Disclaimer - I do not own Homeland. That pleasure belongs to Showtime. No copyright infringement or money making scheme intended. This is purely for reading enjoyment.
A/N – this was originally meant to be my effort for the heatwave prompt, but I couldn't get it right. As I am currently struggling with The Long Goodbye and Fear and Sadness, this one distracted me. Now a companion to Traces.
The Drone Attack
The light of day is fading and he tries to quicken his pace. It is both logical and illogical simultaneously. For he means to get as much done while there is still daylight and yet it matters not, because he has no intention of stopping. He will work even in the darkness. He cannot stop. For if he stops, he will fall apart. He hears a familiar voice calling his name. His first name. The name that only his mother called him and usually only when he was in trouble. He prayed often in the first couple of years, when his mind was clear enough to do so, to find himself safely in her arms, the one person who could make his troubles disappear.
Silence, but for his own mind. He remembers when he was 6 years old and Jack, his pet hamster had died. He'd been heartbroken and only his mom's comforting embrace would do. He remembers when he was 17 and Jess went to the prom with someone else. He thought he'd blown it with her. He was heartbroken and again only his mom's comforting embrace would suffice. Issa, little Issa, his one reminder of goodness now gone, ripped away from him. Dead like Jack and lost to him like Jess. He chokes back a sob and closes his eyes. He needs his mother. It is her he wants in this moment.
A gentle but firm hand grips his shoulder. He does not turn around. He does not open his eyes. He shuts them tighter until his head hurts and he is seeing stars. The soft voice whispers words of comfort to him and his mother is right there with him when he needs her the most. He feels his knees buckle, strong arms catch him and his head is pulled into a comforting breast.
One month post Drone Attack
The devastation is still evident, but the bricks and broken buildings do not even begin to touch on the emotional pain that has clouded the atmosphere made up of a burning, quiet anger that shrouds them all. The air is full of something else too…a whisper, a whisper of menace. It yelled above everything and everyone. No one would ask him. Not the ones who had lost their whole world and wanted to grieve in peace. They did not want to know. Not the ones whose anger consumed them. They did want to know, but knew better than to ask. Nazir always finds out everything. His business is his business until he decides to make it yours.
He is glad that no one has asked him. Not because he would tell Nazir, but because he is not sure there is a plan. That is the menace in the air. Everyone is sure that there is something going on. It is why they look to him when they see him. Sure as they are that he must know. Perhaps his own anger encourages this impression upon them. That he only manages to continue on, knowing that revenge will be sought for this attack. If so, he has given off the wrong impression. He may live in that house, but he knows nothing. Nazir just sat around, working. It irritated him and fuelled his ire. He has felt the urge to lash out, to scream in anger, "why, why aren't you doing something? He was your son." He hasn't of course because only a very foolish man would say such a thing to Abu Nazir, no matter how true it may appear to be.
It was as though the weather was angry as well. It was hotter than normal. The sun was cruelly beating down on him as he helped with the construction. A new School had to be built. Sweat poured down him in waves while exhaustion battled his determination to keep going.
If any American troops were to wander into the area now, they'd think he was being forced to do what he was currently doing of his own choice. They would shout at him to get behind them, that they'd protect him, but who would protect them? Not him. He'd hand them over to whichever of the parents wanted a piece. His anger burned as hot as the sun beating down on him. He mentally slapped himself. He had more important things to concentrate on now and it is not like they would be wandering into the area. The American government were currently pretending it hadn't happened.
He carries on with his job of making the ground even, his fury increasing rather than decreasing.
"Nicholas, you did not come home last night."
"I'm working", he snaps, whipping his head round to find himself facing Abu Nazir, still several feet away. Such is his own anger, he does not care about his rudeness and would never dare speak to him like that normally.
"Nicholas", Nazir relents, though in a low tone and with a dangerous glint in his eyes that signal he will not tolerate another outburst like that. "You should come back home. Others can do that work."
Nicholas feels the fury rising in him like molten lava, a volcano waiting to erupt. He knows what he would like to say but knows better and holds his tongue in that regard. He will not, however, relent in what he is doing.
"I want to do it", he answers, turning his back on Nazir and returns to his digging.
"You cannot do it all by yourself."
"Why not?", he questions, sounding almost childish to his own ears.
He hears Nazir's footsteps, coming closer.
"Why must you?"
His anger, a permanent addition to his person these days is once again at the surface threatening to boil over. He fights for control, to watch his words in light of who he is speaking to, "because it matters. Because they matter and I can't just sit around doing nothing!"
Nicholas did not think it possible for Nazir to stand straighter than he usually did, but he had just managed it. He walks, slowly, dangerously, closer to Nicholas. His eyes are now the ones burning with anger. Every word is spoken softly and deliberately, conveying the raging storm building inside of him.
"When you return home tonight…and you will return home tonight, Nicholas, I will speak with you properly about what I want you to do for me. Then you will never think of me not caring about what they have done to my son, ever again. And you will say Morning Prayer with me. You can come here afterwards, if you must."
Nicholas watches him go and feels a fresh wave of heat wash over him as though it had parted to allow Nazir through and was now converging on him. He takes some water, as he silently considers Nazir's words. Something is in the works and he is to be a part of it. He nods his head in agreement with the idea. He follows Nazir home.
9 months. Is this what he wants? It is a commitment and one with dire consequences. Choosing to go back into a hole for 9 months. His body already full of adrenaline and fighting with itself. Excitement battling fear, sense arguing with anger and certainty duelling doubt. His stomach adding somersaults to the mix.
"You are sure, Nicholas?", Nazir questions.
He does not answer straight away. He looks at the time and thinks of what he would normally be doing and he feels excitement winning that battle, anger overcoming sense and doubt being beaten away.
It is quiet, much too quiet without Issa. They know it though they will never say it. Nicholas misses the arguments about him going to bed. Issa was smart enough only to do that with him and never his father.
The constant silence taunted him as easily as the denial by the CIA of the Drone Attack. It compressed in on him and made Nazir's large compound seem small. Tonight's silence is filled with the promise of things to come.
Breaking the silence, Nicholas speaks emotionally, "if I am to leave tomorrow to begin preparations then I would like to visit Issa's grave in the morning to say prayers."
Nodding his head in permission, Nazir repeats his question, "you are sure then?"
Nicholas meets Nazir's eyes and responds with determination, "yes, I am sure. I have to…" Nicholas's voice is choked with emotion. Composing himself he forces himself to finish, "I have to do it, because it is my gift to them."
He stands, taking his leave to his room.
He thinks of what awaits him tomorrow morning and the months ahead. He knows he should sleep. He is going to need the energy. Months of isolation await him to ensure that he will look like a man in dire need of rescuing when the time comes. He will go knowing that they will not get away with what they have done and he will be the one to make sure of it.
He lies himself down and shuts his eyes. He would have to put up with being called Brody again. The name sounded dirty to him now. It was what they called him. "His brothers" who would never leave him behind. He snorts. Well, he wasn't a fucking Marine anymore, but he would do as he had been asked, for Issa...for all of them and he will bring a fiery hell with him.