Title: Her Prisoner
Pairings: Carrie/Brody. Minor Brody/Jessica.
Word Count: 5,250
Warnings: Occasional curse words, significantly damaged mental state, infidelity, some mild injuries.
Synopsis: He's her prisoner in this room and his room and in his head because she's the only one with the power to free him.
He can't even look at her when she asks him about the cabin.
Come on, Brody. Look me in the eye and tell me you felt nothing up in that cabin.
He stares at a spot on the wall, though instead of blank, non-descript concrete, he sees the way she looked at him when they stood in front of the fire, before she bent her head to his chest and kissed all the evil out of the scars that clung to his skin like Abu Nazir's personal leeches.
He doesn't know how to lie to her about this – the bomb? The war? The sleeper operatives? Sure. How he feels about her? Not so much.
Instead he tells her the only truth he's sure of right now.
I'm sorry I hurt you.
He means it.
He doesn't think she'll believe him, not even a little.
The more she says to him, the closer she gets to the truth (although whether we're talking about the truth about whether or not he's working for Abu Nazir, or the truth about them is anybody's guess by now) the more the defensive part of him that was horrified to discover her theories about him starts to question if that's all this is. If maybe she was playing him then, and she's playing him now. He can't let himself hope there's a way out of any of this. That's not how it works. He's her prisoner. He's her prisoner in this room and in his room and in his head because she's the only one with the power to free him.
She laughs at him, though only a little, when he tells her her plan won't work.
He wonders why. He's sure as hell not laughing.
He has absolutely no idea what she's doing when she walks away after giving him the water and starts turning the cameras off. He'll later admit to her that it crossed his mind for a second that she might take the knife the other guy stabbed him in the hand with and stab him somewhere more poetic.
Like maybe his heart.
He remembers reading somewhere that murder is the ultimate crime of passion.
Alone at last.
She smiles, just a little, and he can't help but smile back, passing fears of her taking her (at least reasonably justified) revenge on him with a switchblade disappearing almost as fast as they arrived.
He wishes they could be alone, like she says, really alone though. Just the two of them, to have a real, honest conversation without a table and two sets of shackles between them.
Then she takes off his handcuffs and it crosses his mind that maybe she is crazy after all.
Maybe she trusts him.
Maybe that frightens him - he's not altogether sure he trusts himself.
She doesn't look scared, although maybe he should take that as a mini victory. He doesn't want her to be scared of him.
Her voice changes after all the cameras are off. She sounds more like herself and he feels safer immediately.
It's the lies that undo us. It's the lies we think we need to survive.
He is dimly aware of anxiety rearing its head when she says that.
There are just so many lies now – which of them is she referring to? Which one will he trip over in his haste, running for the nearest exit? Which one will be his great downfall?
She knows he's lying when he says he never wore a bomb and they both know it. She calls him on it, too.
See? You're drowning in lies! I'm surprised you can even keep them straight anymore.
Then she starts listing places he's killed people. A marketplace. A train. A department store.
Does it make him niave to not have known about the incidents she described? Does it make him niave to feel betrayed? What do any of those places have to do with waging war against evil-doers and infidels? What good does it do to kill innocent people in the name of a cause no one really understands? What kind of a man does it make you to go along with, be part of, and execute these crimes?
Not a man at all. Not a man, but a monster.
Her words from earlier echo through his mind. Are you a monster, Brody? Are you sure?
If their entire conversation has been chipping away at his walls, his resolve, his certainty, when she calls Walden a murderer, a monster, cracks start to appear. Barely noticeable to anyone who looked at him, but just big enough that sunlight starts to trickle through.
Which is sort of ironic considering he's multiple stories underground.
And he can honestly say, he was caught completely off guard by her leave your wife confession.
Not much surprises him these days.
Scares him? Yes. Angers him? Of course. Surprises him? Not so much.
He wishes he though she was lying, or joking, or working an angle.
But, like it or not, he knows her. He knows she is, in fact, being honest with him.
