If he can consider himself to be a full blown traitor of the crown (and he does), then he can also consider himself to be a proper spy as for definition goes. He wonders if Thoros is proud of what they have accomplished, with him having all those years as an agent and now a double agent, he must see Beric and the Brotherhood as future bright stars. Or dead bodies, they cannot tell.
Beric usually takes pride in his job, whenever it is well done, and his new job, his real job, is sabotaging the government. He is very proud and days like today make it all even better, make it all worthy.
He is still half way through. An spy would have a mission in concrete and he has too many and more often than not, his vision is blurred by the offset lines that separate one from the other. Well, today he can focus on something in particular: to get Jaime Lannister to confess for the attempt. To get closer to Tywin Lannister, to finally win something over that family that has been causing them so much trouble.
Today is his lucky day indeed, the Lannister eldest son under any sort of suspicions regarding the death of Aerys Targaryen is something that he didn’t anticipated at all. Jaime was careful enough to avoid leaving behind any loose ends when they attacked Beric, perhaps he doesn’t have enough concentration to perform two tasks on the same week flawlessly, perhaps he didn’t have his sister whispering suggestions at his ear or perhaps he meant for this to happen. He has never put that much thought on the concept of Jaime Lannister. It was always Tywin and Tyrion, the political masterminds, sometimes it was Cersei, when she was parading at his buildings with that air of supremacy, of feign royalty. She’s a queen of lies and manipulation and nothing more. He thinks absently. But it never was Jaime.
For a slight moment he wonders what kind of man he is. Gold and immaculate and so very unreachable. Until now.
He could use the information, if his plan works and he happens to find Arthur in time, he would be able to ask some questions or better yet, to use Arthur to ask them himself without the need of Beric being overly suspicious. Still, he wonders; if perhaps it was a young Tywin Lannister the one who will greet him at the interrogation rooms of Thames House.
He pushes the memory of the last time he was inside those rooms; Cersei and Tyrion had been there that day too. They are everywhere, he thinks in anger. Like a plague.
And like the origin of a plague itself, he spots Tywin Lannister in the distance once he arrives at the operations floor of Thames House. He should have predicted that he would be interested in whatever mess his son has gotten himself in. Still, it is a rather big problem, Tywin has proved already that he has the means to go over any sort of authority, his or even Stannis’. He is fundamentally above the law in every possible way. It makes Beric’s anger raise. He has stopped his trail, he is not giving any consideration to whatever his assistant is telling him.
It doesn’t matter, the Home Secretary shouldn’t even be there anyway, he knows people would ask questions and if those people are Tywin Lannisters, those questions will be sharp and vicious.
But he doesn’t care.
He sends his assistant away with little explanation and takes slow steps towards the eldest Lannister.
In the past he has been cold and courteous but never rude. This time however, and specially after the conversation he had with Thoros a few minutes ago; this time he doesn’t care anymore if he insults him or even if he reveals too much. He is certain of one thing: he will not let Jaime go before getting what he wants, no matter how many strings Tywin moves, no matter how many questions people ask; Stannis himself can order Jaime’s release and Beric will not comply, he will see this through to whatever end he meets.
"If you are here to clean up your son’s mess", he raises his voice loudly at the back of the Lord, who was surrounded by his own people. He doesn’t try to hide the mockery and anger both that taint his voice, instead he smiles in derision and doesn’t wait for the other to turn around. "I recommend you to leave. It appears that his shit is all over the place, you don’t want to get any more of that on yourself".
There was a part of her who hated that she could be reduced down to a name, that her worth came from a rebellion far away, in a battle that she had never fought a day in. But the other part of her, a much larger, harder, deeper part, was proud. Even though she tried to push the thought away, to forget where she came from entirely, she was proud to be connected with her father and her brother, with all of Scotland. Arya knew little about politics, but if there was something that her family was fighting for - something that her father had probably died for - than it had to be right.
"I know. You don’t have to remind me to keep quiet," she said, leaning back on the couch and crossing her arms over her chest. He wanted to keep her contained, but Arya had her own reasons for not wanting to be caught, and she wasn’t about to flaunt her namesake on the streets of London.
