|The Interrogation Epilogue
Author: fiction2 PM
This is my take on what might have happened after the events in the episode 'The Interrogation'. COMPLETERated: Fiction K - English - Friendship/Angst - Words: 5,674 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 07-12-10 - id: 6135581
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
DISCLAIMER: I'm just borrowing the characters for a short story - any infringement of copyright is unintentional.
Thanks to Rachaeljurassic, AJ & S L for beta-ing this for me.
This is my take on what might have happened after the events in the episode 'The Interrogation'. It begins immediately after Craig has walked away after the mini-showdown with Richard.
The Interrogation - Epilogue
It wasn't until Craig reached the lobby that he realised just how exhausted he was. Up until that point he had been intending to drive himself home but now he seriously doubted the wisdom of that. Not only was he very tired, he was also unsure if he was still being affected by the drugs he'd ingested. He decided to call himself a cab using the public telephone in the lobby. He dialled a couple of taxi firms and was irritated when neither of them had any cabs immediately available. He dialled a third company who said the best they could do was to send the next available taxi, and that it shouldn't take longer than twenty minutes. In desperation Craig booked one, cradled the receiver and began to pace the lobby impatiently.
He was still pacing ten minutes later when Richard appeared, fresh from his interview with Tremayne. The two men froze for a moment staring at one another.
"You waiting for me?" Richard finally asked.
"No, taxi - didn't think I should drive."
"Come on, I'll give you a lift home."
For a few seconds Craig looked as if he might refuse, then he shrugged his shoulders and said,
"OK, but I meant what I said; I'm not in the mood to talk about what happened."
"Fine, if that's what you want. One thing you should know though. After you left I stuck around to listen to what Tremayne and the man from security were saying. The interrogator didn't want to let you off the hook, he was convinced you were hiding something and he wanted another shot at getting you to talk. Tremayne really stuck his neck out, he said he was satisfied with the results of your interrogation and insisted the case was closed. The security man wasn't happy about that at all, he threatened the boss that, if it later came to light that you weren't on the level, Tremayne would be the one held responsible for letting it drop. The boss stuck to his guns though and you're in the clear," said Richard.
"Oh, that's big of him. Am I supposed to be grateful? It was Tremayne who let them loose on me in the first place," Craig said bitterly.
The two men walked to the car park and got into Richard's car. Craig was clearly hostile, and his fellow operative couldn't help but pick up on the feelings emanating from the other man, so it was an uncomfortable journey and both were relieved when they pulled up outside Craig's apartment block.
"You want me to come in with you? Fix you something to eat maybe?"
"Too little, too late Richard," said Craig, and strode off into the building.
"Er, I'll see you then. You get in touch when you're ready, OK?" Richard called after him.
His colleague didn't bother to turn his head and Richard stared after him, the hurt showing in his face. Then he gave himself a mental shake and started the car engine ready to drive home.
Once in his apartment, Craig made a beeline for the bathroom. He turned on the shower, stripped naked and stood under it for a long time, almost as though he were trying to wash away the effects of the last few days. When at last he'd finished, all he wanted to do was fall into bed and sleep forever, but he knew that the fact that he'd had no food for days would hinder his ability to sleep for as long as he needed to. He almost wished he'd taken Richard up on his offer, his colleague could have organised the food while Craig was taking his shower. He was still very angry though, and pushed the thought aside impatiently. He was on his way into the tiny kitchen, intending to make himself the quickest thing he could think of, when he remembered he had virtually no food in the house. He'd cleared most of it out before embarking on the Retford case and there'd been no time to restock his cupboards since he'd got back. All the same, he went into the kitchen hoping to find something edible. As soon as he entered the room he saw the box on the work top. He approached it a little warily and found it was full of groceries. He picked up the note on the top and read: Thought you might be short of food, so picked up a few odds and ends for you. Sorry to use my key without asking. Richard. Craig threw the note to one side. Despite the feeling of relief that he'd at least be able to feed himself, he was still very annoyed with Richard and wasn't even sure if he wanted to think of him as a friend anymore, after such a betrayal.