She gets to be honest – what a wonderful luxury for her.
There, I said it. I'm still alive.
So alive, so alive, so alive.
I love you.
The words rattle around his mind like long lost lose change.
He could say them, if he wanted. It would be easy. Easier than not saying them, at least.
He knows he won't though. Not today. Not- not here, in a bunker miles beneath the CIA while she interrogates him. If that's even what this can be called by this stage.
The cameras are off.
It's just them.
He could say them, if he wanted. It would change everything. It would be admitting that almost everything he's done since returning home from Iraq had been for nothing. For nothing but a psychopathic old man who kills people to make a point he's never cared to explain. For nothing but a man who, he is starting to realise, had him tortured, beaten, starved and broken for five years, just so he could step in and play the hero. So he could make him feel like he owed him a debt.
The payment for that debt, of course being his own life.
Nothing but small change, right?
One human life, made payable to the 'great' Abu Nazir. No 'IOU's or Travellers Cheques accepted.
He almost smiles when she tells him it feels good to tell the truth.
He could tell her, if he wanted. It would change everything. It's not like she doesn't deserve the truth, she deserves the whole, complete truth.
Then she suggests he try it and his throat closes up again.
He can't say it. Not now. Not when things are becoming sickeningly, horrifyingly clear.
But she looks at him with so much trust, and so much love as she promises him he's a good man, that a great chunk of the wall cracks and crumbles at his feet. It's not enough. It's barely anything at all, in fact. But it's something. It's a start, a step.
How can she still think that? After everything he's done, after everything he's put her through since that first day they met, how can she still look him in the eyes and tell him with complete conviction that he's a good man? He stares at her in shock, surprise (and a fairly substantial amount of relief), all the while waiting for her to take it back.
Scream at him, call him a monster, send in the cavalry to beat him to a bloody pulp.
He could probably deal with the last part better than with any of the above.
Keep lying, he tells himself instead. So he forces the words out.
I wasn't wearing a vest.
He hears himself whisper and doesn't even buy his own story anymore.
Dana called you, didn't she?
Stop. Stop stop stop stop please stop.
It was hearing Dana's voice that changed your mind, wasn't it?
His own lies are in a tattered pile at his feet and he can't organise his thoughts long enough to form new ones to paper the ever-growing cracks and holes in his story and she's right there patiently waiting for him and watching him and loving him and.
Then she cries as she wonders aloud why he thought killing himself might solve anything, and nails all the reasons that went through his head as he decided not to.
She's in the darkness with him. She's been on the edge herself. She'll never admit it. But she has.
He looks to her for comfort as she speaks, then determinedly drags his eyes away when he realises she's still looking at him like she cares. So he looks back, meets her eye for the first extended period of time in a while. Lets her voice wash over him. Lets her help.
He cracks when she tells him she's in love with him.
He falls apart at her feet and grabs her hand because he suddenly feels un-tethered by gravity or promises or vows and he needs some kind of anchor. She's his anchor. She's always his anchor.
Even when he's hated her, he's craved her.
Then he breaks a little more, and tells her everything he knows. Names. Answers.
The whole time she strokes her thumb back and forth over the bandage covering his hand. Comforting him even as he confesses to being part of a terrorist cell.
Is he even a part of them now?
He hopes not. And he hopes like a child. Naively, and without limits. He allows himself that, just for a moment, even as he signs his own death warrant. He stops hoping abruptly when he realises that if Nazir finds out, he's also signing his family's death warrants too.
He can't now. Just- can't.
So in a display of unbearable weakness, his guard falls in a way that it hasn't since that weekend in the cabin, and he lays his head on the bloodstained table in front of him, cradles their still-joined hands to his face like a child with a security blanket.
No walls here.
No walls left, not right now.
She strokes her fingers through his hair and he could stay like this forever if it meant she stayed too.
They're not together. Maybe they never will be. But they are each other's. He's married to Jessica, and if things stay as they are, maybe someday she'll settle down with someone too, but she'll always be his – just like he'll always be hers.