Arya rolled her eyes, momentarily forgetting her anger to turn around and narrow her eyes at Beric. “No, I haven’t told him,” she said. Gendry had been poking around the mark, but he hadn’t managed to hit it yet, and Arya was doing nothing to encourage him. If she was honest with herself, there had been times when she wanted to tell him - she trusted him, despite her better judgement, she really fucking trusted him - but something had always kept her back.
Beric remained in silence, his eyes fixed on the back of her head, waiting for her to change her mind or her eyes to falter at the contemplation of a lie. She wasn’t that good at lying anyway, usually Beric could tell rather quickly when she wasn’t being honest. Yet their relationship had changed radically that morning and he couldn’t be too sure of anything anymore.
She remained instead with that annoyed gaze that matched her tone of voice perfectly and Beric’s smiles dropped completely.
"Good", he finally said, "We can’t disregard the possibility that he already knows, that he is working for the Lannisters or for Stannis and that he is using you, waiting for the right moment", to take her away. He licked his lips and pressed his forearms deeper against the back of the couch, lowering his tone, "If that happens, you may as well let him know that I am not going to lose you so easily and that he should reconsider his options".
He sighed, determined to lighten his tone somehow, “What I’m saying is don’t trust anyone outside the Brotherhood, the Starks are all in danger right now and friends are a luxury you cannot afford”, he paused remembering his latest promises, though they were hard to list, and harder to commit to.
Still, he wasn’t lying, he was not about to lose her, “We’ll find a way to get you back home, Arya”, after you are done with her, he reminded himself. Her name sounded foreign on his lips as he realised that he hardly ever used it. She was always the girl, you, a little shadow. Due to their circumstances she had become nameless. But a name carried a heavy weight, an important weight. It was more than just identity, it was the memory of her family and her home; something Beric had completely erased from his life. Somehow he didn’t want Arya to do the same. “So be careful”, he finished in a whisper.
They have some dirt on Cersei Lannister, three large piles of them in fact. Tyrion Lannister was more than buried in dirt, but Jaime had always been the goody-goody even if his suffocating arrogance did not advertise it. There was never any dirt on him, the Old Lion’s favourite. Thoros had suspected it was because Tywin made sure to clean after him, but now… If he was accused- if he was proven guilty over the murder of a former Prime Minister- and a Targ at that- no amount of scrubbing will ever get that dirt off.
And with all his three cubs used against him, they could get Tywin Lannister to bend and break. They can show England that their beloved and mighty Houses were corrupt. They can show that their government was sick- and only with the power of the people, can they heal it.
( Not only because he was pleased at the turn of events, but also because Beric was smiling. It’s been so long since he’s seen that kid smile that wide, that happily. He wondered if … )
( He pushed the thought out of his head before he could finish it. )
“ Will you be paying him a visit then?”
He kept his gaze down, looking upon the screen of his phone until Thoros spoke again. “Yeah”, he exhaled without hesitation, with a lighter tone than any he had used in the past month. Finally some good news, finally some silver lightning in their struggle, this was good. “Right away”, he said reaching for his credentials, determined to leave now. It would be odd for the Home Secretary to partake in this, they would think he had a grudge against the man, and while it was true, he didn’t want to seem too eager, too suspicious.
But Arthur would be there, he reminded himself, he could ask for a favour, he could even tell him more than necessary to gain some of his trust. To involve another member of Allyria’s family. He didn’t want to use those cards but it seemed that he had no option. Or perhaps he did but… this was not the time to cling to reservations, this was not the time to be shy and considerate anymore, he could be closer to Tywin Lannister and he would not give up the chance to get him, or any of his children.
He stood up but remained in his spot, fixing his watch that had been loose. Then he looked back at Thoros. “I’ve told you everything now, like I promised”. His smile vanished when he remembered they may have another thing to talk about but was it wise to do so?. He couldn’t tell, he could only decide to do something and face the consequences, he had lost the ability to foresee the future, perhaps that was the real price for his job, the real one.
