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The Cutting-Room Floor

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Martin has been in Jon's office a lot longer than he usually takes to deliver the tea.

Of course, he might have a breakthrough on their latest statement. Martin’s had a lot of those these last couple weeks. Jon had actually almost smiled at him when he turned up with those polaroids of Graham Folger, (at which point he'd promptly gone fire-engine red and nearly choked at Tim's congratulatory slap on the back). 

But last Sasha had overheard, from her desk a few feet away from his, Martin had been playing phone tag with a growing list of people who hadn't heard of Timothy Hodge, and it didn't sound like he'd gotten anywhere before going for a tea break.

Still, Sasha has her own dismal failure to report, so she gets up and heads over to the office.

"Have you got a minute?" she calls.

There's a muffled noise from inside. Sasha shrugs and opens the door, poking her head in. "I wanted to talk to you about…" 

She trails off.

Martin looks like hell. He turns away as soon as he realizes she's watching, but his face is that blotchy pale shade that means he'd be crying if they weren't at work, and might be crying soon anyway. He's got his hands pressed flat on the desk, on either side of a tape recorder that's playing - of all things - one of Jon's spooky statement tapes. 

"I was so angry at this massive waste of my time…" says Jon on the tape.

The real Jon, meanwhile, looks that special kind of annoyed that means he just tore a strip off of someone.

Oh hell.

"You know what, I'll come back later."

"No, we're done here," Jon says, short and clipped.

Martin shakes his head frantically. "Wait - look, I swear to you -"

"We're. Done."

Martin’s face crumples.

Sasha gives him a sympathetic wince as they maneuver past each other. Knowing Jon, whatever this is about probably wasn’t anywhere near as bad as he’s making it out to be, but Martin’s going to take it hard. He always does when Jon is involved. 

Maybe she can talk him into drinks tonight, give him something to distract himself.

“You wanted to talk.”

“Right,” Sasha says. She sits down across from Jon, pushing the tape recorder aside. The tape is still playing, Jon’s voice relating how much the statement-giver really wanted someone named Noriega dead. Lovely. 

Hang on. “I don’t recognize that one?”

“What?”

“The tape. The statement.” She nods at the recorder. “I don’t think you had us research that one, did you?”

The office door, nearly closed, swings open with a bang. “You can hear it?” Martin demands. His knuckles on the handle are almost white as he stares at her, a light of hope in his eyes.

At the same time, Jon snaps out “It’s a blank tape, there is no statement - Sasha, I expected better from you at least.”

“No…” Sasha says. She pokes at the tape recorder. “No, that’s definitely your voice.”

At this point I was starting to feel uneasy,” Jon-on-the-tape contributes helpfully.