Because if he's her prisoner, and she's in the darkness with him, does that mean she thinks of herself as his prisoner too?
It takes him little over a week to call her.
I miss you.
Brody? Is everything okay? What's going on?
I'm fine. Sorry, I… I just miss you.
…Do you want to come over?
No, no. I just. Sorry. I shouldn't have called. Never mind.
He hangs up before she can reply, mentally berating himself for calling her. He messed up her whole life. He cost her her job and almost her own sanity, and now he's dragging her back to where they were before. He leans back on the sofa, throws his phone onto the cushion besides him and takes in the view of the lake out the window.
Everything could have been so different. But it isn't, a voice in the back of his mind reminds him.
Everything is absolutely beyond fucked up and likely unfixable and it seems like no matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries, he's always hurting someone.
His kids. His wife. His- well. Not his, exactly. Just Carrie.
But if she told him she's in love with him, does that mean she thinks of herself as his?
She shows up at the cabin a little over two hours later.
"It's okay, Maggie. I'm fine. I just need to get out of the city for a night or two. I've told Saul where I am and I've got my meds. I'll be fine, you don't have to worry." She says before hanging up her cell and tossing it on the counter in the kitchen. Unless it's an emergency at home or a matter of national security, she intends to leave it right there, untouched and unanswered until she leaves. She'll deal with anything that happens while she's here when she drives back.
She needs this. She really, really needs the peace the cabin affords her. She needs to sit here and remind herself what it feels like to feel completely safe. It won't be the same – she hasn't been back here since that weekend with Brody but maybe that's what she needs.
To stop viewing that weekend as this- this Holy Grail of safety and freedom and love.
It was just a weekend.
This is just a cabin.
He is just a man.
She almost believes herself.
She sets her overnight bag on the floor and throws her car keys down by her phone, shrugging out of her jacket as she walks out of the kitchen and into the living room.
She stops dead in her tracks when she sees him sprawled on the couch.
She's not sure why she's even surprised.
"Where's your car?" She asks, in lieu of a proper greeting. She's sure she would have spotted it if his car was parked in the drive.
"Went for a walk." He says with heavy lidded eyes. He looks like she woke him up.
"And you just happened to end up here?" She asks, wishing she was sitting down too.
He hums his agreement at her, nodding as his eyes drift closed.
"You gonna stand there all night?" He asks her slowly, without opening his eyes.
"Brody…" She sounds scared. Torn. He doesn't blame her. Last time they were up here together things went from amazing to an absolute shit-storm in the space of less than a minute.
He cracks his eyes open just a little, and she realises he looks exactly like she feels.
Sad. Tired. Guilty.
She tugs off her shoes with a sigh and walks with carefully measured steps across the floor to his side. He opens left arm like an invitation, and she barely pauses long enough to take a breath before she sits down, curling into his side and sinking into his embrace. His arms are tight around her and her face is pressed into his neck. For a second, or maybe for a night, they can pretend that nothing outside of their little bubble even exists.
They set each other free, just for one night.
Because when the sun rises the next day, he's gone. Of course he is. He's always gone.
Six months later Walden is sworn into the oval office.
Despite the fact that they've barely spoken outside of their CIA duties since that night up in the cabin, she knows exactly where he'll be. Not at some fancy party, or out celebrating with his family.
She finds him sitting by the lake, drunk off his ass and mumbling obscenities at the ground while chucking rocks into the water.
She doesn't mean to be an enabler, but she's angry enough on his behalf that she brings a bottle of Southern Comfort with her, and they get more and more drunk until they crash and burn, giving into their hard-fought desires. They don't even bother to turn the pull-out-couch into a bed. They aren't thinking clearly enough for any of this to be anything but a bad idea.
The next morning she stumbles out of the cabin looking for him and finds him sitting on the picnic table by the water. He's staring out at the lake with a pensive expression on his face. He's shirtless, just wearing the trousers he wore yesterday; she's wrapped up in his shirt and a blanket.
