Title: Whatever The Mess You Are (You're Mine)

Fandom: Homeland

Pairing: Carrie/Brody, brief mentions of Brody/Jessica and Jessica/Mike

Rating: T

Word Count: 7,944 (whoops…)

Warnings: the usual suspects. Infidelity, drinking, minor violence, occasional bad language. Title taken from "Challengers" by The New Pornographers.

Synopsis: "Are we having an affair?" "Do you want us to be having an affair?" She asks and he smiles. "Then I guess we are." She replies with a grin to match his. Then kisses her again. How can she begrudge them both this moment of peace when she's 90% sure everything's about to go to hell?

A/N: This is set a little while after Q&A. Most of the sections to this are set a couple of days apart, apart from the ones that specify otherwise.

He's dreaming about driving away from her again. "I made a mistake, Brody, I'm sorry."

"Hey, Carrie? Fuck you."

Then he's driving away, wishing he was drunk again. Crying without giving his body permission to do so like he's some teenager who's never had his heart broken before. Pulling the car over in the middle of nowhere because his driving was getting more and more erratically to the extent that he was worried he was going to crash. To the extent that he was worried he wouldn't care if he did.

She understands him. They just 'get' each other in a way that isn't allowed to have been all fake. It just isn't. It can't be.

Then how come it is? His mind asks him.

He starts driving again then, just for something to do.

This is always the part where the dream significantly veers from reality.

Suddenly it isn't fields and wooded areas he's driving past, it's low buildings the colour of sand, and he's driving on a bumpy dirt road, not smooth tarmac. He's acutely aware of the fact that he isn't supposed to be free, not here. Then up ahead he sees the man who sold him to Abu Nazir nine years ago with a new prisoner. A blonde woman who he holds in his arms like a child with a rag doll.

He drives faster, trying to get to her but the car stalls and refuses to start again, so he gets out and leaves it where it is in the middle of the market and just starts running towards her, screaming at them to let her go, give her back, anything, anything but this. Then she starts to stir in the man's arms, struggle and scream for help and no matter what he does, no matter how fast he runs, he just can't get to her in time before they start beating her, or slit her throat or shoot her. Or, in the worst version, it's like with Issah – bombs start falling and she's just… gone.

He always stops running then, stops like he's paralysed by what he's seeing. He screams at the sky, curses and yells at God or Allah or whoever the fuck is up there letting this whole fucked up thing happen down here like it's okay, like living in a world where she doesn't exist is even an option, and then he usually wakes up. Well. Is woken up would be a more accurate description. This is usually the time he will actually start screaming aloud, and his eyes will snap open to see Jessica's frightened gaze looming above him in the darkness of their bedroom. Not the dry, dusty desert of Iraq. Not the bazaar where Issah was killed, or even the bunker where he was kept all those years in isolation.

"Brody? Brody, are you alright? You must have been dreaming again."

He hates that it's not her comfort he's seeking. It should be. She is, after all, his wife. But whenever he has this dream, all he wants, even at the times when he's despised her, is Carrie. Just to be able to see that she's alright, hold her and let her lull him back to sleep is all he wants. Is that really so bad?

Instead he assures Jess he's fine, get's up and throws himself into his work to distract himself from himself. To stop himself from calling her, just to hear the sound of her voice, her breathing.

She's fine. And, realistically speaking, better off without someone like him in her life.

He just wishes it worked the other way, too. If he was better off without her, he wouldn't be stumbling through life every day like there was a piece of him missing.

"We really need to stop meeting like this." A voice to his right pipes up, and he looks up from where he'd been staring morosely into his drink.

He smiles when he sees her.

"Depends, are you going to bust into my room and handcuff me again this time?" He asks as she sits down beside him and signals to the bartender.

"Gin and Tonic, please," she tells her, then turns to him, "Only if you're lucky, Sergeant."

A surprised laugh bursts between his lips.

Oh, so they're doing this then?

"Next time let's do it without all the other guys, hey?"

The bartender shoots them a weird look as she sets Carrie's drink on the bar and walks away.

She laughs and takes a swig of her drink before turning her body to face his.

"You look good." He tells her without meaning to - well, he means it obviously, but he wasn't really planning on saying it. Everything else they've said could be written off as a joke, but that was a little direct.

She smiles sort of bashfully and ducks her head. "I think I'm going to need a few more of these if you plan on piling on the charm." She remarks and he laughs. Then he signals to the bartender to refill his drink.

Five hours later Carrie is woken up by the shrill ringing of what she assumes is her cell phone.

