If he could have done something, to protect Libby from the growing realization that someone she’d considered a friend, even a distant one, was one of the bad guys he’d have jumped on it. He’d been in that position more than once, having to stand in the decaying ruins of a plan or a situation and accept that someone hadn’t been what he thought they were.
Anyone who told you that didn’t hurt was a goddamn liar.
She wasn’t running from it though. She was standing tall and straight, in a room full of people there to judge her intelligence and honesty at the least, answering their questions in a soft, intentionally pleasant voice. He watched them more than he watched her, it hurt to watch her and know there wasn’t really anything he could do to make this easier for her.
He couldn’t help with the part where she was having to answer questions like she somehow should have realized the harmless dude who wanted to be her friend was really a bad guy. He could be her eyes on the crowd. He could watch everyone else while she was having to focus on the person who’d asked her questions.
He counted at least four people who clearly thought she was in on it, and he was going to watch them extra closely, obviously. Three more he was relatively sure thought she’d been sleeping with “James” and another two thought she was sleeping with him.
Thankfully Inspector Hussein was at least marginally in control of this thing, and she didn’t fit into any of those categories. She was just super frustrated because they’d found Libby on facial recognition just fine, in all the places she’d said she’d been.
James was somewhat conspicuous in his absence.
“Why should we believe you that he was there?”
Libby rubbed her face, finally starting to get frustrated. “Because I wasn’t the only one who saw him? My boss had more than one conversation with him. The building receptionist.”
Inspector Hussein sighed. “We’ll keep checking. At this point I’m convinced he’s dodging the cameras and we’re going to have to find some other way to figure out who he was.”
Half of the other people in the room got up, swept their things up, and left. Libby sat still and serene and watched them. Their eyes met for a second and he tried to give her a smile. Inspector Hussein sent her people in some different directions, looking for ways to track James and ways to track the explosives they’d found. They were apparently still looking for a body.
Eventually it was just the three of them, taking up the meeting room.
“Did he ever talk about politics?” Inspector Hussein asked.
“He wouldn’t have,” Brody answered, scoffing.
Both of them looked at him, waiting.
“He wouldn’t have talked about politics, that’s not how you work a trap. If you’re thinking he wormed his way into her life to get here… he would have been exceedingly careful never to be anything other than nonthreatening. If Libby had said something about politics he’d have agreed with her, but he wouldn’t have offered anything.”
Inspector Hussein sighed. “So how would you find him?”
Well, his best bet would have been to watch Libby, see who decided the fact she was still breathing and still speaking to the police was a problem. But he definitely didn’t want to say that right now. He wasn’t thinking too deeply about it, but he very much did not want her to think that was why he was staying. It’d taken all of his self-control—honed by twenty years of doing what he was supposed to do and not what he wanted to do—not to haul her into a hug as soon as she’d opened the door to her hotel room. To sit down and talk through what she’d remembered in her dream, and not actively do anything to make her feel better.
Because the job wasn’t over yet, and he wasn’t supposed to be doing things to make her feel better.
“Well, for a start I’d be doing a lot of work to see how someone adjusted our search programs, and where that particular rabbit hole went.”
Inspector Hussein cocked a brow at him. “Yes, I’m doing that. That would be sort of standard, I was looking for more specialist information.”
And that sentence right there told him there was no way he was going to get away with saying he didn’t have that sort of specialization. Which meant she’d checked up on him. Brody could push that. He was relatively sure he knew Libby well enough to know she wasn’t idealistic, wasn’t the sort to find out what he’d spent the last twenty years doing and not want to speak to him anymore or anything like that.
That didn’t mean he wanted to talk about it.
He didn’t know how to give her any of that specialist information without making Libby feel…worse. Without trotting out all the ways this dude she’d potentially liked enough to at least be friends with had spent months getting close to her and twisting that until he could use her. Brody wasn’t even sure what they’d been using her for, thought he was pretty sure it was supposed to finish with Libby dead.
“Because you’re not all watching me like the likelihood of them trying to finish the job is high,” Libby muttered.
Inspector Hussein had the grace to look uncomfortable. “Well, I would be if Captain Halliday here wasn’t better at that than anything I’ve got to use.” She cocked a brow at him. “For his own reasons.”
“He’s been pretty clear the job’s not finished,” Libby muttered.
Inspector Hussein gave him a dark look, and nodded her head toward Libby a bit, like he was supposed to correct that somehow. Like there was any way for him to, based off a couple of days of acquaintance.
“I said I wasn’t going anywhere and I meant it,” Brody settled on, after thinking about it for a minute. Maybe that didn’t feel like it was just about the job anymore, but it probably wasn’t the right time to be too self-reflective about that.