"About what happened at the hospital", he began quietly, fixing his eyes on the surface of the desk before forcing himself to look at Thoros in the eyes, firmly even when he was afraid, decisive as ever, "I… shouldn’t have", though he wanted it desperate, he needed it, he didn’t truly regret it, "I wasn’t myself", he continued and it hurt, but - "I’ve decided to end things with her, at least for now, I hurt her too, and she doesn’t even know", he swallowed hard, part of it was true, that was the reason; but another part was hoping for something else, albeit impossible.
It was a subtle manipulation, a natural one. On the two of them, Allyria and Thoros both. He didn’t feel proud for it, but he didn’t want to stop either.
"But what I said to you, what I did", he whispered before pausing, reluctantly remembering, "It wasn’t a lie, none of it, even if it shouldn’t have happened, it was real, it still is-".
He listened solemnly and frowned, his finger absently rubbing his chin. Varys was too much of an unpredictable variable. Unreadable. He wondered if calling in favours from a few friends in the Thames House will help him in this, help him predict Varys.
“ I won’t let him,” He said, “ You know i won’t,” Those words came so naturally to him, that he quickly added “ Home Secretary,” at the end of his sentence to remind himself that they were not Beric and Thoros.
He blinked at Beric’s whispered words, his ears almost missing them. But he knew what he said, and he knew what he meant and his mind immediately ran back to the k-
He managed a smile in reply to that, before saying, “ What do you plan to do about Jaime?”
"I’ll have him followed until I discover something worth using", he said with an as a matter of fact tone, it was obvious. "I suppose kidnapping him and forcing him to talk is out of the question". That would be the easiest option but even the Brotherhood with their technology and access to information was no match against the Lannisters’ resources, it was incredibly stupid how powerful that family was.
They needed to be stopped. Jaime Lannister. Tywin Lannister. The image of Tyrion came to his head, was he still protecting her?. Did it even matter anything to Beric anymore?, Her?. He wasn’t kin on owing anything to a Lannister and if he wanted to, he could just forget about the past, about everyone in it too.
His phone vibrated over the desk, the one used by the Brotherhood. He reached for it and held it there for a few seconds before smiling widely, “Looks like I won’t have to do anything at all, he’s delivered himself willingly”, he said aloud and then looked back up, “Jaime Lannister is being brought to Thames House for interrogation over the death of Aerys”.
He shrugged at that, silent. He didn’t like the thought of Cersei with Beric- even the mere idea of them, together. He could barely stand the image of Allyria with him-
He wasn’t jealous.
He straightened up and smiled some, “ She doesn’t seem the type to go for low life like pool boys though. She’s got a taste for the finer more powerful and useful things doesn’t she?,” Then his smile faded when he wondered what if-
What if the children were fathered by more important people?
That would be interesting.
“ Only if you want him killed,” He said simply, “ I meant only to have him watched. I can do that too for Tywin Lannister, though not much more than that or i’ll get into trouble with the higher ups- which means the Prime Minster too,” he made a face, “ And i don’t fancy a lecture,” Plus, Lannister security was too tricky for his agents. With money and political influence, he didn’t dare to risk any of his people getting ripped apart by a pride of lions. Or perhaps.. he could bait them…
And that was when Beric said the name Jaime.
And for a moment they were back at the Founder’s Arms, bouncing ideas off each other and saying what the other meant to say.
“ I’ll think on it,” He said, “ I’ll give you a call if i get an epiphany. I’ll have a couple of my agents scout ahead for us- there must be a way to bait the Old Lion into chasing after its favourite cub,”
He gave a laugh, “ Varys,”
“ If i kill varys, I’m going to have Arthur Dayne coming down and kicking my arse into the Thames. And i can’t hide from MI5 forever,” Especially since they have the best analyst in the country, he thought. Though it wouldn’t be a lie if he said that he never wanted to kill Varys.
He leant to one side of the chair, lounging slightly, feeling relaxed, “ Why? What questions has he been asking?”
He thought he saw something in Thoros’ eyes, a reluctance to even mention or think about the joke Beric had just made. For a moment he imagined jealousy, but he didn’t dare have that sort of hope; it was wrong, he told himself, and, stop thinking about it, about him.