If he thinks buying a box of groceries is going to make up for what he did, or rather what he didn't do, then he's sadly mistaken, Craig thought as he unpacked the box.
He quickly cooked some scrambled eggs and plenty of toast, not realising just how ravenous he was until he found he had polished off the lot and was forced to make himself a second helping. Having finished his makeshift meal he went into the bedroom, crawled into bed and fell into a very deep sleep.
When he finally awoke he felt a little disorientated, an unusual experience for him as he was used to waking up alert and ready for whatever the day had in store for him. He fleetingly wondered whether the drugs were still in his system, then decided, since it was impossible to tell, he should just accept things as they were. He needed to go easy on himself for a day or so until he started to recover a little from the after-effects of the devastating experience he'd been put through. He got out of bed and headed for the kitchen. While he fried eggs and bacon he started to analyse his feelings about all that had happened. Now that he'd managed to take care of his physical needs, and the drugs had at least begun to leave his system, he felt more able to concentrate on trying to make sense of what had happened to him. His mind ranged over recent events. He thought about walking into Tremayne's office, after successfully completing his mission, and passing out from the effect of the sedative with which his boss had laced his drink. Then about waking in the cell and being asked the same thing over and over. He considered the hallucinations he'd suffered, how hungry and tired he'd felt and how confused he'd got. He could hardly believe that Tremayne had allowed him to go through all that – surely he knew that Craig wasn't a double agent? As he ate his meal, Craig started to think about all the possible reasons his boss could conceivably have for letting security loose on him. Then, once again, he was overtaken by tiredness and he climbed back into his bed and slept. For the next few days he did roughly the same things: briefly waking, making himself something to eat, then trying to rationalise the actions of his fellow Nemesis employees, before succumbing to exhaustion once more.
He had no idea how much time had passed since he'd walked into Tremayne's office just after completing the Retford case. He didn't know how long the interrogation itself had lasted and, since he'd arrived back at his flat, he'd had no desire to engage with the outside world. All he'd wanted to do was to cut himself off, spend time alone to give himself a chance to re-group and think everything through. His clocks had already wound down when he'd returned and he hadn't yet reclaimed his watch from the security department. He no longer cared about the passage of time, or even what day it was, all he wanted was to be left alone to allow his mind and body to recover from the mistreatment he'd undergone. So he ignored the growing mountain of post that he was accumulating and didn't turn on the radio or television. The outside world could wait until he felt ready to reconnect. He reflected on the irony of that. The interrogator had isolated him, taken away all points of reference and made certain that Craig lost all track of time. He'd taunted him with it, telling him that the human mind needed a pattern to follow. Yet, now that Craig had the means to re-establish a routine, he had no desire to do so. For a while he wondered if he was refusing to behave in a conventional manner just to prove the interrogator wrong. However, on reflection, he decided that it was simply that he wanted to allow himself the time he knew he needed.
For several days Craig continued to spend all his time either eating, sleeping or thinking about recent events. He wasn't entirely happy about the turn that his thoughts had taken of late. At the beginning it had been easy to believe that the way he'd been treated was completely unjustifiable. As he'd said to the security man, a successful mission was hardly grounds for suspicion. But now he'd had time to really go over it in his mind he realised that his achievements in wrapping up some of his cases did look a bit uncanny and that maybe security had a point after all. He'd also found himself considering the role of the people who, prior to what had happened, he'd thought of as his two closest friends. He was beginning to realise that perhaps Richard and Sharron had, in some ways, been as much victims of circumstance as he had been. He decided that he and Richard needed to clear the air and talk things through. Although he wasn't prepared to admit that maybe blaming his colleague for failing to rescue him had been a mistake he was, at least, prepared to give him a hearing now. As soon as he'd finished his food he rang Richard; the telephone rang out for a long time and Craig was just about to cradle the receiver when at last it stopped.
