She'd already finished her first glass of wine when he sat down on the stool next to her. She saw his hands first, signaling the bartender, and knew him. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
"It's a free country," he said, a thread of laughter in his voice.
She'd seen him on television, in quick flashes before Maggie could reach the control. Pictures in the news, with his family, with the new president. It had been a year since she had seen his knuckles up close like this, the scars, the few remaining freckles. Some things had become blurry in her mind, but others remained sharp like broken glass.
"So it is," she said, the corner of her mouth turning up. Despite herself? She glanced over at him, took in his full form. He had nicer suits now. Otherwise, he looked the same. "Hi Brody."
"Hi Carrie," he said, his voice softening over her name in a way she wished that it wouldn't. He shoulders tensed and she looked back at her wine glass, the shining wood of the bar. He was not supposed to be here. She lifted her hand to the bar to brace herself, to turn away. "You're engaged," he said, "Congratulations."
She turned to look at the diamond, reminding herself. "No," she said. "It's just to scare off people like you."
"Like me?" he repeated lightly. "How?"
She looked up at him again. Despite his tone his eyes were intent, daring her to keep looking at him. "People who should know better."
He smiled, slowly, at that, and she knew she was fucked. "I mean it, Brody," she said. "You ruined my life. Then you told me to stay away from you, which I have done. What the fuck are you doing here?"
He seemed to take that in, tilted his head in acknowledgement. He didn't try to dispute her assertion that he had ruined her life though he could have; he could have told her she had ruined it herself. Instead he scrunched up his face a little, and touched his forehead, and sighed, and looked at her. "I've been thinking about you," he said.
Later, he told her she had been right all along. They lay in her bed, his body all around hers, his hands stroking the fingers of her right hands, over and over, as if they were prayer beads. She thought, he could probably kill me now. His hands around her throat, his legs pinning hers to the mattress as she writhed and gasped for air. She turned her head at the thought and he pressed a kiss on the skin just below her ear.
"Go on," she said.
"I was going to blow up the vice president and all those other men. I had a suicide vest on, and I'd already pulled the trigger once. It didn't go off. But I fixed it. I would have tried again, if you hadn't convinced Dana to call me. You knew she was the only person in the world who could have stopped me then. You knew me."
"It's my job – was my job," Carrie said, trying to sound brisk, even though his skin was pressed to her skin everywhere, even though his hands were slowly touching her as if they would never stop. "To know people like that."
"And I'm sure you were very good at it," Brody whispered. "But it wasn't just that. You knew me."
She shook her head, in agreement or denial, turned her face into the pillow. She had lain in this bed for so long after he was gone, alone, turning it over in her mind. Guilty, not guilty. Right, wrong.
"I know," she said, into the pillow. He shifted along her length, tucked his head into the crook of her neck.
"What did you say?"
"I know," she said, clearer this time, turning to speak it into the air. "I found out about Issa. I know he wasn't your guard. I know he was a boy, and that you loved him, and that he died. And I know you wanted revenge. I've known for months that I was right all along."
"Why didn't you tell anyone?" he asked. She gave a short, sharp laugh, and he slipped an arm around her, to hold her movement closer to his own body.
"Why did you just tell me I was right? You know I'm no threat now. No one would ever believe me. You didn't go through with it. Isn't that proof enough that I'm crazy and you're not a terrorist?"
"If you shouted loud enough, someone would believe you," he said.
"Some crackpot conspiracy theorist like everyone thinks I am," she agreed, amicably enough, turning her hand in his hand, rubbing her thumb along his wrist.
"I'm not a terrorist," he said quietly.
"Do you want me to shout it from the rooftops?" she asked, turning onto her back so she should see his face. "Is that why you told me? So I can try to stop you again? So you can stop feeling guilty for not going through with it?"
He frowned down at her, rolled to lay over her, caging her with one arm. "No. It's over now. I don't feel guilty."
"You don't feel that Issa deserved justice?" she asked, her brows drawing in. He ran a finger over one, and then the other. She nipped at his wrist, lying across her face.
"Issa deserved justice and everything good in the world. But killing a bunch of powerful men will only cause more boys to die. I thought… I thought maybe people would listen. But no one would have heard what I was trying to say."
She reached up and traced his lower lip, his silly red eyebrows, passed a hand over his wounded eyes. "So that's what this was?" she asked finally. "A thank you?" Like a coward, her eyes darted away.
"No," he said. "What I just said was a thank you. This… I don't know what this is. But not that."
She dared a look back and he was still watching her, still looking straight down at her with his pale crinkled eyes. She felt like glass now, but tempered, bulletproof.
"I knew," she repeated. Her voice was high but steady, insistent. "I figured it out. You didn't break me. I'm not broken."
"I am," he said, and then smiled, a small, impish smile. She felt something spread from the top of her chest through her face and realized she was smiling back. Foolishly.
"That's no excuse for ruining my life," she said, still smiling. He made a face.
"I know. But it was kind of you or me, and I chose me. You seem to be getting by." He gestured at her apartment. Bigger than her old one. Corporate 'security' paid better, but it was boring as shit. Carrie frowned, and Brody seemed to realize his mistake. He turned, pulling her over him. Her hair fell around his face, a pale curtain against the pale white walls. He bracketed her face in his hands.
"I can't change what happened," he said. "We both did some fucked up shit in the service of something we thought was bigger than ourselves. I can only change now. What I do now."
She closed her eyes and nodded. She didn't really blame him. She could have handled the situation better – or maybe not. Maybe she was not capable of that. Maybe she had to accept her own fallibility. She was working on that. When she opened her eyes, he was still there. She tilted her head at him, and smiled a little sadly.
"So do something now," she said.