Disclaimer - I do not own Homeland. That pleasure belongs to Showtime. No copyright infringement or money making scheme intended. This is purely for reading enjoyment.
A/N an end of S4 fic. Multi chapter. Something that would not leave me alone. Likely to have nothing in common with the actual end of S4. I have not given up on TLG or F & S. Currently have a bit of WB with them, but will get back to them.
Carrie hesitates, unsure of her place and afraid. Frozen in the doorway as her dad suddenly has a fit of coughing that sounds painful. Maggie tends to him while Ruby has her arm around Josie. They are both of them in tears. Her dad ceases coughing, but still she can't move. He is dying.
"Am I really that bad to look at now? I mean I know I'm fucked, but I did rather think I was still handsome."
"Grandpa!", Ruby protests as she tightens her grip on Josie who sobs harder.
Carrie is caught off guard by her father having noticed her. Maggie does not say anything, but her eyes say it all for her. Her silence is merely to save an argument in front of dad.
Carrie finds the courage to walk into the room. She tries to hug Josie who looks how she is feeling. Completely distraught. But Josie pushes her away, a feral look in her eyes that makes Carrie shirk back from her, "I don't want you. We don't need you."
"Josie!", Maggie scolds her.
But Josie is not listening. She stands up, facing Carrie, tears streaming down her face and fists clenched. She is furious. "We need Grandpa, not you! I hate you!" Her sobbing becomes more pronounced as she runs out of the room.
"I'll go sit with her", Ruby says quickly. She meets Carrie's eyes only briefly, but does not seek comfort from her and turns her back and follows her sister.
Carrie remains frozen in place.
"Well, I don't know what you expected", Maggie's harsh tone jolting Carrie back to the present.
"Maggie!", Frank's warning tone is enough to prevent her expanding on her feelings for the moment.
Carrie feels rattled and taken by surprise. The news she had received over the phone that her dad is dying had seemed unbelievable to her. Not her dad. Not now. She hadn't been able to leave Islamabad and come home right away. This time genuinely, but she doubted whether Maggie could or would believe that. She is here now though and standing in a room where she would lose yet another person she loves and yet again there is nothing to be done to save him.
Looking up, she finds that Maggie has left the room. It is just her and dad.
"You should be in hospital, dad." She could think of nothing else to say to him.
"Should I hell. I'm going, so I'll go in the comfort of my own bed. Not some ward stinking of someone else's piss."
"They could keep you alive longer."
"Ha. According to those Doctors, I should have been dead a fortnight ago..."
Carrie feels numb at these words.
"But I told them I'd fucking go when I'm good and ready to."
"Why didn't you tell me you were ill the last time we spoke? Why didn't you tell me the Doctors had given you a timescale to live? Dad, two weeks ago I was still in Islamabad."
"I didn't want to worry you. There was nothing you could do. Besides, it wasn't just the Doctors I told I'd go when I was ready. It was the big man upstairs as well."
"Dad!" Carrie usually appreciated her dad's attempts to lighten the mood, but not now.
"What you do is important, sweetie. I didn't want you worried about and distracted by something you couldn't change."
Carrie sits in shocked silence thinking for a moment before she manages to whisper out, "but you're important too, dad. It feels to her like she had somehow forgotten that and the realisation hit her like a ton of bricks just as she is going to lose him.
"That is just stating the obvious, sweetie."
Carrie cannot laugh or smile as he wants her to.
"Come here. Come hold your old man's hand."
Carrie hesitates, but another coughing fit overtakes him and she moves without thinking. She holds his hand tight throughout it and helps him take a drink of water.
He squeezes tight on her hand and pulls her head to his chest, "last time we spoke you said you had to talk to me about something. Now you can tell me what's wrong."
"What? Never mind that now dad", Carrie replies agitated. "Let's focus on you."
Frank sighs, "Me? I'm your dad. It's my job to listen to your worries sweetie and I know it is hard to hear, not something you want to hear, but I'm dying. So fuck me. You have something to share with me. I saw it in your eyes last time we spoke. God bless Skype. I saw that the only thing stopping you from pulling your hair out was knowing you would be coming home to see me soon. See? I know how important I am."
This time Carrie couldn't help the chuckle that escapes her lips, even as the tears form in her eyes. He is right. She has been desperate to speak to him.
"I…I…did you miss mom?", Carrie rushes the words out. Their mother was a sore subject particularly with Maggie. They always avoided it.
"I still do", Frank whispers in return.
Carrie lifts her head off his chest to meet his eyes. She doesn't know what to say. Her father's only words about their mother, since the day she left had been angry and spiteful.
"Managed to shock the spy, have I? Well that's something."
"Intelligence Officer, dad."
Carrie shakes her head in resignation.
"They say hope is a good thing. I guess it can be. It can also be cruel. I hoped for a long time your mother would come back. She broke my heart."
Carrie squeezes his hand in comfort.
"So, sweetie, how are we going to help you heal your broken heart, huh?"
"Always could see through me couldn't you?", Carrie sniffles.
It was her dad's turn to squeeze her hand, encouraging her to push the walls down and giving her strength to scale over them.
"I don't know what to do. I don't know what the right thing to do is and I'm scared. I don't know what I want anymore. I miss him and it's my fault. It's my fault he's dead." Carrie lets out a deep breath, trying not to lose it completely. This is why she loved him. He did not contradict her feelings where others would.
"There was an incident with my meds in Islamabad. I thought I was seeing him…I wanted it to be him."
Her dad reaches out a shaky hand to wipe the tears on her cheek.
"I can understand that."
Carrie holds on to her dad's hand for dear life.
"She looks so much like him. She's all him. He's all I see when I look at her. She is a reminder of what I have done. I don't know if I can live with that. I don't know if I want to. Does…does that make me a bad person?", Carrie asks whispering, afraid of the answer. He had been so angry at her mother leaving them, but she feared disappointing him more than his anger. When she was a child his disappointment always got to her more than any shouting ever could.
"No. It makes you human."
Silence falls between them as Carrie lays her head back on her dad's chest again, marvelling at how he sees her. She's pretty sure Maggie doesn't see her as human.
"You want a fresh angle?", Frank asks, stroking Carrie's hair.
"What do you mean?"
"She's all him. That's what you said."
"Except she's not just all him and it might help you if you realise that she's yours too. That little girl is a good thing you both did together. She looks like him, but her temper tantrums? Those she definitely got from you. I should know. Make no mistake she is a Mathison as well."
"You thi…", Carrie stops, realising what her dad just said. "Hey!", she answers indignantly.
Her dad laughs, "oh, you know it's true." Frank pulls Carrie's face up to his level and becoming serious, he pronounces every word, "I need you to listen to me. I get that you're afraid because he's not here and she reminds you of him. You're thinking about the future and how you explain to her. You're holding on to the past because that's where he is."
"I'm confused. I ran away, dad. I pushed everything down and focused on my work and…people got hurt…people got killed. I don't know if I should be doing my job anymore, but I don't know that I can be a mother either."
"There's good gut and bad gut. Just promise me that you will take your time to figure it out on your own. As much as you need. Don't let Maggie or anyone else tell you what to do."
"I will", Carrie answers firmly, squeezing her dad's hand again as he continues, "we love, we lose and we grieve but more importantly we move on when we are ready. There is nothing worse than someone telling you to move on because it suits them."
Carrie nods her head in agreement with this. They fall silent, her dad stroking her hair and their hands still joined. With her head on his chest, Carrie can hear her father's numbered heartbeats. The sound lulls her into sleep.