Word Count: 2,541
Spoilers: Through "Q&A"
Summary: "It was always going to come to this. Guess they just needed to break first."
She fucks him. Again.
She thinks she might be losing her mind. Again.
He shows up at her place without warning. Not part of the plan, but she’ll let it slide.
“I’m being followed,” he growls after she closes the door behind him.
“Hello to you, too.” Carrie tosses aside the dishrag – didn’t feel like cleaning anyway – and crosses her arms. “That’s Virgil. You met him. He’s part of the team watching your back.”
“It wasn’t Virgil. Someone else. One of Nazir’s guys.” Brody actually starts pacing.
“Yes, it was Virgil. He’d notice if –”
“Don’t fucking patronize me, Carrie. You think I wouldn’t know if someone was tailing me?”
She stands her ground. Her house. Her territory. “Give us some credit. We know how to do our goddamned jobs.”
His cough of disbelief gets her even more riled up. “Nice try.”
“We got you, didn’t we?”
That gets him. His fist curls then releases. A thousand other things she could say to him right now – put him in his precious place – but she’s not going to engage. There’s a newly-filled prescription bottle in her bathroom cabinet, and she’s going to be the level one here for a change. “Look, I know you’re freaked out. I get it. But keep it together. Don’t do something stupid.”
Then he does the stupidest thing possible. One step, and another, backing her into the kitchen. He kisses her, all teeth and tongue and want. Yeah, there’s that stupid voice in her head saying no, bad idea, abort, but she’s good at ignoring it. It’s him and he’s here, and, god help her, she engages.
Blood pounds in her ears, clouds her eyes. So good, so fucking good. Her shirt atop his on the floor. He fastens his mouth to her jugular. Gonna leave a mark to match all the others he’s seared on her. She’d forgotten the way his skin felt, smoothed over his muscles. Sense memory takes over. He’s there, fingers yanking down her pants then pressing hard on her clit. Hard as the counter digging into her back, but it’s all so fucking good. Then he’s inside. Filling her. Breath hot on her neck as he whispers “Carrie.”
She bites her lip and hangs on for the ride.
It’s over too soon, but he still gets her off. She holds on, careful not to leave nail marks on his back. Closes her eyes and braces for the fallout. Instead, he turns her chin with a finger and kisses her slowly. Brody’s hand reaches for hers and tangles their fingers together. When he murmurs her name again, she wants to cry.
It was always going to come to this. Guess they just needed to break first.
Of course it happens again.
She’s technically no longer unemployed, though the “Special Projects Consultant” title feels like a slap. Then again, it pays a hell of a lot better than federal government scale, enough to cover her medication since she doesn’t have insurance anymore. Whatever. She’s okay. She’ll survive. Maybe.
Only problem is that handling Brody isn’t full-time work. Leaves too much time spent in her head. So she spends the day on errands: car wash, grocery store, firing range to work off some energy. When the phone rings, she’s in line at the DMV because she forgot to renew in time. She taps on the phone and hears, “I miss you.”
That isn’t supposed to make her smile, right?
“Yeah, okay. What time?”
“I can get away at 4:30.”
The rest of the afternoon flies by. She calls the salon to see if they can take a walk-in for waxing. Once she’s home, it’s hard to resist the temptation to get dressed up and put on some music, but she’s not going to set herself up for a crash like the other two times.
He arrives a few minutes early. She catches him glancing at the kitchen before he takes a stiff-backed seat on her sofa. The Hill-appropriate suit and tie make him seem almost alien. He starts before she’s finished pouring him a glass of water.
“Roya Hammad will be in Syria next week for a meeting with Nazir. She says she may be bringing an operative back with her.”
“An operative? For what?”
“I don’t know!” he barks.
Carrie locks her muscles, holds her breath. Before she can remind him that this was his choice – as if he had a better option – he closes his eyes and scrubs at his face with his fists. “Sorry, rough day.” A beat. “I don’t know what he’s coming her for, but it probably means they’re moving into the pre-operational phase. She told me that if this guy gets through customs, I should be prepared to meet with him. The signal will be them announcing their engagement on her work blog.”
“These people – they’re all clever.”
