They drove an hour out of White Harbor, the thin plastic bag clutched in her fists, until they found a hotel--nicer than the water-stained motels or rat-infested apartments she’d spent the last few years in, not so nice that people would look there first. Jaime paid with a company credit card--"Tyrion,” he said under his breath--and she gave no name, kept her head ducked, her face hidden by a curtain of dark hair.
The room was on the third floor, with a desk, chairs, a King-sized bed. They didn’t speak of what had happened, what would happen when they returned to King’s Landing.
“Come on,” he said, his fingers tentatively finding her elbow, guiding her towards the bathroom. It was huge, with fresh towels and a shower cubicle large enough even for her. It was the sink he directed her to though, with a large faux-marble counter and a mirror framed with lights. She looked hollow, pale, the scraped skin on her cheek bright red and beginning to bruise, and when he encouraged her to sit on the stool she did not complain.
He tutted, took the bag from her hands, began to lay its contents onto the countertop.
“You’ve done this before?”
Her voice was hoarse, and she remembered how loud she’d screamed, when she realised the officers Jaime had come with had-- Her voice was hoarse.
“Cersei,” Jaime explained. “She had some incidents when we were teenagers.”
“Alright. I trust you.”
He looked up, caught her eye in the mirror, smiled. She had missed his smile.
He must have been as exhausted as she was, but he mixed the colour stripper, the chemical scent burning her nose as he worked it through her hair, his long fingers firm against her scalp. Checked the watch on his wrist when he was done.
“I’m sorry,” she said. It seemed important.
“I came north to… I didn’t know this was your case, when I took it. I’m glad it was.”
There was no uncertainty in his voice, and she was too tired to argue against it. Her hand found his, her body aching in the silent space filled only by their breathing, by the way his fingers tightened around hers. She closed her eyes, allowed the exhaustion to wash over her until he eventually stirred.
“Time’s up,” he said.
She shed her clothes, stepped into the shower, wincing as the hot water hit her muscles, her scrapes. Rinsed her hair, washed it clear with hotel shampoo. Jaime handed her a towel as he stepped out, then took off his own clothes. She moved to the mirror, studied her reflection. Her hair was more of a reddish blonde than her natural colour, and she knew she would not know the precise colour until it had dried, but it was better. Better, and odd.
“I can cut it,” he said.
“Tomorrow,” she said. “Shower.”
In the other room, he’d laid out two pairs of boxers, two worn soft t-shirts that had once said Goldcloak Academy, and she let out a tiny sob as she reached for them. She pulled a set on, climbed beneath the clean sheets with her hair still wet, heard the shower turn off and Jaime join her, switching off the lamp
In the dark, they found each other. Limbs tangled, a light brush of lips against cheek, the soft mingling of their breaths. She closed her eyes, began to drift.
“Good night, Brienne,” he whispered against her hair.
She didn’t know who woke first, what desperate half-dream had them scrambling for each other, bruising kisses and fingertips biting at flesh, moans of pleasure mingled with pain, every too hard embrace, every clash of teeth making their blood pulse, alive alive here and alive, and she laughed when she scraped her nails against his back and he shivered--she had nails, in this other life, and she cannot wait to lose them but she liked them now, likes that she can imagine the red furrows against his back as she guided him between her thighs, as he hastily stripped them both, and they were so good like this, this grunting, frantic connection, his hot breath at her ear.
He fell onto the mattress beside her when they were done, panting and throwing an arm over his eyes.
“Sorry,” he said, “that you didn’t…”
She hadn’t noticed, had wanted for nothing but this: the tiny sliver of moonlight through the window illuminating his profile, the coolness of the sheets against her heated skin, the rise and fall of his chest beneath her palm. A shared space, precious in its precariousness. An image that she had kept during the longest nights, a promise she had so badly wanted to give time and time again. Just this.
“We should sleep,” she said softly. “We’ll both be here come morning.”
It was the buzzing of Jaime’s phone that woke them, far later than either of them usually slept. He grunted and rolled over to grab it, one hand still laced with Brienne’s.
“Morning,” he said, looking towards her. “No, I didn’t-- Yes. No.” He pulled a face, mouthed Tyrion. “I know. Of course I didn’t fucking-- No, I know. I promise not to speak to anyone until you’ve gotten here. Neither of us will. See you soon.”
He hung up, tossed the phone onto the table so hard it skidded and fell off the other side.
“What did Tyrion want?”
“He heard about last night.”
“Does it matter? He thinks they’ll try to blame this on you, or me. Better than admit some of their highest ranking officers…” He sighed. “We won’t keep our jobs.”
“We did the right thing. You--” She swallowed hard. “Thank you. If you hadn’t…”
He gave her a small, soft smile. “We did the right thing. Everything else…” The soft edges of his smile fell away, replaced with a wicked sort of intent. “Everything else we can work out after a shower.”
She laughed and bounded from the bed, dragging him towards the other room.