I warned of angst.
"Enough! Turn it off!" Sam shouted at Greg, who complied at once. Fiona dropped her head in to her hands. Her breath was shaking. The images played out before her as if someone had pasted them on to her hands. Adam's screams rang in her ears. Oh God, his screams. Two years ago, Adam had taken a bullet in the leg. He hadn't screamed then. He'd yelled once on the way down, then lain hissing for a few minutes. But he hadn't screamed. Really screamed, not like that. Oh God, how much pain must he have been in, and how terrified before? He must have known what they were going to do. "That's proof of life." Sam said determinedly. "That is definitive proof that Adam is alive. None of us needs to see any more of that. Ever." Sam sounded as if he were on his feet, breathing hard. Fiona felt a hand on her shoulder, probably Sarah. She wouldn't open her eyes. She was going to wake up from this. It was wrong, it was so wrong. It was a horrible dream. She was going to wake up soon, with Adam beside her, warm, strong, whole.
"I'm sorry you had to see that." Chris said softly. "All of you. But, Sam, I'm also sorry that you're wrong. The proof of life is only ever a trawl for information. That tape needs to be torn apart for faces, voices, any identification at all. We also need to estimate how close Adam is to breaking. If he does, all his assets are in danger. You all know how much he knows."
"Adam'd never betray us." Sarah cut in.
"It's easy to say that from safety." Chris said. "You saw what Adam was being put through."
"Never heard Adam yell." Tash mumbled.
"I appreciate that it isn't easy to watch a fellow officer suffer," Chris started, "but it has to be done."
"Count me out." Sam cut him off. "That's not a fellow officer suffering, Chris, that's my best mate being tortured. Are you really going to make me sit through it? Fiona?"
"Yes to the first, no to the second." Chris replied calmly. Fiona breathed a silent sigh of relief. She couldn't have done that. "She and Greg haven't been to Serbia, the rest of you have."
"Chris, I can't do that." Tash said.
"Me neither." Sarah added. Chris sighed.
"I appreciate that this is difficult, but we are not doing this for our own sakes. What we will feel watching is a fragment of what Adam has had to endure. Will all of you please remember that? We are trying to find him and bring him home before he has to stand very much worse. Will you all please keep sight of that? Greg, prep equipment for analysis of the film itself. Fiona, draft a response expressing our indignation at the treatment of our officer and asking where the hell Josif Mihaillovitch is. We'll take that out if we see him somewhere in this mess. One of you, pull the plug on the speakers on your way out." Fiona got unsteadily to her feet, only too glad to be out. Greg pulled the plug on the speakers.
"Chris," Sam started tentatively. "can we have a minute before..."
Everyone else caught up with Fiona and Greg just outside. Tash walked up to the nearest wall and pressed her forehead against it, swearing fluently. Sarah pulled Fiona in to her arms. Fiona collapsed against her, body shaking with tears.
"He's alive, Fi. Where there's life, there's hope. He is alive." Fiona nodded once. Sam sighed heavily somewhere nearby. Tash's swearing had stopped.
"You don't sign up for this." She said.
"No." Sam replied quietly. "You don't." Fiona bit her lip in attempt to halt her own tears. "But it has to be done. Chris is right. I'm not doing a very good job, am I? I'm section head. I'm meant to be holding the rest of you together. Here I am falling apart."
"Come here." Sarah lifted one arm from Fiona, beckoning Sam. Fiona felt Sam's body against hers and Sarah's. He was shaking slightly too, not as much as she was, but still.
"I feel left out now." Tash wriggled under Sam's arm, in to the space between him and Fiona.
"Since when do we do this?" Sam asked.
"Since now." Sarah said firmly. "Joining us Greg?"
"No." Greg said, just as firmly. "I have work to do, and God knows we need Adam if this is what we degenerate in to in his absence." One of Tash's shoes flew at Greg, who dodged it. "As I was saying." He retreated quickly. Sam drew back, eyes down.
"If it has to be done." Sarah nodded, releasing Fiona and Tash.
"Yeah." Tash shook her head.
"I'm not gonna sleep tonight." Fiona privately agreed. She hadn't slept much since Friday, since Adam had gone missing. She'd guessed that he wasn't being well treated by his captors, spooks never were, but to see him being tortured like that...
"None of us are." Sam said softly. "And we won't until Adam's home."