She rolls over onto her back and gropes across the nightstand, but when she encounters her own cell phone, it's cold and silent. Ok, not her phone then. She swings her legs out of bed and stumbles over to where the ringing appears to be originating from. She picks up the jeans and pulls the phone out of the back pocket. It's Brody's phone, and someone's calling him at – she scans the clock – 3:48 in the morning. So either his wife or someone with Nazir then.

She crosses back to her bed. "Brody. Brody, it's your phone."

She gently sets her hand on his bare shoulder and he's awake in an instant. He's eyes flick around the room a few times before he registers what's happening.

He takes the phone out of her hand and sits up, glancing at the caller ID screen before answering it. He presses a few buttons and then puts it to his ear.

Carrie listens to his side of the conversation and pretends for his sake that she doesn't notice his shaking hands.

They sit in silence for a minute when whoever's on the other end of the line hangs up.

He stretches his hands out in front of him before curling them into fists and stretching them out again.

"Seems to be a side effect of hearing her voice." He says. He sounds almost embarrassed.

"Roya?" Carrie asks and Brody nods.

"We'll have to set up a meeting with Saul and Quinn and Estes tomorrow then."

Brody sets his phone on the table in the conference room and they all watch him expectantly, apart from Carrie, who's already heard the conversation he's going to play for them.

She was there when he took the call – not that the person on the other end of the line new (or needed to know) that.

"Brody. The next meet is set for the Marine Corps ball."

"Okay. What do I have to do?"

"You're still playing the CIA Agent, yes? Mathison?"

There's a slight pause before he replies, "Yes."

"Good. We need you to get a copy of her computer hard drive."

"What? Are you fucking kidding me? That's going to be impossible to do without her noticing." He's got to keep up his reluctant appearance after all. Telling her it would be no problem would be the quickest way of raising her – and there for also Abu Nazir's – suspicions.

"He doesn't care how you do it, just do it."

There's a longer pause, "What does that have to do with the Marine Corps Ball?"

"You'll be meeting so many people there no one will notice when you do the hand over. Plus that gives you a full two weeks to get it done. Don't screw it up, he's waiting."

Then the line goes dead.

"I'm I going to have to be the one to say it?" Estes asks and everyone is silent – apart from Saul, who after a heavy sigh says;

"Why the Marine Corps Ball?"

"It sounds like there's then at least one other turned agent within the Marine Corps." Peter points out and Brody bristles at that. He's on their side – what more does he have to do to prove it?

Then again, he did walk into a room filled with the most powerful men and women in the country wearing a bomb underneath his uniform. He can't really blame their reluctance.

"So we create a fake hard drive for you to give them," Estes begins to lay out the plan, "get some agents in there looking like staff at the event just to make sure everything goes down smoothly and nothing happens, then we go over the video footage and try to work out if whoever your contact is is a marine, or just posing as one-"

"And then we try and work out if there are more sleepers." Saul interjects.

The room fills with a heavy silence. Here we go again, Carrie thinks to herself.

He left his car at the bar they were drinking at last night, so she drives him from the CIA where they ended up spending most of the day, back there to pick it up.

They're both pretty quiet as she drives.

"I think Jess and I are about to split up." He says, out of the blue, for no apparent reason.

She takes a measured breath. "I'm sorry."

"Are you?" He asks, raising his eyebrows at her.

"I am."She says truthfully, "You love her. Only a sociopath would enjoy watching that fall apart."

"I don't know that I do anymore." He admits, "I don't think she does either. I think we just- grew apart."

Carrie doesn't have a reply for that, so she stays quiet. They pull up beside his car, but he doesn't move to get out. He's watching her like he's contemplating something. He leans forward slowly and she meets him in the middle to press their lips together. It's much sweeter, much slower than the kind of kisses they usually share. He pulls away slowly and asks her something that's been on his mind since the first day they ran into each other in the grocery store two days after his interrogation.

"Are we having an affair?"

"Do you want us to be having an affair?" She asks and he smiles. That's enough of an answer.

"Then I guess we are." She replies with a grin to match his. Then he kisses her again.

In last nights' version of the dream she died protecting Issah.

It was one of the worst nightmares he can ever remember having.

He wakes himself up he screams so loud. "Brody? Jesus, are you okay?" Jessica sounds terrified, and as he sits up he can feel her hands on his arms, on his back. He shrugs her off, steps out of bed and stumbles into the bathroom, catching himself on the sink before he crashes to the ground.

