FANFIC: The Truth About Permanent Things (House of Cards)

Summary: In the weeks leading up to the presidential election, Remy and Jackie leave Washington, D.C. and don’t look back (much).

A/N: This has been sitting unfinished on my computer for a few months now. I was hoping to post it before the election, but now I’m glad I waited because what happened this week helped me figure out the right ending. That said, this story does not necessarily reflect my political views. It’s fiction. All I did was try to serve the characters as best I could.

Basically the only reason I wrote this is because (for reasons I don’t understand) there is almost no Remy/Jackie fanfic in existence anywhere on the internet. Certainly none that picks up where the show left off, and I needed to give them closure.


– – – – – – – – –

They drive south.

The two of them barely speak, barely even dare glance at one another, for the first dozen miles. It’s not until they pass the bright green “LEAVING WASHINGTON, DC” road sign that he looks over at her sitting in the passenger seat of his convertible. She’s beaming, her face lit up like he’s never quite seen it.

“Surprise me,” she’d said before he turned the key in the ignition, but he’s surprising himself, too. The roads before them are a tangle of lines that criss-cross over one another: leading in one direction, then the other. They could go anywhere. They could be anything.

Neither of them has ever been the most spontaneous of people, the kind of person who throws caution to the wind at daybreak. They didn’t get where they were without mapping out their lives and leaving little to chance.

Now they don’t even know where they’re headed, but all the same they don’t bother glancing back to see the Capitol building fading in the rearview mirror.

– – – – – – – – – –

Gas prices have dropped steadily since the deal with Russia, the price per gallon topping out at seven dollars in some parts of the country, but oil remains a scarce commodity. Waiting cars stretch out into the street, single-file like segmented worms. They’re lucky to get half a tank to tide them over to the next filling station.

At least the sun comes out somewhere in North Carolina.

Dark rainclouds disperse, revealing a powder blue sky. Remy takes the top down. They keep driving.

Both make a point not to seek out the news, all but switching off their smartphones, but before long the news is inescapable. It filters out the airwaves and feeds into the printers of every town in America: The president has declared war on ICO. They don’t watch the now-viral execution video when it’s streamed live on Twitter (they barely even know about it until it’s over) but they see censored clips of it plastered all over the TV when they pull over to eat lunch.

Jackie’s eyes meet his across the table, and she knows he must be wondering the same thing as she is. The timing is suspicious as hell. What are the chances of this firestorm happening right after the damning article drops? “You think he actually wanted this to happen?” she finally asks, though she doesn’t really want to know the answer.

“Nothing would surprise me anymore,” Remy says with a hint of a scowl, before downing the last of his coffee.

“That bastard. I bet he didn’t even flinch when he watched that video.”

Remy doesn’t respond, he doesn’t have to, only tosses a generous tip on the table as they set off once more. The little bell on the door jangles as the door closes behind them.

– – – – – – – – – –

Towns fly past on the freeway, aglow with lights against the dark night sky. The car hurtles across state lines, the two of them along for ride to a completely new destination. They just don’t know where yet.

While Remy takes a quieter backroad through the Appalachians, she’s still trying to wrap her mind around the fact that her political career is over.

“Do you ever miss it?”

“Not really,” Remy says, simply. He doesn’t have to think about it for long. “I thought I would at first, but so far leaving all that behind feels like the best decision I ever made.” He steals a glance at her, but she’s not meeting his eyes.

“I miss it,” she admits, feeling a bit embarrassed. “A little, anyway. How lame is that? We’ve barely been gone a day.”

He’s not surprised—their identities were tied up in Washington for so long. She was always in deeper than he was. “It’ll fade with time. You’ll find something else, I know you will.” He pauses. “You don’t regret doing what we did, do you?”

She looks over at him then, a devious smile spreading across her face. “Which part?”

“The article. Giving Hammerschmidt everything. Exposing Underwood.”

She considers the question for a moment, but shakes her head. “I was the one who wanted to go on record, remember? It was the right thing to do.” Then, more softly: “Wasn’t it?”

His grip on the steering wheel tightens. “I don’t pretend to know anything anymore.”

“Yeah.” Outside, all she sees are a forest of trees, and the ghost of her face rushing through the thicket. “Remy?”

“Yeah.” He doesn’t take his eyes off the road.

“When did you first realize things don’t always stay the same?”

“I don’t know. Probably when we first moved out to the U.S. I was young, didn’t give it much thought at the time. But my whole world changed overnight.” He glances over. “Why? How about you?”

She thinks about it for a while. There are so many moments in her life she could point to—catalysts for change when she was convinced that nothing would ever be the same again. Some little, some big. All times when she should’ve figure it out. “I guess,” she says, “I’m still learning.”

He gives a little nod, seems to accept that answer. They both turn their eyes back towards the stretch of empty road before them.

– – – – – – – – – –

The tattoo was supposed to be permanent:

Each red poppy painting her skin was a reminder of fallen soldiers, buried allies. Her guilt. She quickly grew accustomed to the pain of the needle—began to love it, in a way. She even told Remy that once, back when they still barely knew each other. It wasn’t a truth she often confessed to readily. And at the time, that scared her—how willing she was to reveal her deepest secrets to him.

Alan was supposed to be permanent, too:

She’d loved him. She’d been a fool to think that was enough. But it wasn’t long after the wedding that she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about Remy. It was little things at first. Lying in bed, the memory of his face hovering above hers, his hands gripping her thighs, his tongue everywhere. But it was more than that. Soon all she could think about was that day he’d come to her after getting pulled over by that cop, when he felt like she was the only one he had to turn to. That was the beginning of the end, really.