She gives a huff of laughter to put him at ease. Doesn’t seem to work. “Any theory as to what your role might be in this scenario?”
“Sorry, Carrie. I really don’t have any idea.”
“Okay.” She walks over to the desk. “Can you wait a few minutes while I document this? Or do you need to be somewhere?”
“I can wait.”
As she types, she watches him over the laptop screen. Eyes closed, he stays absolutely still. When she prints out the finished dossier and hands it out for him, he snaps to attention, nearly knocking over his water on the table.
Three sorrys in less than an hour – will wonders never cease? She sits next to him on the sofa, for the sake of efficiency. Back straight, legs crossed, a model of professionalism. But Brody seems to sag into the sofa while he reads.
He finally hands it back over and nods his approval. She frowns. “Is everything okay?”
He opens his mouth then closes it. “Just been a hard day.” Another pause, and she wonders what he wants from her right now. Then he says, “I made an appointment with a therapist who specializes in ex-military. She’s coming to my office on Thursday. House calls – one of the perks of being in Congress.”
That earns her a faint smile which she returns.
“I should –”
She stands to lead him to the door, but he catches her by the waist and kisses her. Slow and deep. Of course she should push him away. Of course she doesn’t.
Twenty minutes later, they’re upstairs in her bed. He’s buried deep inside her as she straddles him. She watches the dim light flicker across his face while his hands slide over her breasts. Her whole body is buzzing from him, with him. She leans down and rolls them over, clutching his back to pull him closer, closer. He holds her gaze as she starts to come -- so good, yes, so fucking good -- and once she’s lucid again, he’s still staring down at her. When he comes, she does the same.
She holds on tight. He should go, be home in time for dinner with the family. She may not have much of a life, but he does. She can’t live in this moment. But he stays there, holding her as the windows darken.
“You saved me,” he finally whispers.
Carrie blinks. “You too.”
The phone wakes her up. Past midnight. Can’t be good. Her brain snaps to attention as she accepts the call. “What happened?”
A full five seconds of silence, punctuated by the low sough of his breathing. She waits.
“What you said at that table –” Another breath. “Did you mean it?”
She knows what this is. She still tastes the words – salty, metallic – on her tongue. Easier to lie, to remind him that this fucked-up thing they’re mired in is just about getting off, working out demons, whatever. But what’s the point? She knows what she feels. He knows it too, or he wouldn’t be asking with this hollow, sober voice at two in the morning. So she tells him, “Yeah, I meant it.”
Yet another long silence. Can’t read him over the phone, and she hates it. Or maybe that’s a good thing.
“I –” She hears him swallow. “Carrie –”
She holds her breath. She hates what this does to her. She can’t stop.
And finally all he says is “Thank you.”
The line dies.
Of course her mind takes off on a fantasia of what it all meant. She knows full well that, even setting aside the job, she has no right to expect any more than him fucking her and an occasional polite word. Not when right now he’s probably a closed door away from his wife and kids. But shit, he gets under her skin in the worst ways, and she knows – she knows – that he feels –
She tosses the phone on the rug. Shakes a melatonin tablet out of the bottle and bites hard to quiet her mind. Starts counting down from 100, duvet pulled up to her chin. But she can still smell him on her sheets.
Sunday lunch with Dad, Maggie, and the kids. They’ve made a valiant effort to keep her garden alive, and the pasta is delicious. They all head into the living room to watch the game, and she laughs as Dad tries to school a very bored Josie on the Redskins’ defensive line.
“Carrie? Come help me make some more popcorn.”
She raises an eyebrow at Maggie. “Help? It’s a one-person job. Just press a button on the microwave.”
That earns her one of Maggie’s trademarked Pointed Looks, so Carrie groans and follows her into the kitchen.
“How’s it going?”
She smirks. “Everything’s fine. The leaves are changing, and I’m feeling pretty damn good about the Skins this season.”
Maggie crosses her arms. “You know what I mean.”
Great. She buys some time by pouring a glass of iced tea, wishing it were Riesling. “I’m fine. Really. I’m eating well and getting plenty of sleep. Saul has me consulting on a case, which is going well.”
“Is it really a good idea to go back there? I thought you were going to re-up your contract at the community college.”