He's gasping for breath, and he realises after a minute that he's huffing out their names with every exhale. He wonders if he was screaming their names in his sleep. If he was, was Jess awake to hear it? He leans down and splashes his face with cold water from the faucet before bracing himself on the sink again, staring at his reflection in the mirror.

He doesn't hear Jess walk up behind him, she puts one hand on his back - in what he later reflects was probably meant to be a caring gesture – and in a long engrained emotional response that he still hasn't trained himself out of after particularly bad nightmares, he spins around and grabs her wrist. Hard.

"Ow! Brody, what-" Jessica looks horrified and he lets go of her arm like it's burned him.

"Jess- Jess, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean- are you okay?" He stammers, wide awake in an instant.

She's holding her wrist with her other hand rubbing at the spaces where he can already see long red marks in the shape of his fingers.

"I'm fine." She says icily, taking a step back. He can't say he blames her – he knows she thought he was getting 'better', hell even he thought he was improving.

Maybe it's just today. Today is sort of a prime example of a day that's just going to suck from the get-go. It a day he really doesn't want to remember, a day he doesn't want to think about, a day he wishes held no significance to him.

She stalks out of the bathroom with her head held high and he feels more alone than he's felt in a while. So he does what he always does after a nightmare; throws himself into his work. As soon as he's dressed and got his things together, he gets in the car and drives to the office. At least, he plans to. He's halfway there when his cell phone rings and he pulls over to answer it.

"Brody." He answers without bothering to look at the caller ID.

As it happens, he wishes he had thought to look, at least to give him some semblance of preparation for the voice on the other end of the line. While it would affect him normally, it wouldn't affect him too badly. But normally she's not calling him after a nightmare like the one he's just had.

"Hi, Brody. It's Carrie. Sorry to call you so early."

It takes him a second to find his voice, and he has to clear his throat a couple of times to make sure he's certain it won't crack when he speaks.

"No, no, it's fine. I was on my way to the office anyway, what do you need?" He asks, his knuckles turning white where he's gripping the steering wheel so tight.

She replies, telling him something in her soothing, measured voice, but he's not paying close attention to what she's saying exactly, just letting the sound of her voice wash over him, lulling him into a sense of calm he seems to spend his life chasing these days.

A desperate chase for a sense of peace? Isn't that just a charming contradiction in terms.

Then the other end of the line goes silent and he realises she's waiting on a response.

"I'm sorry, what? I must have zoned out."

"I was just calling to tell you I miss you." She says. He bites his tongue so he doesn't say something stupid.

If you need me, just call and say you miss me and I'll do the same. The affair will be our cover going forward.

He sucks in a deep breath. "I miss you too. I don't have any meetings at the office today so I can come over if you want."

"I'd like that. See you soon?" She says and he shuts his eyes like he's trying to block out the light and the sudden onslaught of emotions that hit him as she speaks.

"See you soon." He echo's before they both hang up and he drives off again.

She doesn't sound like she's upset or in danger, so he's pretty sure he just wants to talk to him about something. Today of all days, she needs his help with bringing down Abu Nazir. Today is going to be a long day.

When he arrives at her house he takes a second to slow himself down, to steady himself.

He knocks on the door and she lets him in, looking about as nervous as he feels.

"Is everything alright?" He asks, "Are you okay?"

He already knows she is. She's standing right in front of him. She's okay.

But somehow, he still felt the need to ask. He needs to hear her say it.

"I'm fine," she replies, throwing him a what-the-fuck-are-you-talking-about look, "why'd you ask?"

He shakes his head, "Sorry. Sorry, I just. Never mind. What do you need?" He asks, looking back up from the ground to meet her eye again.

She nods, but watches him for a second like she knows he's holding something back, but he shakes his head again so she nods slowly and steps out of her front door. He steps back to let her past.

"We're not staying here then?" He asks and she shakes her head, walking forwards and unlocking her car. He pauses for a second before he follows her when she gets into the drivers' seat, but when he realises he doesn't really have a choice in the matter unless he particularly covets the idea of going to prison for a very, very long time, being uncooperative with the CIA investigation isn't really an option at this point.

"Okay, that's it. What the hell is going on with you today?" Carrie demands, a couple of hours later, spinning to face him with her arms folded across her chest.

"Excuse me?" He asks, turning around so that they're now facing each other head on.

"You're acting like every word out of my mouth is offending you!"

"No, that's not- I just, It's-" he stammers, not sure whether the truth is the best option.

"It's what? What is it that's got you so wound up you can't concentrate?"

"It's Issah's birthday!" He shouts, and she stops in her tracks. They both stand completely still, frozen, for a second, just starting at each other.