"Hello," said Richard. Although it was only one word it somehow conveyed confusion.
Craig realised belatedly that he had no idea how to open this conversation. He grasped at the first thing that came into his head.
"It's Craig, er.. thank you for the groceries."
"You've got me up at," Richard paused and looked at the clock, "twenty past four in the morning to thank me for the groceries?" he said incredulously.
"Oh, I didn't realise. I just woke up, I don't have a working clock right now and Nemesis security relieved me of my watch when they locked me up. I'll let you get back to sleep then."
"OK… No, wait! We need to talk," Richard said.
"I'm wide awake now so I'll drive over if you like."
"All right," Craig said and put down the receiver.
While he waited for Richard to arrive Craig sat and, once again, went over his feelings towards all the people who had been involved in the interrogation he'd gone through, starting with Tremayne.
Immediately after his escape Craig had been more confused than annoyed by Tremayne's involvement. He had found it difficult enough to believe that his boss had allowed him to be questioned but it had been even more of a shock when he'd realised that Tremayne had actually set him up by giving him a drink laced with drugs. At first Craig wondered how his boss could possibly justify what he'd done but, all too soon, he realised that maybe he'd had little choice but to comply with the security department. The truth was that, to anyone unaware of the events in Tibet, the tally of successful missions - often against seemingly insuperable odds -that Craig, Richard and Sharron had chalked up between them did look a little odd. The unexplained gaps in the written reports they'd been obliged to submit would have only increased the suspicions of Nemesis security. The very existence of people like the man who had been responsible for interrogating Craig demonstrated how seriously internal security was taken and, when he thought about it logically, it was unsurprising that he, Richard and Sharron would come under scrutiny at some point. The interrogator himself had said that suspicions had been aroused by his constant successes. Craig supposed that security had raised their concerns with Tremayne and he'd simply allowed them to do their job. In his boss's place he had to admit that he'd probably have done the same thing. The fact that the older man had closed the case and let Craig walk out of his office had proved that he didn't seriously suspect Craig was working against their interests. On the other hand he could hardly allow his gut feelings about operatives to influence his decisions when something as important as internal security could be jeopardised. Therefore, although Craig remained angry with his boss and still felt a sense of betrayal, he acknowledged to himself that he couldn't really have expected Tremayne to have done anything other than comply with security's request.
Much as he would have liked to channel his anger onto the security department he couldn't, in all honesty, blame them either. He wanted to very much but he couldn't help but be aware that they had a job to do and it was essential that any suspicions about operatives were thoroughly followed up and investigations carried out. He very much resented the man who had interrogated him, partly because he had derived obvious satisfaction from breaking men, even going so far as to boast about his past triumphs. The man had also clearly enjoyed coming so very close to cracking Craig, but he could hardly blame a man for deriving satisfaction from something he was obviously good at, however distasteful Craig considered that particular job. He didn't like where his thoughts were taking him at all – he'd like to have believed that someone had been firmly in the wrong with regard to his interrogation and instead he realised that he was actually coming to the conclusion that it was justifiable in the absence of the special knowledge that Richard, Sharron and he possessed. That didn't stop him wanting an apology though – from the security department and from Tremayne. He knew that the closest thing he'd get to that would be when someone from Nemesis got in touch to ask him when he intended to return to work. A part of him would love to throw it in their faces and tell them where to stick their job but he knew he wouldn't. When Richard had told him he was in the clear, when he was still livid about the whole incident, he'd fully intended to resign but, since then, he'd had a lot of time to think it through and he'd realised he didn't want to. He loved his job and being able to make a difference, and believed it was especially important to continue now that he, Richard and Sharron had such exceptional abilities.
