Nazir wanted proof of allegiance. Brody was still unsure whether he could give it if it meant that he would be ultimately responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians. But he didn't care to think of the consequences if he refused. It was as if he was in the clutches of a ruthless loan shark, Brody kept making payments but the calculation of the amount needed in order to settle up grew ever greater.

Estes was going to brief Brody on homeland security as a favour to Walden. The irony. David casually mentioned his history with Walden and the inception of the drone programme which had killed Issa and hundreds like him and immediately set Brody's teeth on edge. He was so flippant about it, he couldn't even cite to the nearest thousand how many predators they now deployed. Eight thousand or nine thousand, he shrugged. Red rag to a bull. Why would he know the exact number? The drones had cut the heart out of Al Qaeda, after all, that was the important fact to know. Brody noted that he had conveniently omitted the fact that for every Al Qaeda operative they killed, scores of innocents also died. This was the same guy who smiled when he told him that Carrie was in a nuthouse, that she wouldn't bother the Brodys again, so pressing charges and bringing disrepute on his Agency would achieve little but embarrassment for all and the displeasure of Walden.

Brody knew that schools were routinely flattened, villages of civilians decimated because the unmanned aircraft were too indiscriminate, or those controlling them by satellite too fucking callous to care about the difference between innocent human life and valid military targets. Although the deafening screams of agony of the dying and those in anguish from the survivors rang out, piercing the heavens and raking hell, silence reigned across the western world. Data on civilian casualties was not published, was covered up or the reports were sickeningly dismissed as propaganda generated by Al Qaeda. News footage of little brown bodies piled up at the hospital was not broadcast. The tiny hands poking out from under blood-sodden blankets, palms raised in supplication, never made it onto tv. U.S. citizens slept easy in their beds, comfortable in the knowledge that their foes did not have drones, that the War on Terror was being taken care of thousands of miles away on their behalf. It was never made clear at what price. The extent of the state-sponsored murder masquerading as a just war went unuttered. Brody believed that history would record this as The War of Terror, not The War on Terror. The average American watched the furious citizens of the Middle East screaming murder and burning the stars and stripes in the street and they wondered what they had done to offend them so.

Brody couldn't help himself and was just about to lock horns with this arrogant son of a bitch Estes when he remembered where he was, who he was supposed to be and pulled back just in time. They were interrupted, just as Roya said they would be, and just at the crucial moment to diffuse Estes' sense that Brody was criticising Walden and the employment of drone attacks. If his ire had registered, Brody would say he was playing devil's advocate, just trying to get the measure of Estes. The flash of anger had put and end to his wavering. As soon as Estes had left his office Brody began searching for the safe, suffocating the thought of what Nazir would do with this information and focusing on it instead as an act against Estes personally.

Brody had crossed a new line but Nazir could no longer be in doubt. He sincerely wished his part was done, that he could now go back to playing Congressman without finding Roya coiled in the corner of his office.

He had proved his allegiance to Nazir once again before the week was out. Brody had saved Nazir's life, risked everything to send him the 'MAY 1' text and get him out of danger. Walden had drawn him into that control room at the Pentagon, he was wired about something. Brody was only even there doing Walden's dirty work, to charm the Secretary of Defence into granting an export licence for a bunker-buster device for use in Iran. Between Roya, Nazir and Walden they had him in a spin, he agreed with nothing they asked of him yet circumstances dictated that he delivered every time. Brody wondered if he would even be able to see his own reflection in the mirror when he shaved the following day. Perhaps he would only be able to make out the mist of his breath on the glass.

Brody had felt claustrophobic in that control room from the off, there were too many people huddled around the table and he didn't know any of them. Walden was enjoying it, getting a kick out of it whatever it was. He had been Director of the CIA and he clearly missed this kind of thing. He told him right at the last moment that they were there to get Nazir. Brody nearly swallowed his tongue. He knew that all eyes were on the footage coming from Beirut but he tried with all his might to keep a straight face, to breathe normally, to keep from shaking. He knew that if anyone noticed, they might misconstrue his reaction as the nervousness of an ex PoW at the thought of the man responsible for his detainment finally getting his comeuppance. Or they might call him on the nervous wreck that he was.

It was him, he knew it was. Brody recognised a couple of Nazir's men clearing the way for him. Those around the table murmured and the orders were given. Brody did not want to witness the assassination of Abu Nazir. He would yelp if they shot him and they would stretcher him off to the same institution Carrie was in. He reached for his phone and sent the text, obscured by the desk. He held his breath, waiting for the blipping sound of the electronic interference to register on the audio or the video to give him up. It didn't. Nazir was warned and ducked back inside the car but in the ensuing chaos a couple of people were hit. Brody pushed his palm down on his knee to subdue the frantic jiggling he could not contain.

Nazir had later thanked him via Roya. The only thanks Brody required was to be left alone.

"He needs you." Roya had said.

That was all it took, really. He couldn't refuse him.