He sighs, rubbing one hand over his face slowly, then sinks down onto one of the uncomfortable blue chairs that are littered around the room.

"It's Issah's birthday." He says again, more quietly this time. "He would have been nine today. You know, I remember everything about the day he died? Every last detail. We ate breakfast together that morning, then I helped him practise some of the English I was teaching him, then I watched him walk out the door, across the bazaar and into the school." He pauses for a second and shakes his head, staring determinedly at his hands. "That was the last time I saw him alive."

Carrie doesn't move a muscle the whole time he speaks. She's almost frightened she'll spook him if she does, and he'll go back to holding all this stuff in, forcing himself to either cope with it all alone or just pushing on and not coping with any of it at all.

"I was sitting at the desk beneath the window reading a book Nazir had given me – it was an Arabic phrase book, he thought it might help me teach Issah better – and everything was really- still. The only thing I could hear was the wind and the kids from the school playing in the square – that's why I heard it so clearly when the planes flew over.

Then it's just- it all happened so fast. The bombs just started raining down – there were so many of them I lost count. The force of it blew all the glass out of the windows, threw everything across the room. My ears were ringing and I was just so- shocked. I wasn't expecting something like that to happen for some reason. But I rolled over, thought it might be safest to go further into the house in case they sent more bombs but I saw the phrase book and-" He bites down on his lip so hard he tastes the copper tang of blood on his tongue. He drops his head into his hands, completely overwhelmed as the whole scene plays out in his head like a movie.

Then he feels gentle hands on his biceps, her thumbs stroking soothing, rhythmic circles into the muscle beneath his shirt. His heart is jack hammering away in his chest and he's torn between wanting to just lean forward and fall into her arms and pushing her away because she's too close, too much, too understanding.

"I ran out into the square," he says, his eyes still closed, his face still hidden behind his hands, "and I was just," He stops talking again, shakes his head and swallows forcibly against the onslaught of emotions he's been burying since the day it all happened, "I was just screaming his name. I just wanted to find him. And then when I did he was just lying there and-"

He hears a noise that sounds like someone is wounding an animal, and then quickly realises it's coming from him. He hears her shuffle closer, feels her move her hands from his arms to his hands. She slowly peels them away from his face and leans up on her knees so she's close enough to put her arms around him.

He clings to her like a life raft. She's talking to him, ever so quietly, just murmuring in his ear softly, trying to calm him down. He's not sure what she's saying, all he can hear is the sound of his own voice screaming Issah's name inside his head, accompanied by a soundtrack of other people screaming and buildings falling as bombs explode. But it does start to calm him down, the sound of her voice. Slowly but surely, he comes back to himself. Back to reality, back to her.

They're so close now that he's resting his forehead against hers. For a second he flashes back to his dream, sees her broken at the hands of a monster (whose name he still doesn't know), and his whole body tenses up until her breath washes over his face and she's okay, she's fine, she's here.

"It just feels wrong." He forces out after a minute, eyes still closed. He really doesn't want to look at her when he tells her this part. He's not even sure he knows why he is, he just feels like she deserves his honesty.

"It feels wrong to sit here, on his birthday, working for Walden. The man who killed him. I don't know it just- just feels like I'm disrespecting his memory, or something."

Her hand ghosts up his left arm, over his shoulder and settles gently on his cheek, her thumb tracing his lower eyelid, still gently, gently.

"Brody, look at me," She whispers, "Please."

His eyes flutter open slowly and her eyes are so close they're out of focus until they both lean back a little. "I'm so sorry." She says quietly, "If I'd know I wouldn't have asked you to do this today."

"It's not like I have a choice, right? If not for you I'd be sitting in a cell in a SuperMax prison right now, if not a cell in Guantanamo Bay. Especially now that we're… whatever we are." He shakes his head and looks away from her.

"No. No, no, that's not how any of this works." She disagrees and he looks up, surprised at the fire in her voice. "You're not our prisoner, Brody. Yes, you're working with us as an alternative to jail but you're working with us. Not for us. I know you loved Issah. We don't have to do this today."

They end up laying in her backyard, her head pillowed on his chest and his arms around her back.

They have a glass of wine each and order Chinese takeout. They resolutely don't talk about work or war or nightmares. They talk about baseball and high school and vacations they've always wanted to take, but never quite gotten around to. It's frighteningly domestic. She never wants it to end.

It's three days after Issah's birthday, and he's out of the house even more than he was before. He flinches away from Jessica's hand on his arm again.

"You won't even touch me anymore." Jessica says when they're lying side by side in bed that night. They're both flat on their back with a good foot of space between them, no part of them touching. Not even their hands.