Thinking of Richard made him feel guilty and he tried unsuccessfully to push the feeling aside. Now he'd had time to analyse what had happened he'd realised that Richard had probably been right, there was nothing he and Sharron could have done to help him. As Craig thought about the encounter in the corridor outside Tremayne's office, he began to regret using the mental link to try and make his colleague aware of how contemptuous he felt towards him. He remembered the feelings of guilt and sadness he'd picked up from the other man and admitted to himself that he'd been unfair to take out his frustration and anger on Richard. He had wanted to rail at Tremayne but, because the older man was his boss, it went against all his training. In addition to that, at the back of his mind, he'd been only too aware that if he pushed Tremayne too far he could easily find himself back in the cell awaiting further interrogation. As it was he'd had a nasty moment when he'd had to wait to see if his boss would unlock the office door. So when he'd encountered Richard he'd been hurting and he'd damn well wanted to make someone else suffer too and his colleague had been right there, on the spot. The main thing that was haunting him at the time of that meeting was the fact that he'd believed Richard and Sharron had been involved in the interrogation. He'd been sure that he'd seen the two of them alongside the interrogator looking in at him. The thought that they too had betrayed him had been the thing that had brought him closest to breaking point. Now he considered it, he realised that he had probably been hallucinating. At the time it had been impossible to distinguish between reality and illusion and Richard and Sharron had managed to disappear from the room impossibly quickly if it had been real. But then again, part of the interrogation technique had been to confuse him about the passage of time, so how could he tell how long it had been in reality?
At this point in his thoughts he sensed Richard on his way up to the flat and, despite the earliness of the hour, he poured a couple of drinks in readiness; deciding that they could probably both use them. He greeted his colleague and handed him one of the glasses. Richard took it warily, sat down and opened the conversation.
"Look I'm really sorry about what happened but I still can't see that there was anything that Sharron and I could have done to help you," he began.
"There must have been something," Craig said.
"It isn't as if we were sitting around doing nothing you know. We sensed you'd been knocked out and we knew you were close by and in danger but we couldn't tell Tremayne that without explaining how we knew," Richard said.
"Sharron and I discussed it and decided we'd better go and see Tremayne and outline our concerns about you without actually admitting we knew for sure that there was something wrong. We suspected that he was involved almost immediately, he kept us waiting for two days for a meeting with him and, when we finally got to see him, he was obviously stalling. We couldn't get him to admit he knew where you were or what had happened to you, and I did push him hard, Craig. I was actually quite rude to him and you know that isn't like me. He practically threw us out of his office in the end," Richard said.
"And so you left it at that," Craig said contemptuously.
"No, of course we didn't. We decided to do some digging a little closer to home. Eventually we found someone who'd seen you heading for Tremayne's office the day you vanished. We triangulated your position and realised you must be still in the Nemesis building but we could hardly go to Tremayne and demand your release. For one thing it would have been impossible to explain how we were so certain where you were and, for another, we figured you were being investigated because of all the unexplained gaps in the reports you'd put in since Tibet. As Sharron and I have the same number of gaps in our write-ups as you do in yours, the most likely outcome of our confronting Tremayne head-on was that we'd have been carted off to cells adjoining yours to be interrogated too," Richard continued.
"So you weren't prepared to take a risk for me?"
"It wasn't like that Craig. We discussed the situation at length and decided we'd have to try and get hold of some concrete evidence of where you were that we could take to Tremayne. When we finally got enough we confronted him with it and told him that we knew where you were. All that got us was an admission that you were indeed under investigation but he made it very clear that it would be very unwise of us to interfere in any way. We were told it was a security matter and potentially very serious. Tremayne pointed out that no-one really knows anyone else as well as they think they do and we couldn't be 100% sure that you were on the level any more than he could. Without betraying our secret we couldn't contradict him so we really felt that we couldn't help you… you had to do that yourself, we gave our word remember and you…."
"No Richard, you remember - you gave your word. Sharron and I weren't even there when you did it," Craig cut in.