He dropped his gaze and pressed his fingers against the skin of each opposite hand. An exercise to distract himself. He wondered if they were supposed to be talking about this or about what happened the other day, if Thoros even wanted to ignore it all. It would be like him, it was always Beric the one who had to pull him out of his fortress against emotions and force him to face his fears. Beric had always been the bolder, the one to take risks, the younger one.
Beric merely shrugged at Thoros’ hypothesis about Cersei, he didn’t intend to give much thought on that matter, at least not for now. He took a stray of hair behind his ear and nodded after considering their options, “Clegane”, he said, “I still think he would lead us to Tywin, otherwise it would be too dangerous to simply go for the old man”.
"Mostly about the Stadium", he replied thinking about the night when Varys forced him to confess and then to protect the faceless men. It was ridiculous, he thought, but the man had given him no other choice.
Any smirk that remained vanished, though his eyes softened. He supposed that for a moment, Beric Dondarrion, the man who he used to be, was sitting there, a simpler shadow of a past, “He scares me”, he confessed quietly, and he realised that it was the first time he had said so aloud, “I’m afraid of him, he knows who I am, he hates me for it and - he won’t hesitate to see me imprisoned or dead”, he paused without looking at Thoros, “What happened the other day… I lied, I don’t want to die”. He scratched the skin of his hand absently, a bad habit he had picked up long ago when he was anxious or fighting with the weakest part of his mind.
"I wish you could be with me all the time", he whispered with a shyness that didn’t quite suit him.
So he looked back up to Beric’s face, eye brow raised a fraction up his forehead, “ I suspected… They look nothing like Robert, and nothing like a Baratheon,” He commented thoughtfully, then he asked more out of curiosity than need, ” Who is their father then? Or fathers?”
“ Yeah i think you have made a passing mention about Gendry, was it?” He tilts his head in a solemn nod. A beat then passed and he gave a smile, “ Lets hope Old Robert used condoms, then. Or we may have a whole country who was fathered by him,”
He straightened when he felt that Beric was getting to the point of this issue and listened intently as he spoke. Blackmailing a Lannister? His mind thought, both aghast and exasperated. Beric, you can’t blackmail a Lannister, they will only twist around and rip your arm off. But he supposed that was what happened- or rather, what should have happened.
He returned the smile, grinning slightly and making a soft snort, “ You know i’m always up for a good hunt. Just tell me when, where and how,”
“ Gregor Clegane,” He said, “ I can set someone on him, if you want,”
He shrugged without much interest on the subject, “Fathers, knowing Cersei”, he remembered her face rather with reluctance, “I bet that if I had refused a bit longer to her requests a couple of months ago, she would have offered herself to me right in this office”. He laid back on the seat carelessly, “Forget about the father, it’s probably the pool boy”, unless he wasn’t, unless it happened to be - Oberyn Martell or even Stannis Baratheon, someone who mattered. He supposed he could flinch at his own thought. Not so long ago it was the people oppressed by these names those who mattered to Beric.
Beric blinked before looking up, curiously, at his… colleague. He smiled, it was a rather proud smile, in harmony to what he was feeling in that moment, “Are you offering to kill someone for me?”, he said, sincerely curious; perhaps he understood wrong yet - the thought of Thoros taking revenge for what they had done to Beric made him feel something twitch in his stomach. He couldn’t help but keep smiling. “Thank you but I can take care of him”, he said, albeit reluctantly.
"More importantly, we should be focusing on his boss", that made him grow slightly serious again, he still had nothing on Tywin, just on his daughter and the woman didn’t matter much to him. "Unless…", he said aloud more to himself than to Thoros, "She got her twin brother involved", he said, stating a fact, "If I could get Jaime, I’m sure Tywin would be more than interested in his son’s welfare".
He thought of kidnapping the man for a moment, but even to him, Lannister security was something above his own resources; he clenched his teeth together, if only they had proof - no, they had proof, but they couldn’t present it without revealing himself. It made his skin shiver in anger, that he couldn’t throw away this facade already. “I’ll figure it out”, he assured after a moment of silence. Then the smirk came back, “If you want to kill someone for me, why don’t you go for Varys? He’s way too nosy for my taste”, he remembered that night they came clean, how Beric could not pull the trigger when he had the chance. If only he had the opportunity back…. yes, he would take it.