"I'm sorry." He says tonelessly.

She turns her head away from him so he doesn't see the tear tracks on her cheeks. She's pretty sure he wouldn't give a damn anyway, but she still has her pride.

"How can I fix it?" He asks, turning on his side to face her, "What do you want me to do?"

"I want a divorce." She says desperately before she can stop herself.

She swings her legs out of their bed and grabs her bath robe off of the back of their bedroom door.

He's exactly where he was when she turns to face him, one arm half extended as if he were moving to reach out and stop her.

"I want a divorce, Brody." She says again, like she's afraid maybe he didn't hear her the first time.

"I don't blame you. I just want a divorce." It's like she can't stop saying it.

She's just a broken record. She wraps her arms around her middle as if she's trying to hold herself together.

They're all broken in some way. Mike and Brody are broken by the war, by the evil they saw. That woman she knows he's sleeping with is broken (at her husband's hand no less), Dana and Chris are being torn apart watching their parents tear each other apart, it's all just a colossal fuck up, really.

If she could go back, she'd do anything to stop him from going off to war.

Part of her wonders if she'd just erase the whole sorry mess if she could. If she could go back to the day she met him, would she still introduce herself? Or would she smile politely and then walk in the opposite direction knowing what she does now?

He nods his head slowly at her.

"Okay." He gets out of bed now, walks to their closet and starts getting dressed.

"You're not- you're not even going to fight for us? For me?" She asks, her voice shaking as he pulls on a pair of jeans.

He's silent for a second, staring at the sweater he's holding as if he thinks if he looks at it long enough it will reveal the solutions to their problems. After a minute he turns to look up at her again.

"Is there anything here left to fight for?" He asks, his voice gruff, his eyes too bright. He turns away again when he pulls his sweater over his head. She puts a hand over her mouth and turns away too.

Oh, God.

This is it. This is really over.

He walks back over to his nightstand, and puts on his watch. They haven't even turned the lights on.

Maybe that's best.

He walks past her out of their bedroom door without looking back.

"Where are you going?" She asks, torn between following him through the kitchen and hovering in the arch between the hall and the living room. She stays where she is.

"Back to the hotel." He says, hovering in the kitchen.

She bites her lip when a sort of sickening thought crosses her mind.

"You never unpacked, did you? Half of your stuff is still in the back of your car."

He nods shortly.

"You knew." She says, because now she needs to know.

He nods again.

"If I hadn't have just said that in there, would you have said it?" She asks and he looks at her for a minute.

"I didn't want to."

"But you were going to?" She prompts.

"We don't know how to love each other anymore." His voice is resigned, set, guilty.

She looks away from his gaze then. Blinks. Tears fall without her noticing.

"What do we tell the kids?" She asks, folding her arms across her chest.

"The truth." He suggests and she looks up at him, quirking an eyebrow.

"Well, as much of the truth as is appropriate." He amends and she nods.

They stand completely still, just watching each other as the tension grows.

"I should-"

"I guess you-"

They both start at the same time, and stop when they realise they're talking over each other. They both laugh shortly, awkwardly.

"Bye, Brody." She says and he nods, then sighs.

"Bye, Jess." He walks towards the door, then stops when the handle is within his grasp.

"I'm sorry you had to go through all of this because of me." He says, without looking at her. "You deserve so much better."

Then he leaves, without looking back, without another word.

He's just… gone.

She stands completely still where she is, shocked the world is still turning.

Is this what she was so afraid of?

Yes, it's awful. It's painful and she hates every stupid second of this entire night but.

She's not drowning. She's not dying.

She's the only one awake in the house, and everything is just. So. Still. She feels like the last person alive.

Without consciously deciding to, she finds herself walking back to their room, pausing in the doorway and staring at the bed they've shared for just over twenty years. Jesus, has it really been that long since they got married?

There's something on his nightstand that she can't quite make out from over here, so she walks closer. She picks up the gold band and turns it over in her hands. He didn't take it with him. He just left it there for her to find. A voice in the back of her mind asks her if she really believes he's going to a hotel, or whether he'll just go straight into the arms of the CIA woman he's been fucking.

Then she cries like the world is ending and she's drowning and dying.

He ends up having to tell Carrie and Estes at the same time the next day. They're talking in more detail about the plan for the hand over, and Estes asks him how exactly he's planning to pull it off without Jessica noticing.

"Oh, Jess won't be there. Unless she goes with Faber, of course." He adds as an afterthought.

"We're splitting up." He explains, off Saul and Estes' looks of confusion.