"Now you're splitting hairs. Yes I admit it was me who gave my word but I spoke for all three of us and you know it. Not one of us would willingly betray the Tibetans. You can't tell me that you expected Sharron and me to tell Tremayne everything to get you out of the mess you were in. Look what you just went through to keep the secret."
"Yeah, I know. There must have been some other way you could have helped me though," Craig said.
"Sharron and I took enough risks just confronting Tremayne. If they even suspected we had something to hide they'd find out everything."
"For God's sake Richard, why do you think that they interrogated me? Because they do suspect I have something to hide. I really wish you'd found a way to intervene."
"What could we have done?"
"Something Richard, anything."
"What? You tell me what we could have done, because we went over and over it and couldn't come up with anything that wouldn't land you, and possibly us too, in worse trouble. If Tremayne really thought we were a risk to the security of Nemesis he'd never let it go, and you know it. Put yourself in my place, what could I have done?"
"I don't know. All I know is that I've never felt so helpless in my life and I desperately needed you to do something and you didn't," Craig said.
"I know and I am sorry, but it was no picnic for us either. Oh we knew how bad it was for you, we picked up on the confusion you felt, and the helplessness of course. But we felt pretty powerless too, we truly believed there was nothing we could do, you had to find your own way out."
Craig was silent for a while. Although he still felt upset about Richard's lack of intervention, he had spent a considerable time mulling it over during the past few days and had failed to come up with any plausible action that his colleague could have taken.
"I hate to admit it, but I'm coming round to your way of thinking," Craig finally conceded. "I'd probably have gone in there bull-headed, maybe even tried to bust you out if I could, then we'd both have been under suspicion. I do regret that I took it out on you. I suppose, if I'm absolutely honest, it wasn't even you I was mad at. When I escaped from the interrogation room I was so angry I just wanted to hit out at anyone I could. I had the showdown with Tremayne and the security guy who'd tried to make me talk but it didn't assuage my anger any. I walked out to find you standing there and I just lashed out because you were a handy target. In truth it was myself I was upset with. I was so angry because…"
His voice shook slightly and he took a deep breath before continuing,
"…because Richard, I so nearly broke. I'd been drugged, hadn't eaten for what seemed like days, been subjected to extremes of temperature, sleep deprivation. Then I found that the door was bricked up and I honestly thought I'd never get out of there, that I'd spend the rest of my life going over and over the Retford case. To top it off, that guy was seriously messing with my mind. I was so confused I didn't even know what I'd said and what I hadn't anymore. The line between reality and hallucination was so blurred and the only way to make it all stop was to talk. I've never been so close to cracking in my life and I was terrified I'd break down and tell that man everything."
"I know. That's why I was outside Tremayne's office when you'd escaped. I'd sensed that you were at the end of your tether and I knew you'd passed out. I figured that, as the chances were very high that you'd start talking as soon as you came round, I had nothing to lose and I was going to have a showdown with Tremayne. I'm not sure what I would have said but I was absolutely determined that one way or another I'd get you out of there. I guess Sharron didn't pick up on you then, otherwise I'm sure she'd have been there too. Anyway, I heard the three of you talking and figured you'd escaped but I hung around, just in case you needed help. There is no way I would have let them take you back to that cell Craig, believe me, I knew you'd had enough," Richard said.
"Why didn't you say that when I laid into you?" Craig asked.
"Because I sensed how angry and upset you were, how betrayed you felt. I figured that you needed to come out on top after everything you'd suffered and I didn't want to make you feel bad about what you'd said to me. I also felt like I deserved some of it. I knew what you were going through, how awful it was, yet I left it until you'd almost broken before deciding to step in, but I truly wasn't going to let it go on any longer, I swear it," Richard explained and it was crystal clear that he was in absolute earnest and that he was genuinely worried that his friend would doubt his sincerity.
"I know that now," Craig said quietly. "I'm sorry I attacked the wrong person. You know the most galling thing about all this?"
"That I desperately want someone to blame for what happened to me and, when I put myself in the place of everyone who was involved, I can't see that any of them had a choice," Craig said.