How is she supposed to explain Brody when it’s a matter of national security? Hell, just mentioning his name will just set Maggie off again. Carrie understands. Her sister wants what’s best. She just doesn’t understand that being back at work – being right – is what’s best. It’s already saved her once.
So she smiles and puts her hand on her sister’s shoulder. “That big problem at work is not a problem anymore. In fact, everything’s great. Perfect, even.”
Maggie just stares at her for a long time before pulling her into a hug. They embrace for a few minutes while the kids cheer a touchdown in the other room. “I just worry about you, Carrie. That’s my job.”
Before they head back into the living room, Maggie says in an offhand tone that Carrie sees straight through, “Would you mind if I called Saul to see what he thinks about all this?”
Carrie bites her lip. No point in arguing. She knows Saul has her back again. “Sure, go ahead.”
Dad smiles as she curls up on the sofa. Another round of playing happy, normal families.
Saul calls on Friday night, tells her to come over to one of those extended stay hotels in Falls Church. When he opens the door, he quips, “Hope I didn’t interrupt any big weekend plans.” Carrie just rolls her eyes.
Then she sees Brody sitting on the cheap sofa. His feet are bare. She blinks.
“Brody needed a place to –”
“Jess kicked me out, for good this time,” Brody interrupts. He raises an eyebrow. “And no, Carrie, it wasn’t because of you.”
She flinches, shoves her hands into her jeans pockets. Swallows hard.
He continues, “Just too many things I couldn’t tell her.” He and Saul share an old-married-guy look.
Back to business. “Why the hotel?”
“This is the easiest way for him to maintain his cover,” Saul explains, taking a seat on the other end of the sofa. “Staying with one of us would raise too many questions. Too dangerous.”
Yeah, you two played house once, and look how that turned out.
She’s supposed to be glad. This does make the cover easier to maintain. This makes him easier. It’s a good thing.
She stares at his bare feet.
“I still love you.”
The dam burst at that table last month. Now she can’t stop saying it. We have a briefing at 1800. I love you – or – Abu Nazir’s men breeched our safehouse in Benghazi. Love you. Oh, not like that. She’s only said it aloud a handful of times, all in private. But it’s always there. Sitting opposite him at a briefing, listening to him over comms in Virgil’s van, watching him in a hearing on C-Span. It’s unhealthy and pointless and embarrassing, and she cannot stop.
“You do.” He says it as a fact now, not a question. “Why?”
She stares at him across the pillow, so close that she feels his breath on her nose. His heart-shaped face shines with sweat. She reaches up to trace one slick eyebrow.
“Because I know you.”
When she finally sees reason, it’s so ridiculous that she’d laugh if it didn’t cut her to the bone.
They wait for the briefing to begin – an actual Langley briefing, the kind that a sitting Congressman would feasibly attend. Too much silence, so she blurts out, “Tomorrow’s Halloween. Got any plans?”
Brody sits back and shrugs. “I’m supposed to go over to the house. We’ll probably just open the door and give out candy.”
“Yeah, I guess your kids are too old for trick-or-treating.”
“Yeah.” He’s quiet for a moment, then his voice gets nostalgic. “Last time I took them out, Chris was barely out of diapers, and Dana was six. She wanted to wear a black cat costume.” He shakes his head. A low chuckle. “She tried to get me to dress up as a pumpkin. I was shipping out in a few weeks. Should’ve done it for her.”
Carrie doesn’t need this maudlin, war-is-hell Brody right now. Redirect him. “Why a pumpkin?”
He gives her a sidelong look and points at his hair.
A beat, then they’re both laughing so loudly that Estes’ secretary gapes at them. It rolls through her, from her belly up to her chest, sloughing away something she’d forgotten was there. God, it feels good.
His face is flushed. The corners of his eyes are creased, and they actually sparkle. So good and new – well, new since the cabin. And then the punch to her gut.
This is as far as it goes. This is as far as it will ever go. He’s never going to spend Halloween with her or go out on a date. He’s nice now – and nicest when they’re in bed – but someday the other shoe is gonna drop. No matter how much medication she takes, no matter how many times she makes love to him, he’s still going to hurt her in the end. And she’s not going to make it out of this alive.