"I see. That's, uh. Sorry about that." Estes says awkwardly and Brody shrugs his shoulders.

"It is what it is."

"Well, we'll have to rethink a couple of things in the plan, people will ask questions if you show up alone - especially if your wi- if Jessica shows up with a different soldier." Saul observes, turning away to face the board where everything they could possibly need for this plan to work is pinned up, from blue prints to the building where the ball is going to be held right down to the codes and signals to be used by all members of the team in varying scenarios.

Then Peter pipes up with an idea in his usual, completely "tactful" manner.

"Hey, Carrie?"


He pauses, almost laughing at himself as he remembers that night up in the cabin when he broke the tension by asking her to prom. He wonders if she'll think this is another joke.

"Do you own an evening gown?"

The rustling on the other side of the door stops for a second.

"Do I own a what-now?"

"An evening gown. I have this. Um. Thing. I have to go to and it, y'know, requires a date. An evening-gown-wearing-date."

"Why Sergeant Brody are you asking me out?" Carrie asks, poking her head round the door of her closet with grin.

He smiles at her, laughs a little. "Why yes, Miss. Mathison, I believe I am. Do I need to ask your father's permission? Swear up and down I'll return you home – virtue intact – by ten thirty at the latest while he threatens me with a shot gun?"

She laughs and steps out of her closet, walking over to him with an exaggerated strut. He watches her with intrigue and a smirk. When she reaches his side of the bed she sets her right knee on the edge of the bed and swings her other leg across his hips, so she's straddling his waist.

"What was that part about my virtue?" She asks, her voice all but a purr in his ear.

He laughs and rolls them over so that he's on top of her. "Seriously. Are you okay with this?"

"This as in what we're doing right now or-"

"This as in outing ourselves at the Marine Corps Ball."

"Oh. Right. That this." She says. She shrugs her shoulders.

"It might be nice not sneaking around all the time. And I actually do own an evening gown in answer to your earlier question. Agency protocol for active agents requires we're prepared for any and all possible mission scenarios." She explains, and that's enough of an agreement for him. He leans down to kiss her, before whispering in her ear;

"Now tell me more about this dress…"

A few days later, they're lying in bed together, trying not to think about all the things that could go wrong with the plan. She kisses the back of their joined hands, then peers up at him through her eyelashes. He's looking down at her already, smiling like the meaning of life is not 42 but you.

I always miss you, she thinks, even when you're right here with me, I always miss you.

He traces the contours of her face with the pad of his thumb; her cheeks, her nose, her left eyebrow, her jaw, her lips. He leans down and kisses her, then. He's kissing her, touching her, holding her like she's made of glass – not that she's breakable, but precious. Something not to be dropped or broken at any cost. Something of value.

Something's changed between them. They're always tearing each other apart in the fight to resist their own desperation. It's always been Mutually Assured Destruction with them, but now that they're giving in to each other in a more palpable, more certain way, they're stronger. They're safer – they're better, stronger together than they are apart or with other people.

"I'm so in love with you," He murmurs, sliding his free arm around her waist and pulling her closer, "I don't want to leave. I just want you."

They don't get frantic like they so often do when things get too much.

More often than not, when one of them says or does something that takes this from 'I can fuck you and then go back to my wife after like nothing happened and I know you're just as okay as I am I'm okay I really am I'm completely fine' to 'I don't know why but I think maybe we were built for each other and somehow I need you more than I've ever needed anyone please don't leave me alone with my mind' they get frantic – shut each other up tearing off each other's clothes and fucking like they hate each other, like they're drunk off it and drowning in it.

But this time that doesn't happen. They take things slower, they take the chance to enjoy each other. It's heady and grounding at the same time, and it reminds them both of the second night they spent in the cabin together, all those months ago. Not the first night when they were drunk (off Southern Comfort and Vodka more than just each other), but the second night, the first time they'd ever slept together whilst sober, when they'd undressed each other in front of the fire and taken their time with one another.

It stays easy, stays simple. For now. And maybe, for now, it's enough.

The night of the ball, they thought they had everything prepared. A strategy for every possible outcome.

They didn't.

Brody runs across the parking lot, desperate to get to Carrie before they whisk her away into the back of the ambulance.

She's not the only one they're rushing away.

At least she isn't one of the one's in a body bag.

This isn't how tonight was supposed to go – they were supposed to be able to relax, have a glass or two of champagne, dance together. The mission for tonight was to get the list. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. And yet somehow it turned into a scene peeled straight out of his nightmares – which is of course, exactly what Nazir wants.