"The man who interrogated you maybe, he didn't have to do that job did he?" Richard suggested.
"No he didn't, but if it hadn't been him it would have been someone else and security is important, you know that as well as I do. I just wish there was something good I could take from all this."
"Maybe there is. I confronted Tremayne after you left him. It was pretty clear he was worried; he asked me if I thought you'd get over it. I said that I was sure you would and reminded him that it was all part of our job…"
"And that's supposed to make me feel better?"
"No, of course not, it's what I said next that's important. I said I hoped he'd get over it as well. I didn't mean get over what he let you go through; I meant get over any suspicions he had about us and, from the way he looked at me, he knew what I was driving at. I doubt very much if he'll allow you, me or Sharron to be interrogated by our own security department ever again, no matter how many gaps there are in our reports in the future," Richard said.
"Well I guess I'll have to be contented with that. I've always hated writing those things," said Craig.
"I'd better be going, it's still early, I might be able to salvage a little more sleep before I have to report in," Richard said.
"Now I know I'm still in a job I think I might take off for a couple of days, get right away and take some time for myself for a change," Craig said, as he showed his friend out.
Richard turned in the doorway and said,
"I really am sorry Craig, you know that don't you? Are we OK now do you think?"
Craig paused for a long moment, wondering whether to ask Richard whether he and Sharron really had stood alongside the interrogator or if he'd been hallucinating. He was almost certain that it was one of the illusions he'd suffered. If it had been a hallucination then Richard would be hurt that he would even consider that it might be true and if it hadn't….. , he forced himself to consider that possibility…..if it hadn't then he was sure that he'd never be able to forgive them. He really wanted to ask Richard about it but, at the same time, he was desperately afraid that the truth might be unpalatable. He decided to throw out a hint in the hope that his colleague's response would allay his fears without him having to ask directly.
"For a moment or two, while I was being interrogated, I thought I saw you and Sharron. I hoped that you were there to rescue me but, when neither of you moved, I got the impression you were working against me," he said.
Richard looked confused then replied,
"Surely you know that we'd never willingly conspire against you?"
The response didn't really allay Craig's fears. For one thing, Richard's bemused look didn't necessarily mean that he and Sharron hadn't been in that room. It could have been caused by the fact that Craig had not answered his question and appeared to go off at a tangent. Also, Richard hadn't actually denied being involved in the interrogation, the use of the word 'willingly' might indicate that he had been coerced into co-operating. Craig wasn't sure whether he should push it further or not. Did he really want to know the answer right now? He suspected that things would become clearer as time went on and the question might well resolve itself. If it didn't he could always bring it up some time in the future when he felt less raw. Besides, all that he'd suffered had made him terribly aware of how much he relied on Richard and Sharron, how much they all needed each other. He knew they wouldn't be able to recapture their easy camaraderie overnight, but he didn't want to face the idea of a permanent rift. He was afraid that, if he tackled Richard about it head-on right now, that might be the result - especially as he was still feeling so vulnerable. So he decided to leave it for now and replied,
"Yeah I do. Well then I guess we're OK, or at least we will be, given a little time. I'm not going to get over this overnight and I won't lie and say it doesn't still rankle. It's going to take me a while before I fully trust you again but I'm sure I'll be able to put it all behind me eventually. You need to leave me alone for a while so I can try and come to terms with and make my peace with what happened. You get off home and get some sleep now."
"You take care of yourself for a bit, make sure you have a real break," Richard said.
"Sure I will. Thanks for coming over," Craig said as he closed the door behind his friend.
Richard breathed a sigh of relief and he headed back to his car feeling as though a great weight had been lifted from his mind. Craig still felt a sense of betrayal but he had understood the impossible situation he and Sharron had found themselves in. Everything was going to be all right between them eventually. For that he was profoundly grateful and, for the first time since he'd felt Craig lose consciousness all those days ago, he smiled.