He was the Chief of MI6, and as such, it was his duty to defend his country, and doing so required coordination with the MI5 and the Home Secretary’s office. Even more so with the latter. And with coordination must come communication and…
He supposed this reminded him of a girl in school, whom he had stolen an ice-cream from and are put in the same homework group the next day.
He let out a sigh, silent and careful, as he read the spines of Beric’s books. He had been allowed inside for five minutes now, and have been waiting since then. He knew this was a scheduled appointment, and Beric rarely came late for formal meetings. He pulled his sleeve up and saw a hand hit the 60th second and the door opened.
Just in time.
He took a breath and had his mask put on just as he saw Beric’s own mask. Cordial and polite, as was the boy’s nature- which made that kiss out of pl-
No, don’t get started on that again. It’s enough that he had been thinking about that all day-
No, i’m not going to admit that either.
He seated himself and leant back into the chair, “ You said you had business with the Lannisters,” He propped his elbows on the arm rests and put his hands together in a loose tangle, ” Mind enlightening me on the terms of this business so i can work in a little more light?”
"You are too early", Beric said nonchalantly, dropping onto his chair with little grace and crossing one leg over the other, "You know how much I hate being second place". Even when he was second place at everything and not just lately, it had been that way for years now. He was always one step behind his enemies and even when he wasn’t being the leader of the Anonymous Brotherhood, he remained as one of the Prime Minister’s lackeys. He laid back on his sit and sighed, closing his eyes, perhaps to maintain his obstinacy to make eye contact with the other.
"Cersei Lannister’s children are not Robert’s", he said after a moment before chuckling without warning, "Not that surprising at all, knowing the woman and the marriage, she does have a reputation", he decided to finally look at the other, a slight smirk on his face, "Did I tell you? One of our brothers is Robert’s illegitimate son, who knows how many of those he had", he paused, thinking of Gendry. He was the living image of Renly Baratheon, if only they could base assumptions on observations, they could easily find Robert’s children.
"But Robert is dead and useless to our objectives, meanwhile this revelation would certainly prove a blow at the Lannister’s public image, and their influence; if we can paint Cersei as the manipulative woman she is", her threats came to Beric’s memories, he was never afraid yet truth to be told, he had never been on the receiving end of Tywin Lannister’s roar. He couldn’t help but wonder, if his pride was not just getting on the way of his judgment but clouding his entire vision. "That’s what I told Cersei", he grew serious, if only slightly, yet fitting, considering the momentum; yet never letting Thoros interrupt him, "I thought that she would choose her children over her father, I tried to blackmail her into helping me get prove of Tywin’s dirty deals, I am sure he’s been using Gregor Clegane to do it, even… ordering murders", he whispered, not that differently from what I’ve been doing.
His attention focused on the edge of the desk, his head tilted. “She chose her father, I am sure… the Brotherhood is sure, that the attempt at my apartment was courtesy of her and her brother”, he brought back the smile painted with sarcasm, it was his defence, his masquerade. Yet there was a glow in his eyes. “I intend to go on a hunt now, an eye for an eye, fancy yourself a new lion coat?”.
He was disappointed on himself. The list of revelation, of acceptance of truths had come upon him hard and as sudden as lightning; after he realised that he had feelings for Thoros. Next, and after he forced his way out of the hospital, he finally came to terms with something as simple of the concept of regret; though he wasn’t sure about what exactly for. He had done too much in too little time, he had made so many mistakes and wronged so many people and entered different stages of denial and fake strength. He didn’t have time for regrets, that was what he told himself at one point, but now it seemed that, finally, he had no choice; he was tired of being strong and of putting excuses for himself.
And another truth was that hideous disappointment. Yes, he loved him and yes he was disappointed at himself for everything. Now, thankfully, he wasn’t afraid nor reluctant to face Thoros, when he didn’t deserve it, he could almost enjoy it. He wondered if that was another way of saying that he wanted to be with him no matter the reasons or the outlet. He hadn’t seen him since last time and he already missed him. In those past few days all Beric managed to figure out was that his life was a big mess and he could not even keep his fiance out of that decision wreckage.