He sits by her bed, wishing the steady beep-beep. Beep-beep. Of the few monitors around her reassured him. It's the sound of her heart, her breathing. It should calm him to know she's okay. But the fact that they're here, in this situation at all is setting him in edge. He's trying to imagine what his life is going to be like if he loses her, but he can't.

He literally can't imagine his life without her.

He's disturbed from his thoughts by a knock at the door. It's Dana, by herself, looking like she'd rather be just about anywhere else but here right now.

"They're putting us in witness protection." She says, without preamble as she shuts the door behind her.

He swallows forcefully. No matter which way this day goes, the ending looks similar.

He loses someone.

"I assume they haven't told you where they're taking you." He says tonelessly.

She shakes her head and leans back against the door.

"You say that like you aren't coming with us." She points out, watching him with that disarmingly piercing look she has.

"I can't." He sighs, suddenly feeling acutely aware of the warmth of the skin of Carrie's hand in his.

"Because of her?" Dana asks, no judgement in her voice.

He nods and clears his throat. "Amongst other things." He tries to explain. He doesn't want his children thinking he's abandoning them by choice. "I have a job to do here that's not finished yet."

"And you'll come and join us when it's done?"

If only she knew how innocent she sounds when she says things like that. For a split second he sees her as the six year old girl he left behind to go off to war. After that goodbye he didn't see her for a little over eight years. How long is it going to be this time? One year? Two? Longer?

"It's complicated."

"So that's a no then."

He slowly lets go of Carrie's hand and stands up, walking closer to his daughter.

As soon as he's close enough she lets him pull her into a hug – not the one armed, casual kind, the kind where she buries her head against his chest and throws her arms around his back. He holds her close.

"I'm so proud of you, Dana." His voice is gruff as he speaks. He's terrified for his kids, for Jess. They don't deserve to be in the middle of any of this – they don't deserve to come within a million miles of it.

"I'm scared, Daddy." She sounds like she did the last time too. Please don't go fight the bad men, Daddy. Stay home with me and Mommy and Chris!

Except this time they're the ones going away.

"I know, sweetheart. I know. You're going to be fine – all of you are. I love you so much, you know that right?"

He hears her sniff, and he can feel her shoulders shaking.

"I know. We all do. We just want you to be okay." She tells him, and he strokes her hair gently – whether to comfort her or himself he's not sure.

"Tell Chris and your Mom for me." He says as Dana steps back.

"I guess I won't be telling Mom how much you love her though." Dana suggests, and he raises his eyebrows at her in surprise.

"You love her, don't you?" She gestures to where Carrie is still lying motionless.

He smiles sadly at his daughter. "Yeah."

"Like, really love her?"

"She's… yeah, I do. She's the love of my life." He admits, watching his daughter for her reaction. She just stares at Carrie, like she's looking for something.

"She feel the same about you?" She asks, still watching Carrie.

"Yeah. She does." He says, smiling properly in spite of the situation.

"You should tell her then." Dana says decisively, turning her head to look at him finally.

"When she wakes up, tell her… Tell her thanks from me." she says slowly, and Brody doesn't quite understand what she means.

"She makes you better. You've been less… bitter lately. Less sad and broken. I'm guessing that's not a coincidence." She remarks drily – but he sighs a laugh, shaking his head.

That'll be the last time he ever tries to hide anything from his daughter. His wonderful, brilliant, perceptive daughter. Who he might never see again outside of this room.

There's a knock at the door, and a man with blonde hair and not-at-all inconspicuous dark glasses tells Dana it's time to leave.

"I love you, Dad. I'm sorry about every time I was ever rude to you." She says and he quirks an eyebrow at her.

"Well, not every time…" She amends with a passable imitation of her usual attitude.

"Be good, stay safe. Look after Chris for me." She nods, and her eyes fill up with tears when the agent in the doorway tells her it's really time to leave. She throws herself forward into his arms, and he holds her as close as he can for their last few seconds, before reluctantly letting go of her.

"I love you, too." He says as she steps out of the door. Out of his life.

As soon as the door is closed again he sinks into the chair where he's been sitting for the last few hours. His throat feels like it's closing up, and he almost feels like he's spinning out of control. His kids have gone somewhere he can't know about, Carrie is unconscious beside him with a bullet wound in her chest and he's not felt this alone since. Well. Since days he'd rather not think about, thanks. He clears his throat but the feeling doesn't go away. Instead he just- starts to cry. He's curled in on himself, his hands clamped over his mouth to try and muffle the sound.

They're gone.

Carrie's in here.