"Good morning, Mr. Vice President." She says with a sad smile, stepping up onto the bench so that she can sit beside him, but he pulls her into his lap before she gets the chance, his smile about as cheerful as hers.
"Morning." He says quietly. She rests her forehead against his cheek as he wraps his arms around her.
"I can't believe he won." He says after a long silence.
"You just better hope nothing happens to him in the next four years." She remarks and he shoots her a funny look.
"Because then you'd have to take over. You'd be president." She clarifies, realising her choice of words may not have been particularly spectacular.
"Jesus. I'm the vice president. How- how the fuck does that even happen? I'm not even a fucking politician!" He remarks to no one in particular and she huffs out a little laugh.
"Would offering my congratulations be inappropriate?" She asks and it's his turn to laugh.
"I'm just glad you didn't do it last night. Well. I'm glad you didn't say it." He says suggestively and she rolls her eyes and smacks him on the shoulder.
"Hey! I'm the vice president, you can't hit me." He says, all mock-seriousness and pretend glaring.
"Oh, is that so?" She asks, quirking an eyebrow, "We'll see about that." She kisses him, but he uses his weight to his advantage, rolling them over so her back is pressed to the wooden picnic table, protected only by the thin blanket, and he's on top of her, pinning her arms above her head.
"You were saying?" He smirks.
Now who's the prisoner? He thinks to himself.
Still you, his mind reminds him.
Two-and-a-half-years later his job with the CIA is all-but complete. They haven't got Nazir yet, but they're well on their way to closing the net. He's spoken to Carrie and Saul and David Estes, and they're all telling him the same thing. The job should be done within the next year, which means that when Walden runs for a second presidential term, he won't have to be his running mate.
Carrie and Brody aren't having an affair, not really. Occasionally, when everything feels like it's falling apart, or when Nazir slips through their fingers again or when they've just been apart for two long to stand it, they fall into each other's arms and take comfort there, if only for a few hours. But they aren't "seeing each other".
A little over six months after that, they watch from the situation room as the CIA launch their final attack on Abu Nazir. Being the vice president, he had to sign off on the mission too.
"No bombs." He had said firmly at the initial meeting.
"Why?" Walden had asked, lounging in his chair and eyeing Brody with a little disdain, "It'll get the job done faster, and give us plausible deniability should something go wrong."
"Because bombs kill people who aren't targets. That's Nazir's job, not ours."
He had refused to sign the mission order until the only two people who disagreed with him (Walden and David Estes' boss at the CIA) caved in and agreed to use a similar plan to the one used to kill Osama Bin Laden.
It's aired on every available news channel the day after it happens. Walden stands in front of the camera, behind the podium and addresses the nation.
Today, I stand before you, my fellow Americans, able to confirm to you that the violent war-criminal Abu Nazir was killed by United States Navy Seals earlier this morning. Nazir was the perpetrator behind terrorist attacks all over Europe, Africa and America, with casualties estimated to have reached between four and eight thousand people.
His speech doesn't mention the other people killed in order to get to him. Namely four of his remaining five children, two of his wives and several guards. He feels no sympathy for the guards, but the children shouldn't be dead. They were all between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, and hadn't done anything to deserve being shot by trained military soldiers.
Jessica catches him on his way out the door after it airs.
"Where are you going? We should celebrate." She says with a smile, holding up an unopened bottle of wine.
"Celebrate what?" He asks, "It's all just more death."
"Brody, they're the people who held you captive for eight years. They tortured you!"
"No, he and his guards did that. His kids were nothing to do with it." Brody hisses, not taking his hand off the doorknob.
This isn't a victory in his eyes.
Maybe you were just sick of death.
That's what Carrie said to him that day in the interrogation room. She looked him in the eye and pondered upon the reasons he didn't blow up the suicide vest, and she'd been completely right. He opens the door and moves to walk out.
"Brody! Brody, I am trying my best to understand but you keep leaving."
