh. When did he walk all the way to her? She’s so close now. Those lips are so huge. They’re about level with his own lips. He can just lean forward. He does lean forward.

Brienne’s hands are suddenly on his shoulders, keeping him at arm’s length. Jaime pouts.

“Easy, there. You’re about to fall over.”

“I’m not,” he says, so Brienne carefully takes her hands off his shoulder and he is falling forward again.

She’s holding his shoulders again. Her grip is firm, but not ungentle. “You are. Are you okay, Lannister?”

He doesn’t like that. Lannister is a word that doesn’t suit him half as much as it suits his brother and sister. He has his own name, thank you. It’s one apostrophe away from the French of I love. He likes his name plenty. It’s very romantic. Almost as romantic as her lips right now.

“Why are you talking about my lips again?” Brienne asks. She looks rather purple.

Fuck. Has he been saying that out loud?

“Yes, you have. Lannister, are you drunk?”

He opens his mouth to lie and say no, but what comes out of his mouth instead is vomit.

Jaime hears Brienne yell, but her hands stay on his shoulders, steady. His tethers to the physical worlds. He looks down to the vomit between them, splattered on their shoes, then up, to her unhappy face. “Sorry,” he croaks, then more bile comes up his throat and he’s throwing up some more.

Brienne’s hands are still there, somehow. When he straightens up again, almost half-sober from what amounts to his own body pumping his stomach, because biology, her (red!) lips are twisted down. She says, “Come on, Lann—Jaime. Let’s get you cleaned up a bit.”

She walks him to the bathroom and gets in with him, pushing the door to be almost closed, standing by the toilet as he washes his face and beard in the sink. “Are you worried I might drown myself in the sink?” he asks. He steals a swig of Addam’s mouthwash, then drinks a glass of tap water.

“A little,” she says. “Probably most of the alcohol is in the vomit, but one can never know.”

Jaime is somehow annoyed that she appoints herself his guardian. He’s okay. His head will start hurting soon, but right now he’s just mildly buzzed. “I need to piss,” he says. “Don’t feel like you have to watch. I won’t be dragged down by the rat king.”

She jumps away from the bathroom and exits the bathroom, closing the door with a click.

Jaime relieves himself, and when he exits the bathroom, he fully expects her to be elsewhere, but she’s there, still waiting for him, still red-lipped. The lipstick is intact and there’s a weird swooping pleasure at that, for reasons he will overthink later.

“I’m going back,” Brienne announces.

“I’ll walk you back to your dorm,” Jaime says. “I need some fresh air anyway,” he adds, as though he needs to explain himself to her.

Brienne doesn’t answer for a bit, biting down on her red, red, still red bottom lip, but then she says, “Okay.”

They walk. The breezy autumn air was bracing, quickly chasing away what little bit of drunkenness Jaime had left. It’s too quiet, so Jaime asks, “Why were you there? I thought it’s not really your scene.”

Brienne heaves a breath. “Renly asked me. He wants to spy on Loras, and he wants company.”

“Weren’t they just making out in the pool?”

“Yeah. Well.” She looks down. There’s a glimmer of something at the edges of her eyes.

“Was the lipstick his idea, too?” Jaime asks.

Brienne quirks her lips. Still red. Still pristine. “Not really.”

Jaime thinks he understands. “It’s nice,” Jaime says, hoping he could help. “It’s very red.”

“It’s your sister’s collaboration with Ashara. Roar, I think. I didn’t know they gave names to lipstick shades until I looked up a listicle for best red lipsticks.”

Jaime has a vague recollection of Cersei’s excitement when her beauty channel received the notice of make-up mogul Ashara Dayne. He doesn’t know much else, though. “That’s… interesting.” And a little unsettling.

“Threw away a week’s worth of allowance. It’s stupid. I shouldn’t have bothered.”

Brienne could have worn the skimpiest dress a woman has ever worn and confirmed bachelor Renly Baratheon would still not notice. “He would never appreciate it, no.”

Brienne sighs.

“But for what it’s worth, I do think it looks good on you.”

She turns and squints at him. “Who put you up for this?”

“Who put me up for what?”

“This. Being nice to me. Walking me back. Is there another bet I don’t know about?”

Jaime shakes his head, then stops when it makes his head spin. “Not that I’m aware of. What do you mean, another? Someone bet on—what? You?”

“Some guys in my class tried to bet on who could get me on a date with them, and they win double the pot if they can fuck me on the first date,” she says, her face stony.

Jaime flinches. There’s anger in her expression, but most of all embarrassment, humiliation. Carefully, he says, “No one put me up for this. You’re nice to me when I was puking all over your shoes—remind me to pay you for the dry-cleaning, by the way—and I thought I’d return the favour by keeping you company on your walk back.”

“And all that talk about my lips? That they’re pillow-y or all that other shit you said.”

Jaime feels the mortification settling in, but he plasters on a grin and says, “My drunk self was mesmerized by your lips, and he doesn’t have the best brain-to-mouth filter. Please forgive him.”

Brienne turns pink all over, the flush apparent even under the orange wash of the streetlights. “And your sober self?”

“My sober self agrees, but wished my drunk self had chosen better words to describe them than pillow-y.”

Brienne scoffs. “You know, you don’t have to. Really. I’m—this.”

Jaime looks at her, incredulous. “Do you think I’m saying all this out of—what? Some misplaced sense of gentlemanly honour? I do like that lipstick on you, even if I wished you’d chosen not my sister’s brand for many reasons. You thought I was falling forward because I was drunk—okay, maybe I was, a little—but I wanted to kiss you. I’d kiss you now, but you’d think I was just still drunk.”

“Aren’t you?”

“I’ve been sober for the whole walk.” To prove it, he walks the thin line between two rows of tiles on the sidewalk, turning and bowing at her with a flourish after fifteen steps. “And maybe I’ve been watching you since you started playing for the women’s football team.”

Brienne gapes. Her eyelids flutter, blinking rapidly, as she processes his speech. “I don’t understand,” she says, finally. “You’re—you.”

Jaime pulls out his phone and hands it to her. “Put your number in,” he says. “Whatever I say right now, you’d attribute it to the alcohol, so tonight I’ll walk you back to your dorm. I won’t try to touch you, much less kiss you. Then, in the morning—oh, okay, fine, in the afternoon because we know I won’t be up until then—I’ll text you and you’ll know I’m dead serious.”

Brienne types in a string of numbers, then hands the phone back to him, saying, “I haven’t agreed to any of this.”

“If you’re going to tell me no, tell me later, when I ask you out while being very sober, if a little hungover.”

She doesn’t say anything, and they spend the rest of the walk silently. They part at her dorm building with barely audible “good night,” and maybe they’re both a little bit blushing, though they both pretend it’s from the cool air.

 


 

 

At 2 pm the next day, Jaime sends Brienne a text: hungover but sober. coffee?

There’s an ellipsis marking Brienne’s typing, and it stays there for five long minutes until she finally sends him a reply: ok.