Where does that leave him?

Saul comes to visit her the next day, and if he's surprised to see Brody there, he barely shows it.

"Shouldn't you be with your family right now?" He asks, but Brody doesn't look away from Carrie's hand, still unresponsive in his.

"You know where they are?" He counters and Brody looks up to see Saul shake his head.

"Even if I did I couldn't tell you, you know that. I can tell you though that there were four people in the escorted party though."

"Chris, Dana, Jess and Mike Faber, right?" Brody says, the answer revealing itself to him as he speaks.

"Even if I-"

"-knew, you couldn't tell me, I know."

They fall into silence.

"How's she doing?" He asks, taking her chart from the folder attached to the end of her bed and flicking through it.

"She was shot in the chest. I imagine she's had better days." He points out sarcastically and Saul looks up at him sharply.

"Is this a fucking joke to you?" He asks, "You shouldn't even be here."

"I'm not going anywhere." He says firmly, and Saul shakes his head.

"I know what this must look like to you," Brody continues, but I'm here because she'll want me here when she wakes up. And because I can't- I can't leave her."

He mutters something that sounds like "maybe she is crazy" under his breath and Brody's whole body tenses.

Now is not the time for a testosterone contest. He's acutely aware that not everyone has been as forgiving as Carrie has when it comes to him. David Estes doesn't trust him as far as he can throw him (though that seems to be a universal thing with his operatives from what Carrie tells him) and from what he can tell, Saul essentially trusts him as an operative, but doesn't trust him not to hurt Carrie again.

While him and Jess where still together, he'd have been inclined to agree. Not now.

She wakes up later that night.

He's been driving himself crazy thinking about all the different possibilities.

He's been practically driven crazy watching a couple of them play out in front of his very eyes.

Her heart rate jumps a little, and her hand twitches in his.

"Carrie? Carrie, can you hear me?" He asks, praying he didn't just imagine feeling her hand move.

She turns her head, eyes still closed, and snuffles a little into her pillow. It would be cute if they were in almost any other situation.

Her eyelashes flutter and he's watching with bated breath, hoping she really is coming round.

Then, slowly, her eyes blink open.

She doesn't panic. She doesn't try to sit up, or take the oxygen tubes off of her face, or scrabble with her IV, instead she just blinks owlishly at him.

"What- what happened?" She asks, her voice quiet and croaky with disuse.

"Nazir knows I'm working with you. The whole thing with the ball was a set up." He says, like getting the bad news out of the way faster will make it easier to take somehow.

Now she looks a little more stressed.

"Did I- hang on, Brody was I- I was shot wasn't I?" She says, her hands scrabbling across her chest, where her hospital gown is covering her bandages.

Now she tries to sit up, the machine's monitoring her heart and her breathing and her brain going haywire.

"Carrie- Carrie, calm down. You need to relax, you're in the hospital, but you're fine. Everything's okay." The last two words stick in his throat because they are definitely not completely true, but he says them anyway. She needs to calm down otherwise she might pull her stitches out.

"Are you sure?" She asks, "What about your family?"

"They're in witness protection. I'm told Mike went with them."

He tries (really, really hard) to muster some jealousy, some sadness, even some surprise in himself. There's nothing there though. Nothing but… relief? Relief that Jess will be happy, she won't be lonely. That someone will be able to be there for his kids when he can't.

"So everyone's okay?" She asks, sinking back into her pillows.

"Everyone's okay." He echoes, brushing his fingertips against her cheek and tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear.

"And we're okay?" She asks and he smiles properly for the first time in what feels like hours.

"We'll always be okay." He assures her. Then he leans down and kisses her.

She aims a weak smack at his forearm when he laughs when they both hear her heart rate audibly speed up thanks to the monitor by her bed.

"Oh my god that's such a cliché…" She complains and he laughs again, stroking his hand through her hair.

"Everything else about us has been out of the ordinary, I think we deserve a cliché or two by this stage." He points out.

"Does this mean you're going to start buying me flowers?" She asks sarcastically.

"But only the best for you, my love!" He exclaims dramatically, laughing.

She shakes her head at his antics, but doesn't begrudge him them. If Abu Nazir really knows Brody is working for the CIA, he's in danger. Now people know they're together, she's in danger. She knows they've put his family into witness protection, which means he won't get to see his kids for god-only-knows how long.

How can she begrudge them both this moment of peace when she's 90% sure everything's about to go to hell?

He must see what she's thinking all over her face. He leans down and kisses her again, just briefly.

"We'll be fine." He reminds her.

She hopes he's right.