"Jess…" He turns in the doorway. Now that he's started speaking, he doesn't know what he wants to say.
"Brody, if you walk out that door, don't bother coming back." She tells him with tears in her eyes.
He doesn't blame her.
He doesn't leave.
He closes the door and they talk. Then they yell. Then Jess cries and he stops yelling and they try talking and just end up screaming at each other from opposite ends of the room again.
Then he leaves.
"The inquiry into the mission was completed today. The whole thing was signed off as a good shoot." Carrie explains down the phone as he steps out of his office with his secretary. "They're going to release the official statement about it tonight but I thought you'd want to know."
"I appreciate it. Thank you." He tells her as he's led down the corridor towards the door.
"Mr. Vice President, I don't mean to rush you but they really need you in the campaign offices." His secretary reminds him, and he checks his watch. Shit, she's right. He's late.
"Carrie, I've got to go, I'm late for a meeting but- we're still on for tomorrow night, right?" He checks. He doesn't miss the slight eye roll his secretary barely represses as they walk. He can't say he really blames her. It's sort of the cliché of all clichés. He's just another politician cheating on his wife with a hot blonde.
Because it's obviously that simple.
"Definitely. It feels like ages since I last saw you, I've missed-"
That's when the world goes red and people start screaming and everything explodes.
Jessica Brody is under no false impressions about the state of her marriage – which has been steadily getting worse since he was elected Vice President, and even worse since the Nazir assassination three months ago. Her husband has spent the last three-and-a-half years being nothing but distant, and she could put it down to his job, but she's ninety percent sure he's just having an affair. Probably with the psycho-bitch from the CIA.
He's not the only one. She and Mike have fallen back into old habits, too. But that doesn't mean she wouldn't do anything to make her marriage work given the opportunity. She's currently racing through traffic on her way to MedStar Washington Hospital Centre, where she's been informed her husband was taken for emergency medical care following the bomb blast at the Whitehouse a little over two hours ago.
She honestly thought she wouldn't have to worry about this kind of thing after he had left the Marine Corps. And yet, here they are.
The guards stationed at the entrance to the hospital let her in when she shows them her driver's licence to confirm that she is in fact the Vice Presidents wife.
The nurse on the front desk tells her that he's in room 2054, and offers to take her there, though cautions her that he's not yet awake. Jessica tells her she can find her way herself, thank you. She feels relieved that it sounds like he's okay; the selfish part of her wondering if this means he'll stay home for a few days.
She walks down the corridor until she finds the door to his room. She takes a deep breath, hoping whatever she finds on the other side of the door isn't too bad.
Then she hears a laugh. A woman's laugh.
She opens the door slowly, her heartbeat quickening. He's awake. She's there too. The crazy bitch from the CIA. She's sat on one side of his bed, stroking his bandaged head. He's holding her other hand with the hand that isn't bandaged up and tied in a sling. From what she can see, his face and arms are covered with cuts and bruises and he looks exhausted. But he's also looking at her in a way that just makes Jess furious. He's not just fucking her. There's no way. You don't look at someone you're sleeping with like that. You look at someone you love, like that. Her husband is just straight up, head-over-heels in love with this other woman. And there's fuck all she can do about it.
"I see you're awake." She says, folding her arms across her chest.
"Jess. Hey." He says, looking uncomfortable. Whatever-the-fuck-her-name-is stands up and steps away from his bed, looking equally as awkward.
She notices that neither one of them look like they feel guilty. Classy.
"I'm gonna-" She points vaguely at the door. He's still holding her hand.
"I think that would be best." Jess snaps, "Don't bother waiting. It seems my husband and I have a lot to talk about."
The two of them exchange a look and Jessica feels like punching the bitch.
"You were leaving?" She prompts, and the blonde looks mildly surprised. She nods slowly before walking out, leaving them alone to talk.
They don't talk. Jessica yells, then cries, then yells some more, until finally the nurse comes in and tells her if she doesn't stop, she'll be asked to leave. Jessica shouts at the nurse and then she leaves.
