A/N: I don't know where this came from. It just showed up, and wouldn't go away, kind of a post-ep for the finale. I love this show and these two together, and I think they could use more fics, so… I don't really know where it's going, so if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

07/12: So this story wouldn't leave me alone, and I've decided to rework it as a multi-chap. I wasn't happy with it, as my muse just up and left this story, but I like it a little better now. :)

Author: Lori51

Rating: T

Disclaimer: Characters and songs are not mine.

Category: Carrie/Al


Summary: Carrie and Al try to figure out where to go from here. Post-ep for "The Man in the Woods."

Al drove. He felt the smile begin to spread its way across his face without his permission. He didn't dare move, didn't dare look over at her in the passenger's seat, barely dared to breathe. He couldn't have in his wildest dreams imagined that he could possibly be here again, no, not there, where they'd been in the past, but here now, with a much better understanding of who each other was, where they were and where they were going. It had been so long, so long, that they had been apart, and he imagined that both of them now realized the value of what they had had, and what they could have again. Together. He knew he did. He had never stopped loving her, not for one day, not for one moment, and he knew now what she needed from him. It wasn't too much. It would never be too much for him. He would always be there for her in whatever capacity she would allow, but here, with her, with the feeling that they were finally together again was exactly where he wanted to be.

He listened to her slow and even breathing, knowing her mind was taking her to place after place she didn't want to go back to, and knowing there wasn't a damn thing he could do to help her with that. But he would be here for her, always. He felt her hand cover his on his thigh, and he looked over with what he hoped was a gentle smile, not betraying a hint of the giddy joy rushing through his bloodstream right now. They rode like that for a while, not moving, not speaking, and finally he moved his fingers just enough to intertwine them with hers. He looked over at her again, calmly, much calmer than he felt right now, and this time she met his eyes, and in them he saw the guarded presence of the echo of the utter bliss that he was feeling right now. A hint of a smile in her eyes now, she lifted her right hand to the radio dial and flicked it on.

Instantly sound filled the car. He almost laughed out loud. Every time he heard this song he thought of her. Hell, every time he heard any song he thought of her. The happy ones applied to the way they had been together. The sad ones fit the years they had been apart.

Picture perfect memories, scattered all around the floor

Reaching for the phone 'cause I can't fight it anymore

And I wonder if I ever cross your mind

For me it happens all the time

He smiled fondly, thinking of all the times he had heard it and thought of her, knowing that what he felt was a fraction of what she did, because she had the gift—or the curse—of replaying any memory of the two of them together at any point in time at will. Sometimes he wished he could do the same, and then he didn't, because he knew it came with a price. Hindsight was truly twenty-twenty, but Carrie had to look at every mistake she had ever made and feel its burn again and again. He had hoped that she regretted what had happened with the two of them, so many times, because he did, because he had missed her so much every single day. Also, he didn't, because he loved her still, and he had hoped, for those many years he had had no idea where she was, that wherever she was, she was happy and loved.

It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone and I need you now

Said I wouldn't call but I lost all control and I need you now

And I don't know how I can do without, I just need you now

So many times he had wanted to pick up the phone and call her, just to know she was okay. So many times he had wanted to search for her, to find her, to hunt her down with demands and ultimatums that he had no hope of living up to. She was a part of him, and her absence had never changed that fact. She was a part of his soul, and he felt that he could breathe again now, just as he'd felt the night of the case at her apartment building, when he'd seen her again, after so many years. Like he was whole again.

Another shot of whiskey, can't stop looking at the door

Wishing you'd come sweeping in the way you did before

And I wonder if I ever cross your mind

For me it happens all the time

Images of the night before rolled through his mind, re-igniting his smile even as they heated his blood. The first time had been frantic, frenzied, hungry and wild. He hadn't been able to find most of the buttons of the shirt she'd ripped off of him. She had looked at it ruefully this morning. "I really liked this one on you," she'd said, with a little frown, and he'd kissed her. "Guess you'll have to fix it, then," he'd told her with a grin. He could care less about his shirt. The second time had been… just as hot, hungry and wild. It was like they had so much time to make up for, too much time, and the urgency had nearly overpowered them both. They couldn't get enough of each other. After that, it had been slow and sweet and full of love. They had always had love. That had never been their problem. And then they had come together again, with all the trust and all the knowledge that those long lonely years had given them both. It had never been this good with anyone else. They both knew that now. They both knew what they wanted. It was perfect. They hadn't talked about it, but he was hoping that last night was a new beginning for both of them, because today he felt that the world had changed in some very fundamental way, that started and ended with her, and he never wanted to go back.

The next song started, and Carrie almost groaned. Al was as silent as she was, and she was sure he was as lost in his own memories as she was.

There's a fire starting in my heart, reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark

Finally, I can see you crystal clear. Go ahead and sell me out and I'll lay your ship bare.

See how I leave, with every piece of you. Don't underestimate the things that I will do.