Her career was supposed to be the most permanent thing of all:

She’d had a plan. Politics gave her something to strive for after she left the military. There were goals to reach. Growing up in California, she’d been a long-distance runner. She was fast, too. She loved the rush of adrenaline she’d get blasting past her competition in those last few meters, always racing, first and foremost, against the clock. Now it felt like she was running in the opposite direction of the finish line. It felt exhilarating. It felt idiotic. But the fact remained that her life wasn’t what she’d always thought it would be.

Most of the things we think will last forever, don’t.

– – – – – – – – –

They’re somewhere in Florida when the roads quit carrying them further south, and they decide to pay a visit to Remy’s parents. Both his mom and dad have seen the news, so even if he’s never mentioned her, by now they know exactly who she is. She wonders what they must think of her—this married woman who was having an affair with their son.

As it turns out, his parents aren’t quite what she expected, but at the same time, nothing about them surprises her. They speak in lightly-accented but impeccable English and welcome her in with nothing but open arms. She’s grateful for this small comfort, grateful that amid all the chaos his home can feel like her home, too.

– – – – – – – – – –

Away from Washington, Remy lets his hair grow out again, and it comes in thick and wiry.

“I used to think you were bald,” Jackie says, running her open hand over his scalp. “Then I saw you shaving in the bathroom mirror one morning and—” She stops mid-sentence when he looks at her in disbelief. “How was I supposed to know? Stop laughing at me.” But she secretly loves it when he does, his usual stoic demeanor disappearing for a few short seconds.

They finally go skinnydipping in the midst of an oppressive heatwave.

Remy protests at first. “You know there’s alligators all over the place down here, right? Bold things, too. Some’ll even follow you home, walking on dry land be damned.”

“Yeah well, they can’t possibly be any worse than Frank Underwood.”

She’s joking of course, but he gives it some serious thought. Alligators had the ability to sneak up on you and tear off an entire arm or leg before you even realized something was wrong. But at least they didn’t play games with your mind. “Yeah, probably not,” he allows.

The water sparkles blue in the sunlight, and it’s warm against their skin as it envelopes them, and their bodies become one.

– – – – – – – – –

Hurricane Matthew forms quietly off the western coast of Africa as a different storm is brewing in Washington. By the first of October, it churns in the Caribbean, wreaking havoc on the Lesser Antilles, Cuba, and his native Haiti, before threatening to make landfall on the Florida coast.

“They’re fine,” Remy reports back, of the remaining relatives he has on the island. “Flooding, some damage, but it’s a hurricane. We’re used to them around here.” It takes a couple of days to reach everyone by phone, but thankfully they’re alive and breathing. Just a year ago, Underwood had selfishly siphoned funds from FEMA to feed his failed America Works program. These are the kinds of hard truths from the past that float around in the Danton household, unacknowledged like ghosts.

Remy and Jackie are forced west as the cyclone nears the peninsula: back into the car, onto the interstate, more nights spent sleeping inside roadside hotel rooms.

They’re both still tired as hell of hotel rooms.

At some point, they’ve got to find a more permanent solution soon. This isn’t exactly an ideal time for a road trip. But the whole situation still feels too delicate, and they’ve got some tough decisions to make in the weeks ahead.

– – – – – – – – –

Fear grips the nation as election day approaches. Terror is everywhere these days: on the news, on the streets, behind closed doors. It no longer matters what side of the divide you stand on.

“We still need to vote,” Remy announces in the bathroom one morning, though the sentiment is half-hearted. “You and I both know as well as anyone how many people fought for either of us to even have the right.”

It’s true, but for the first time in her life, she’s wavering. “Yeah, I know,” she agrees. But for who? The silent question hangs in the air, unanswered. Neither of them would ever cast a vote for Frank Underwood ever again. But just the idea of helping a Republican win office makes her skin crawl.

“I mean,” Remy tries again, “no matter what happens, this is still our country.” But he’d always known he would never be like Doug Stamper. Unquestionably loyal, perhaps to a fault. “We can’t just do nothing if we’re going to keep living in it.”

And that’s when it comes to her, what seems like the only solution. “What if we don’t?”

“What do you mean?”

“We could leave.” He looks skeptical, so she pushes on: “Look, I’ve been an American my entire life. I was born here. I grew up here. I’ve fought, proudly, for my country. But…this place isn’t what I once thought it was. Everything feels like a lie.”

“Okay, I won’t pretend I’m not tempted, but wouldn’t that be like taking the coward’s way out? We can’t just bail because Underwood might get re-elected? Or because Conway might be our new leader?”

“There’s always going to be people like Heather Dunbar who won’t stop fighting,” Jackie says. “Honestly, I’m not worried about Washington in the long term. But we need a fresh start. And I am done with politics. Between the two of us we must be fluent in three or four languages.” She catches his eye in the mirror at the hotel where they’ve been lying low for the past two days. “Come on, we can figure something out.”

– – – – – – – – –

It takes some convincing, but Remy finally agrees.

So as the rest of the nation lines up to cast their votes across the country, the two of them sit miles in the air watching the life they thought they knew grow smaller and smaller. They’re in the clouds by the time the polls close on the west coast, drifting to sleep by the low rumble of the plane. They won’t know who’s won until they land in the morning, won’t know what kind of world is waiting for them on the other side.

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