They make the official announcement on CNN that night.
Today a bomb went off in the White House. It is not yet known how the bomb got past the extensive security checks, or who put it there in the first place, as no terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility. It is my sad duty to announce to you tonight that fifty-two people were killed in the blast. One of those people was President Walden, leaving former Marine Corps Sergeant Brody, the current Vice President, in charge. Brody was also injured in the blast, though reps have been yet to confirm the true extent of his injuries. So, in the mean time, we bring you this statement from the Speaker Of The House, Graham Jones. Our prayers are with Sergeant Brody and his family, and of course the family's of any and all injured personnel at this time.
They watch it together on the little TV on the wall in his hospital room. As soon as Saul and Estes had heard Brody was among the injured they'd given her permission to leave so that she could be with him. She'd returned to the office whilst he hashed things out with Jessica (not that she approved of the two of them having a discussion that huge whilst he was coping with a recent head injury, but it wasn't her decision to make. She'd caught them in a clinch that was far worse than anything else she could have walked in on) only to return in time to bring him takeout for dinner.
"You're an angel," he had grinned when she started pulling boxes of Chinese takeout from the brown bag she was carrying, "I fucking hate hospital food."
They're both squished together in the tiny single bed, tangled up in sheets and each other. She almost lost him today.
She's not sure why they didn't expect some kind of retaliation after the mission.
Nazir's oldest son was never captured or killed, after all.
When Chris and Dana show up to visit their Dad, they walk in to find him asleep, curled up with a blonde woman who Dana recognises as being the one to accuse him of being a terrorist.
She's pretty sure she doesn't want to know.
He blinks himself awake, but not enough to look around and see the two of them hovering by the doorway. Instead he just looks across at the-sleeping-woman-who-isn't-their-mom, smiles, and kisses her on the forehead. Then he goes back to sleep.
It doesn't take them long to get divorced after that. There's simply nothing more to be done to fix it. It's all just too broken. When they explain it to Dana and Chris, Chris gets angry. Dana rolls her eyes at them.
"Finally." She says, with a little huff of breath that almost sounds like she's laughing.
"What do you mean, Sweetie?" Jess asks her, looking perplexed.
"You guys like completely hate each other now. It's getting pretty fucking boring being in the middle of it." She says and neither of them bothers to reprimand her for her language.
Nor do they correct her about their feelings for each other.
"Besides. Dad's already with the CIA woman and Mom, you're back with Mike, right?" Chris points out.
They don't hate each other. They're not going to be friends any time soon, but they don't hate each other. But they also don't want to confuse the kids. They don't want them to think this is another temporary break, so they say nothing.
Brody shows up at Carrie's apartment the day after the divorce is finalised.
He's dressed casually, jeans, a T-shirt and a hoodie. He looks more relaxed than she's seen him in months.
"When you offered me that deal to work with you guys, you said that when it was all over I should quit politics and move somewhere far, far away." He reminds her, leaning on the doorframe.
"I did." She says, wondering where he's going with this.
Part of her already knows.
"You wanna come?" He asks.
"Aren't you the president right now?" She asks and he laughs.
"I told them I didn't think I was the man for the job. Resigned. I'm pretty sure I was never meant to be a politician in the first place, let alone the fucking president."
She looks to her right and catches a glimpse of her own reflection.
Everyone around her has been telling her for years to leave the CIA. To settle down – maybe get married and start a family.
Maybe this is her chance. Maybe he's her chance.
She leaves the door open and walks into her kitchen. She takes her pills out of the cupboard and puts them in her bag. She makes a mental note to call her sister, then to call Saul and officially resign. She looks around her apartment. She won't miss it, not really.
She walks out of the apartment and locks the door behind her. He doesn't even look surprised that she's not taking much at all with her. She's got her phone, her wallet and her meds. She can get hold of anything else as and when she needs it.
Neither of them are out of the darkness completely. They never will be, not after what they've been through, what they've seen. But they aren't prisoners anymore.