There's a fire starting in my heart, reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark.

The scars of your love remind me of us. They keep me thinking that we almost had it all.

The scars of your love, they leave me breathless. I can't help feeling…

We could have had it all

Rolling in the deep

You had my heart inside of your hand

And you played it to the beat

They had had it all. And she was the one to throw it away. It didn't make it any easier. She couldn't have asked for more than Al Burns. He was so easy to love. He was such a Boy Scout, such a stickler for the rules, and yet he understood her, and he accepted her the way she was. He accepted her need to bend the rules sometimes, to go her own way. He didn't always like it, but she knew that he worried for her more than anything else. He was afraid she would get herself killed, and he was afraid she would go too far.

None of those fears were unfounded. She did go too far, lots of times. Luckily for her, she had Al in her corner again, watching her back. He was always there for her, as much as she allowed him to be. He didn't judge her, didn't placate her, didn't lie to her. He had never let her down. Even before, with her sister's case, she knew that he was trying to look out for her best interests the only way he knew how. Even when he infuriated her, the way he loved her and wanted to protect her above all else had always shone through. He always put her first. She wished she could say the same about him. He was the most honorable man she had ever known. She had never trusted anyone the way she trusted him. She wasn't good enough for him. She knew that as surely now as she always had. But now it didn't seem to matter like it once had. If he hadn't figured it out by now, she figured, what the hell.

It had been such a shock that night, at her apartment building, to see him there. The years had rolled away like they had never existed in the first place. And then she was back at work before she even realized he had talked her into it, and it was just like it used to be. They worked seamlessly together, always had. It had been beyond hard to see him with someone else. It hadn't seemed right to her. But she had known it was her own fault. He hadn't left her. She had left him. She hadn't been able to commit to him, to them. He had never had that problem. He had always been sure of her, sure of them, and had always been able to show it. She was the one who had faltered, and lost him. Knowing it didn't make it any easier to see him with Elaine. It had made her gut sick for a while. And then she realized that at least she had him at work. He was her best friend; she could talk to him about anything. It was a gift to have that back.

She watched him covertly while he drove, silent, steady, confident. He did everything like that, and it made him a wonder to her. It seemed like she second-guessed everything she did, but not Al. He was sure. Reliable. A rock. Her rock. He must have felt her eyes on him, because he turned to her with a small smile on his face. "You okay?" he asked, squeezing her fingers lightly. She nodded. "Yeah." It was barely a whisper, because everything was crashing down on her at once and she had lost all of her faculties of reason. She had missed him so much, so much. And while it had been good to work with him again, to see him every day and fall back into that rhythm, she had missed this too, being with him like this. The radio caught her attention again, and it was all she could do not to reach over and slap it to shut it off. She didn't know how much more of this she could take.

I'm so tired of being here, suppressed by all my childish fears

And if you have to leave, I wish that you would just leave

Your presence still lingers here, and it won't leave me alone

These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just too real

There's just too much that time will not erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears

When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears

And I held your hand through all of these years

But you still have all of me

You used to captivate me by your resonating light

Now I'm bound by the life you left behind

Your face it haunts my once pleasant dreams

Your voice it chased away all the sanity in me

These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just too real

There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all your tears

When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears

And I held your hand through all of these years

But you still have all of me

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone

But though you're still with me I've been alone all along

And I held your hand through all of these years

But you still have all of me

Carrie huffed out a laugh and looked over at Al through the tears in her eyes. "I think it's a conspiracy. Every damn song sounds like it was written about our lives."

He just looked at her. "Every song was written about our lives."

That made her laugh. "Well, then our lives are pretty damn depressing. I should have brought my iPod. Or a bottle of vodka."

"They were pretty damn depressing. They're looking up now."

Carrie looked into his eyes, so warm and blue and gentle, and that was so Al. Never reproaching, never accusing. Just there. Supporting her the way he always had. Why had she never seen it until now? She wished they would hurry up and get to the airport. She was suddenly in a hurry to get home and be alone with this man. Why had she waited so long? She wanted to kiss him, touch him, fall asleep in his arms again. Waking up this morning had been fantastic. She wanted to do it again as soon as possible.

God, it was like no time had passed and she was instantly addicted to him all over again. It made her wonder how she had managed to stay away from him all these years, especially once they'd found each other again. She couldn't bear it now. She thought she never would again. She realized he had looked back at the road out of necessity, and a slow smile spread its way across her face without conscious thought. "Yeah," she said as the smile reached her eyes. "They certainly are." He looked back at her, as if reading the direction of her thoughts, and smiled one of those genuine Al smiles that made her heart do a slow somersault in her chest. Damn that man. Just… damn. He had her. And the mischief in his eyes told her that he knew it, too. He looked entirely too pleased with himself. And she was okay with that.


"Need You Now," Lady Antebellum

"Rolling in the Deep," Adele

"My Immortal," Evanescence