He couldn’t break up with Allyria because he didn’t want to. And he was most certainly in love with Thoros. At the same time he couldn’t quit the Home Office because he needed the post and he was most certainly devoted to the Brotherhood; it made a nice parallel, after all. Even so, there were more important matters at hand, beside his adolescent emotions. The Brotherhood had intel of a call made to Gregor Clegane’s phone and after tracing it back to the origin, it ended up in the hands of non other than Jaime Lannister. And along with all of that, Clegane had been spotted near the area of Beric’s apartment at the time of the attack. But the only reason they had any of this information was because they already were onto Clegane in the first place, there was no logical way to deliver this information to authorities and just publish it for no reason would make it look suspicious, as if the Brotherhood had ties with the Home Secretary and from there, only a slight step in the right direction would lead them all to the truth.
In any case, he knew for sure that the Lannisters were behind it; something that quite frankly didn’t surprise him at all. Although, he supposed that the whole family knew of Cersei’s affairs, if she relied on her brother for the deed. Or perhaps she misled him with something else; in any case, he had been quite eager to get her out of trouble, even if that meant killing one of the Heads of State.
He only took a day out of work, though continuous headaches had been plaguing him since he left the hospital and his arm still hurt. In any case, he could count himself lucky, Gregor Clegane had tried to kill him and he escaped; that was quite an achievement, Beric thought bitterly. Upon arriving to the office, his secretary informed him of the Director of the MI6 already waiting inside. Of course, they had a formal meeting scheduled due today; to discuss official matters, or so they said.
That didn’t prevent the slight shake in his hands or the way he involuntarily licked his lips before opening the door. He sighed when he saw the back of Thoros’ head. They would need to talk about it all, he knew. About everything. He reached the other side of his desk and gathered all his courage to look at him in the eyes, “So, Director… shall we begin?”, he said, using his sarcastic tone and accompanying smile as a shield.
How did this kid ever get so much emotional influence over him? He was trained to be guarded, and he was taught by experience to never let anyone in, and here he was, with Beric holding the strings to his emotions- to his heart.
But hell if he was going to let Beric know that he had been upset by him.
So he maintained his smile, now faded to a blank curve to fit the situation, “ Rest, Home Secretary,” He said, voice flat before he stepped back and turned to leave.
A few steps down the hall and the kiss returned to him again.
No, Beric was just knocked in the head. He didn’t mean anything he said, he didn’t mean that kiss.
That was what his brain told him.
But he could feel the thing it his chest race and hope that it was true.
That it was all true.
Again that tone of voice that made Beric’s stomach turn inside more viciously than Thoros pinning him against the wall as he did last time they saw each other. He didn’t like when Thoros called him by his title, ‘Home Secretary’ sounded foreign on the other’s lips. Beric didn’t turn to see him; he scratched the covers of his pillow with the edge of his fingers, calling upon absentmindedness as a shield for what had just happened. He didn’t even know if he regretted it, he didn’t truly want to think things through, it wasn’t like him but he knew that once he accepted the consequences of his acts and the repercussions; he wouldn’t be able to look back.
And he would feel the merciless guilt, he didn’t even dare to allow his inner voice to pronounced the name of Allyria, he knew he didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t just the kiss, it was everything from the thoughts he was having regarding the Director to the flush on his cheeks, the wish to kiss him again. It was impatience and revelation come undone. The revelation of what love was.
'I love Allyria', he told himself silently. 'But-', he bit his lower lip as he heard the other reach for the door, “I won't keep anything from you anymore”, he said softly, willing, “I won't keep secrets, see how long you last”, he muttered though he knew Thoros was too strong and too stubborn and too firm in his decisions. He would last as long as he needed to last; as long as Beric needed him.
And Beric needed him, desperately.
He heard the door close and sighed; half in relief, half in desolation. He felt safe with Thoros around even if right now wasn’t the best of times to succumb to his needs; Beric needed time to figure out - everything. Or to run away, that had always been an option. Or perhaps he was fooling himself yet again, like he was when he proposed to Allyria.